How to Make a Text Logo in Illustrator

How to Make a Text Logo in Illustrator

17 min read
Letters in purple-blue on a creamy-white background

Making a text logo is more complex than it sounds. But don't fret! Today you'll learn to make a text logo in Illustrator by following these step-by-step instructions.

Combining shapes, letters, and negative space can do wonders when creating a custom text logo.

Since there are thousands of ways you can draw each letter of the alphabet, and an equal number of ways you can combine them, there are so many options when it comes to making a logo.

Typography plays a key role when designing a logo featuring a company's full name or initials. You will have to transmit the feel and the identity of the brand with the way you present each letter and each word. The spaces between the letters (kerning) and any overlaps will also be essential.

Choosing a legible, simple, yet stylish type can make your text logo more memorable. One of the reasons why minimalist design and minimalist logos have become quite popular in the past decade is thanks to their simplicity and scalability. You can use a minimalist logo on a business card and it will still be visible.

To make it easier for you, we'll focus on creating a minimalist text logo that's easy to create with this guide. Whether you want to create vintage type logos, 3D type logos, or cartoon-style logos, we hope the following guide will come in handy and be a source of inspiration.

Are you looking to create a custom text logo in Illustrator? In this article, you will learn how to manipulate letterforms, how to combine several letters and words, how to create unique shapes, and how to use negative space to your advantage with Adobe Illustrator. We will also explore the importance of tweaking the text logos you make and play around with sizing, alignment, typeface, color, and more until you achieve a logo you can be proud of.

In the end, we will also explore other ways to make a text logo in a few simple steps using Vectornator.

A text logo (also called a wordmark or logotype) is any logo that contains only text design elements. A text logo, for instance, can be a logo that includes the name of a company, brand, institution, or organization.

This type of logo will not contain any symbols, emblems, or graphic patterns. The only thing you can work with is the name of the brand or the product. This type of logo is perfect if the company is new and does not have a lot of following.

Having a text logo with the brand's name will make it easier for potential customers to recognize the brand immediately instead of associating a symbol with the brand.

If you want to be identified with a symbol logo after a few years, we recommend introducing the symbol together with the text logo. For example, the first versions of Nike's "Swoosh" included the brand name alongside the iconic emblem. You will have to switch from a text logo to a combination mark logo before introducing a pictorial mark logo. Later on, once the company becomes more well-known, you can keep the symbol and drop the name. However, this process of being recognizable with a symbol will take some time.

Wordmarks vs. Monogram Logos

Wordmarks are often mistaken with monogram logos and vice versa. While a wordmark contains the name of the brand, be it one word or several words, a monogram logo contains only the acronym.

Some monogram logos are H&M, CNN, HBO, and BBC. Sometimes, you will be required to produce a text logo containing only the brand’s acronym.  This type of logo is best if the brand has some popularity and people can associate the acronym with the brand or the organization.

Monogram logos are also recommended when the brand's name is too long to turn into a wordmark logo. Having a brand name that contains four, five, or more words will create scalability problems sooner or later, so you will be “forced” to turn it into a monogram. In this case, you can go ahead and start with a monogram logo from the very beginning so that people begin to recognize your logo from the very start as a monogram one.

Alternatively, you can add the full name at the bottom of the monogram and later remove it once you feel the logo is already recognizable as a monogram by the general public. We mentioned both these types of logos so that you can be aware of their similarities and avoid any possible misunderstandings. Therefore, it is best to clarify it with your client or the company you work for if they want a text logo with the full name or just the acronym. This way, you will ensure that you are not spending valuable time creating the wrong type of logo.

How to Make a Text Logo in Illustrator?

In the following guide, we will cover ten main steps to make a text logo in Illustrator, from brainstorming to exporting it for print. But first, let’s define and clarify the basics.

As mentioned earlier, depending on the brand you are designing the logo for, you will either:

  • Turn the full name of the brand into a text logo
  • Create a text logo out of the abbreviation of the full name, which can be two or more letters

One thing to remember is to ask beforehand if you can experiment with the full name (which can be one or more words) or whether you are requested to play around only with the acronym. This will be important to define right at the beginning so that you do not spend precious time creating a text logo that will probably not be accepted in the end.

In some rare cases, you might also be given the freedom to experiment with the acronym and the full name and then present all the versions you have come up with.  Knowing this from the very start will make your brainstorming session much more efficient and productive. Once you define the type of text logo requested from you, it is time to start the logo creation process.

Step 1

‍Brainstorm

As with any creative process, it is always best to use some time to brainstorm before jumping right into Adobe Illustrator and exploring the plethora of typefaces and shapes. So take your time to brainstorm and be as creative as you can.

