Successful logos are usually simple and memorable. You can read this article “Design A Successful Logo” for more information. Of course creating successful logo is a hard process and involves series of stages from researching to delivery. There is no hard and fast rule to create a logo but if one follows a systematic process or has created own style, it becomes an easy task. Here is the logo design method I usually use. You can follow it or make one for yourself.
Step: 1 Getting a description from client, finding client’s need & understanding it.
Every client gives description, but a designers needs get the right amount of information and have a clear idea of client’s need. Also remember that “customer is always right” even if they are not hardcore designers.
- Listen to every word (keyword) of client and remember the stuffs they like to see in the logo. Note them down and try to put them in the logo. In my personal experience, I had to re-do lot of logos by not noticing or putting the stuffs client told me to because I thought it would make logo ugly. Yes, it could turn ugly but take it as challenge and present it creatively. It will lead to fast approval.
- If the company already has corporate color than you can play around its colors otherwise you should ask for client’s favorite color or lucky color. Whenever the client wants you to choose the color, choose it wisely according to type and target audience of the company. You can find plenty articles about definition of color.
- Ask them for their company’s competitors or similar other companies.
- Ask client what type of logos fascinates them? Which company’s logo is their favorite? With all these questions, if client is not irritated, ask them what type of logo are they searching for? For example: Textual or typography, just a symbol or emblem representation or both. These questions can really narrow down your process.
This rule does not work on some nosy clients: I have found some of my clients getting irritated by these questions. Because clients tend to think that we are psychic designers and will get exactly what they want. We should stop asking questions to those clients and start working and give them logo options of virtually every type. And after few stages you will automatically know client’s interest.
Step 2: Research, Exploration & Inspiration
Getting a clear brief from client is like 25% of work done. After the brief, understand the target market and motto / goal of the company. You should research about the company and its competitor / similar companies. Take a look at their logo and DON’T GET INSPIRED BY THEM. Or you can end up designing logo similar to them. If you are a designer who get easily driven away by inspiration, I would suggest not to get inspired or look at any references until you complete STAGE 3. It’s important.
Step 3: Mapping mind on paper or sketching (My favorite part)
I always sketch my designs whether its logo, websites or advertisements on my sketch pad before going digital. Sketching is fast and easy than doodling around in Corel Draw or Adobe Illustrator. You can erase, overlap, mix and match here. Just sketch the basic shapes and ideas that came first when you hear client’s company name or keywords. Draw at least 30 concepts and try to branch out variation of logos. More you sort things out in this step, easier it will be in the future.
Remember you are not acting like an artist here. Do not waste time perfecting your shape and adding shadows n highlights and make-ups here. This stage is just rough sketches of ideas.
Step 4: Taking into digital world
Later when sketches are done, select the one you think is right for the company. I usually use Corel Draw X5 and Adobe Illustrator CS5 to prepare my logos. I use these applications to design logo in vector format. It is highly recommended to prepare logos or any design which need frequent scaling use vector formats and applications. In this stage, I go through list of important features that a logo must have. You can read this article here. After preparation of logo, send your options to client. Sit back and wait for the feedback.
Step 5: Getting client’s feedback
Designer (usually freelancer) should work closely with the client, design agency or website design company. Being friendly, listening to the suggestions and agreeing them is one factor for healthy business relationship. When I first send option to the client, I usually send 3 to 15 options of logos according to client’s requirement and budget. More than 80% of my client tends to like any one of the logo options in this stage. These are some conditions that you can face in this stage.
Condition 1 – Client likes the logo instantly.
Action 1 – You are lucky. No worries, head for finalization.
Condition 2 – Client likes one of the options but wants to change color or typeface.
Action 2 – Send multiple option of selected logo changing its color and typeface. Try to narrow it down. Go to step 6.
Condition 3 – Client likes one of the options but wants more variation of the particular logo.
Action 3 – Send multiple variation of the selection logo option. Try to go through the 1st step.
Condition 4 – Client does not like any of the options.
Action 4 – That’s a bad day. Go through the stage 1 carefully and interview your client more. Remember the part KEYWORD. This is miserable but sometimes I act as a detective. I go through client’s surroundings, spy on client’s interest, color choice, find out favorite gadgets, organization, vehicle brand and also seek any print materials like brochure, flyer that is laying around in clients office. But if you are dealing with client through email or phone, this is going to be harder. Find anything possible to study your client and repeat all steps.
Condition 5 – Client chases with gun seeing pathetic designs.
Action 5 – Just kidding. That’s never going to happen.
Step 6: Going through changes, color and typefaces.
(There is no work for Step 5 Condition 1 here)After completion of step 5, I usually go through colors and change typefaces if client is not satisfied. Be clever on colors. It’s hard to define color theory here, but I mostly use black, dark gray and any 1-2 corporate colors. Try different colors using color wheel or any color combination app. For example: Yellow and black is color of CAT heavy vehicles. Select suitable typefaces. I use dafont.com to preview fonts. It’s a handy website. Now you can again present 2-3 options and head to finishing.
Step 7: Finishing
This is most important part of the logo design cycle. Actually a designer should remember this step as a point to remember and implement on every step of logo evolution. Following are the things to remember.
- Logo is for web content or printing purpose. The color palette should be chosen here. If its web, RGB color mode is good but for print CMYK mode is a must. Also I do not recommend using color that uses more than 2color channels.
Like an Orange color will take 100% of Magenta and 100% of Yellow. Likewise Brown color will take 60% of Magenta, 60% of Yellow and 40% of Black. And you do not want to use color that uses all color channels. For example a dark maroon which uses 40% of Cyan 100% of Magenta 50% of Yellow & 30% of Black. I’m not telling that you should not use these colors, but it really matters when a printing press screws up the final printing or background of the logo has harsh colors. This is important in my country Nepal, our country has very less quality press and rest of them always messes the color.
- The logo should be adaptable to any dimension and media. A designer should be prepared for any situation, like a woolen wear company can use logo on woolen sweaters by embroidering them on it. A carton box company can use them on cartons and a car company can make emblem for their car. So scalability and visibility should always be on designer’s mind. I usually test logos by printing them on various sizes from visiting card to full A4 size with 3 variety of background. White, gray and black.
Step 8: Presenting final version
This part depends on client and his company. A designer should provide the client every file format that is likely to use. Providing required file format will make client to distribute their logo when they need to and remove hassle of contacting designer time to time for the required format. The file formats I usually provide to my client are:
- EPS/PDF/CDR/AI vector formats in CMYK color mode for printing purpose. Don’t forget to provide one color or Black colored version of logo.
- JPG/PNG/GIF format in RGB color mode for web, email or presentation documents.
- ICO formats if required which can be used as favicon and applications.
- A logo usage guideline if the company is very big like a multinational organization. If you don’t have idea about logo usage guidelines, you can download in the link below.