Pleasing everyone in your organization (or, in New Zealand’s case, your entire nation) and in your target market is nigh on impossible. There’s also the possibility of inadvertently developing a visual treatment too close to an existing mark, which any conscientious designer will tell you is something to lose sleep over.
Of course, the logo design process shouldn’t fall exclusively on the shoulders of the designer, but as the natural leader of the design process, you’re the one responsible for driving the initiative forward, collecting and evaluating input and creating the final product.
Whether you’re working in-house or on behalf of a client, launching a new company or refreshing an existing organization’s visual identity, the basic process for approaching logo design projects remains the same. Below, we walk you through how to structure that process to ensure you arrive at the best outcome.
Stages of the Logo Design Process
Research – This initial step is crucial. Before diving into any design project, it’s important to conduct research to gain a good understanding of not only your brand, but of your competitors’ as well. Think about whether the brand would benefit more from fitting in with the pack (to establish credibility) or standing out from the pack (to establish unique character). Decide what type of logo makes the most sense for your organization – a symbol, a wordmark, or a combination mark? Symbols are simple and abstract, and can thus have a quick impact, but they also may take more time and money to promote and explain.
Other good questions to ask stakeholders involved in the logo development process include:
- How would you sum up the brand in three adjectives?
- What do you want people to feel about your organization when they look at your logo?
- What do you like or dislike about the current logo (if it exists)?
Brainstorming – Collect ideas, images, words, and colors that inspire you and ask stakeholders to do likewise. Reverse the process and also identify examples of other logos, color combinations and imagery that you strongly dislike. Take some time to work through the “why” behind what you have a positive or negative reaction to and how that affects your own perspective.
Sketching – Always start in black and white. Strive for quantity and not quality while sketching — the goal is to force yourself to come up with as many ideas as possible without judging them pre-emptively or putting creative constraints on your work. At this stage, the perfect is the enemy of the good. You can winnow your output down to the most viable options before presenting it to the stakeholders.
Feedback – The feedback stage is useful for helping you to narrow your field of options. Which designs are stakeholders gravitating toward and which ones are leaving the majority cold? You can hope for immediate consensus, but don’t expect it. Instead, focus on identifying which aspects of particular designs resonate with the group. For example, maybe everyone is in agreement on a san-serif typeface or use of cloud imagery.
Iteration – Take the feedback you received and start tweaking. Copy and paste, modifying one variable at a time and then compare the versions side by side to see what’s working and what isn’t. Expect to go back and forth between the Feedback and Iteration stages multiple times.
Refinement – This is the home stretch. Zoom in and pay attention to the details! Select the most successful concepts and refine them until one emerges as the clear choice. Revisit your questions and discussion from the Research stage to ensure that the final logo has the impact and evokes the feelings about the brand that stakeholders were seeking.
Following the above process won’t guarantee that you’ll design an award-winning logo, of course, but a thoughtful, step-by-step approach to logo design is most likely to create a strong visual identifier that your organization is proud to have represent it in the world.