Download your copy of The Smart Website Planner.
Today, we’re moving into discussing the second – and arguably sexiest – phase in our signature branding process: Logo Design. While it’s incredibly important to remember that a brand is so much more than a logo, there’s no denying that the logo is the crown jewel in the branding process.
Your logo serves as a visual touchpoint for your customers, clients and audience telling the story of your brand with just a glance. Done properly, your logo is timeless – no need to make constant adjustments or apply trendy band aids every season.
Our logo design process typically starts in two places – in a blank sketchbook and Illustrator artboard. After blocking out a couple of hours and making a fresh cup of coffee, I like to gather all the client materials – homework, moodboard, meeting notes, turn off my phone and turn on the ‘Deep Focus’ playlist on Spotify. I typically start on paper and sketch every idea that comes bubbling up. At this point, it is ROUGH. As soon as I think I’ve stumbled on something interesting, I’ll move into Illustrator and make a quick mockup. Often, these aren’t full logos – just interesting elements or typographic experiments. I like to make a huge, square Illustrator artboard, and instead of deleting things that aren’t working, I just scroll over to some fresh real estate and start again. Slowly, a handful of promising logos will start to emerge from the mess.
Here, I take a pause. You know that feeling where you can’t even tell what something looks like since you’ve been staring at it so long? When I hit that moment, it’s time to take my eyes off the computer screen.
The next day (preferably), I come back the canvas. It’s usually immediately obvious what’s working and what’s not. I’ll start pulling complete logo concepts into a separate file, giving each concept its own page and space to breathe. I’ll start refining each – making tiny adjustments to the vectors, swapping out typographical glyphs and using the nudge tool an immodest amount. If I think it’s done, I’ll print it out. Things look so different in print than they do on a computer screen that it’s a great checkpoint to see if a design is presentable.
Up until this point, I’ve primarily been working in black and white, so before I send pieces off to the client for review, I’ll start to incorporate color based on the palette we developed in the discovery phase. We used to save this step until after the client had taken the first look at the black and white concepts in order to help them focus on form, but we’ve discovered that color is so critical to the success or failure of design that it hinders the process more than it helps.
Here are some examples from a recent brand styling project:
From there, we’ll move into a few rounds of revisions. Depending on the project, we might develop one or two of the initial concepts simultaneously or combine elements from multiple. During this phase, we’ll also carefully clean up the logo to prepare for use – we’ll outline text and strokes, make sure our colors will play nicely with web and print and zoom way in (Illustrator lets you go to 64000%) to make sure all the details are covered.
Once we’ve finalized the logo, it’s time to take a look at the alternate logoforms. If you print a color image on 10 black and white printers, you’ll get 10 very different, all crappy printouts. To avoid a similar fate with your logo, we’ll develop a specialize greyscale version of your logo – making sure the integrity is preserved in black and white. Sometimes, this will include a simplification of paths or textures to keep it clean and sharp in limited color applications. In addition, we always prepare a mark or monogram to represent your brand in small spaces. We’ll often also prepare a version with or without your tagline, or with a different aspect ratio (horizontal instead of vertical) so that you have the logo you need for every situation.