The Basics of Logo Design
Step 1: Gathering Information
Your very first step in designing a logo for a client is getting some direction about what they want and how they want to brand their business. Some clients will be extremely specific about what they see for their logo, and some will hand over all creative control to you.
Even if your client does not really know what they want, you can pull some helpful keywords and emotions out of them. Questions like: “What are a few phrases that represent your brand?”, “What colors are you drawn to?“, and “Do you want to come off as strong, intense, powerful, and corporate? Or sweet, light, friendly, and personable?”? Once you present them with some terms that emote a feeling about their logo they may be able to steer you in the right direction for their brand.
One other key part of this step is taking some time to look at some competitors’ logos in your client’s field. You can take this information and decide what other have done that was successful or unsuccessful. This process also allows you to see what is already out there so you can make your design completely unique.
Step 2: Setting Up Your Workspace
For this step in the process there are differing opinions on how to go about designing the actual logo. Some designers insist on using Photoshop for their designs because of a comfort level and a higher level of control the program provides. The catch is that Photoshop is a pixel-based program meaning you build a design on a certain size set of pixels and then are unable to scale the design up without being left with a blurred or stair-stepping effect.
The ideal way to design a logo is with Illustrator. Although it is a little more complicated, Illustrator gives you complete freedom in scaling your design up and down because it a vector-based program. If your client is only going to use their logo on the web or in other small uses you may be able to get away with using Photoshop, but if there is any chance the logo will be used for print or scaled up for any other type of media then you are definitely better off with Illustrator.
Step 3: Designing the Logo
This step can be the most difficult and will require a lot of creativity. By speaking with your client and researching competitors you have hopefully brainstormed some initial ideas. I usually start out with my first idea and then more spring out from there as I am working. My process usually involves a couple different starting points for a design. I then use those starting points and riff off of them in different ways until I feel that I have a complete, well-rounded group of designs. Which brings us to the next step…
Step 4: Presenting Your Work
There are a couple different ways to approach presenting your designs. Some designers advocate pairing downs your designs to 2 or 3 of the ones you think are the most successful. This can help a client easily pick the direction they want their logo to take. A lot of times, if I think my range of designs all bring something different and valuable to the table, I will present a wide array of 8-12 designs compiled onto a numbered, organized sheet. This allows the client to take in all of the directions together, easily reference them, and see which ones really stands out. This way is also helpful because if there are portions of two different designs that a client particularly likes they can pick and choose different ideas that can be combined into a new design.
Step 5: Design Revisions
While not always necessary if the client is happy with something you have already done, it is good practice to go back and clean up and perfect the design the client has chosen to go with. Also, at this point you may need to go back to the drawing board if the client didn’t feel like you nailed it on the first try. The good thing about this step is even if you didn’t get it exactly right, you now have a clearer direction about what the client wants.