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Logo Design Insights & Tips

November 28, 2011

A couple of weeks ago, I had three concurrent logo design projects. While even one logo can be a bit stressful for me, having three at once forced me to use a process I have never tried before. At the end, I feel I presented a handful of logos to all three clients that were some of my best. This post gives some insight into what helped me that week, which is a strategy that I will continue to employ for future logo work. I’ll also provide some additional tips for designers to consider that may improve their process and overall quality of work when designing a logo. These 5 tips are in no particular order.

 

1. TAP YOUR CREATIVITY WHEN IT’S PRIME, & DESIGN IN CONCENTRATED BURSTS

I find that my best creative work comes in the morning. Logo design require a substantial amount of creative energy (at least for me), so I’ll typically set aside 2-4 hours in the morning each day that I need to work on a logo. When I have concurrent logo projects with similar deadlines, I’ve found that spending 2 hours on one concept for one logo, and 2 hours on the other is a good strategy.

Unless I have pushed the limits of a deadline, I don’t work on logos in the afternoon because I know I will be less creative and less efficient with my work. Knowing your strengths and limiting yourself to shorter bursts of creativity may actually improve your design work. Being self-employed works to my advantage, while those working at agencies may not be able to work in this manner.

 

2. REQUIRE YOUR CLIENT FILL OUT A LOGO DESIGN QUESTIONNAIRE

I’ve found this logo design questionnaire to be extremely helpful when it comes to obtaining important information regarding a client’s business, target market, and design preferences before beginning a logo design. If you don’t ask the right questions, you may not get a critical piece of information from the client, which could mean the difference between finishing the job and designing another round of logos.

 

3. GET INSPIRED AND SPEND TIME SKETCHING IDEAS

Like any technology, software such as Adobe Illustrator and Adobe Photoshop can limit our creativity as well as open our eyes to possibilities we don’t get from pencil and paper. Take advantage of both by not skipping a good 1-2 hour sketching brainstorm. I’ve actually been able to refer to my sketches to produce 3-5 good designs to present to the client. At times I discover an option or two by simply working in Illustrator and playing with objects, effects, and type, it’s often the sketched concepts that are more creative ideas than my sometimes accidental discoveries in Illustrator.

 

4. KNOW YOUR LOGO STYLES

In my opinion, the best collection of logos can be found in the multiple volumes of Logo Lounge, which happens to organize their logo collection by style and type of logo. Below is a more condensed category list of logos that you should be familiar with. Know your options, and you’ll probably feel like you have more weapons at your creative disposal when designing logos.

a. “The Basic” – I made this category up to include logos that combine type and image. Some of the below categories fit within this category, but not visa versa.

b. Typography – These logos are composed of lettering only

c. Initials – Where initials, such as the first letter of the company name, compose the logo mark

d. Enclosures – Where the entire logo in contained within a shape, such as a circle

e. Crests – These logos are more ornamental in nature, are enclosed, and typically look illustrated on some level

f. Abstract Shapes/Symbols – Logos comprised of abstract shapes or recognizable symbols (such as a heart)

 

5. KNOW WHAT LOGO STYLES YOU WILL PRESENT BEFORE YOU BEGIN DESIGNING

I typically have a really good idea what stylistic direction(s) to take a logo after talking with the client and/or reviewing the questionnaire. If you don’t know what direction(s) to take the logo (modern, vintage, ornamental, ect.), then you may want to revisit your pre-project notes or you may be in for a difficult project.

For instance, I recently designed a logo for a high-end dentistry located in New Orleans. I knew that I was not going to work on logos with abstract shapes or symbols, or enclosures. The client did mention that the business name is closely tied with the surrounding environment (marshy bay area), so I decided to present one logo as a crest that’s more illustrative, and the others of “The Basic” variety. A lot depends upon the business name used in the logo and answers to the questionnaire that should allow you to hone in on 1-3 styles for your initial design concepts.

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