How I Design a Logo : 5 Key Steps to Keeping it Simple
As a graphic designer, I’m often asked if I design logos. While thinking to myself, “Does the Empire State Building have elevators?” I usually answer with a polite, “Of course.”
I wish I had a magic logo-making button on my laptop that I could tap. In reality, designing a logo is a process like so many things in life. And the more you do the prep work up front, the better the outcome will be at the finish line.
Steve Jobs famously said: “Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple.”
That’s why I’ve developed a simple process to design logos for clients:
Keep the big picture in mind. The best approach is a comprehensive brand strategy session with my colleagues because often advisors need much more than just a logo. This is the most important step. This is where we determine what your business is best at, who your target audience is, who your competitors are, what colors appeal to you and your clients, what logos are they drawn to and which repel them?
Begin with paper sketches. This is the fun part of the process. I find that most logos are better off simply as type (or mostly type) than complex designs. That’s why I concentrate on finding fonts that emulate the business, whether it’s elegant or down-to-earth, eco-friendly or high tech, etc.
Sketching out concepts helps because I may find a unique way to manipulate the type by working it out on paper first. I did that with the logo for a therapist partnership called The Healing Group. By arranging the words and the curves to give a protective feel, the logo conveys that these therapists can provide a safe haven for their clients.
Realize that sometimes an icon will say it all. Once the words are incorporated into a font that fits the style of the business, I may find that it could use a visual to really convey its essence. I start by researching the types of images I need to use for reference, and/or inspiration. Then once I have an idea in mind, I work hard to simplify it into something easy to grasp at any distance-- something that works as well in color as it does in black and white.
Know that a logo is just part of the story. Sometimes I’m asked to create a logo “lockup” which ties the it in with a tagline or another visual. Or a melding with an existing logo, say if an advisor needs to keep synergy with the company they work under, yet also distinguish their brand. Or a simplified social media icon based on my design. In each case, it has to keep the look and feel of the original while being versatile enough to fit these situations
Include ALL versions in the finals. I like to provide final designs that have the original files with access to fonts used along with jpgs and pdfs. The reason I do this is so the client will have what a vendor, such as a print shop, asks for when they need to reprint something or need to upload a clean version of their logo.
Logos act as the front door to any business. Don’t neglect this vital part of your business or you may be locking out customers!
Patricia Creedon leads creative direction at Wall & Main