In logo design and imaging, there is more to the process than simply creating a ‘pretty’ icon for the client. There are many blog posts and books out there that are dedicated to explaining this process and why it is so important in creating an effective and successful iconic logo. I’ve decided to include my own design process on this website as I believe it could be a valuable tool for other designers and an informative article for prospective customers who want to know more about how brandmarks are created and why choosing a experienced designer is a necessity, not an option. As you will read below, a good amount of work is done before the client ever sees a concept. There is also a great deal of research and critical thinking on the part of the designer to gain the information and perspective required to create said identity. So without further ado, here’s my logo design process:
Before I do anything at all, I will send my client a questionnaire with comprehensive and detailed questions aimed at getting all the information required for me to start the process. When possible, I prefer to ask these questions and perform an interview in person but that’s unfortunately not always an option. The logo questionnaire/interview is extremely important in the logo design process and even if the client feels that they’ve already settled on a design they’ve created, it is vital that I, as the designer, have all the information so I can familiarize myself with the company, the company’s mission, the target demographic, their competitors and the client’s personal preferences. All these things will aid me in producing a design that they will really love as well as a design that will embody the company’s message, product or service in a way that will be successful for that company. It is only after this that the work really starts.
First, after studying the completed logo questionnaire and the logo samples that the client supplies (if they already have some ideas, many do), I will do some research on the client’s profession (looking for strengths and weakness in their or their competitor’s brand) and preform a preliminary visual scan for trademarked logos that we may want to avoid being too similar to. Of course, once the logo has been completed, a Lawyer would have to do a proper trademark search if they intend to TM/SM (state level) or ® (national level) the logo.
Next, I sketch out ideas on paper. This is faster than doing all the preliminary work in a design software and allows me to make changes and follow my thoughts quickly. Also, it’s an easy and time effective way for me to get as many ideas out in a short amount of time as possible (esp. since I charge by the hour). I am able at this point to build off of the sketches and ideas until I get something that is worthy of conceptualizing digitally.
Third, I will re-create the chosen sketches in Adobe Illustrator. The client often receives only 2-4 preliminary designs as I will only proof them on the best ones and not waste their time with designs that simply don’t (or won’t) work. These choices will be based upon the 5 elements that make an iconic logo:
3. Effective without color
4. Scalable (i.e. will work at 1″x1″ as well as it would work at 3′ x 3′)
5. Relevant (to the industry in question)
Describable and Memorable really go together because how will you be able to remember it and tell your friends about this great product or service if you can’t describe what the logo looks like?
Being effective without color is important because if the mark doesn’t work in black alone, color will not make it any better. A bad design is a bad design with or without color. As I have posted before, color plays a vital role in the emotional response to the logo and the company it represents. A really great design can be nixed by the client if he/she isn’t attracted to the color it’s presented in so to help the client really look at the designs themselves, I always proof in B&W.
A scalable mark is critical for collateral, such as office letterhead, business cards, return address labels etc.—these little applications can often be overlooked by the inexperienced designer and the client alike.
Being relevant is important as the design must be suitable for the business it represents. This is achieved through research, studying the logo questionnaire, knowing how color will play a role, and talking with the client. It also helps to differentiate the client from their competitors.
Once I present the initial designs to the client, they might be immediately attracted to one of the proposed designs and we can move forward with tweaking, adding color and finalizing the logo. OR they might want to combine two of the proposed designs until we have one design to work from. It is important to ask the right questions during this step to gain as much insight as possible why a particular design wasn’t liked by the client. By listening closely to the client’s explanations and suggestions, you can make the necessary modifications to the designs (being sure that any modifications will move the design in the right direction). As mentioned above, I continue proofing in only all black or all white (on black background) as this aids in being able to focus on the design itself and not be influenced by color. What’s important at this stage is the mark’s shape, form and the idea it represents. This is the part in the process that often takes the most time.
Only when the final design has been chosen, will we start working with color. The proofing process starts all over and will be in the same manner as the black/white versions but with color this time. I use the science of how colors effect our emotions to help choose the right hue to gain the most appropriate emotional response from the customer. This process also fits into point five of the five points to a successful logo since I would likely not use pastels in a Law Firm’s logo just as I wouldn’t use bright red (the color of anger, emergency and danger) for a Nursing Home.
After the colors are decided upon and the design is approved, I will get to work finalizing the logo for both print and web, making sure that the logo is easy for the client to use as well as ensuring that it can be used across many platforms and applications.
I know the logo design process can be a little intimidating for the client as well as the designer. But if you know what’s coming in the process and what steps to take (and in what order), the whole affair will go much smoother for both parties. This will make for a pleasurable experience for the customer and help the designer maintain control throughout the creative process. If you are a company or individual looking for the right designer to create your logo, be sure to do your homework to be certain that you and your designer are going to work well together towards achieving the same goal. If you’d like to see some of the logos that Breakaway Graphics has designed, please feel free to look around our portfolio.