The first step in designing a great logo for your client is to get a good design brief. Your client should give you background information on their business, including any previous logos they’ve used. It’s important for you to gather information beyond what your client provides though, both directly from them and on your own.
Ask your client specific questions to get clarification on anything you’re not 100% sure of in the brief. It’s better to ask questions and be clear on what your client expects and needs in the beginning, rather than spend countless hours on revisions down the road, or risk losing the client because they feel you didn’t listen to them (even if they were the ones who were unclear).
You’ll need to research your audience. Who is the logo going to be seen by? In other words, who are your client’s customers? You’ll also want to know where the logo is going to be used, and in what formats. This is important, as it can determine limitations on your designs, such as the necessity of the logo to work well in black and white (in case your client still uses newspaper advertising or the like).
HOW MUCH IS TOO MUCH?
A lot of designers who have never designed logos before are probably wondering how much research they really need to do. At what point do you know too much about your client’s business? How much research is really necessary just to design a logo?
The answer to that is that you really can’t be too well-informed about your client when it comes to creating a logo. This is a major component to their brand, and their face to the world. Think about how recognizable some logos have become. No one needs to see the word “Nike” associated with their swoosh logo; they immediately recognize the swoosh and associate it with the brand. When you see the Starbucks mermaid, you know what company it represents. When you see an apple with a bite taken out of it, you know it’s Apple.
Do you think the designers behind those logos thought they could just wing it based on nothing more than what’s contained in the company’s brochure or about page? Granted, sometimes a great logo can be created without a ton of back story from the company. But additional information in those cases almost certainly would not have hurt the process.
Spend the time to get to know the company you’re designing for. Understand their values. Understand their position in the market. Understand how their customers view them. If it’s a new business, then understand how they want their customers to view them, and where they want to be positioned in the market.
While it’s certainly possible to design a logo based on nothing more than a two or three paragraph design brief, you’ll produce better work if you take the time to delve deeper than that. Set aside an appropriate amount of time to research and plan your logo design process, and you’ll see better results and have happier clients.
Once you’ve done all the research you can manage and know your client’s business inside and out, it’s time to look for some inspiration. Sure, in some rare cases you might come up with the perfect idea for the logo while still in the research stage, but in all likelihood, you won’t. You’ll need to go looking for some inspiration and ideas elsewhere.
When looking for logos to pull ideas from, look for logos from both similar companies and entirely different ones. Spend some time looking through inspiration galleries, logo roundups on blogs, and even just searching for logos in Google Images.
While you’re looking at all these logos, resist the urge to imitate any of the ones you see. Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, but you’re not doing yourself or your clients any kind of favor by imitating another company’s logo.
Remember what I said about a good logo being unique? It’s an important quality to remember as you’re looking at the work of others. The idea here is to find ideas that you can use to inspire your own original design. Not ideas you can tweak but effectively copy.
When looking at these logos for inspiration, consider the different types of logos and which seem to be most prevalent in your client’s industry. Are most of the logos abstract? Literal? Typographic?
Just because 80% of the companies in an industry have literal logos doesn’t mean that your client has to. But it’s important to think about whether breaking with the established standard fits with the client’s values. If they’re a very traditional company, then sticking with what’s already been established might be wise. Then again, if they’re trying to break in as a different option, or if they’re trailblazers, then consider deviating from the established path.
LOGO INSPIRATION RESOURCES
There are tons of great galleries online for finding inspiration for your logo designs. Here are ten of our favorites: