I’ve been in the design field for 35 years, so I can’t even count how many logos I’ve developed over that time. The creative process for me is like a new day. Looking at a blank sheet of paper or computer screen, the possibilities are endless. From creation to face-lift, the creative process can be a fun ride – or, without a good roadmap, it can have you going in circles. They say you have to kiss a lot of frogs before you get your prince or princess. Well, the same can be said about creating a logo.
Below are a few steps that I’ve learned over the years to help me through the creative process of developing a logo:
- Start with a plan. I first look to the creative brief to get the design train in motion. Usually a marketing strategist or creative director will develop this nugget of information to pass onto the designer. Depending on the depth of the creative brief, you may still have questions or concerns that require an additional meeting to clarify what’s being asked from the client.
- What is the logo supposed to represent? Research the client – and their competitors – to see what services they provide or products they manufacture. The more you know about your client, the better off you’ll be once you start the design process.
- Putting the puzzle together. Once I have an understanding of what the client is expecting, I can now begin the design process. For me, I will put pencil to pad and spend some time creating some renderings on paper to help me focus once I go to the computer. I also look through the current design magazines for styles or trends that may apply to my concept, or search for ideas online through Pinterest to get the creative juices flowing.
- Time to get messy. Once I get into Illustrator, all bets are off. I’ll start down a path following my sketches, incorporating type, objects, color and any manipulations I see fit in developing the logo. Sometimes I find myself going down a different route than my original thumbnails. This can lead to a dead end or push the design to a stronger concept. You’ll never know unless you give it a try.
Sometimes, I’ve run into a brick wall in developing a concept. When frustration strikes, I try scrapping the design altogether. This helps bring out new ideas and get me back on task.
I usually end up with several different options in developing a logo. This allows the client the opportunity to give input and ownership to their logo. There’s usually a round or two of final tweaking before the client approves the new logo.
- APPROVED (kind of). After hours of research and development, I now have a new logo and think I’m done with the process… wrong! Now comes the pain-staking process of developing brand guidelines for proper usage of the new logo. How it should be displayed, logo no-no’s, usage with other logos, color variations, color builds, formats, etc., etc., etc.
- Celebrate the accomplishment! I’ve always enjoyed this part of the creative process. The client is happy, the team is happy, and I’ve taken something from nothing and created a new and lasting look. I’ve nurtured a concept through the creative process and it’s now a living mark for our client’s identity.
This has been the process for me over the last 35 years. It’s basic, but for me, it works. Not every designer follows this path, because we’re all different. What works for me might not work for a different designer.