After my writing my last article on Logo Design in a Small Business World, it was suggested that I provide some information on the process of logo design.
I’m sure there is plenty of information regarding this topic, but I would like to provide what my process is and what I think should be the minimal amount of work that your designer does if and when you require logo work.
Step 1: Hear the Client
I will be the first to admit that I have done work for clients and barely understood what it was they did. But that didn’t mean I wasn’t listening. As hard as it can be to understand and remember exactly what it is that every client does, it is my job as a creative to care; and to care is to listen. It is the absolute responsibility of the designer to care about what their client does. They may not fully understand the client’s industry, but they still need to get a basic grasp on what the business does. If they can’t get that basic grasp, they won’t be able to develop correctly.
When it comes to listening to the client, I listen for answers to specific questions.
What do they want to do with the logo?
Do they have any preconceived ideas?
Are there specific colors they like?
Was there an original logo the company used? Did it effectively portray their quality? Will they want some sort of “call-back” to the original logo?
What are the larger goals of the company?
The basic principle is to listen to the client. The designer needs to hear their needs; understand what it is they do. If they don’t listen, then they don’t care. A client needs to be assured that the designer is after more than a paycheck.
Step 2: Research
This is the step that is usually veiled to the client. Most people would never imagine that this specific step exists. When I begin working on logos, I take my notes from my discussion with the client and then I move into the research process. When researching, the following questions are typically what I am trying to answer for myself:
What do the logos of their competitors look like? What types of fonts, colors, and imagery are used?
Do they have a brick and mortar location? Is there anything the stands out about the architecture? (Restaurants are a key example of logos and architecture. Think Pizza Hut or Greek restaurants.)
What imagery relates to the client’s business name or services?
This list of questions is by no means limited, but what I am attempting to do is gather information. Information is key in logo design.
Another key reason for Step 2 is to try and stay away from being derivative. With so many logos being designed all over the world, it is incredibly hard to be 100% removed from this, but a designer needs to do everything possible to be original. It’s hard, but it’s important. Effort tied together with innovation will help here.
Step 3: Sketching
Once I have my foundation, I begin to make quick sketches to get the ideas on to paper where I can see them. I don’t think too much about each one or worry about symmetry, proportions, etc. I’m simply blazing through it to get out everything that my brain is thinking. It helps separate good ideas from bad ideas. In fact, there are many ideas that I will like in my head, but as soon as I sketch them out, I don’t like them anymore.
The is also where I sketch out ideas that involve preconceived notions from the client. While I am a firm believer that the best logos come from full creative control and no preconceived ideas, the client is the one paying and is the one that will be using it. They should love the final product.
Step 4: Take It to the Computer
This is where the majority of my time is spent. I will draw my favorite logo ideas in the computer and start making tweaks and edits. I will make simplified versions and I will make detailed versions. I will try different fonts and make edits to the fonts. I will zoom in and I will zoom out. I will test different colors, etc.
It’s a long and intensive adventure when I get to this stage of the logo design process.
Step 5: Show the Client
Reveal the final design(s) (I typically provide no more than 3) to the client and let them think it over. The client needs to have some time to think about and explore what the designer has provided.
Side note: Sometimes I will show the client my direction before I have come up with a final version, especially if the client needs something with a fast turn around. This is to make sure they like the direction and that I’m not waisting unnecessary time.
Step 6: Adjustments (If needed) & Wrap Up
Most of the time, only minor adjustments are needed (if any are needed at all). If they are needed, I will make them and then resend the completed version to the client for an official, final approval.
Once the project is done, I will provide the client with whatever files they need in whatever size and format. I also make myself available whenever they need me for things related to their logo (resizing, different types of file formats, etc.).
This is a very basic outline of my process and what you should expect when working with a designer. While every designer has different methods, there are basic principles that should never be removed from the overall process. This is to ensure both integrity on behalf of the designer and trust on behalf of the client.