The true secret behind how graphic designers create their best work is in the “Design Process”. Below are the steps involved that designers take when creatively designing a logo for a client. These steps were featured in an article on JustCreative.com.
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.”
If you haven’t got a client yet you may be interested in how to get your first job. Or if you need help on writing a design brief check out how do you write a graphic design brief?
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 conceptualizing, 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.