How to design a logo and not die in the process
Gone are the days when you could have a small business without a logo, or a visual identity. In this day and age even the smallest brand out there needs to be recognizable if it wants to remain in business. This is why sooner or later everyone will need to know the basics of how to design a logo. Even if you’ll be using the services of a professional designers, you need to know what to expect and how things will be handled.
There’s not a standard process as to how to design a logo. Some designers might like to spend a week doing sketches and not touch the Adobe Suite till 3 minutes before the deadline, while others might like to spend a few hours looking for references and then go right ahead to the computer. We can’t tell you what kind of designer you’ll get or what kind of process could work for you, but we can tell you what your general first steps towards designing your logo should look like conceptually:
- Know your purpose
You won’t get far until you’ve gathered enough information to know what you’re doing. This means you’ll need to get to know who you’re working with and what they need to convey through their logo. If you are your own client, you might have things slightly easier, but if you’re working with a team you will need to make agreements. The biggest challenge when learning how to design a logo is finding out your client’s needs and graphically expressing them in a way that lets others understand what your client’s all about.
The more you know your client, the easier it will be to find out their purpose and how the brand should be accurately represented. Not every designer will ask the same questions when doing the first sketches, but to give you an idea of how they approach this stage, here’s some of the preferred questions from our designers:
- If your brand were a person, how would you describe it? Would it be a woman? How old? What profession would she have?
- Can you pick out 3 colors that could identify your brand and say why you’d feel they depict it accurately?
- Is there a specific element that you think represents the brand entirely?
Bonus point if you... create empathy
This part of the process can be a lot easier if you create a positive rapport with your client. Rather than trying to sell them on an idea or convince them you are right, work with them to know their needs and desires and reach an agreement. After all, you’ll deal with the logo once, they, on the other hand will live with it, hopefully forever.
- Define the problem
As in: find out what their main attribute is. Do they solve a specific problem for their buyer’s persona? You’ll need to highlight that. This stage is all about getting to know the brand as a product or service.
At this point, you should be getting specific answers and not a generic one like “Oh, we are a brand for everyone and we do all sorts of stuff”. Don’t be afraid to narrow things down, it won’t be the same as limiting yourself and it will actually let you excel and set the course for your design.
Bonus point if you... emphasize the solution
The fact that there’s a problem doesn’t mean that’s all you should care about. You want the brand to be the solution after all.
- Having something significant to tell
You’ll know you’re failing if you’re just drawing pretty -and meaningless shapes- along with some nice colors that go well together. That’s mediocre and unnecessary. You might as well stop designing altogether and just throw some lines together.
A logo is a brand’s first chance at a good impression with an audience so a smart design should make sure a message comes through in the image. As we estated in the previous point, it should make it stand out from its competition. The brand’s values need to be there however subtly.
Bonus point if you... don’t express this literally
Ok so once you read this is easy to think “well, then, I just draw a printer for my printing company and use it as a logo” or an ice cream cone for an ice cream store. That’s just stating the obvious and not actually telling a story or finding the best way to represent a brand.
- Don’t over do it
On the other end of the spectrum, there’s those that end up making a gigantic collage of styles, ideas, and symbols. That’s not what you want, not just because aesthetically you’re overdoing it, but also because you’re sending a lot of messages that will be fighting against each other in the eyes of your audience. Basically: learning how to design a logo is all about making choices and knowing what to include and what to leave out.
The fact that you want to transmit something, doesn't mean you have to send 10 thousand messages at the same time. The more elements you add, the less clear your message becomes. You don’t want to be perceived as convoluted and confusing.
Bonus point if you... are selective about this
Knowing the difference about what’s essential and what’s not, is the key to a good design.
Remember that... A logo is a representation of your brand, not your personal tastes or values. Though you should have one you feel comfortable with, you should be aiming for something your audience will recognize and associate with your brand rather than something that just pleases you aesthetically.