Usually when designing a logo it will be in the wider context of the brand. The logo is just one part of how the brand communicates. Having said that, depending on the brand, the logo can play a major role in the brand communication. Some logos such as Google’s take a front seat while others are more subtle and let other parts of the brand dominate.
Here is an overview of the process I use when designing a logo in the context of a larger branding project.
Before putting pen to paper it’s vitally important to work with the client to define the parameters of the brief. Good communication with the client is key to any successful project. If you don’t do this your setting yourself up for a lot of pain and smashed Mac Books which probably will cost more than your fee on the project.
Questionnaire - Identify the problem
A good way to gather information from a client is in the form of a questionnaire. Here you can get insights into the target audience, unique selling points and other brands they admire. This will help you form a solid understanding of the companies needs and where they are in the market place. From here you can also generate brand values or at least some key words that describe the personality of the brand. Questionnaires can vary in complexity but here is a short version one I use: Brand Questionnaire
Once you have an understanding of the company you can then research what others are doing in the same market and identify best practices. You can also look outside of the particular market or discipline to gain more original influences. It’s also a good idea to ask the target audience a bit about their motivations for using or buying that particular product or service.
2. Direction & Mood boards
Once you have done your research and you feel fully informed on the subject you can start to jot down some general ideas or phrases in note form and produce some mood boards indicating the directions you’d like to take. At this point it’s good to involve your client as it will give you an idea if your on the right lines and reduce the chance of having to re-work your ideas. It’s important to mention that this will be just a guide and the process is fairly flexible.
Everything you have on your mood board should relate to the brand values you generated with your cliente. One technique that helps me a great deal is to assign each value, in written form, visual characteristics.
Now you're ready for the part that most people enjoy the most, putting pen to paper and sketching the first drafts. It’s important to start off on paper as the computer has a tendency to suck all the creatives juices out of you and of course it’s easier to get distracted. Some designers will show their client the ideas at this stage but personally I prefer not to do this as it’s hard to imagine what these sketches will look like once they are worked up and actually in situ. On many occasion I’ve had what at least I though was a killer logo on paper only to work it up on the Mac and for it not to translate well.
Once you have a some rough sketches of routs you’d like to take, choose around 3 of these to work up in a program like Adobe Illustrator in black and white. If something isn’t working don’t be scared to go back to pen and paper to re-draw it. It’s probably much quicker than messing about in illustrator worrying about if the key line should be one pixel to the left or right.
4. Mock it up
A logo may look amazing in isolation but rarely do you see a logo on it’s own. In the wild it will have to play nicely with the other brand elements. A super intricate logo that looks amazing on a t-shirt may not reduce down in size well then it has to sit on a header of a website.
5. Client presentation
Unless you want to look like an approval seeking 7 year old*, you should ask questions like “Do you think this communicates the brand values?” or “Do you feel this communicates our message the target audience?” This way you avoid any irrelevant personal preferences that might confuse the process. *If you are 7 years old… well done that looks nice, I’ll pay you in cookies.
Sometimes you’ll get the sign off straight away from your client but unless your client is a unicorn you’ll probably have a few tweaks to do. If your client screws your work up and throws it violently back in your face, something has probably gone wrong in the process. Either you haven’t listened to what your client has told you or your client is my ex girlfriend, either way, something is wrong.
6. Sign off
Once you’ve signed off the project you’ll need to package it all up and deliver the files to the client with any useful instructions on it’s usage. It’s good to produce a mini brand guide and supply all the deliverables in different formats so you don’t get pestered with numerous calls asking for it with out a back ground or in vector format.