In my previous post, I wrote about my website development process and what it takes to get a website from an idea to a live project. Similarly, in this post, I will summarise my logo design process step-by-step.
Although my logo design process doesn’t differ from one project to another quite as much as it does with websites, it is worth noting that some changes might be made to fit a particular situation best.
Before picking up a pencil, it is crucial for me to learn as much as I can about the project. I will ask the client to tell me about their business/product/etc., their target audience, the message they would like to convey, if they have any brand guidelines and the like.
If the client has an old logo they are replacing, I’ll ask what are things they most liked and disliked about it. Even if the old logo is simply outdated, there are things I can learn from it. If they have any online presence, like a website or social media pages, I’ll take a look at those too. Often, the design of the website or the social media posts can tell a lot about the style the client is trying to achieve.
After learning the client’s perspective, I’ll also do my own research about their field. I’ll familiarize myself with the product, analyze the competitors, and at the same time look for any symbolism that could be used in a logo.
Brainstorming and sketching
After I feel like I’ve done enough research, I most likely already have some ideas of what a logo could look like. Although rarely the final version looks anything like those first ideas, I’ll make a few quick sketches to see how they’d look on paper.
Then, I’ll look up images for things related to the business or product for more inspiration. For example, for any kind of trade-related business, I might look for images of various tools. If you had a business specialized in building and selling homemade dog houses, I’d look for photos of dog houses, dogs in the dog house, people building dog houses and likely a bunch of other things that’ll come to mind while doing the first searches. If there are any images I find particularly helpful, I’ll save them for reference.
Next up – a lot of sketching. Depending mostly on my mood at the time, I’ll either do it with a pen on paper or digitally – the method doesn’t matter much at this point. I’ll try not to get hung up on a single design and won’t spend a lot of time defining each of them. At this point, I’m just searching for ideas. Sometimes, sketching out one design gives me ideas for even more designs and variations.
After this stage, I’ll have quite a few rough sketches, and a lot of them will be dismissed right away. Then, I’ll pick one or a couple of ideas that work the best and continue working with them.
Defining a sketch
With an idea – or a couple – picked out, I’ll work on creating a defined sketch that would look a lot closer to the final version. At this point, even if I started sketching on paper, I’ll switch to digital tools.
The defined sketch might be tweaked or redone a few times as I’m testing out spacing, different curves, etc. In the end, I’m looking for rather clean lines and a semi-finished look as that makes the vectorization go a lot smoother. On a separate layer, I’ll fill out the places that’ll be coloured in the final version to get a better look at what the final product might look like, especially considering negative space.
With a sketch done, I’ll move it over to vector illustration software. Although I started with Adobe Illustrator, currently I prefer using Affinity Designer.
I use various methods to vectorize the logo, depending on what’s required. For example, some might have to be drawn out entirely using the pen tool, and some – using various shapes and operations (adding, subtracting and such). Most of them, however, use a combination of these methods.
The initial illustration is always done only in black. That way, I can keep myself from prematurely thinking about colours too much, and make sure that the final product will work in flat black/white versions.
With the logo drawn out, I turn off the sketch visibility, check for any mistakes, and make sure I’m happy with the spaces, curves, etc. I’ll see how the image is going to look in different sizes, and, if needed, make adjustments based on that as well.
The choice of typography can completely change any design’s mood and message. It’s not even just about choosing the right font. Things like size, style, kerning and positioning play a part in completing the image to look just right.
Typically, I’ll make a few different versions with different fonts and positioning, choose the one that both looks best and best fits the brand, and continue polishing the typography until it looks right.
Choosing the colours for a logo is a rather fun task. While everyone might have some preferences, unless dealing with an established brand, it’s important not to get too attached to one’s preferred colour.
Colours can invoke certain feelings and associations. For example, blue is often seen as calming, solid and trust-invoking, while yellow is friendly and youthful. It’s also important to consider themes. In some contexts, green could be associated with eco-friendliness, red – with romance, and so on.
After picking a colour or two, I’ll once again make multiple versions of the logo so I can experiment with different shades and combinations, maybe experiment with some gradients if the design is right for it.
After choosing the best-coloured logo version, I’ll export it and send it to the client to get their thoughts and ideas.
Once the design is finalized with the client, I’ll go ahead and create all the different versions. Usually, I end up with dark, light and coloured versions of the logo, sometimes – all of them positioned vertically and horizontally (with text either above/below the icon or beside it), and versions with the icon alone.
All of them will be exported into different file formats, typically PNG, JPEG and SVG, but others can be included upon the client’s request.
The project file itself will be saved in an EPS format and included with the other deliverables.
Before sending over all the files to the client, I’ll prepare the documentation. Here I’ll shortly explain the idea behind the logo, its symbols and colours. It’ll also include all the information about the use fonts – the names, links and styles, and the colour codes. That way if the client wishes to use the same fonts and colour scheme to extend their branding, they don’t have to go through more effort to obtain them.
Once that’s ready, I’ll put all of the files into an archive and send them over. If after this point the client wants to make a small change or get the logo in a different format – that’s not a problem. Otherwise, the project is concluded.