A logo for a brand is their signature, but often the creation is a mystery. The designer gathers your information and goes off into their lair to interpret the description into the embodiment of the brand. Today, I’d like to demystify my personal process for logo creation to give clients a better idea of the thought that goes into creating your final identity. I’ll be using a logo for the Carey Marketing Club of Washington, DC as my example.
Stage 1 – Research
When I start any logo process, I send my client a list of questions. These include questions about color, how they visualize their business, their preferences on contemporary versus traditional design, what collateral is already established, etc. This helps me to get a better feel for the client and their business.
I also like to do my own research. I find out more about the industry, look at pictures to get example of common imagery and symbols, and look at logos from other businesses in the same industry in order to determine what might be too common. A logo should set you apart from the competition, so being too similar is definitely not the way to go.
In the case of the Carey Marketing Club, this meant checking out the new Johns Hopkins University logo guidelines. From there I found out the main PMS color and the standard font for Hopkins materials. I decided to use this as inspiration to create the new club logo.
Stage 2 – Brain Dump
Once I do all my research, I sit down and begin work on some ideas, either by sketching or starting up Adobe Illustrator. At this stage, nothing is off limits. I often start by writing the name of the company out in a variety of fonts, or starting a symbol separate from the name that embodies the company spirit. This stage usually begins in black and white, and then color is slowly added in to give the logos some life. Not all these logos are seen by the client, but often, all are necessary to get to the final product.
This stage for the Marketing Club logo can be seen below. In this case, color was limited as we wanted to stay close to the JHU guidelines.
Stage 3 – Narrowing the Options
Once I have a plethora of options, I go about narrowing it down to the choices I want the client to see. Usually, this is 3-4 logos. I find that more than that is overwhelming when making a decision. I refine these choices and send them on to the client.
Below are the final choices sent to the Marketing Club for review.
Stage 4 – The Client’s Choice
I ask the client to pick one of the 3-4 choices to continue on with the process. Usually there is a clear winner, though sometimes we end up with two. We then take the chosen logo and I refine it. This does not mean major changes, but rather minor changes to format or color.
Below are the refinements of the final logo for the Marketing Club.
Stage 5 – Finalization
Once the logo reviews the refined option, they pick their final logo. This logo is turned into a small style guide that they can hand out to their team, other designers they work with, etc to ensure consistency across the brand. It includes their color, fonts, min and max size, and how best to utilize the logo in its various format.
Below is the final logo for the Carey Marketing Club of Washington, DC.
I hope this helps to demystify the logo design process a bit. I look forward to your comments!
I saw this quote from Dennis Goris go up on twitter, and thought it was perfect inspiration for my post today.
“The degree to which you like or dislike something is not necessarily a measure of its appropriateness for your business.”
This is one of the hard lessons in marketing, but it is one that we all need to learn if we are going to succeed. Sometimes, whether or not you “like” a design has nothing to do with whether or not it will be successful in promoting your business.
For example, if your target audience is teenage boys, and you are a 40 year old female, an advertisement that appeals to your target may not appeal to you at all. You may find it too loud, too garish, too brash…but it may persuade a good number of teenage boys to buy your product. In this case, you need to really trust your agency, and their market research, and put your own opinions aside to be successful in your advertising.
This is not to say you should compromise on your morals. If an ad or design is unethical, it makes perfect sense to oppose it. But if you don’t like the color, and your target audience does, it may be in your best interest to put your taste aside and look at it objectively.
Keep an open mind in advertising and design. Many of the best ad campaigns meet resistance from the client because they involve risk and memorability. But success does not come from playing it safe. Success comes from committing, and taking chances.