As with any creative process, it is always best to use some time to brainstorm before jumping right into Adobe Illustrator and exploring the plethora of typefaces and shapes. So take your time to brainstorm and be as creative as you can.

You don't have to use your computer for this if you feel that you're better at brainstorming with a pen and paper.  Follow your own creative process. You know better than anyone else which steps you need to take to get your creative juices flowing.

Whether using a whiteboard or a sketchpad, try and sketch out different ways of incorporating the word (or several words) into a logo. If you are only working with two or three letters, explore ways to incorporate them into one, overlap them, or cut some parts from the letters to give it a more “modern” look.

For instance, let’s say that you will need to design a logo that contains the letters “M” and “W.” There are so many ways you can place the letters “M” and “W.”  We took these two letters as an example since they are similar. For instance, turning the letter M upside down will look like “W,” albeit with straight “arms.” Or legs? Anyway, you get the idea.

These letters work well if you overlap them or place them so that the “M” can look like the shadow of “W” and vice versa. But in real life, you will not have the privilege to pick the easiest letters to work with or the most similar ones. You might have to work with the letters “M” and “P,” for instance, or with the letters “O,” “L,” and “Z.”  Nevertheless, no matter the name of the brand, or the initials you will have to work with, there is always a way to make them work and look a certain way.

Step 2

‍Transfer Your Ideas to Illustrator

Once you have spent some time brainstorming, it is time to open Adobe Illustrator and start creating your text logo.

Let’s pretend you need to create a text logo for your own photography business containing your first name, last name, and the word “Photography” underneath.

Step 1: Open a new document.

Step 2: Type out your name and surname. Then, underneath your full name, type out “Photography.”

Step 3: Place the text outside the document you have created so that you can have it as a base and see it at all times.

Step 4: Duplicate your full name by clicking the one you have already typed out, hold, and then drag it to the document you created and then release. This will create a duplicate copy of your full name.

Step 5: If needed, you can resize it. Scaling it up will help you see how the name will look once you try the different fonts in the following steps.

Step 3

Decide What Type of Font You Will Need

Now that you have a rough idea of what you want to work with, it is time to play around with different typefaces.

Picking a typeface will depend mainly on what the logo represents. If you need to create a logo for your brand or your name, feel free to select any typeface that best represents you and your work.

So, by all means, be as picky as you want. If you plan to use this logo for decades, spending some time researching and downloading different fonts may be worth it. If you need to design a text logo for someone else or a brand, you will have to strip away all your personal preferences and pick the suitable typeface for that specific brand.

‍If the company is a tattoo shop, you might need to explore typefaces that bring up that “gothic” feeling, be it a classic gothic font like Old English, or a modern gothic font.

If the company is a surf store, you might need to look up our summer font list so you feel inspired to integrate that freshness and playfulness of summer months into your designs.

If the company is a jewelry store, you might want to avoid complicated and illegible fonts and pick simple and stylish ones.

One of our favorite text logos comes from the jewelry brand Cartier. Its clean and refined logo has been around for over 12 decades!

The font used for the Cartier logo since 1900 is remarkable. It has stood the test of time even though it was designed at a time when illustrators and graphic design artists did not have the typographic design tools that designers have nowadays.

Here are 14 more famous logos to inspire you while designing.
Step 4

Explore Different Typeface Options

Let’s go back to our scenario where you need to create a text logo for your photography business.

As mentioned earlier, the choice will depend primarily on what you prefer your name to look like and the feel you want to transmit through it. When it comes to exploring different typefaces, you have two main options:

Option A: Use Illustrator’s Typekit

Unless you already have a font in mind or have already downloaded one, we recommend looking at Illustrator’s built-in Typekit and exploring the existing fonts.

One fast way to explore the fonts is to filter them:

Step 1: Navigate to the Character panel at the top and go to the drop-down menu.

Graphic design UI

Step 2: Click on “Find more” and go to the first icon right next to the word “Filter.” That will filter out fonts by classification.

Step 3: Change it to your desired classification. For instance, you can pick the “script font” classification.

Step 4: While you are on the same little table, you will see the Properties panel under the Classification panel. Here you can change the properties. For instance, if you want your font to be a little thicker, you can pick the “Heavy Weight” option.

Graphic design UI

Step 5: After you select these two filters, you will see a list of different fonts. Scroll down on the right side to see if you can find a font you like.

Option B: Explore Other Fonts Online

If you are not satisfied with any of the options offered by Illustrator’s Typekit, you can always explore other fonts online.

There are various websites where you can find exactly what you are looking for and download your top picks.

