The Designer’s Guide To

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A guide to help new designers master the logo design basics. Advice provided by international industry professionals, edited and curated by Richard Baird.

Research and analysis

Spending time on research prior to the design stage is essential if you want to create a meaningful and relevant identity. Break apart the brief and look at the brands key values and ways to visually communicate these, remember to ask plenty of questions and if necessary draw up a document out lining your research results for the client to see and sign-off on before starting the project.

Provided by @richbaird

Flexibility

Logos should ideally work in black and white (for basic applications) and be scalable (from stamp sized reproductions up to a multi-story billboard).

Provided by @Danatdoodle

Developing a diverse portfolio

While it’s important to have your own style or “unique visual aesthetic” it will only ever attract like-minded individuals who want the same types of logos. But where’s the fun in that? Where’s the diversity? Eventually, your portfolio will start to look like the same logo over, and over, and over again.

As visual communicator it’s your job to create effective marks that are perfect for your clients’ target audiences, NOT for your ego. Read the creative brief, do your market and demographic research, and if your personal style is the best execution for the logo, great. But learn to recognize when the needs of the particular job at hand require you to push beyond your own comfort zone. Flexibility, adaptability, and diversity are crucial to a designer’s long-term success.

Provided by AtomicVibe

Keep it simple

When designing a logo one of the most important aspects is to keep it visually simple from the beginning, complex gradients and fancy effects may make it look nice but if you don’t have a strong basic concept it will appear superficial and irrelevant.

Don’t try to compound every idea into one logo-mark, communicating the brand message can be done in a number of other ways across different touch points.

Suggested by @marcusbatey & @ben_bate

Vectors

Design you logos using vector based software this will guarantee that it will be scalable without any loss of quality and easier for other designers to work with in the future.

Provided by @Danatdoodle

Keep it relevant

A logo has to be tight, very direct, very brief and meaningful. It works better if it’s got enough substance to have a clear intention, but also possesses subtlety enough to suggest different things to different people; that keeps it interesting.

Provided by @waxis

Justify your type choice

Wordmarks are worthy of the same degree of attention you place on a logo-mark. If you spend six months fiddling, twiddling, paring, refining, and perfecting the image for your logo, and then slap on text set in Times or Helvetica, you’ve very probably done something monumentally wrong. Be able to justify your choice of typeface for a wordmark. Learn about different kinds of typefaces, and the history of type (at least to some extent). Type has moods, suggestions of meaning, and expressions of its own strictly in the shape of each glyph. This can reflect the intent of your logo, or clash with it.

Provided by @waxis

The rule of three

I’ve read that the human mind can’t count more than three things at a glance; anything more than three needs a moment to be parsed. This might apply to logo design as well. If there are more than three interpretations or shades of meaning on a logo, it’s probably too complex.

Provided by @waxis

Always ask why

It’s essential to justify every decision you make when designing a logo, is each component necessary? Does it communicate the brands proposition and vision for the future? and how will it be perceived by the end-user?

Suggested by @jankovarik

Colour

Clients often already have an idea with regards to colour which are frequently based on personal preferences. Try to provide the client with a better understanding of the nuances and associations of particular colours and how they can express different feelings and manage customers preconceptions.

Resource Links: Kuler

Provided by @MathewHood

I try to begin every logo project in black & white than move into color later. This is often very successful in getting a client to focus on the mark itself vs. getting too tied up in color specifics too early on. The flip to this rule however is that some clients & some very specific projects are all about the color, and like with anything in design, after I make this rule for myself, I find myself breaking it from time to time with caution.

Provided by @nicolelafave

Experiment

Never be afraid of experimenting with logo – try different color palettes, type and mark placements and unique shapes to make your logo standout of crowd.

Suggested by @RokasSutkaitis

Communication

Setting time to talk with your client about the brand, it’s future, it’s goals and it’s customers is important, even if you are working remotely Skype is a valuable tool and the face to face time will help to deliver both your passion but also the clients own personality, something e-mails will always fail to do.

Suggested by @jankovarik

Gather ideas but don’t copy

Logo design is a great exception to Picasso’s infamous “Great artists steal” quote. Being inspired by other work is natural, and quite helpful. Yet, the worst thing you can do is create a mark that resembles another logo that people already associate with an existing brand, even if that brand is in an unrelated field. The power of the logo is in creating a strong visual connection to one–and only one–brand.

