The world of logo design is an amazingly complex and beautiful world. Everytime I create a logo I learn something new about the process; I discover a different technique or find another talented artist to follow. I am still learning and hope to continuously improve my skills and design quality. In that pursuit I thought I would share the steps I usually follow when designing a logo.
Every project is different; in some cases I spend hours on each of these items in this exact order, and other times I skip a step or two and have a draft ready for the client almost immediately - often thinking what a stroke of creative genius I’ve had and then recanting upon a second look or after client feedback. In any case, when I get a design brief I generally:
1. Search for inspiration
This is something I dedicate at least a half hour to daily, whether I am working on a particular design piece or not. I'm not talking about typing in "logo for consulting company" and copying the best concepts. But I do like to see what other talented designers have come up with, what vibe they give, what colors are most predominant. It doesn't mean I'll use those styles or colors; the biggest benefit to me really is that scrolling through beautiful collections on Pinterest or Behance usually gets me excited to start designing and kicks my creative motor into gear.
One example of creative people I look to for inspiration is Josiah Jost (Siah Design), an extremely prolific and talented logo designer. Another source I will always go to is Michael Bierut and his awe-inspiring book, "How to Use Graphic Design to Sell Things, Explain Things, Make Things Look Better, Make People Laugh, Make People Cry, and (Every Once in a While) Change the World."
2. Write a word map
A lot of times I will grab a pen and paper and just start jotting down all the words I can think of related to the brand or company I am creating the logo for. I'll make a list of central concepts, words those concepts remind me of, really anything that comes to mind. This serves mainly to get a visual picture of everything that might be relevant to the design, as well as come up with words or concepts that might possibly spark an idea for an image or icon.
3. Start sketching!
Often even before listing words I will start sketching. I have no set process for this, I just doodle. Having extensive experience doodling (in class, while on the phone, in church... oops) this comes easy to me. I draw anything I can think of related to the words I came up with, anything the client mentioned in the brief... I play with letters and acronyms, I sketch icons and combine them in different ways. I try to experiment with as many techniques and styles as I can; negative space, geometric shapes, repetition, simplification, etc. Sometimes I'll hit on a good idea with the first sketch, sometimes it'll take 3 pages.
4. Go digital
Once I have a few ideas sketched out I open Adobe Illustrator and start putting together shapes, colors, and fonts. I love this program, and have really enjoyed the new and improved features in CC14. I try and implement all of the different ideas I developed in the sketching stage, and this is when I see if they will work at all or not. I often come up with something totally new, and my drafts always extend way beyond the allotted Illustrator "artboard".
5. Mock-up and send to the client
Most of the time mock-up just means I paste the design onto a white-grey gradient background. Sometimes though I do like to use Photoshop mock-up templates to showcase how my proposal would look on a business card, a store front, etc. I polish up the best designs (usually 2 or 3), add in the tagline when applicable, and send it off to the client with a brief description. There is always a momentary pause and a deep breath before pressing that Send button.
As I mentioned, the creative process is often a free flowing one and doesn't always subscribe to these exact 5 steps. Once I get feedback from the client I will repeat as many of the steps as necessary and tweak the design until the client is happy with the final product. Which is always the ultimate goal and one of the best parts of my job.
If you are a designer I would love to hear about your logo designing process. What other steps do you take? Which takes up the most of your time?