As a graphic designer, my work has given me a deep understanding and appreciation for how important it is for businesses to have strong branding. In my experience, I believe it is particularly critical for sports and fitness teams or businesses to hold a powerful and well-designed logo. With a great logo, viewers are able to get an idea of who the brand is and what they represent by just a glance. This holds true from professional athletic teams and franchise fitness studios to youth teams and small businesses.
To illustrate the steps which will guide you through designing a great sports and fitness logo, I’ve created an NBA logo for a fake team that I’ll call the Las Vegas Dealers using the insight I gained from creating an Ultimate Ranking of NBA Logos.
Steps To Create a Sports and Fitness Logo
1. Start By Doing Research
The first step in creating any logo is to research trends in the industry. This is an important step because it lays the groundwork for the path the logo will take. Your logo should fit general expectations of the industry or league so that it will be taken seriously by players, clients, and coaches, and can communicate what your team is all about instantaneously, while not directly copying any teams’ existing branding.
Each sport and fitness sector has slightly varied typical logo styles. For example, many soccer clubs, teams, and academies have logos which are shaped as shields or crests. While it’s certainly acceptable to create a logo that doesn’t fit the standard mold, designing your team or business’s branding with popular key elements of your niche can help to better and communicate who you are.
To give you an idea of some of the research you can do on your industry, check out our analysis of NBA team logos. We made an Ultimate Ranking of the teams’ logos, and looked for similarities between the most admired designs. While this is much more in depth than may be necessary for your team or business, this article highlights some of the key factors you’ll want to think about when you’re creating your branding. Do many teams or businesses similar to yours utilize a particular color scheme? Do they integrate a ball, dumbbell, or other distinct element? Do they emphasize the city they represent, or the mascot which represents them? These are several questions you may ask yourself when researching logo trends in your industry.
2. Brainstorm Concepts and Ideas
Once you’ve researched some of these trends, you can begin brainstorming ideas and icons for your logo-the essential elements that will distinguish it from other logos.
One way to tackle the brainstorming process is to start with your team or business name or mascot, and try to write 4 or 5 words that come to mind associated with it. Then, try to write several words that come to mind from those words, and repeat this until a word web forms. This can be as simple as a sketch, just to get you in the creative mindset. Often, when we use a free-flowing process like this, we allow new, fresh ideas to come to mind.
With the faux-NBA logo I created, I started with the team name: The Las Vegas Dealers. I was able to segment that into City and Team Name, and created branches from those words. Doing this brainstorming style called “mind-mapping”, I came up with four elements (star, poker chip, roulette table, and a spade), that I later used in the sketching process.
3. Start Sketching
The third step is to sketch out several iterations of the logo. People often skip the first two steps and go directly to sketching, but I’m confident that you’ll find doing your research and coming up with creative and innovative ideas will take your sketches, and eventually your logo, to the next level. Even if you yourself are not a designer, when you give these initial sketches to a hired designer they may be able to grasp the look you’re going for better than if you had tried to get it across to them verbally. If you are more artistically inclined, you could find it helpful to sketch out variations of each icon you may want to use in the logo and then combine all of those options into logos.
For my Las Vegas Dealers design, I spent a few days mocking up different ways the essential elements to my logo could be combined. I knew I wanted to incorporate a basketball and circular text, and played around with variations of poker chips, roulette tables, cards, and the Las Vegas sign’s iconic star.
4. Refine and Package
Once you have a wide variety of logo iterations, you can work on refining your top few. In this stage, don’t be afraid to make tweaks to the logo sketch you’re working off of as you go. In fact, you may find yourself combining several of your logo iterations into one final version at this stage. Once this step is done, be sure to integrate your new branding and logo in your custom sports and fitness website.
In my refined logo for the Las Vegas Dealers, I ended up simplifying one of my initial iterations, adding color, and cleaning it up so that it was in a place I was happy with. Once it was finalized, I made a secondary logo for use on jerseys and created a mockup jersey design to showcase how it would be utilized.