Provided by @e_known

Keep your initial ideas tight and diverse

Try to keep to 2 or 3 initial but diverse ideas, any more may dilute the impact of your stronger designs and confuse the client.

Provided by @MathewHood

Don’t expect to get it right first time

A logo isn’t something that’s resolved within the first, second, or third sketch, it’s something that’s developed through experimentation, communication, experience, and development. That being said never underestimate the time it’ll take to complete, over-estimate if necessary and deliver sooner.

Provided by @HeyRui

Word-mapping and thumbnails

Before you ever think about turning on your computer to create your masterpiece, it’s essential that you do two things first:

1) Perform a word mapping exercise. Allow the word/phrase associations to come freely; don’t discount ANYTHING at this stage; write it all down. Once you’ve filled a page or two, it’s time to pick though this mess and pull out some brilliant launchpads for the next phase:

2) Thumbnails. Grab that trusty stick of graphite and some compressed tree pulp, and sketch, sketch, sketch. And when you think you’re done sketching, SKETCH SOME MORE. As in the word map phase, don’t talk yourself out of sketching out a seemingly bad idea.

These initial phases are invaluable to the design process, and it’s important to get out all the ideas you possibly can, good or bad. You should then be able to identify at least 3-5 concepts worth developing electronically for your initial client pitch.

All too often, younger designers are quick to start designing on the computer, and, as a result, either miss bigger ideas that really only come out during these two initial phases, or sink tons of time into shallow electronic development.

Remember, the computer is a TOOL, just like any of your other art toys. Great logos aren’t born from a Blur filter in Photoshop, or an Envelope Distort in Illustrator. They’re born from the soggy gray matter between your ears. Get your ideas out first, and THEN use your toys to execute them.

Provided by AtomicVibe

Double finish

When you think your logo is ready and you have time before the deadline, spent time with your ‘finished’ logo. Usually, after few hours you will find out small things that you can change, improve few curves here and there or match the color palette more, so make sure that nothing was left behind that will bother you in the future. It’s very important because when it’s done – it’s done. You will sent it to your client, printers, etc. so it won’t be that easy to change it, later. Solid projects will pay you back after finish.

Provided by @mil_ou

Pitching your ideas

When pitching your ideas to clients, be confident in your executions, thoroughly explain your rationale, and defend your work. If a client quickly dismisses your work for arbitrary reasons such as “I don’t like it,” ask why. Don’t be argumentative, and don’t get defensive, but calmly engage your client in constructive dialogue, and really try to get to the root of the problem.

You may encounter some frustrating impasse, but by being an active participant in these types of discussions, and by exuding confidence in your work, your clients will ultimately respect you. Respect equates to trust, and trust is essential to building lasting client relationships. Clients will never trust a meek, pushover designer. If they feel they need to hold your hand and walk you through this process, it’s over. They’ll take the reins and run amok with the job. And you’ll be hating every single second of it.

Remember, you are the visual communication expert. Your clients may be experts in their industries, but they’re not art directors, so don’t let them assume that role. While it’s necessary to listen to client suggestions and feedback, it’s also important to know when this feedback is subjective and off-target. In these situations, do your best to educate, inform, and get the job back on-target.

Provided by AtomicVibe

Trends

I think it’s important to keep modern trends to a minimum, the popular font, or the latest effect may fit but for the most it will pass and leave your identity looking dated.

Suggested by jeremyjared74

Sketching

Start your logo design process with simple and loose pencil sketches focusing on the key ideas generated during the research period. This method will allow you to validate or discard initial ideas quickly before spending time digitising the stronger concepts.

Suggested by @Raulsdg

Logos with meaning

Logos should convey something about the company, service or product proposition without the use of words. This might be a compounded representation of multiple ideas or an emotion visually distilled. Try to create an identity with subtle levels that encourage consumers to engage with the brand.

Suggested by @bigdmachine

Due diligence

Always make sure to check if a similar logo already exists. Ask your peers if they have seen anything similar, go through the logolounge.com library or do an likeness search using Google’s new reverse image search tool.

Provideded by @Alexanderspliid

 

Contribute!

If you are a designer and have any advice you would like to add to this article, please submit your contribution as a comment below and remember to include your Twitter ID so I can credit your tip.

 

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