As you can see it can be difficult to know where to start when you are designing a logo. But planning ahead is the key to success and will let you create a pathway to the final artwork.
From experience, I find the best place to start is a mood board. This is a collection of images, screenshots, photos, snippets, notes, textures and styles that you can work with alongside your client to map out the plans for the final design. Don’t feel restricted by having to use examples from other businesses in your industry; a mood board can be made up from anything. You’re sketching out the mood and character of the logo to use as a starting point for developing your own ideas.
Once you’ve got some inspiration and basic plans in your head it is time to take out your sketchbook. Put down your mouse and step away from the computer. Grab a notepad and let your imagination run wild. You are not drawing the final logo right now, you are planning how it could look and, more importantly, how it won’t look! I say this because you will most likely sketch 50 things and only be happy with 1 or 2. That’s fine, the sketching process is designed to get ideas out of your head (even if you haven’t thought them through fully) and on to paper.
Once you’ve exhausted your ideas on paper is is time to review what you’ve done. Is there anything worth keeping and developing? Have you drawn a couple of different things that could be combined to create something better? Is there a tiny glint of gold in amongst the crude pencil lines that could form the basis of the logo?
By now you should have an idea of where you are heading with the design so it is time to start more sketching (remember to stay away from the computer for now!). Refine your ideas, develop the sketches you think show potential. Aim to come up with 2 or 3 key concepts that you can work with. Sketch, erase and repeat.
Now that you’ve planned, sketched and refined it is time to turn on your computer and step in to the digital world again. Using your graphics software of choice (something like Adobe Illustrator is ideal for vector work and allows you to resize easily) you should form the first semblance of the final logo. When I create the first draft I am thinking along the lines of basic geometric shapes, typefaces and colours. The fine details and touching up comes later.
The beauty of working digitally is you can make changes in a matter of seconds. Make sure you tweak the colours, try different typefaces, rearrange elements of the design until it looks good enough to show to others.
The final stage is to apply some polish to your designs. A logo can vary in style and it is important to consider this throughout the design phase. Is it going to be a basic single colour design? Does it suit lots of details, gradients and the dreaded drop shadow? Will the logo be displayed at various shapes sizes? If so, you may consider creating several versions to suit the plethora of uses it may have (websites, business cards, advertising boards or favicons). Your logo needs to look great under close up scrutiny too.
Once you’ve finished the logo design and are satisfied with your creation it is time to show your client. Don’t just save it as a JPEG and e-mail it to them with a summary of what you’ve done. Show them and explain to them why you’ve designed it in this way. Emphasise why you’ve chosen a particular colour scheme. Tell them why you’ve chosen that typeface. The client won’t know the process you’ve been on to plan and refine the logo so you need to explain this and make sure they understand the benefits to them.
Lastly, when presenting to a client you may want to consider creating mockups of the logo being used on business cards, on shop signs, on the side of vans or any other use that the client may have for it.
You can buy some very good Photoshop actions from Graphic River that will take your artwork and create these photo realistic images for you. Whenever I’ve presented these to a client it has always gone down well because the client can see their potential logo in real world situations.
Your Logo Design Tips
If you’ve got any tips or advice for creating logos or if you’d like to share your design process please feel free to leave a comment below.