7 Steps to Good Logo Design
When it comes to designing the best logo possible for your business, there is so much more to it than most people understand. There are all types of different quality and prices that you can choose for your logo design, ranging from $50 to $5,000. Some graphic designers out there have a bank of premade logo designs that they can apply to the client‘s needs, while other designers are just very good and have perfected the process of getting a great logo design done most efficiently. Still, other companies choose to keep it simple and go with an automated online logo maker. Either way, the old saying goes, “You get what you pay for,“ and this saying stands true here as well.
When logo design is done correctly, there are usually seven main steps that I take when designing a logo for a client. We will break down each one and explore the importance of the step in the process of good logo design. Don’t miss out on the professional logo design tips that are sure to improve your brand identity!
To help bring the client’s vision for a new logo to life, you have to fully understand what their brand identity is setting out to become. What is the company name? What are their goals? What is their brand’s personality? What industry are they going to be in? Are they selling a product or service? What is the target audience for the company? What is their aesthetic (e.g. do they prefer minimalist trends or something more complex?)? After you begin to understand the vision that the client has for the business you can then start the process of choosing the right archetype.
A brand archetype is a spectrum system that places every logo ever designed into twelve categories. Understanding each of the archetypes is so important to connect with the target audience and establish a brand voice. You don’t have to fully commit to just one brand archetype as well, it is very common to have a secondary brand archetype to support the brand voice. For example, 75% Ruler but 25% Lover is a strong case for a high-end aesthetics brand that wants to show power and elite status, but still evoke a sense of belonging and enjoyment to the clients that support the brand.
The twelve brand archetypes are broken down into four main sections to start. Those are as followed: explore spirituality, leave a legacy, pursue a connection, and provide structure. Then from here they all hold three brand archetypes, each with their basic human desire, and are usually divided by a color wheel as well.
Explore Spirituality (green colors) holds the archetypes Innocent/Safety, Sage/Understanding, and Explorer/Freedom.
Leave Legacy (yellow/orange colors) holds the archetypes Outlaw/liberation, Magician/Power, and Hero/Mastery.
Pursue Connection (red/violet colors) holds the archetypes Lover/Intimacy, Enjoyment/Jester, Everyman/Belonging.
Provide Structure (blue colors) holds the archetypes Caregiver/Service, Ruler/Control, and Creator/Innovation.
Now that you have clearly defined your brand voice, the next step in the process is going to be searching online for great examples of what has already been done well. I save out all of the great examples I find that support the archetype I’m going for and put together a mood board to present to the client to make sure we are on the right path. Steer clear of widely known examples like the Apple logo, Nike swoosh, Coca-Cola wordmark, and other household logos; you want to dive deep and uncover new design ideas, color palettes, and inspiration.
Competitive research helps the client see real examples of effective logos and allows them to give better direction on what type of logo they like and what they do not like. This is the perfect time in the design process to point out everything from color, typography, and other smaller design elements to get the client thinking and brainstorming.
This phase is all about taking what you have learned so far about the brand and finding a connection. Some of the best brands to have ever been done have a clever meaning or hidden message within the brand logo itself. A great example of this is the FedEx logo: if you have never noticed the letter E and X make up the shape of an arrow pointing to the right. This is just a subtle way of saying we move things using the negative space in their logo itself. Being able to show hidden messaging like this will help support what you are designing and allow you to connect to the target audience even better.
It is important to note that not every logo has something like this and trying to force something to make sense can end up backfiring while even confusing the final solution. With the right amount of creativity and time spent on this step, you can organically come up with some great ideas.
We’re finally putting all our ideas on paper. Sometimes what we have in our head looks drastically different in composition when we put it on paper. It is a great practice to flush out 20+ ideas on paper very small and then take the best overall three and work in details a little larger. This allows you to clear out the bad ideas from the good ideas that you’ll end up moving forward with The main focus here is the brand mark itself, deciding what the icon that represents the brand is going to be. Some logos do not have icons at all but in most cases they do and this is where I like to find that direction.
After you have flushed out as many ideas as you can come up with, you will have some clear favorites or winners that stick out on the page. The rough stage is then to redraw these at a larger scale of six inches or so and pack in as much detail as you can. You can try to get the typeface in mind as close as possible here with any fine lines, small corners, dots, etc. The goal is then to take this drawing and upload it to your computer to start your next step.
After deciding on the best approach or solution to take, you start building out a black and white version of your logo. You should have such a close idea of the composition overall if you worked out most of the details in your roughs. The typeface and icon at this point have been decided and we are now just bringing it to life in vector form.
A very important part of this step as well as to test your logo in small sizes. Most likely you are designing it on a full 8.5 by 11-inch artboard in Adobe Illustrator. It is best practice to scale down a small version all the way to even an inch or less to see if all your details still hold up. Every logo that is ever designed will most likely be put on a business card or email signature and be presented on that small scale.
Internal feedback will decide if any major changes to color and typography need to be made.
The versatility of your logo will be tested here as well. We know the logo looks great in black and white but how does it look in full color or all white on a dark background? Color testing of the brand mark and typography in this stage leads to your final product.
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In addition to the working file or .ai file, you are going to want to save out all versions for print and web uses of the logo. The main 3 formats that are most important to deliver to the client are EPS, PNG, and JPEG. Many other formats can be used like TIFF or SVG and those can be included if you want as well or if the client requests anything different. This will give the client the freedom to use the logo however they need to bypass the folder over to a printer or web designer to grab the appropriate assets.
Create a final presentation to present to the client showing the logo off. This should have a nice cover page with the logo in full color, a page for the conceptual breakdown, and explanations for the design decisions that you made. I also like to show the versatility of the logo with dark and light versions as well as full color. Next, is the logo usage showing a horizontal version, stack vertical version, brandmark icon only, and a small version of the main usage.
Color options and the palette that has been chosen are always great to show and some alternate explorations of the logo as well. These are the other two-plus versions that were great ideas as well but didn’t make the final cut. Lastly, some photoshop mock-up usage of the logo on business cards or t-shirts can bring the brand to life for the client. Seeing is believing and when they see their brand on items in this setting they get excited about the finished product.
Now that you have a much better understanding of what a well-designed logo process looks like, you should now have an expectation or standard going forward. Whether you are looking to hire someone to design a logo for you, or you are a designer yourself, this knowledge of the process can help you in either capacity. Even missing one of these steps can drastically change the final product or worse lead you to a solution that is not in line with the client’s vision for their business and the voice they want the brand to represent.