Where do all the awesome logos of the world come from? They often begin as nothing more than an abstract idea bouncing around inside a client’s head. Then, almost by magic, these ideas are transformed into a completed mark, proudly emblazoned on jackets, hats, business cards, websites and so much more. What steps are taken along the way? Let’s take a look at the typical process that goes into a successful logo design:
- Start a conversation. It’s extremely important, before anything else; to speak with the client and develop a solid understanding of the ins and outs of their business and exactly what they are looking for. Ask a lot of questions. The more information you have, the smoother the process will be. Identify the target audience to ensure you communicate the desired message. Be sure to put a good deal of thought into this step. A logo will serve as your personal identity, no matter what field you are working in. Nothing turns away potential business like visiting a website and seeing something thrown together in an unprofessional fashion.
- Research. After the initial briefing, it’s time to do some research. Ask the client to provide a few examples logos they are fond of. Then, check out competitors’ logos to see what others in the field are doing. This promotes uniqueness and individuality – two of the most important traits that form a company’s identity. The research stage provides a great opportunity to discover little details about the business that can be referenced in a subtle (or possibly a not-so-subtle) manner when it comes time to put together some design concepts.
- Sketch Concepts. Once you’ve gathered sufficient information, the next step is to create concepts. But before the keys start tapping and the mouse starts clicking, a pencil should hit the paper. Sketching is a great way to organize initial ideas and incorporate some of the research done in the previous step. Though the sketches may not look anything like the finished product, this step can start putting things like scale, concept and composition into play.
- Start Designing. After the sketches are done and a direction – or two in some cases – has been chosen, it’s time to fire up that computer and open up Adobe Illustrator, or whatever digital illustrating program you prefer (just try to avoid using programs like MS Paint or Microsoft Word – these programs do not provide even a fraction of the tools necessary to create a good logo). Start creating cleaner concept drafts and choose an appropriate font if typography is present in the logo. Keep in mind, gimmicky fonts can be fun and in some cases even appropriate, but avoid overly processed, hard-to-read fonts. Try to draft no less than 3 options for a single logo idea. However, more than 10 options may signal that the idea was not established well enough in the concept sketching stage.
- Review and Revise Concepts. Once the initial designs have been drafted up, have the client look over the provided concepts and choose a more final direction for the logo. Try to get as many outside, unbiased opinions as possible. It’s always wise to take a step back from a project and let the mind wander a bit. That way, when the client provides feedback, you can reengage the logo from a fresher standpoint. After the initial review, you can expect a lot of ongoing back-and-forth between the client and designer. Edits will be made, colors will be added and the final product will begin to show itself. Speaking of color, it should be noted that despite the application of 2-3 colors, a logo should always be successful in black and white. This ensures that no matter how the logo is printed or displayed, it is identifiable and carries a consistent message to its audience.
- Deliver the Final Product. Once the design has been finalized, it’s time to deliver the final product. Provide a variety of file types to satisfy the needs of the client no matter what the application of the logo may be. There are two basic file formats that the designer should provide, vector and raster. Vector files are often referred to as live files and can be edited and scaled without any loss of resolution. The most commonly used vector types are .eps, .ai, and in some cases .pdf (if it is saved out of Illustrator). Raster files have a fixed resolution, meaning if the file is 300 pixels by 500 pixels, that’s as big as it gets. The most common raster file types are .jpg, .tif, and .png.
- Store the logo files (properly). Last but certainly not least, the most important step is to properly store the logo files. This cannot be stressed enough. You don’t have to store a flash drive in a climate-controlled safe (though that wouldn’t hurt), but make sure they are saved somewhere secure for future use. This is your brand identity. If you were to lose your driver’s license, you would have face the hassle of buying a new one, and the same goes for losing logo files. The logo would need to be recreated, and this is rarely done for free.
As you can see, there is much more that goes into the logo design process than you may have imagined. Follow these steps and you’ll be designing impressive logos in no time!