The logo design process is often misunderstood. Logo design is not exactly graphic design. Though design principles, such as form, color, shape, and negative space are unarguably used in the creation of a logo, a logo designer must take additional factors into account.
A company logo is used in the brand identity development process, so a logo is a graphic product but it is also a long-term marketing tool for the company. Your company logo will be used in all varieties of applications. For this reason, a good logo design always begins with research. A logo needs to both stand out, and also follow trends. It needs to be uniquely identifiable and representative of the company, but it also needs to relate to the company’s target audience or audiences.
To learn how this is done, let’s take a closer look at the process…
1. Client Research
It’s pretty much a given that in order to develop a mark that will represent a company, a designer will need to know at least what services or goods are offered by said company. But a logo is not meant to simply allude to what your business does, it is meant to symbolize the company personality as well. Before our designers begin a logo, we review notes from our initial client discovery meeting. This helps to drive the design by informing our designers about the company history, values, mission, and more. In other words we want to know not only WHAT a company does, but why they do it, who they are, and what their values are for before beginning a logo design. Without really knowing your business, a designer cannot possibly create a logo that is truly representative of your company.
2. Industry Research
The company’s industry as well as the current state of that industry also heavily influences a logo design. Industry research helps us to understand what other companies in the same industry value and how those values compare to your business. It helps us to understand what your business has to offer that sets you apart from other companies in the industry, and those differences will be considered in the logo design.
It is also helpful to understand what audience or audiences the industry is targeting. We want to know as many characteristics of the target audience as possible before beginning a design because the logo will need to speak to that audience. As mentioned before, the logo will need to stand out and identify your company uniquely, however it must also relate to the people who will use your company’s goods or services. So, for a young women’s clothing store, we may use brighter colors, trendy design elements, and form that implies both femininity as well as maturity. Whereas for a financial planner for retirees, we might use colors and lines that imply stability, but if the company has a focus on traveling retirees the designer may incorporate a palm tree or another icon to convey that aspect of the business niche.
3. Logo Application Research
If you are having a logo designed for your company, you will want to provide your designer with all of the possible applications that you can think of where the logo might be used. We all use our logos on our website, brochures and other collateral, and social media. However your company might need to place the logo on the side or back of a delivery truck, or convert it to a lighted sign on the front of your physical location. Knowing these applications before beginning a logo will not only help your designer to develop something that will work for those individual applications, but it will also ensure that you end up with a logo that works effectively throughout all of them. Scalability, available space, and formatting limitations are all factors that a logo designer must take into account while designing a logo.
4. Core Concept Development
With all of the research in place, the designer now has an excellent foundation to build from. All of that information is compiled to inform the designer on all elements of your logo. Now it’s time to begin sketching.
Each logo designer has their own process for developing the initial concepts for a logo, but sketching is one of the effective ways to play with a number of ideas quickly. The client will often never see these sketches, as they are used as a brainstorming practice for the designer. In some cases 10 or more sketches are created and for more complex concepts there may be dozens of sketches before drafting begins. This process helps to narrow down the final concepts and the more that the designer has to work with the better.
The designer will then choose the best sketches and use them, or combined elements of different sketches, to create the first drafts of the logo. This typically consists of 3-4 initial concepts and these are now presented to the client for review.
5. Modifications and Refinement
As with most other design endeavors, the final product is typically a combination of the designer’s efforts and the client’s input. The designer has developed concepts based on a strong foundation of information, so we’re hopefully close to a final result at this point. However, no one knows your business better than you. With a strong foundation of research and best design practices, our aim is to find 3-4 different ways to represent your company in a unique, relatable, and visually appealing way. At this point, you will typically choose your favorite version, or your favorite elements from a couple of different versions that you feel best represent your business. Having a visual aid to begin with, you will be able to provide valuable feedback that will help your designer to narrow down exactly what you’re looking for in this final step of the process. The end result, ideally, is an excellent logo that you and your designer can both be proud of!
6. Building Out Your Brand Identity
Your brand as a whole is far more than your logo, as you know. However, your logo plays a huge role in your company recognition and your brand identity. With an excellent logo in hand, the next step is to build out your brand identity. If you already have marketing materials in place, this may be a matter of redesigning or adjusting marketing materials to match your logo colors or fall in line with shapes or other aspects of your logo. If you are just getting started, the logo can help to drive the personality and appeal of everything from your website to your business cards. Either way, a great logo is not only a symbol to represent your company and what you do, but also an extremely valuable part of your larger branding strategy.