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Your current logo really isn't cutting it these days and you're ready to take a fresh look at your logo and branding. But what timescale do you need to allow before you pop the champagne cork in celebration of launching that shiny new logo? Is it going to take days, weeks or even months?
There is a simple answer - It depends! The reason that it depends is down to the fact that logo designers all have different processes. With different process come different timescales.
After 20+ years of brand design, I've developed a solid process to designing logos. By taking you through this process you will be able to understand how much time it takes to create an effective and great looking logo.
My logo design process takes on average 6-8 weeks, and if the client wants to do brand strategy work beforehand or I believe that extra strategy work is required, then that can mean and additional 4-8 weeks depending on the scope and scale of the strategy work.
I'm going to take you through my logo design process to show you what is involved and why not rushing your brand identity will reap better results.
Step 1. Meet the Client
Step 2. Project Proposal
Step 3. Strategy & Research
Step 4: Inspiration
Step 5: Sketchbook
Step 6: Take a Break!
Step 7: Moving to Digital
Step 8: Review Meeting
Step 9: Refining the Concept
Step 10: Colour
Step 11: Logo Presentation Mockups
Step 12: Logo Style Guide
Step 13: Payment, File and Copyright Transfer
1. Meeting the client
I will always try to meet with a client in person if they are local to me. If not I will arrange a video call to discuss their project and take the design brief. It is very important to me that this first meeting is face to face rather than just via telephone.
By being face to face, it takes down a lot of initial barriers and in my experience speeds up the getting to know you process. Getting to know my clients well is a key factor in the success of my logo designs. When the client is at ease and I know that they are going to be a perfect fit for me, means that they will be much more willing to give expanded answers.
Compare that to when I used to send out an initial questionnaire for the client to complete instead of speaking to them face to face. The answers I would get back would often be just a few words and really not give me much to go on.
By speaking in person, I’ve found that my clients will reveal little insights and off the cuff remarks that I can use to add personality to the final logo design.
2. Creating the project proposal
The next step is for me to take all that I have learned from that initial discovery meeting and put together the project proposal. This will, in essence, review everything that I talked about with my client and lay out a plan of action and a little bit of homework for the client.
The homework consists of a short questionnaire which helps build a picture of the existing brand and what the client would like the brand to be going forward.
The answers to the questionnaire will let me know what brand strategy work we need to do before the design phase or if there is already enough existing information and direction information to move directly to to the design phase.
If the client approves the proposal, I will submit an invoice for 50% of the project design fee and once paid, I move onto the next step in the process.
3. Research for your logo design
After approval of the project brief, I will begin research into the client’s brand. I will research their products & services, current brand assets (if this is a rebrand), their target audience and also discuss with them what their purpose, vision, mission, goals and objectives are for their business.
I will also look at their competitors, what does their branding look like, does my client want to fit in like a jigsaw piece, or do they want to really stand out and be different. A bright pink logo in the mostly blue logo orientated financial sector for example or be different in terms of tone-of-voice.
Researching a client’s competition is a very valuable exercise and I can learn a lot about what mistakes they are making in their branding so that I can then give my client the edge in that area.
Depending on the client's budget and the requirements, this brand strategy phase can be surface level or very in-depth.
4. Inspiration for your logo design
Before I start working on concepts for my client, I like to go and build up some inspiration by looking through my extensive library of logo reference books and design guides. This starts the creative process going and getting the brain into gear for the next step.
It can also be useful to check out online inspiration sites like Pinterest and Logospire. These sites help me to see any trends that are currently active in the logo design world. It is generally best to stay away from trends if possible as it can date the logo design much more quickly as trends come and go.
5. Sketchbook concepts
A lot of designers these days will go straight to their design software of choice and start working on concepts. I much prefer to use a sketchbook and just let my imagination go. These drawings will be very rough and in a lot of cases just a few lines. By being free and loose with the sketching, you can very quickly explore ideas and new angles for the logo design. More so, than if you were working directly on a computer.
I will also take the time at this point to create mind maps of the client’s products, services and business area. This is great fodder for the rough concept work.
6. Take a break!
You know when you sometimes can’t see the wood for the trees. This is a common thing with creative processes and it is important to step away from a project for a couple of days so that you can come back to it with fresh eyes.
Coming back to my sketchbook after a few days away can let me be critical of the sketches and ideas that I had drawn out earlier. Easily putting to one side the ideas that seemed great at the time, but on second look, don’t really work, or fulfil the brief.
or maybe that idea that I thought wasn't worth anything, suddenly sparks some new direction for me to explore.
This is why my logo design process can often be seen to be longer than that of other designers, but I 100% believe that taking breaks results in a better end result.
7. Moving over to digital work
It is time to make the jump to the computer and start putting together the concepts with Adobe Illustrator.
Depending on how prolific the sketching sessions have been, I will take the strongest concepts and start to refine them. The idea now is to narrow this down to a maximum of 3 concepts.
I always work in black, to begin with. By doing this I’m focused on the form of the logo and making sure that the balance is correct. If I start to use colour at this early stage it can affect design decisions as colour can be very influential.