However, remember that you will need to check the license and make sure you only download fonts allowed for personal use or commercial use.

If you find a font that is permitted for personal use but not for commercial use, you can, of course, buy the license and use it for commercial purposes.

Once you have found a font, go ahead and download it to your computer. Now it is time to add the new font to Adobe Illustrator.

But before you go ahead and do that, make sure to close Illustrator. To find the newly installed fonts in Illustrator, you must close Illustrator first.

Otherwise, you won’t see or find the new fonts if Illustrator is up and running. So make sure you save what you have been working on and close Illustrator before following the next steps.    

For Windows

Step 1:  Press Win+E to open File Explorer and go to your font's ZIP folder. You can also find the font file you downloaded in the Downloads folder.

Step 2: Extract the contents of the ZIP folder.

Step 3: Double click the font file and click “Install” at the top of the preview window. If you have separate files of the font for bold italic, etc., you will need to follow Step 3 for all of these files.

Step 4: Open Illustrator and open the previous file you were working on.

Step 5: Go to the Character panel and use the drop-down menu to find and select the font that you have installed.

For Mac

Step 1:  Open “Finder” and go to the font you wish to install. As with Windows, you can also find the Font file you have downloaded in your Downloads folder.

Step 2: Extract the contents of the ZIP folder (in case the font file is in a compressed format) by double-clicking the ZIP file. This will open a preview of the font you have downloaded.

Step 3: If you have multiple files to extract, simply select all of them by holding the “Command” tab and clicking each file you wish to install. Then click the “Install Font” button.

Step 4: Restart your Mac by clicking the “Apple” icon in the upper left corner and then clicking “Restart.”

Step 5: Open the previous file you were working on in Illustrator.

Step 6: Go to the Character panel and use the drop-down menu to find and select the font that you have installed.

Step 5

Time to Adjust

Once you have picked your favorite typeface or downloaded one that best represents your brand, it's time to adjust and customize the lettering if needed.

Whether you aim to create abstract shapes, basic shapes, or 3-dimensional shape letters, there are endless ways to customize one or more letters until you achieve the correct shape you had in mind.

If you still have not found a typeface that can work well with the word or words you have to include inside the text logo, for the sake of practicing the next steps, feel free to pick one font from Illustrator Typekit.

Let’s say, for instance, that after selecting the right font, you need to shorten some of the letters.

If you do not like how a specific letter looks, you can increase or decrease its size. Keep experimenting until all the letters look good together.

Step 6

‍Play Around With the Words

After applying your desired font to the full name, it is time to separate the last name from the first name so that later on, you can customize the two words separately if you want to.

Step 1: Select the last name, press “Command” and “X,” copy the last name and paste it on its own layer.

Now you are free to move both parts of the name separately.

Step 2: Go to “Align” at the top menu and select one of the align options on the drop-down menu.

Step 3: Create different versions of the logo.

Since both words are “active” on their own, you can select the last name and squeeze it together with the first name.

If you are satisfied with this result, you can combine them both. Then, click on it, drag it to the top of the file, release it to paste it there, and put it to the side for later use.

Another way to explore is to place the last name under the first name and see whether it looks better that way.

This option will look best if both the name and surname are almost equal in terms of word length so that you do not have a lot of negative space left out on the corners.

Graphic design UI
Graphic design UI

Step 4: To make the name look more “sophisticated,” select the full name and then right-click. This will open a small window. Click on “Transform” and then go to “Shear.” This will open another small window where you can select the “Shear angle” and then click on the “preview” box.
If you are not satisfied with the result, go ahead and change the “Shear angle” until you are happy with the way it looks, and then click “Ok.”

Graphic design UI
Step 7

Add the Last Part of the Name

Remember that in the beginning we also typed out “Photography”? Now it is time to use that part and combine it with your full name. You can add it right under your name in a straight line and maybe use a different font to give it a bit more “character.”

If you want to go a step further and want to use the Path Tool, follow the next steps:

Step 1: Go to the rectangle icon right down the text icon at the left side menu and select the “Ellipse Tool.”

Step 2: Click on the document and drag your mouse until you are satisfied with the size of the ellipse you want to create.

We suggest you make this ellipse on top of the full name text logo you prepared beforehand and center it.

Graphic design UI

Step 3: To create a curved path, go to the icon right above the text icon and click on “Type on a Path Tool.”

Step 4: Hover on top of the ellipse you have created (right on the edge) and click once. This will put some closed path “lorem ipsum” text around the entire ellipse path.

Step 5: Click on the “lorem ipsum” text, type out “Photography,” and center it.

