As a designer, I’d like to think that a logo is one of the most important parts of any business. Your logo is what defines you, what sells you, and what makes you stand out in the crowd. Armed with a well-designed logo, a business has the potential to go much farther than their competition, who chose the $5 generic special.
Below are a few simple steps to take when accepting a logo design job. Going into a job fully prepared greatly decreases the chances of losing focus of your goal. You will also be able to pay more attention to finer details if you have some form of system to follow.
I hope this guide can be of service to you, happy designing!
STEP 1: You have this friend, let’s call him James. James plans on starting his own business. You have known James for quite some time and James is aware of the fact that you are a designer. One day James asks you to design the logo for his new business. Score, right?
The first steps you must take is to sit down with James and talk things over. Get a feel for what it is that he wants from the design. Understanding your client is the most vital part of the whole design process. If you feel that the client is not sure of what it is he/she wants, help them out! The conversation must be a two-way affair. If you do not actively converse with your client a “designer-to-client” relationship will not be established, instead you will get stuck with a “boss-to-employee” relationship. These two might sound like the same thing but they are definitely not.
Make sure that James understand that you are providing a professional, specialized service. Wanting control over something that you are paying for is part of human nature. It is your job as a designer to professionally present yourself so that your client understands your intentions. This must also be done in such a manner as to not make you look like you want all of the control.
If you and your client both feel good about your relationship it is time to continue. If you feel that what your client wants and what you are able to provide do not add up, you may need to nicely let your client know that you will not be able to meet his/her requests. This is by no means an ideal end, but there are other fish in the ocean. Keep moving forward!
For the sake of this guide moving any further we will assume that James and you both felt just great about your relationship.
Brief? Check! You’re well on your way to designing the exact logo James needs for his business.
STEP 2: What you want to do now is do a little bit of homework on his industry. What will be his main means of business? Who will be his competitors? You want to make sure you look at all areas that factor into James’ business. Before you can start creating shapes or typing any words you must make sure that you understand how the business you are creating for functions.
But research does not stop there! Drawing inspiration from other sources may also be considered as research. What are the latest trends? What styles have been successful for other businesses in James’ industry? Learn from other designers, they are one of your trade’s most valuable tools.
To name just a few places you could start your search for inspiration:
• LogoPond – Gallery specifically created for logo designers to show their work.
• Logo Design Love – Blog of graphic designer David Airey. Contains tons of valuable articles.
• Brand New – Opinions of corporate and brand indentity. Keep up on the latest trends.
• Logo Lounge – Another source of inspiration. Gallery of logo designs.
Brief? Check! Research? Check! Well that means you are getting to the fun part.
STEP 3: The next step in the design process is to draw up concepts for your logo. I find the easiest way to do this is to take a pad of paper, find a nice quite spot, and start putting your ideas down on paper. If quiet is not your thing crank the volume on your iPod. If you don’t like noise, but don’t really enjoy silence, head to your local coffee shop and work there. The point here is that you should work in an environment you are most comfortable. The best design happens when you are most relaxed. (This could be true for some and totally untrue for others. Find your happy place!)
When you are happy with what you have on paper fire up Illustrator (or your weapon of choice) and start reproducing your work. If you did not use paper and started with Illustrator right away, good for you! Every designer is different and every designer has his/her unique method when it comes to designing. The main point is that you get your ideas out.
Save your file and take a step back, your work here is done.
I lied! You’re not done yet. You now, with the help of your brief and research, created a possible set of designs to mix and match with different fonts and images. Your next step is to simply choose which design and font goes best together.
STEP 4: What you want to be careful for here is rushing the process. Give yourself some time to digest the designs. Open your document every now and then and just review what you have in front of you. You might change your mind about a certain font or spot a change that you could make in your design to strengthen the overall piece.
Treat your logo as if it is cake batter that you just put in the oven. If you take the cake out too soon it will most likely not taste very well, it might even be runny. You don’t want a runny logo do you?
One week has passed and you feel that you are happy with the logo choice (perhaps choices?) you have made. It is time!
STEP 5: Whether you are showing a single or multiple designs to your client, this is where you must prepare yourself. If you have followed the steps correctly you should have a reason for picking the certain design(s) you did. Be ready to explain to your client why you feel that the design will be effective for his/her business. They might agree with you, or they might disagree. If your client has changes you must choose whether you want to make changes as the client requests, argue that your design is superior to his ideas, or find a midpoint.
My advice would be to shoot for a midpoint. This is after all a relationship!
It turns out that James completely loved your design! His company is booming and he has recommended you to all of his business buddies. Congratulations Mr. Designer!