Recently, during my day job and for an extra freelance job, I have been designing some logos for companies. Within my company itself, I am trying to establish a brand within a brand, as such, therefore am restricted slightly by company guidelines, colour schemes etc. The freelance work on the other hand is for a small home business, with little to no restriction. For anyone who is interested in logo design (it’s really fun!) here’s an overview of the process that I take:
1. Design Brief and Discussion
It is important to understand the brief and what your client wants to get out of their logo. It is important that the logo represents them and what they want to say as a company. Ask plenty of questions about them and the brief so that you can get as deep an understanding as possible.
Now that you have got your initial meet up done, it is time to go and do your own research. Find out about the professional area that the logo is for, and look at other companies in the same area to get ideas. Do they all have a common theme when it comes to their branding? You may need to ask the client some more questions again after doing some research.
This is probably the hardest part of the process, which can range in time from minutes to weeks worth of work. Start by sketching as many thumbnail designs for your logo as you can, which you can then narrow down the good and bad designs so you know what route to progress down. The sketches (just like your logo) do not need to be complex in any way – the simpler the better. In the end, you should hopefully have narrowed it down to between 1 and 5 designs. I personally then send the designs over to the client and get them to decide which one they would like to persevere with further, but you may wish to decide this yourself.
Once you have narrowed down your design to a final idea, it is time to digitise it. Using a vector based digital tool (such as Adobe Illustrator, not Photoshop, Photoshop is best for exporting and effect experimentation but not for drawing), the design can be ‘traced’ from your sketch and made digital. You should begin this by making the whole logo black and white: if the logo doesn’t work without colour, then it doesn’t work. You can also check whether the image works as a logo by zooming in and out, as a logo should be scalable up and down to ensure that it looks good at any size. Once the logo works in black and white, it can then be given a colour scheme.
For colour schemes, it is good to do some research into what your colours can mean to people psychologically, and what colours work well together/which ones clash. Creating a colour chart with your base colour and then different shades is a good way to see variations and to have your palette (along with the hex codes) all in one place for easy reference.
Keep your grid on while doing this and use it as a guideline. If necessary (such as for iOS app icons), set an artboard to a specific size so that you get more of an idea of how your icon fills its canvas. Make sure that ‘Snap to Grid’ is turned on in the View toolbar and that ‘Align New Objects to Pixel Grid’ is unselected (this can be changed when you start a new document).
One last tip is for exporting. You need the width and height of your logo to both be an odd or even number. Having the height as an even number and width as an odd number will cause problems later on, so avoid this. The same goes for your line width: if your icon size is even, your line width should be even too. This is useful if you centre your icons, as you can’t centre an odd width line on an even width icon.
You may need to do some reflection on your designs to see if there is anything you have missed or can improve upon. It helps to take some time away from the project, do something else and then come back to it and take a good look at what you’ve achieved. This may need to be days later, but if there is a certain part that is niggling away at you that you can’t quite get right, it really helps just to sleep on it and approach the problem later with a clear head. You may think that you don’t need this time away, but when you look back even a design that seemed perfect the day before can have amazing improvements thanks to a bit of downtime.
6. Product Mockups
This step isn’t totally necessary but it’s something I like to do for the client. If they have specified what product they would like their logo to be on, I Photoshop the logo onto a few of these products (such as notebooks, mugs etc.) so that they can see how it would look. This also helps to narrow down any imperfections that may arise from seeing the logo on a specific product, as well as highlighting the need for any logo variations. Pens, for example, are long and thin and may need a different version of, say, a circular logo.
7. Style Guide and Assets
One of the final steps is to create a style guide for your client. This will contain guidelines for how the logo should be used, as well as colour schemes and how any other things that they may want to produce should be consistent with the logo. You will also need to make sure that the logo and its variations are exported correctly to appropriate sizes, with no pixelation.
This is the point where you show your client what you have produced and they are hopefully very happy! If you have followed the above steps there is no reason why you cannot create a logo that fits the brief specifications. They may want a couple of minor tweaks at this stage but there shouldn’t be anything major that needs to change.
9. Identity Support
Continue to support the client if necessary to help them build up their brand. They may decide from needing one logo that they would like, for example, some website design done for them too. This step isn’t always necessary, but it’s best to support the client and keep a good working relationship going for future needs.
The main points to remember when designing your logo are that it should:
– Be timeless
– Use appropriate fonts
– Be scalable up and down
– Be simple