Step 6: Use the little brackets to recenter the word “Photography” right under the full name. Ensure that the full name and the word “Photography” right under it are centered.

Step 7: Resize the full name or the word Photography as you see fit.

Step 8

To Color or Not to Color?

If you have wished for a black and white text logo from the start, feel free to skip this step.

But if you want to add a touch of color or several colors to your logo, keep reading.
Sometimes, you will not be limited to the color gradients or color schemes you can use. If that is the case, feel free to use the array of color libraries or the color swatches from Illustrator’s swatch libraries which contain collections of preset colors. Other times, however, you will have to stick to the company identity and its visual identity.  

In this scenario, you will have to use specific color values pre-set from the company, and you will need to use the exact color values they send over.

If the company is a new one or is launching a brand new product and does not have any specific color requests, you will be freer to explore various color versions.

When you choose a shape or fill option, you will notice that you will have black and white fill and outline options. To change that, follow these steps:

Step 1: Select the shape tool and open your Properties window.

Step 2: Find the Fill option under the Appearance section and click on it.

Step 3: A window with a selection of colors will open.

Graphic design UI

Step 4: Select your favorite color or colors that would go well with the text logo you just created.

Try out different color combinations until you find the right mix.

If you want to keep the name and the word “Photography” with the same color, simply fill them out with the same colors that you have selected.

Step 9

Push the Boundaries

And there you have it! Now you have a text logo to be proud of, together with a few variations of it which you can keep experimenting with.

But, of course, it does not end here. This was a simple way to show you the process of creating a simple text logo in a few simple steps.

If this took you a few hours to complete, consider that it usually takes one or two weeks to develop an excellent text logo that you can use for years to come.

You can follow the same steps above to create a logo out of one word or just a few letters. Once you have tried drawing some ways to showcase the brand's name or its initials, try pushing your boundaries.

Try placing the letters in a way that you would not usually put.

Even if you do not plan to use the word upside down, placing it upside down, for instance, or from a “weird” angle, will help you see the letters in a different light.

You might notice some letters that might look like other letters when placed upside down, or you might see some curves that you can combine or cut in the final version of the logo.

Step 10

Ready for Print?

Font outlining is not one of the “required” steps you need to do before saving the text logo. However, if you need to submit the logo for print, keep in mind that some printers require fonts to be outlined before submitting the print files.

Printers get multiple design files every day, and each of those files has different fonts.

That is why you will first need to outline the font, as the printers will probably not have the font you are using installed on their systems.

Therefore, it is best to outline the font and turn it into a vector shape to avoid possible complications.

But before you do that, we recommend you save your design file in a separate document that you can use to work later on if you need to edit something or share the file with other colleagues who might need to work on it.

After that, you can go ahead and outline it by following these steps:

Step 1: Select the text using the Selection Tool.

Step 2: Right Click and then select “Create Outlines”.

Graphic design UI

Step 3: Alternatively, after “Step 1”, you can go to Main Menu, go to Type, and then select “Create Outlines”

Step 4: Export and save your print-ready file. Some printers will recommend you save it as a PDF file, PNG File, or JPEG file, so consider these recommendations when exporting and saving your file.

Lettering with Vectornator

Remember that we promised to show you another way to make a text logo using Vectornator? Well, now it’s the time!

Vectornator is a powerful tool to help you create high-quality text logos and lettering designs. You can even use this tool to develop hand-lettering designs or transfer your sketches into Vectornator.

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Turning Sketches into Vector Paths

Step 1: Take a picture of your drawings or sketches.

Step 2: Use the Camera Import feature to transfer your physical pencil lettering sketches into Vectornator.

Step 3: Tap the Auto Trace button to automatically turn your sketches into crisp vector paths.

Step 4: Refine your vector letter shapes using the Node Tool.

Using Auto Trace will save you so much time!

If you aren't happy with any of the fonts you find online and want to create your custom font, you can go ahead and draw the letterforms by hand first (if you prefer this way) and later transfer them into Vectornator to change your letterforms into vector shapes.

Vectornator’s powerful Auto Trace tool enables you to transform your letters into vectors in a matter of a few minutes. Alternatively, you can use the Pen Tool to trace over your lines manually. Once you have turned your custom-made letters into vector shapes, you can customize them further without worrying about scalability.

You are working with vectors now and can resize them as you wish without worrying about the text logo losing its quality. The text logo you will create in the end will be perfect to use, whether you need it for business cards or billboards.

If you decide to make your custom font or text logo in Vectornator, be sure to tag us on social media. We are always eager to see what creators like you come up with when using Vectornator!

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Letters in purple-blue on a creamy-white background
Letters in purple-blue on a creamy-white background

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