by Maddi McLaughlin (Graphic Designer)
In most cases, a logo is a person’s first impression of a company – it’s a snapshot of who the brand is and what it stands for. If designed correctly, and backed up by an excellent product, a successful logo can be the difference between a brand being memorable or bland (nobody likes a bland brand).
To start the process, one needs to understand what makes a good logo. Here are some widely accepted principles of good logo design.
As you may have noticed, most of the logos on this list do not literally depict the product they represent. The most recognizable car brands don’t have cars for logos, and the most successful/recognizable tech company is an apple. Keep in mind that this doesn’t necessarily mean being literal with your approach is bad, it’s just good to allow yourself to think outside of the box. To design a successful and memorable logo you need to understand not only the brand but the brand’s target market/demographic/client base as well.
It’s safe to assume that Apple, a company that was built upon the foundation of simplicity, picked an apple for their logo because, like the brand, it was clean and simple. Nike, whose logo is a swoosh paired with the slogan “Just Do It”, speaks to athletes by representing motion and speed.
After the initial meeting with a client to understand who they are and to whom they are speaking, we research printed reference books, top competitors in that particular field and what colors are often used (ie blue in tech, red in fast food). This gives us an idea of what we, as designers, can do to make a logo stand out in a sea of sameness. It can give us an understanding of what works and doesn’t work.
Brainstorms are where we get the creative team together and share our thoughts. This gives us a chance to collaborate and begin crafting some solid ideas. The collaboration helps to work our ideas into more concrete concepts.
Many designers start by drawing and sketching before they even get to the computer. We use our research and brainstorming to shape what we create. Typically a designer starts with an abundance of rough ideas and thumbnails that gradually get narrowed down and refined. Only a select few make the cut to get digitized.
The lucky few selected designs become vector-based graphics through the use of our design software. Vector is a type of graphic that is scalable to any size without sacrificing quality, allowing us to put each logo on something as small as a business card or something as large as a billboard. We clean up the designs, add color options, choose typefaces, and then make them ready to present to the client.
Often times clients will like a direction a logo is going in, but will want to improve and revise a design further. It’s not very often a client will like one of the first options you show them without any revisions. It’s up to the designer to understand the client’s preferences and aversions to continue refining the concepts into quality logos.
After a back and forth between presenting and revising, a final logo concept will start to take shape. Once we have a concrete design, we will show a final few variations of the logo to the client for them to decide on.
When the design is finalized and approved by the client, we then take the files and create all of the versions of the logo that the client needs. Having a brand style guide created in addition to a logo is recommended because it will help a brand remain consistent with their messaging.
It may seem that going to a logo website and getting something pre-made would be easy and cost-effective. You’re getting a “good deal” because you’re not getting anything original. All of the styles and elements are taken and put together from a library. Although it saves you money up front, you pay for it later because you won’t get all of the files you need without paying more. Like most things, custom logos, while they do take some time and effort, pay off in the end.