1. Understanding our client and their company.

Long before we begin constructing the look of the design, we have to understand the company’s goals, personality, and ethos. This is because the purpose of a logo isn’t just to have something pretty and eye-catching; a logo is a communication of the company’s personality, who they want to be, and the clientele they want to cater to. The first impression a logo creates is a powerful tool, and therefore we want to make sure we’ve fully understood the company before we create the face that represents it.

The getting-to-know stage generally involves extensive communication by phone, email, or chats in person. Oftentimes we will have a list of questions and will record answers in order to review them later, taking extreme care to develop our understanding of the company and how to help them put their best foot forward. Furthermore, we understand business owners are busy people, so in the interest of saving them time we want to be thorough and remember everything we’ve learned so that we don’t have to come back with further questions or return to questions we’ve already asked just because we forgot the answer.

The aim of the interview isn’t just to understand the goals and dealings of the business, though we will ask the client to describe their company’s identity and philosophy to imbue them into the design; it’s also intended to give us an idea of the client’s design preferences. We will also ask if the client has any fonts or colours in mind, and will ask if they can think of any existing examples of logos that they really like from other companies. This can give us an idea of the aesthetic direction to head in.

After we’ve got off on the right foot with our clients, we take advantage of other research mediums to scrape up every bit of knowledge that could help us create the best logo possible. This includes the use of search engines, company websites, and even good old-fashioned books.

2. Competitive segment research.

Every foray into marketing is a unique blend of trying to fit into a contemporary idea that people find familiar enough to feel comfortable with, while also trying to be unique in a way that makes a company stand above the crowd. This balance can only be achieved with extensive knowledge of field trends, of what has been done before, and being able to identify where there’s space for developing something fresh and new.
With this goal, we make sure to look up competitors and other leaders, while also learning about the history and contemporary trends that influence our clients. We also specifically look up the branding clients have already developed in an attempt to discern what has worked well for them before, what areas could be improved, and furthermore, determine how the branding holds up to that of those they’re up against.

This stage of the design process will involve both our own research, as well as questions for the client. Obviously they have exclusive knowledge of their field and competitors, so while we come to the field as newcomers (a helpful perspective, as it’s the one most of a company’s customers will initially hold), it’s a great advantage to have clients’ expertise on the ins and outs of the field that may not be obvious to the outsider’s eyes. Specifically, we need to know what they’re doing better and different from anyone else they’re up against; knowing this is the key for highlighting their uniqueness and making them stand out amongst their competitors.

In this process, we will also look at competitor’s logos with the client, deciphering the messages they portray, then picking out what we like and what we think could be improved upon in our own design.

3. Geographical research.

Part of knowing how to make a client stand out is knowing the area they are located in. In one example, I had a customer who hoped to open a sandwich shop. After doing some local research, I discovered her store was in an area with lots of pizza places, bakeries, and fast food joints, and that their signs commonly used red, orange, and yellow. In order to differentiate her shop from the crowd, I used light and dark greens, and a typography unlike any of the other places. Now, in a sea of potential lunch options, her shop is the only one that has a unique identity upon first glance, and is therefore the one that catches the eye and stands out from the crowd.

On a wider scale, we need to look up potential competition and others’ design ideas across the whole industry both in order to optimally place ourselves within the field’s branding, and to make sure we don’t come up with a design idea that someone else has already used.

4. Brainstorming a pool of potential logos.

a. Sketching ideas.

Fairly self-explanatory, this stage just involves quick-sketches of ideas, often with key words scribbled on the images. Once we have a rough idea out, we will do some research on similar images, or will retrieve competitors’ logos to judge how they relate or stand out. We will also seek in-house expertise and bounce ideas off people on our team who may have exclusive knowledge and experience relating to the company and their design campaign. This helps us make more informed decisions and designs that suit the cultural, geographical, and generational target audience of the company. In this process, we will also be thinking about fonts, colours, and typography, keeping in mind that all elements need to be able to work together cohesively. All ideas of some substance will be kept and passed on for approval from the art director, supervisor, and other colleagues, and occasionally elements from one may be transferred and combined with ideas from another, particularly after our client’s input.

b. Showing clients the design and eliciting feedback.

The logo we design is ultimately a representation of a client and their business, so their satisfaction is paramount. At several stages in the design process, we will send ideas and potential logos for their review. Fonts, color, and typography may be included in this. After hearing their feedback, we will develop more versions of our initial ideas, all based on the information we’ve gained from listening to their likes and dislikes. This back and forth review process helps us clarify the client’s style and preferences, and, in turn, helps us tailor the design exactly to them. Depending on the customer, this may go quite quickly or may take some time, with several revisions and reimaginings before things are accepted to be “just right”.

c. Present final options.

After the back and forth over initial designs, we will create three or four designs tailored to the feedback we’ve received, and generally at this point the client finds one of these designs perfectly hits the nail on the head.

d. Creating a black and white version on Illustrator.

After the final selection has been made, the logo will be duplicated in a black and white version on Illustrator. This is due to the fact that many promotional and lower-profile business materials utilize a black and white version of a logo, and we want to ensure that the logo still works and is to their liking when in this format.

e. Experimenting with fonts.

Here we will experiment with fonts and typography, crafting all the elements together until they’ve reached their most balanced and eye-catching form. This will also help the client with future branding decisions, when trying to sort out the fonts they should use beneath their logo on information pamphlets, for example. We want to make sure all elements complement one another, and that they work both on the web and in print.

f. Experimenting with colours.

While this may sound like a simple step, it’s actually more technical than one might initially guess. Our first step is to experiment with the Pantone colour chart, then match that in CMYK and finally the RGB colour chart. This order of experimentation is critical, as it ensures we choose colours that can be perfectly duplicated both on the web and in print. After choices have been made, prototypes will be printed to ensure the design looks just as good in reality as on our design screens.

g. We present the client with the logo and its potential new fonts and colours.

This is the final stage of review with the client. At this point we will have the original design we’ve decided on, but with a small handful of colour and font options. This is the client’s chance to finalize the design and all its elements exactly according to their liking.

5. Guidelines for using the logo.

This stage involves several technical and practical steps:
– Technical remarks and guidelines for logo use
– Color guide line: Pantone Color, RGB, CMYK.
– Font family use for website and document print
– Design rules for the logo
– Logo features and ideas for use

6. Completion of the final product!

Our job here is finished! At this point we’ll pass the final file off to the client and complete our collaboration. Congratulations on designing a new, one-of-a-kind, bespoke logo!