When I am hired to do a logo design for a client, I usually follow a specific process.
This process starts with talking to the client, asking questions, and finding out more about what they are looking for. I ask questions like
- What do you want this logo to do for you?
- What kind of company or organization is this? Tell me about it.
- How do you plan to use this logo (the web, print, sign outside of the shop)?
Once I’ve asked some questions, I do a little research on my own into the field/niche that the client is in. I look into what kinds of logos have worked well in this industry, I try to understand the target market a bit, and get a feel for the project I’m being asked to do. After all, a logo is primarily to communicate with a company’s customers (and the public) about that company in the simplest way possible.
Sometimes at this point, I also do some mood boarding. My mood board is usually not for anyone’s eyes but my own, to inspire me and give me ideas.
For example, when I had a client ask me to give her new color logos for her goat’s milk soap labels, and to make them look like her goats, I gathered up as many pictures of goats as I could, and I sketched them over and over until I felt comfortable with the shape and anatomy of a goat. After all, a logo is to be a much more simplified illustration than the detailed photographs I was given. I need to so familiarize myself with the content that I can break it down into simple yet accurate shapes.
Creating Logo Concepts
From there, I start sketching out some basic ideas and concepts. This usually is nothing detailed at first. I am just trying to get an idea of shapes and how to lay them out together. Because of social media and profile pictures, I tend to prefer it if a logo fits neatly into a square shaped area without looking strange or distorted. Getting the ideas and concepts to look great and communicate well within a square or circular parameter can be tricky.
I also try to figure out ways to make different variations of a logo, from more complex to simpler, for use across different formats. For example, with my own logo for Thoughts and Designs, I have a simpler version that I use as a watermark on most of my media online, and I have an even simpler version that is used as the favicon on my website. I also have a simple version of the logo that I use as a rubber stamp, and I even have a brass wax stamper that I use with a simple version of my logo.
It’s only after I have a few good ideas that I start to work digitally and develop my logos into vector artwork, using Adobe Illustrator. When a logo (or any other design) is created as Vector artwork, this means it can be endlessly enlarged without loss of clarity, because Vector Artwork is created using mathematical formulas (polygons and vectors that are connected through anchor points), instead of pixels.
When a logo is created using a vector program like Adobe Illustrator, a well-designed logo will look great on a business card and on a billboard. A set of logos I made for a group of Animal Hospitals reflects this. In fact, recently we had to take our daughter’s cat to the emergency hospital. I had never actually been there, but they were the only ones open that time of night. It was easy to spot since I designed the logo on the sign outside. It was pretty surreal to see my logo on everyone’s shirts, on the cards, on brochures, etc. Proud designer moment. I resisted the urge to Instagram it, since we were there for an emergency (the cat is doing well, by the way. Allergic reaction).
Working in Adobe Illustrator, I first create the logo in Black and White, and I make sure it works well in black and white before adding color to it.
Taking a Break
I like to take some time away from my work so that I can come back to it with fresh eyes.
One of the reasons for this is the fact that sometimes, when we are developing logos, we have stared at the screen so long we don’t see how the shapes we’ve created not only show what we intend to show, but they also show some shapes we did not intend, including shapes that may be inappropriate. It happens. Yikes.
More often than that, though, I notice shapes that don’t quite line up the way I want them too. Perhaps they create lines that seem a little off visually. Whatever these little issues, some time away from the project usually helps bring them to light.
It’s kinda like how I only see typos months after I’ve written something. 🙂
The Big Reveal
In college, this was called “presentation” but I like to borrow a phrase these days from HGTV…the big reveal. It also reminds me not to say, “Well, what do you think?” Instead, I explain my choices. When creating a logo, it’s more than just “creating a cute picture”. It’s about making specific decisions about how to best represent your brand across different kinds of media, and in a way that can also grow with your brand.
Sometimes small edits come up, and as needed, I take care of that too, of course.