The Magic Process of Logo Design

Recently while starting work on a new logo design for a small business, I was given some simple files with type and color. The client asked me to fine-tune the script typeface and play with the color. But here’s the thing: logo design is so much more than which typeface and color you pick.

Since your logo is a major part of your business brand identity, it must be understood and convey meaning –  instantly. It must evoke an emotional reaction from your audience, so they know without question whether your product is something they want. Done well, the logo clarifies, conveys quality, and is memorable. Done poorly, it creates confusion, comes across as cheap, and is generally forgettable.

One of the initial rough layouts for the new logo

Logo design is just too important to the success of your business to try to cut corners on the process.

I believe strongly in collaboration as the main way to reach an effective and memorable logo design. Sometimes the client has a very clear idea of what they want. Other times we need to listen carefully, and then come back with alternate ideas to demonstrate how a different approach might be more effective.That means working with the client and maybe a marketing-savvy support person or two on her staff, step-by-step, until we all agree upon the strongest visual representation for your business.

It’s not about my own personal artistic expression. We all have to put our egos aside, listen and see with intent and honesty, and ask a ton of questions. Those questions will include: Who’s your audience and what attracts them? What is your competition doing, and why is it effective? How can your new logo convey the authentic uniqueness of your business?

Early revised rough layout, showing tagline revisions and color choice

With Annie Mae’s Pantry, a new restaurant, the client showed me a mood board to show me and a Pinterest page that she had created. Her efforts allowed me to see the colors, images, and textures she imagined for her logo, and helped cut through a lot of guesswork and narrowed down the typeface to the script she envisioned. She showed me a scalloped-edge sticker she liked (which is now used as the shape on most every element throughout her restaurant). With all her excellent input, I was able to get to work immediately on several logo concepts.

Logo layout showing typeface and color option

We discussed how the logo would look printed on t-shirts and aprons, on takeout bags and signage. After the logo file was finalized, we created a few versions with different color variations and type placement. The new logo now appears on the website, social media, signage and posters, menu and small items in the restaurant.

How the Logo Design Process Unfolds

I like to feel like we’re all playing in the sandbox together to mess around and ultimately build something amazing. Here’s how it usually works for me and my clients:

1. Meet (on-site if the logo involves a physical place) to walk around and see visual elements that might make sense to use in the logo. Listen to the team to understand the business’ goals and brand vision.

2. Work together on a mood board, Pinterest page, or Google Doc to share images, type, scans of cool printed pieces, and anything else that helps to give direction to the future logo design.

Revised layout, showing new typeface and tagline format

3. Present 3-5 initial rough logo layouts to the team for concept purposes and discussion; gather input and comments for creative direction on next steps.

4. Narrow down the concept logos to one or two to pursue with illustration draft and final typeface choices; present to the team for input.

5. Select final approach, have our illustrator create custom art, or revise purchased artwork to make it our own.

6. Show the logo in various contexts, including business card, t-shirt, promotional items (this includes showing the logo in various sizes, also in full-color, black & white, and reversing out of dark background).

Finalized logo showing panel background, border and color choice

The key approach to successful logo design is: Listen – Collaborate – Create – Execute.

If you’re starting new business and need a strong new brand identity, or you current logo is just not working for you anymore, please give me a call and let’s talk about it. It’s such a relief when you can be proud of your new logo and it works for you 24/7.

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