THE LOGO DESIGN PROCESS
“The creative ‘act’ is a process, not a moment.”
The creative process is different from artist to artist. Every designer has their own process. Designers are artists. There is no uniform design process. Each artist works explores their world of inspiration in their own unique way.
It should be your first priority to stay true to yourself as an artist. This does not mean to design logos that you like, rather than your client. This means to use your creative expression to explore new worlds and don’t be afraid to venture where you have not yet ventured. Be bold.
Get the details
Before you hit the drawing board you should speak to your client and find out some information about their company. Ask questions about their intended market and find out what types of logos they prefer. Keywords that help describe their business can also help a designer visualize the design. You should try to gather as much information as possible so you are able to come up with something your client will love.
Now that you have information about your client’s company, you’re ready to start brainstorming ideas that will help make up your design. Mind maps are a great way to generate the use, style, clarity and keywords of your design. A mind map is designed by brainstorming words, and linking those words to other words associated to them. By doing this, you uncover words that you wouldn’t normally associate with the original subject, but that may be applicable to what you are designing. Once you explore all possible avenues, you will have a clearer idea of where you want to go with your design.
Joe’s Plumbing approaches you because Joe needs a new logo for his company. His previous logo has a clipart image and some Arial text but he’s looking for something more modern and sophisticated. Joe has no idea what he wants to see in the logo and is leaving all of the creative details such as color and style up to you. Aside from the fact that you know it’s a plumbing company, you have no idea what else he would like to accomplish with said logo. Thus, the brainstorming begins. We know that this is a plumbing company, so we want to be true to the industry. We want to be sure the logo is not feminine nor reflects childish characteristics. We also know that plumbers work with pipes, so we may include some sort of graphic of a leaking pipe or something similar. For brainstorming to be successful you need to think outside the box, and discover ways to excel past what the norm is doing.
When coming up with the next and greatest logo design, designers often face the challenge of getting inspired to achieve exactly what their client is looking for. Sometimes you may receive a brief of what the client is looking for and other times, the client has no direction whatsoever. Often, in those cases, they are relying on you to be the creative genius. To design a logo with very little direction, while satisfying the client, can be a very difficult task at times. There are a few tips to help you achieve logo design greatness.
Most designers will be inspired by other designs. Some great resources can be found online or in print in both design magazines and books. These should not ever be used to copy a design, but to provide ideas that will help you come up with your own design. You can also use color trend websites like colourlovers.com to provide color pallets that will help you come up with a color scheme for your logo. Also, never be constrained to just one type of inspiration medium, you can find inspiration in everyday items like billboard ads or household products. Life experiences can be the greatest form of inspiration.
Another great source of inspiration is the internet. There are a lot of great design sites on the Internet that cater exactly to what you need…inspiration. These sites allow people to post their logos and display their work. The sole purpose of these sites is to give ideas to people who are looking for some inspiration. There are many of these sites around but some that stand out are www.logopond.com, www.logooftheday.com and www.logolounge.com.
After you have been briefed on the company, you’ve brainstormed what you want the design to accomplish and you’ve been inspired by an online logo database, you’re ready to hit the drawing board.
Don’t let anyone fool you into believing that the best place to start is your computer. It’s time to break out the sketchpad and pencil. When you sketch freehand, opposed to using your design software, your ideas will flow more freely. You will sketch things quickly and modify and change them, before you have the time to analyze them. You are able to express yourself much more creatively when you’re not constrained to a mouse. It is recommended that you always carry around a pen and notepad because you may find yourself in a situation of inspiration or have a creative burst. No design ever has to be final with a sketch but it can often guide you in the right direction.
Sketching or drawing may not be your strong suit, but by drawing out your ideas before hitting the computer you can discover ideas and designs that you wouldn’t have with a computer. With a pencil and paper, you are given more freedom to express your ideas by not being constrained by the computer. With all the latest electronics, such as the iPad & iPhone, pens and paper are slowly being replaced. In this industry, there is always a place for them. However, they are a good alternative to help sketch out any ideas that quickly come to mind, if you do not have your sketchpad readily available.
It’s now time to put your sketches and ideas into digital form. A scanner is a good investment, so that you can easily trace, or closely recreate what you’ve drawn out. Another alternative would be to take a photo of your sketches. Once you begin working on the computer, you have all the tools and components to really enhance your designs and make them great. With stylized fonts, or shading you can turn a basic idea into something that is eye catching. You should always use vector based programs such as Adobe Illustrator or GIMP so that these logos can easily be transferred to both print and web based designs.
Once you have come up with a design that you feel meets the needs of your client, it is time to get some feedback. As mentioned before, don’t wait too long to get feedback, because if you are going in the wrong direction, it is best to get feedback before you get too far into the project, and a lot of time is wasted. Clients are usually very anxious to view the first drafts and provide feedback on the design. This gives them an opportunity to offer suggestions or revisions if they would like to make changes. Take the ideas provided by your client and improve the design.
Back to the drawing board
Don’t be discouraged if the client doesn’t approve your first proof, as there is always room for improvement. By getting feedback it should help you understand your clients vision clearly and help you accomplish what they’re looking for. It’s usually a good idea to provide a few different styles for the client to choose from so try and pick different colors and font faces to help give more options.
Getting final approval
When sending your design off for final approval it’s always good to show examples of what the logo will look on existing stationary and websites. Once you and the client have agreed on a final design it’s time to get the files ready for distribution. When preparing the files, you should always include all the fonts used in the logo design, as well as various formats of the logo (EPS, JPG, GIF & TIFF). You should always provide the client with a black/greyscale version of the logo as well. With the new digital area as well it may not be a bad idea to provide a favicon and iPhone icons. Be sure to zip the files up so that it is convenient for email or FTP file transfer.
A logo is not just an image on the screen or a business card; it’s a combination of well thought out ideas and creative genius. In order to create an impacting and memorable logo that really suits your clients needs, you should consider the steps in this process before you begin your next logo design.
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