Logo design, usually the first piece of marketing a company does, often one of the things that can cause the biggest problems if not done right at the outset. The best logos are often very simple, think Nike or the famous McDonalds M. Their simplicity belies what goes into the design process.
So I thought I would give you a quick insight into the process and how that blank piece of paper turns into a distinctive and relevant logo.
Sounds obvious, but it is important that you understand what your client is all about. So you need to talk to them not only about what they do, but also about what type of business it is and wants to be. Do they want to communicate their traditional values, or be seen as innovative? This will all influence what the logo will look like.
2. More research
It’s not just about your client you also need to consider their competitors. So I spend time researching what their logos look like and what else is going on in the sector. You obviously need to make sure the logo isn’t similar to another company and that it will be distinctive and stand out from the crowd.
3. Pick up your pen and paper
I start with scribbling down any ideas. Brain dumping what objects relate to the business, play with the letters etc. It can be tempting to jump straight on the computer, but it is important to not miss out this crucial stage as it is far quicker to get first thoughts scribbled on paper.
4. Hit the big screen
Once you have a raft of ideas the you can start to digitise from within illustrator, yes there are wonderful things you can do in Photoshop but if you are going to do it in Photoshop, make sure it’s BIG because when the client asks for it on a billboard, van or sign, will it be good enough quality?
5. Hide your colour palette
I always start work in black only and make the logo work in black before adding colour. In fact if you can present logos in black and white first and then you don’t get logos binned just because of colour preference… it’s a bit like decorating not everyone can visualise past the colour and decor to see a logo they may love if only it wasn’t in pink.
6. Don’t be a slave to trends
For the majority of businesses I would advise to avoid current trends as a logo needs to be a lot longer lasting and you don’t want it to be out of fashion next year. The logo should be flexible and something that can grow and evolve with the companies ambitions. Classic examples are Coca Cola and Shell.
7. Consider pictures and icons
The logo doesn’t always need to say what the company does. It doesn’t always need a picture to support the company name. Experiment with type only, look at negative space… logos be extremely effective just with great typography
8. Keep it single minded
Logos often don’t work if there are two strong elements within them. So if you have an icon, keep the type simple. Often less is more.
9. Push the envelope
Always give the client what they ask for, they are the boss and it is their business but don’ be afraid to push the design and show options that are maybe more radical and braver than the client anticipated. It can be a case of this opening their eyes to what could be and clients often end up going for a design that is further away from their initial ideas than they would have imagined. Of course, you can’t go totally ‘off piste’ and will need to give reasons as to why you think it works.
10. Don’t forget legibility
One thing you must always be mindful of is that logo designs need to work across all mediums (see point 4). It needs to be clear, so ask yourself, what would it look like on a website, t-shirt, small ad, would you still be able to read it?
11. Logo v branding
Designing a logo does not equal branding. When you provide a logo design service that does not mean you are branding. Branding is a whole different ball park and includes elements in addition to just the logo. The easiest way to explain this is look at the picture of the bottle at the top, we have no doubts about which drinks company this is, and that’s because they have spent years and years and invested a lot of money in making it recognisable just from the shape of the bottle or revealing only part of the logo. The tree logo for the Conservative Party above also proved to be a master stroke with all the free publicity it received, whether that was intentional I am not sure, but we in the UK all recognise it now.
One final little note, always under “promise and over deliver” that way the client won’t be disappointed and it gives you the time to think about the job. I have ideas when I’m walking the dog or out for a run – maybe carry a pad with you, this could be difficult when you’re running so watch that lamp post!