It sounds bold and brave and wonderful, doesn't it? While it seems like a piece of cake, the unsuspecting client usually believes a logo can take no more than a day to be completed. Well, alright - a couple of days.
This cannot be further from the truth. To unveil the mystery of how a logo comes to life, my duty with this post will be to go in-depth explaining my creative process.
1. Discussion with the client
This stage usually involves getting in touch with the client. If the client isn't very 'wordy' or communicative, or has troubles expressing himself/herself, I make sure to ask as many questions as possible and extract the meaning of their words. Please, dear clients, have patience - nothing beautiful comes from rushing to the end goal.
So, what information do I take from the client?
- Information about the company - history, goals, beliefs, business, activities, tagline, etc. Anything tangible and intangible related to the company.
- Customer-base - this means, which is the company's clientele; are customers children, adolescents, or older people; whom do the company target?
- Social media and website - I often ask this question first among any other. I live on the internet, and it's where most people are. So, company websites or their social media channels can reveal a lot. Unfortunately, if the company is a fresh startup, they may not have any of these implemented yet, so I may to do away with this info.
- If it's an existing company, I may also ask for existing corporate designs, preferred (or existing) colors (un)related to the brand. Also, other insignia, business cards, or any other means of promoting the company/startup prior to requesting a logo.
2. Research - company
While the above may seem overwhelming to a customer (many are unfortunately put off when I request more about their company), it's a necessary step, especially if the company expects a successful solution to their request. So, when the first stage has provided me with enough information, I may try to fill the gaps if anything is missing, and continue on to researching on my own.
I take all the collected information and go on to read on the client's website or social media (if there are any). If not, I read about the related industry or business. I also take the time to research the competition and see where they are standing on the business stage and market.
I take notice of their logos - professional or not, formal or informal. I make sure to keep those in mind - this helps me create a logo hopefully better, and unique in relation to the existing companies' logos.
Optional: When I do (for my own pleasure and curiosity) market and business research I use some of these wonderful tools. They help when the company needs a little more than just a logo or brand designed, but also need help with their company's business and marketing strategies.
3. Research - concepts
At this stage, I'm done researching the company. I sit down and brainstorm on a piece of paper - the old-fashioned way. I write keywords related to the company and its business area. I write about 20-30 keywords. I then filter them down to several, so that I work with a handful of main ideas.
I then go to Google and simply type in keyword after keyword from my list. I love going to the Images section and begin searching for related images. These continue to give me more and more ideas. When something strikes me as interesting, I sketch down the idea and move on.
When I've collected lots of sketches on my sheet of paper, I'm done with Google.
Finally, I'm on my own. No more Google or research.
4. Idea generation time!
This is when I can finally prepare sketching my own concept. I use the sketches from stage 3 and use the keywords I have. Then comes brain-racking. It may sound a bit scary, but it's a bit like trying to solve a maths problem (read about that here). Meaning, this is the stage I love the most! I've always loved Maths in my high-school days, so that's the most pleasurable moment of logo design for me.
There's not much to talk about this stage - I'm basically generating my own ideas, sketching them down and when I've done at least 5 concepts, I'm done with this stage.
5. Feedback from client
I take the concepts I've sketched and I usually share them with my clients. Of course, clients in a rush usually want one logo done by the end of the day, so there's no time for going back and forth on ideas. Clients who want to receive value are patient and usually rewarded in the end with a wonderful logo. They are happy to give me feedback in the process.
When the client sees the concepts, they always come down to one only. Of course, if they like two, I help them choose by always giving them my own reasoning behind each concept. That always helps the client decide which concept to go for.
This stage is basically an in-depth discussion. The client may also think of improving a concept, so I always listen to what they have to say. Whenever I think a certain approach may go wrong, I try to educate the client (without burdening them with unnecessary explanations) about why certain designs or color schemes may be wrong. I'm happy that 90% of my clients trust my knowledge and agree with me, when my explanations make sense.
6. Moving on to the software
I'm nearly there. At this stage, as the title suggests, I move on to my preferred software and begin drawing the logo. Let me note that oftentimes sketching on paper is one thing, but drawing in vector shapes is another, and the idea may often evolve slightly away from the concept.
Usually for the better. If done correctly and executed with precision and care, a sketched logo may be a bleek image of its vector self. Vectors are beautiful shapes and if used right, can be incredibly rewarding!
The final stage. The client receives the first draft of the vectorized logo. If done properly, there may be no need for changes and the client will leave satisfied and happy. Of course, the client has the right to request several revisions, but if the above stages are preformed with care, these revisions should be no more than 3 (up to 5). The number of revisions are usually stated before the contract is set in motion. More revisions than that should be paid accordingly.
There are some picky clients who tend to be hard to satisfy and a project may totally derail into tens and tens of revisions, and both sides end up incredibly frustrated. I believe that if the designer did his or her job in the first 6 stages, revisions could be virtually unnecessary even for picky clients. Yet, any additional change/revision not discussed in the contract should be rewarded accordingly.
8. The Delivery
Well, the shortest stage. I give my client all deliverables that we agreed on before signing the contract, and the client walks off happy. I get paid for my work and am happy too.
How long all these stages take in total? It depends on the client's urgency. It may be a few days, weeks or even a month. Some clients take their time thinking about a certain concept I gave them (stage 5). Or approving a certain refinement. Of course, I always prefer working tightly on a logo project and cutting the process in such large chunks of time, considering a concept of revision, is just stretching the process far too much.
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These steps help me make sure a logo design process goes as smooth as possible. I do want my clients to be happy with the end result and wouldn't sacrifice or rush my job. I am responsible for the art and design that I publish in this large digital world so I can't compromise my reputation as a designer.
I hope this short guide is helpful both for clients and fellow designers in the beginning of their career. Many clients need to be educated on the logo design process. There are still far too many clients who believe that when they say 'I need a logo for my car wash company' that this is more than enough, and the designer is ready to draw the final logo within a few hours.
For someone who had experience with such clients, this had been a detrimental process. Doing my best in such tight deadlines is challenging, but unfortunately I may not have been necessarily proud of all of my designs.
I have made my mind to take clients on board only if they have the patience to participate and collaborate in the birth of a logo. They are as much responsible for the logo, as the designer. What's requested of them is stated above. I don't think it's so much to ask, it's the necessary minimum. Without it, no logo can be made memorable!