Every company, no matter how big or small needs a logo. It’s an identifier and a signature. But it’s much more than just a symbol.
It publicizes the company. Everywhere that potential customers see it, whether, on a website, business card or even a coffee mug, they think of the company it represents. Their emotional connection to the brand is strengthened.
A high-quality logo tells the world that yours is a high-quality company. It’s a sign that a business is credible and trustworthy. It distinguishes an organization from the competition.
A logo needs to be attractive, memorable and in line with what the company stands for. Good logos don’t just happen; there’s a method to creating them. Here are seven steps that take your logo design process from start to finish.
Logo Design Brief
As anxious as you might be to start drawing pictures, the first step in logo design is to create a document called the logo design brief. It’s a management tool that specifies the goals and expectations of the process. Whether the logo design is being undertaken by an external designer or an internal team, a brief ensures that everyone is on the same page about what’s going to take place.
Among other things, the logo design brief specifies the budget and deadlines for the project. It clarifies roles so everyone knows who is doing what. It serves as a roadmap and prevents misunderstandings that can cause mistakes.
Even with a logo design brief in place, it’s still not the time to start sketching sample logos. First comes some research. One aspect of this is research on the company itself. What are its values? Who makes up the customer base? How does it want to position itself in the market?
There’s also research on the industry and the competition. The designer should identify opportunities to differentiate this logo from the many that are already out there. Designers should also refresh their knowledge of visual and design trends.
One outcome of this step is to articulate the objective that the company has for its logo. What sort of emotion should it elicit? The designer needs to stand in the shoes of the potential customer and consider how the logo will resonate with them.
At this step, you’re ready to actually start thinking about how the logo should look. Some people get inspiration by putting their feet up and staring out the window, but if that’s not you, there are specific techniques you can do to generate some ideas.
- Brainstorming can be done alone, but it’s often more effective in a group. One technique is to simply start writing down whatever words and symbols come to mind. If you’ve just come from the research phase, the project is in your head and ideas should come readily.
- Creating a mood board is a form of extended brainstorming. You post words, images and symbols that align with your insights.
- If there are words that have come up repeatedly in research, you might look for visual images that represent them.
- You might even experiment with a logo maker to get the creative juices flowing. With most, you enter your company name and industry and the logo maker generates samples. However, using an online tool isn’t the recommended way to build your logo – it’s hard to create something distinct enough with a finite set of icons and templates – but it’s good for inspiration and generating ideas.
Develop a Concept and Sketch
The next step is to take the best ideas from your inspiration sessions and turn them into concepts and sketches. Some designers like to express each idea in a verbal description before creating any images.
Once the drawing starts, many of the best designers begin on paper rather than with software. For most creatives, there’s an immediacy with the physical tools. Ideas seem to flow naturally from the person through the pen and onto the page. These thoughts can be interrupted when a computer gets in the way.
This is a phase where more, not less, is generally better. 15 to 20 sketches are typical and some designers generate many more. Quite frequently, the best way to have a good visualization is to have a lot of them.
By this point in the process, the subconscious will continue to chug away even when working hours are over. It’s good to carry drawing materials wherever you go. If an image comes to you while washing dishes or riding the bus, you can capture it before it gets away.
Choose the Best Options and Create Them Digitally
At the beginning of this step, the winnowing process begins. The designer and the business owner should choose the best four or five sketches to carry forward.
Using the drawing app of your choice, translate each chosen drawing into a digital file. There’s no reason to make each digital image a precise mirror of its paper sketch. Take advantage of the things software can do in terms of color gradients, text embellishments, and so forth. You’ll have to decide on details such as what the specific color should be or exactly where a shape should be positioned. At this point, just pick something and go with it. You might make note of what the alternatives were, as you’ll refer to them in the next step.
You also could checkpoint here to determine whether any of the chosen design options should be dropped or whether they’ll be carried into the next phase.
Now that you have about four digital images, create some variations. Modify colors, change fonts and move images around. Save each version of each logo.
By this time, you as the designer should have a strong feeling about which samples are best. The designer and the business representative need to achieve agreement on which is the best candidate for the next step, the formal presentation.
The presentation is not only the unveiling of the logo itself. It’s a projection of how the logo will look everywhere it’s presented in both the digital and the physical world. You’ll show how it appears as a small image on a phone and a large image on a poster. There should be sample business cards. It’s a plus if you can show it on merchandise such as a t-shirt.
There should be a logo story as well. This would be a description of how it represents the company brands, what the expected customer reaction will be, and the advantages and possible disadvantages of this particular logo.
Ideally, the presentation will result in the approval of the logo. If not, you may have to back up a step and work from another candidate’s logo.
Once the logo is approved, then you’re ready to render all the hi-res file formats. If there are to be variations – black and white vs. color, text included vs. no text – these files will be generated as well. Often the digital files will be part of a package that includes a style guide specifying exactly how the logo must be used.