Logo design – fundamental design process
Designing logo might seem as a simple process if you look at it from outside, but as everything in life when you get involved in it, things start getting interesting and complicated.
Great Logo is not just a random beautiful graphical symbol which is used to stand in front of the company’s name. It must communicate the message and values of its owner/organization. The logo should be functioning as an anchor in persons memory, it must trigger the association connections when seen so that the viewer almost immediately can recall which is the company, what are the products and to feel the emotions which are connected to these images and memories.
If seen for first time it needs to clearly tell the viewer what the company is dealing with and embed this in to the memory. If not, at least to effectively grab the attention and give birth to questions which will lead to interest toward the company.
Now that you have some idea what a good logo should be like, we can start looking at the fundamental design process.
I already have written a couple of articles about design brief. You can check how to get great design brief and how to make logo design brief if you need to learn how to do it. I would recommend checking them out before continuing with the rest of the logo design process.
It is very important first step which will give guidelines for designing a great logo.
After you have analyzed the design brief and you understand what the problems and requirements are, it is time to look for solutions. If you have more information there will be more space to act so researching the industry and learning what are the important things in it, will be a great help for giving your best performance. Making sure that you understand your target audience perception of the world will contribute tremendously. Even if it is only on basic level.
Researching successful logo designs in the same field as the industry you are working for and not only, will give you a deeper understanding how they are achieving this success. By investigating what other companies logos are like you will prevent creating similar design to one of them, which later on might bring problems to your door. Understanding is a key factor in creating great logo design.
Shape your design concepts
Having already the collected knowledge from the design brief and your research, you will start feeling like the ideas are popping out from you one after another. Use this momentum to create a Mind Map where you connect your ideas to each other based on association, you can use sketches, words, colors everything that will help you remember the idea or even generate more. This will function as a brainstorm process and will result in a sort of creative plan.
Use this plan to produce more precise images for potential logos and start sketching them on paper. Yes, the old and proven method, sketch on paper. It does not matter if you are Picasso or not, the important thing here is to catch the essence of the idea.
Try to draw more than 30 different concepts, after the 10th it might get difficult but force yourself to get out of the box. Even if idea seams stupid just draw it and leave it for review later on. Think of it as putting your thinking process on paper. Just keep going for a while and you will see results. After having this creative burst it is time to go away!
That’s right, go and do something else for half an hour or so, just get away so your brain can refresh. A short walk outside will do the job perfectly! Maybe do something to get more inspired.
Give yourself the chance to focus on something else so your creative part of the brain can get a short rest. You will be stunned how different the sketches can look after this break. This method can be useful in helping you to pick up the best ideas out of those 30 or 50 concepts and start refining them. I personally like to pick up 3 to 5 ideas of all my initial ones. You can try also to look at them from several meter away or different angles. This might bring some new inspiration or emphasize some design mistake like having too much details.
Good logos are simple and recognizable even from far away and different angles. You should terminate all extra details and leave the essence of the symbol to shine.
Review, Feedback and Reflection
After you have developed several logo concepts it would be a good time to prepare them for revision from your client. Having some feedback from your target audience can be very useful too. In order to do that you will need ether to sketch the concept very cleanly or recreate them directly as vector graphics. This way they will be sharp and your client will be able to review them better.
On this stage you should be prepared to get some criticism. Sometimes it will help you improve the work you have done and sometimes it will be just because of personal preferences. As a designer you will need to be able to argument all the decisions you have made. This way you will prove to your client that you know what you are doing and will often open his eyes to the meaning of your design.
The same principle applies also to reviews by other people from the target audience. First hear them out what they thing about the design, before engaging and argument the decisions you have made. Remember you are designing for them not for yourself so their opinion matters. Analyse what they say and see if you need to adapt something in your concept.
Having done this step you can say that you have passed half of the way to create your logo design. The time it takes to finish this step will give you also chance to reflect on your work and might provide some thoughts and ideas what can be improved in the next stages.
Refinement and Presentation can be deciding
This step will require from you to make the changes you have agreed with your client to be done. Also you might try out if you have some ideas for improvement. Here you can feel free to examine and refine smaller details, proportions and etc. You should reduced the logo concepts to 1 or maximum of 2 versions in some cases.
Prepare a nice presentation of them. Often is good to create Black and White version, on bright and dark background. This will show how the logo will look in mono color. The design needs to communicate the same message and meaning even if it is one color. Also show the color version again on bright and dark background. I personally prefer to create one spread with four sections and demonstrate the four versions of the logo. If you have the time it will be even better to present the logo as a mockup on real products, for example on cars, some office equipment, letter heads and others. To do it you will need to play a bit with Photoshop but it can improve the presentation impression tremendously.
Having a well prepared and great looking visual presentation of your design is always a plus and will bring you one step closer to successful end.
After making this presentation the client will make his final decisions and this will be your chance to wrap up the project. Finalize the chosen logo version and do the refinements if there is need for any.
Delivery of the final design
Sometimes the final step might mess up the whole thing so I would recommend that you still keep up your guard. Make sure that you have checked the small details and have polished the vector graphics. Do not forget to outline the fonts in the logo, it might cause problems if the client or printing house does not have them. Also be sure that you are not violating copyrights with the usage of the font or graphics.
Providing the correct file formats is also very important. I usually am providing several types of formats like .AI, .ESP .PDF and .TIF just to make sure they can be open even if the client is using some different software. Of course you should provide great customer support if there is need for exporting some other type of format or cutting into specific sizes for web and other usage.
It will bring more happiness to you and your client if you under-promise and over-deliver. Try and you will not regret it!
Do you have useful tips to improve this logo design process?