If the text is required as part of the logo, I won’t look too long for a perfect typeface but will use one that is suitable at this point. Typography is hugely important, but that can be refined in the latter stages of the design process.
Once I have gotten the concepts to a finished state that I am happy with, I then present them to the client.
8. Logo concept review
Again, I will meet with the client in person, or by video call. Sometimes it can be what the client doesn’t say that gives you a feel for how well, or not, that a concept has been received. If a client says they like it but I can sense some uneasiness, it is better to explore why that is at this stage, than have objections raised further down the line where it becomes much more difficult to rectify.
I encourage my clients to be very honest with their feedback. It pays to grow a thick skin as a designer when it comes to feedback. I may feel that the design ticks all of the design boxes and fulfils the project brief, but a client will be coming at it, usually from a more personal viewpoint. It isn’t unusual to get a very emotional response from a client, and I need to be prepared for that.
I’m happy to say, that in the main, these meetings tend to go very well and smoothly with at least one or more concepts being a good candidate for refining and completion as the final logo.
What if though, the client objects and doesn’t like any of the concepts? Well, this is usually where the client is thinking more emotionally about the logo rather than what is its intended purpose. This is where I have a response that can help pull the client back to the reason they came to me in the first place:
THE LOGO IS NOT FOR YOU
By saying to my client 'the logo is not for you', what I am letting them know is to please remember that the job of the logo is to act as a visual cue for your brand.
It should help your customers to associate and connect with your brand on an emotional level. You, the client are already emotionally involved. This is good, but, your emotional connection is different to that of your target audience. So, let’s take a step back and look at the logo again but from the perspective of your customer, now, how does it speak to them?
This is where things tend to get back on track and both I and the client are on the same page and have the same purpose.
I take on the feedback from the client, and in conjunction with my own thoughts and notes, I will then move on to the next step.
9. Refining the logo concept
Taking the strongest concept, I will work on variations of that concept that nail down shape and form and to also bring in typography if it is required.
Just like colour, fonts have a personality and can influence the feel of a logo design, so it is important that a great match is found.
The client will be sent this next round of designs and asked for feedback.
This can sometimes require 2 or 3 rounds of refining and feedback until we get to the logo finalised. Most of the time though it is just minor tweaks.
10. Adding colour to the logo
Colour has deep meaning, and that meaning can be positive or negative depending on the viewer’s mindset. Take red for example, this can be seen to be powerful, energetic, bold & passionate. However, it can also represent danger, anger & blood.
This is why I leave the colour choice until the very end. It isn’t just a case of finding a nice colour palette and applying it to the logo. Careful consideration is needed to make sure that the colours used have the correct meaning for the business sector we are in.
Once the colour is agreed, I then get sign-off on the final logo design.
I have a blog which goes a bit further into colour: What colour should my logo be?
11. Logo presentation mock-ups
How I present the final logo design can be crucial. Up until this point, the logo has been presented to the client, usually on a flat white page, and so it has only ever been seen in isolation.
The WOW moment for most clients comes when I show them how their logo will look on stationery, their company vehicles, as packaging and on promotional merchandise. This lets my client really get a feel for how their new brand will be perceived and experienced by their customers.
12. Logo and Brand guidelines
The logo style guide is an important document that every logo designer should provide to their client. This outlines how the logo should be presented, listing all of the colours and fonts used in the design, along with guides on spacing and sizing.
This means that should the client require any design in future, they can provide this style guide along with their logo file and be confident that their logo will be presented consistently no matter who is creating the design or artwork.
If the project has included brand strategy work then I would create a more comprehensive brand guidelines document that includes the brand's purpose, vision, mission and values statements, along with details of tone-of-voice, archetypes, target audience, message framework and their positioning and differentiation statements.
Having a full set of master brand guidelines gives a comprehensive overview of everything about the brand, and it can be treated like a brand 'How To Guide' when it comes to creating content for the brand.
13. Payment, files and Copyright transfer
Once everything has been approved, I will submit my invoice for the final balance payment of the project.
Once this has been paid I create a file package of the client’s logo in all major file formats (AI / EPS / PDF /PNG / JPG / SVG). This ensures that te client has their logo in multiple formats, and multiple layouts if that was part of the project scope.
I will also transfer over copyright to the client by using a simple copyright assignment form, giving the client peace of mind that they now fully own the logo design and can go ahead and trade mark the logo should they want to do so.
That is some process, right?
This is what I believe it takes to create a successful logo design for my clients.
If you are looking to create a new logo for your business, then it is best to have an investment mindset rather than a cost mindset when it comes to your brand. The chances are that if you go down the cheap and quick route you will most likely end up with a logo that will have no staying power.
Instead of looking for that quick fix, it is much better to invest in a process that looks at everything and leaves you with a logo that you can be proud of and that will serve your brand well for years to come.
You should also allow for ample time for the project. Rushing something like your brand identity, which is a key element of your brand will only lead to a poorer result for you.
I have recorded my process on video of some case studies and included them below. It will let you see my process in action.
If you would like to discuss your logo design project with me, please get in touch and lets have a conversation 🙂
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