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Logo Design Process
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The Logo Design Process

Author : Judy Litt


Getting Started

New designers often ask how to design a logo. Below is my process for designing logos; YMMV (your mileage may vary) — which is fine. I'm just sharing my process with you so that you have a starting point. Most of this logo process is in a certain order — for instance, you should always get information about the company and its market before you even think about designing — but certain steps aren't so cut and dried. I might look around for information before picking fonts, for instance.

Gather information

It's imperative that you understand your customer's target market before you even begin to think about designing a logo. If it's seniors or children, for instance, you may need larger fonts. If it's lawyers, you'll want a very conservative design. If it's Generation Xers, you can get a bit more wild and crazy. So ask your customer these questions, but don't be surprised if they have a tough time answering them — many companies never give any consideration to just who their target market is:

  • What is the average age of your target market?
  • What level of education do they have?
  • What gender is the majority of your target market?
  • Is there a certain ethnic group you're targeting?
  • Describe the benefits of your company/product.
  • What is the most important benefit to your customer?
  • What is your USP (unique selling point)?
  • What are the strengths & weaknesses of your competitors?
  • What images/symbols do you want to be associated with?
  • What images/symbols do you not want to be associated with?
  • Do you want a logo mark (graphic) or an all text logo?
  • When someone looks at your logo, what is the first thing you want them to think?
  • How will the logo be used? (in print, on the Web, signage?)

It's not a bad idea to go through your portfolio and have the customer tell you which logos he likes, and why, or what sort of style appeals to him/her.

Pick a font

I start looking through all my fonts, and write down the names of the ones that I think will be appropriate for the logo. The reason I don't just hop on the computer to look at fonts immediately is that I don't have all my fonts installed. If I did have all my fonts installed all the time, it would really slow down my system. Of course, to look through your fonts, you must have a print out of your fonts available.

Once I've decided on fonts (there are no set number, just whatever strikes my fancy), I start setting the company name. I set it in all caps, in lowercase and caps, as many variations as I can think of. Then I begin assigning the fonts I've chosen to each and every variation. Next I print it out; do not skip this step, it's very important. It's amazing how good something can look on your monitor, only to look very bad printed.

Once I've finished, I pick the fonts I like and move on.

Be inspired

You may have ideas for the logo just overflowing your brain. Or you may need some inspiration. I look through the following to get the creative juices flowing:

  • Logo books
  • Clipart
  • Magazines
  • The phone book
  • Designer's Portfolios

Creating the Logos

Sketch thumbnails

I do, still, start with sketching a thumbnail, rather than moving right to the computer. My customers almost never see my thumbnails; usually they are just for me. They're very rough, which is part of why the customer never sees them! I will sketch one day, put it aside, come back to it the next, and so on.

Pick top three thumbnails

Hopefully you've developed a lot of thumbnails. You should shoot for ten at the very least, and hopefully as much as thirty or more. Get as much feedback from family, friends, and coworkers as you can at this point.

Sometimes we find that our very first idea is the strongest; other times it's only after playing with a logo for a couple of weeks that the "right" one leaps out at you.

Once you're satisfied that you've done as many as you can, pick the top three to five thumbnails to develop.

Get on the computer

Now you've got direction: thumbnails and fonts. So it's time to put it all together. Nowit's time to sit down at the computer and bring life to your sketches.

Depending on how detailed your sketches are, this may be as simple as scanning in and tracing, or you may need to start from scratch. I almost never have a thumbnail so polished that I can just scan it in, but that's me.

You may find that once you start playing with the logo on the computer, it takes on a life of its own. Often I have what I think is a good idea in a sketch, but suddenly I just tweak it a little on the computer and voila! A logo. At this point you should be working in black and white, and small enough so that the logo will fit on a business card.

Refine, refine, refine

Pick the top three to five logo concepts you created, and show those to your customer.

Now, of course, the fun begins. You'll need to refine the logo per your customer feedback. If they don't like any of the concepts, find out specifically what they don't like:

  • Is it the graphic?
  • Is it the font?
  • Is it the style?
  • Is it the size?

Get colorful

When you've refined your logo to everyone's satisfaction, it's time to get colorful. You may need to go back to the inspiration step and look around to find color combinations you like.

As with fonts, try out a number of color combinations. Don't forget to print it out, but also don't forget your Pantone swatchbook. Customers have a hard time visualizing color, so it's very important that you explain to them the difference between viewing color on a monitor, printed on an inkjet, and commercially printed.

If all you're doing is developing a logo, you're done!


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