Logoist: Basic Logo Design, Simplified

I’ve been slowly putting together a website and a brand for the creative firm that I’m starting (it hasn’t launched, but if you’re curious, feel free to check it out). Branding is not an easy thing. It’s a large, multifaceted process that requires a lot of time, effort and yes, Photoshop skills.

That’s why I admire any company or app that tries to make certain parts of the task easier. I love playing around with text, but I don’t have weeks and weeks to make a great logo. And sometimes, I just need an easy way to experiment. That’s where Logoist comes in. The app makes it as easy as possible to put together a logo by eliminating a lot of the cumbersome heavy lifting Photoshop mandates. Let’s take a look and see if it’s worth your time and money.

What Logoist Is

Logoist is, more or less, a really easy way to put together some text or images, or even clipart, and manipulate it until you’ve arrived at the logo you want. In fact, it’s surprisingly complex software that looks deceivingly simple. If that confuses you, don’t worry — it’s a good thing!

I love the way Logoist greets you when you open it. The best Mac software always does this.

I love the way Logoist greets you when you open it. The best Mac software always does this.

Logoist comes complete with everything that makes a Mac app. For example, there are keyboard shortcuts galore. I find a lot of apps with both Windows and Mac apps skimp on keyboard shortcuts in the Mac version. Since Logoist is Mac exclusive, it’s good to go.

Those keyboard shortcuts come in handy when you’re customizing a logo. The app is extremely comprehensive in its abilities. In fact, I’d go so far as to say most people are going to be very covered. The app comes with a huge PDF to walk you through some of what it’s capable of, which is recommended reading if you need a little inspiration and don’t know where to start.

It's a decently sized PDF and well worth reading.

It’s a decently sized PDF and well worth reading.

But a lot of the joy in Logoist comes from exploring and trying things out. This is software that begs to be used. Some of its brushed aluminum looks a little out of date, but it still supports full screen mode in the recent versions of OS X, and full screen is really the way to go here. It puts the focus on you and the logo, which is really what Logoist attempts to do.

My Own Logo Creation

I’m a perfectionist. It’s worth pointing out that I’m still not done with my logo. I’ve been working at this for ages. But in all honesty, thank God for Logoist. It helps me quickly go through all my ideas and decide what doesn’t work very quickly.

This is what I started with... Oh boy.

This is what I started with… Oh boy.

Most of what I’ve been doing has involved text. My company’s name is Wildfire Studios. Because I’m interested in diversity, I want a different font for each part of the logo. I’ve been experimenting with the brand identity a lot, because I’m not sure if I want to be overly serious and professional or playful.

So first, I started experimenting with fonts. I’m aware this is hardly a novel thing to do, but it’s a great way to introduce you to what makes Logoist different. Instead of simply scrolling through a list of fonts like I would in Photoshop or Pixelmator or their ilk, you’re seeing a live display of what your word will look like with any given font. Each font is lovingly rendered by the app, whether you’re using a pre-installed font or a font you’ve acquired and installed yourself.

I love the clear amount of effort that went into just picking a font.

I love the clear amount of effort that went into just picking a font.

This is the sort of thing that makes me really happy, because it’s an attention to detail that I wish other apps had. This is clearly built for just for insane logo customizers like myself.

There’s a million things you can do with colours and gradients. They’re all just a few clicks away, and they render very quickly upon selection. There are also a ton of presets you can set up and use for any given option in the app, which come in handy but often look gimmicky. In fact, on a Retina display, some of those layers really seem to fall apart.

You can see how much functionality is included in the app by taking a look at the toolbar.

You can see how much functionality is included in the app by taking a look at the toolbar.

With that in mind, though, there might just be one part of a preset you want to remove. You can do that with the layered functionality in the app. All you have to do is select the elements that you want to remove and delete them. So you end up with customized presets.

What You Can’t Do

Logoist can handle almost anything you can throw at it. That being said, it can’t do everything. If you want to adjust some fonts by hand (please make sure you have the license to do so beforehand), that’s something Logoist won’t be able to do. I don’t think that it’s something everybody’s going to want or need, but because many view it as an essential part of logo creation, it needs to be mentioned.

I wish you could get a larger live preview of these options instead of these small ones, since there are so many and they can be difficult to differentiate.

I wish you could get a larger live preview of these options instead of these small ones, since there are so many and they can be difficult to differentiate.

There are also some elements that I wish would improve. Although I like changing fonts, I wish that the same level of care was taken to display live changes to your logo as you looked through many other options. I’d love to see a live example of how a drop shadow might look or how a Gaussian blur might affect my logo before actually selecting it.

But that’s a minor quibble, because a live rendering of my logo wouldn’t look anywhere near as good as I can make it look with the options they give. Every single tweak has a million customization options. I think it’s fantastic, and I’m not sure I could ever call it overkill. It’s exactly what the product needs to be.

Final Thoughts

I’m barely scratching the surface here. You could probably write a book about Logoist, and judging by the manual, you could say somebody already has. I’m not complaining. It’s refreshing to see such a comprehensive, focused app that wants to do one thing really well.

It’s that focus that separates Logoist from its competition. Of course I could do most of this in Photoshop, but why would I waste my time trying when Logoist is letting me do almost everything much more easily and for a much cheaper price? With that in mind, I’d nearly say that Logoist is an indispensable tool for almost any amateur designer.

Editor’s Note: With an app like this — especially with its dated 3D text logos in the launch screen — I know many of you will immediately assume the app is both old and junky. Yes, it’d be very easy to turn out, say, the new Yahoo! logo or the trademark monstrous logos on Geocities sites with this app. But, with a bit of care, you can also use it to make a thoroughly modern and thoughtful design with less effort than you’d spend in an app like Photoshop. It definitely has its place in the market, even if it’s not going to help you design an award-winning logo.


Summary

Logoist is a must-have for graphic designers who want to save time. At $20, there aren't many deals better than this.

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