What Happens in the Design Room: Five Steps to a Great Logo
January 13, 2017
Great logos are powerful business tools. A logo should be an enduring symbol of a brand and it should relay the core essence of a company. And to design a seemingly simple symbol is, in reality, a huge undertaking. And people should not take the task lightly to avoid creating a logo that is forgettable and expendable.
If a logo succeeds in capturing and showing what a brand and its identity are, then it will likely last in people’s minds. Behind all representations are design philosophies that reflect the personalities of brands. And behind the designs are people whose beliefs are rooted in bringing out the authenticity of a brand.
The challenge now for designers is to integrate into the design the values that a business is upholding. Whatever the business is, whether it involves baking taro cheesecake or printing personalized compliment slips, it’s a must to have just the right logo represent it. But how do designers draft a proper design that is authentic and genuine to a brand’s past, present, and possible position in the industry?
The position changes according to a brand’s values, personality, philosophy, and contribution to the industry. The brand’s history should also be considered when designing a logo. And when there is an existing logo that needs changing, a designer also has to assess the previous designs and see how a new logo can evolve from them. By considering the merits of all the changes that occurred in a business and the value of things that remain, a design that is contextual can be achieved. Often, any update about the visual identity of a brand happens as reactions to social trends and technological changes. But to understand a brand’s philosophy, a huge fraction of the work involves collaborating with clients.
Designing logos is a two-way street that artists and clients must traverse. As designers, there is always the need to understand customers’ needs and to know more than just the basics about them. In turn, designers will also appreciate clients who are familiar with their style when they come with a design request. It is good if customers and designers know enough about the style and vision of one another for this helps in the collaboration process.
Before anything, all of us should understand that the course of creating art isn’t something anyone can just reproduce anytime anywhere. Also, there isn’t any guidelines or rulebooks for people to follow during a design process. And every design experience is unique for both client and designer despite similarities with all other collaborations.
If you’re curious about the design process and partnership between a designer and client to produce the perfect logo, here’s an outline of what usually happens. Some designers may not agree with this since there’s not just one approach to doing it. But know that whatever the approach, it takes a lot of communication between designer and client, on top of skill and talent, to achieve a design that delivers. Here are the necessary steps we drew based on the parallels from previous design services we provided clients in the past.
Create the Design Brief
The first step in any design process is designers asking clients questions and providing them with instructions to identify what the project aims to accomplish in the end. And so, proper and clear communication between the parties involved is crucial at the beginning of any planning. As designers, we have to ask the right questions to gather the right information we need for the design. And in turn, we’d want our clients to be able to clearly explain what the logo design is for, what their business or group is about, who their target market is, and the kind of image they want people to associate with their brand. The answers we get from these questions are the kind of information that we must gather from clients. The particulars, which will constitute the design brief, will help us identify materials we can draw inspiration from and will guide us on how to go about with the design.
Using the design brief, clients and designers can decide whether to proceed with the project or not. The design brief is useful for an assessment of whether the collaboration might work well or not. Clients may also use this time to weigh things and check if he or she is from the same vantage point as the designer when it comes to their vision for the logo. Once client and designer agree to proceed with the project, the next fundamental step is research.
Do a bit of research
With the project brief at hand, and after having an agreement on the proceedings of the design process, do a bit of study to help you with your design. The research part is when designers learn more about the business or organization the logo is for. Matters like the kind of industry the client is working in as well as the goals and objectives they have as an organization or even as individuals are important. We, designers, would do better if we know the basic details about the business history of our clients and if we have even just a bit of information regarding our client’s competitors in the industry. All data we acquire from the research will serve as our guide for the logo design.
That guide will keep us from incorporating design elements that stand contrary to our client’s business, their image, personality, and values. Doing research will also provide us the context we need to make the perfect logo that will make our client and their brand or product stand out from the rest of the competitors in the industry. That is a crucial and much-needed move in any marketing campaign. Especially when the market is already saturated, a brand has to do everything that will make it different and appear as the better, if not the best, option for consumers
Additional research may also be conducted to find out which techniques or style will be perfect for the design. That is because not all logos would look great in a particular way. Some are better off as formal and serious while others will work out if they give off a chill or more relaxed vibe. Again, the total look of the logo will depend on the identity of a brand. And so, designers must conduct a bit of research to grasp what the business of their client is all about.
Think and Design
The next crucial step will take up most of the design process. For the thinking, drafting, and developing phase, we designers will need to use all the information we gathered previously. It is always a good idea to integrate the answers we got through the design brief and research. Some designers will rely on that information to draw a logo while others will opt to set both design brief and research aside for a while as they will look around for inspiration. As we know, inspiration may come in any and all forms, and no one can dictate when and where to find one.
And so, looking for inspiration does not necessarily mean we have to hide away from others by taking solitary refuge in our workspace. This phase could also mean a time for us to keep our communication lines open for our clients so we can give them with updates and they can provide us inputs when necessary. It will be beneficial for both client and designer to continue communicating so both parties can check whether the design is going in a direction that the customer finds proper. Doing so will also keep us from doing any work that does not deliver what the client has specified. After the actual design phase of the project, designers will expect feedback.
Gather design feedback
Feedback on a particular work, in the form of constructive criticisms, are necessary. That is true in most, if not all, design processes especially when the success of expected outputs will depend on the preferences of the customers. If both client and designer followed the earlier steps we mentioned, then there shouldn’t be any major issue regarding the design concept. If an element of the design still has to change, then that should at least be a minor issue only. Both parties may expect the project to culminate soon should things go according to plan.
However, if designers do not receive any form of feedback during the process, and clients are not elated about the work upon submission, then there can be more challenges ahead. Expect the design process to stretch and probably go beyond the initial timeline as client and designer will continue to negotiate the design. That is why there’s a need for constant communication and constructive criticisms to avoid any frustrations and other unnecessary stresses. And sometimes, it helps to remember there isn’t a standard length for the time it takes to have a final output. That period will depend on the designer and client.
Now you have a logo
After all the negotiation, planning, redesigning that occurred in the previous stages, by now, both designer and client will only need a final approval for the turnover of the design and its copyrights. The last step only involves checking the design brief, so the customer will see if the designer has provided the expected deliverables. During this stage, both parties will have to decide on how best to end the contract and resolve any technicalities that may arise when documenting the project completion. It is during this part when the working relationship between a designer and customer ends. The project experience, as a whole, now becomes a valuable factor should clients and designers decide to continue to engage in other projects.
Earl Jonathan Tech is the founder of PrintMeister, a startup based in Australia that specializes in online print marketing and advertising. Earl, through PrintMeister, has provided countless clients from the land down-under with top-notch products and services. Earl spends most of his time producing print solutions for different kinds of business but also enjoys writing during breaks.