We’ve all been there. You’ve promised your client concepts for their logo design. And you are stuck looking at a blank white screen. You are in a state of creative paralysis.
With a little preparation and a proper game plan, you can avoid what I call white-screen-itus.
Here’s my 7-step process for designing logos:
1. Creative Brief
Before you ever start designing a logo, you must do some fact-finding. I suggest having your client complete a concise creative brief. This can be done in a face-to-face meeting or submitted as an online form. You may consider including the following questions:
Who is your target audience?
Who are your closest competitors?
What type of product or service do you offer?
What is your unique selling proposition?
What is the exact wording to be used in the logo?
What is your company’s slogan or tagline?
Are there any specific images or icons you’d like to incorporate into the logo?
Are there any specific colors you may want to use?
Are there any colors or imagery you would like to avoid?
How do you want your target audience to respond to your corporate identity?
2. Research/Gather Inspiration
Research may sound boring, but this can actually be my favorite part. This is where I take some time to gather design inspiration. I also examine the branding of my client’s competitors (to make sure I properly differentiate my client from competing business) and study the logo examples that the client liked. Here are some of my favorite resources for identity inspiration:
- Logo Lounge offers a powerful online database for logo design. I have never paid to join, but I have purchased several of their books and always appreciate their take on current logo trends.
- Identity Designed
- Pinterest – you can check out my typography and logo inspiration board here and Ciera’s here.
- Blogs and websites of designers and agencies you admire. I personally love the work of Emma Dime, Allison Lehman, Juan Marin and A3 Design.
I also make a point to notice things around me. I may be inspired by the typography on a Panera bag or the imagery and color palette in an Anthropologie catalog. Some designers find it helpful to compile their inspiration into a mood board.
I have a bad habit of racing to the computer before I am adequately prepared. I have found that I am much more successful and efficient if I first pull out my sketchbook and manually explore typographic layouts and symbols. I can quickly determine from a basic sketch whether a design is worth developing.
After sketching out LOTS of ideas, I can then pair down which designs I should bring to the computer to execute. It is a good idea to work on your designs in black and white initially, adding color later. I find that if I include color too early in the process, I can be attracted to a logo because of the color alone, not necessarily because it is the strongest design solution.
5. Step Away
This part is important. I prefer to work on a logo in small chunks of time – an hour here, a few hours there. I find that if I walk away from the computer, even for a few hours, I am able to return with fresh eyes and work with more efficiency.
6. Review and Refine
Now it’s time to look at your work with a more critical eye. Throw out the weaker logo designs. Take some time to refine your strongest concepts. Look closely at kearning, positioning, etc. Are there small variations or changes that may strengthen the design? Look back at your creative brief. Do your logo concepts communicate your client’s brand effectively?
When I deliver my logo concepts, I like to review them with the client. Sometimes this is done in-person. Other times on the phone. What is important is that you have an opportunity to discuss the variations in the logos, your thought process and ultimately how the different logo designs communicate your client’s brand. Pull out points from the original creative brief and explain how your logo designs achieve their objective. From here, you and your client can collaborate and decide what logo best represents the company’s brand. I have found that if I follow these 7 steps, I can minimize revisions. Happy Designer. Happy Client. It’s a win-win.
Hey guys, Ciera here. Thanks for an amazing post Lauren! This is the same process that I use for logo design but just wanted to chime in with one additional tip: When you deliver the first round of concepts, don’t include too many options. This tends to overwhelm and confuse the client. I think that three strong concepts is a good starting point. And don’t include a design that you are not happy with, this will always, without a doubt, be the version the client decides to choose, and that is always a bummer.
How about you? Do you have any logo design tips to add? What does your process look like?
About the author: Lauren Kaczmarski is a designer & blogger based in Charlotte who loves photography, typography and eating Nutella straight out of the jar.