Want to know the secrets of how top graphic designers create their logos?
This article will reveal exactly how top logo designers of today’s modern age create their logos. It will show the design process that these designers go through to get to their final logo design.
Their Design Process:
- The Brief
- Visual Research
- Sketching & Conceptualising
1. The Brief
Nearly all designers agree that the initial accumulation of information from the client is the most important step, either by a face to face interview or a questionnaire. This is where you must establish the design brief. Designer, John Homs says “You really need to understand your client very thoroughly before you get started. Logo Design is never just shooting in the dark. It’s just the opposite.”
After moulding the design brief, getting to know your client’s businesses is the next crucial step in making a logo successful. Research includes general reading on the industry itself, sometimes on its history, and on its competitors. If budgets allow, external research can be carried out.
3. Visual Research
This is research not into the clients business, but into the actual logo style. This is where we seek out a look, a style, an approach or attitude, usually to attain a period or style that we are unfamiliar with, or to refresh ourselves with what is new or successful. Eg. Find logos of similar business’ and critique them. This is where you look for inspiration.
Designer Wendy Stamberger said “I look more for techniques and to ask myself why a certain logo looks corporate, or what makes a really good health care logo: or for example why do I like this logo and dislike that one?” Designers should do this to gain a better understanding of the industry and competition.
Note: Some designers actually refuse the use of visual research, preferring to use their own mental source book, however others say that doing so, is limiting your design solution.
4. Sketching & Conceptualising
Developing the logo design concept(s) is where creativity comes into play, this is where the designer must create the logo by using the design brief and the research conducted. Some designers use a napkin to sketch, some use a sketchbook and some use the computer as paper, this is all a matter of personal choice, however using a computer first up is not recommended.
When conceptualising, some designers are mainly concerned with the graphic style and image of a piece while others try to convey deep meaning or some sort of visual puzzle (such as the arrow in the FedEx logo – look between the e and x). These types of logos have a bigger impact on the viewer and when a designer creates one, they know it straight away. It will be unique and will add a dimension to the experience and to the whole identity. For more information on conceptualizing check out my article on how to design a logo or the ultimate guide to logo design or if you need help on typography, check out the top 5 typography resources.
Taking breaks is as important as the physical research and the design brief. It is so easy to get stuck in a creative cul-de-sac (learn how to be creative) and get tired of a project and this is why logo designers take breaks. By resting, your ideas mature and develop in the back of your head. When you go back to your project, you have renewed enthusiasm, insight and opportunity. This is also a good stage to get feedback from others.
This is where designers choose how to work… they either position themselves like contractors and take orders according to their clients wishes (ie. Don’t advise their clients of design matters) OR they position themselves like a business and build themselves a long term relationship (ie. Guide clients to a more appropriate solution much alike how a lawyer does). Designers have to choose how they wish to work. Personally, I try to find a happy medium.
This is where the designer must present their work to the client. They can choose whether to show the client a huge variety of logo design concepts (if it is hard to gauge a clients taste) OR they could choose to showcase just a few select logo designs. This is another debatable issue. I personally, present only the best 1 or 2 concepts.
In a survey conducted to 75 top designers, when the job is finally finished and approved, 31% of designers celebrate by drinking beer, 12% head for chocolate, 22% head off to bed to catch up on sleep and the other 35% can’t celebrate because they must start on the next logo design.
Below is a summary of the whole design process for quick review. You may even find it useful to print the whole article – if so, make sure you print the smart way or even better, use the Print function found at the bottom of this article.
- Design Brief: Conduct Questionnaire or Interview with client to get the design brief.
- Research: Conduct research focused on the industry itself, on its history, and on its competitors.
- Reference: Conduct research into logo designs that have been successful and current styles and trends that are related to the design brief.
- Sketching & Conceptualising: Develop the logo design concept(s) around the brief and research. Use creativity. Know how to design a logo.
- Reflection: Take breaks throughout the design process. This lets your ideas mature and for you to get renewed enthusiasm. Receive feedback.
- Positioning: Position yourself as a contractor or build a long lasting relationship. ie. Client orders you what to do OR You guide client to the best solution.
- Presentation: Choose to present only a select few logos to the client or a whole collection.
- Celebration: Drink beer, eat chocolate, sleep, start on next logo design. Or a combination. 😉
When given a brief, every designer interprets in their own way and if an assignment is given to 100 different designers, it would return 100 different logos, few of which would resemble each other. Though we all endlessly conjecture what makes a ‘good‘ or ‘bad‘ logo, one must remember in the end, the ultimate arbiter of logo design greatness may only be the satisfied, paying client.
The secret moral to this story, therefore, is to work hard, but not be too hard on your first concepts as the process itself, is the key to ultimate success.
If you are interested in getting a professionally designed logo, I am currently available for hire.
This article is a summary of the secret logo design process that 75 top designers told to Leslie Cabarga in his book The Secret Life of Logos: Behind The Scenes With Top Designers.