Studio Draco has developed many brands over the years and has spent many hours fine tuning the process below. I would love to say we have mastered it but there are always, always exceptions to the rule. The most important part of the process is that the client gets what they envisioned when they decided to hire you. Provide them with that and you will keep them for life!
A logo design begins with a detailed description from the client. This part of the process can happen in a couple of different ways. It could be a sit down meeting with your client. Or it could be a written submission from a client. The design brief expresses any color preferences, design styles or examples that the client might wish to provide. From experience, some clients know exactly what they want, others are very vague. Either way this is the time to ask questions and get whatever specifications are needed to complete the work.
Research and Inspiration
Once you have a good idea what your client wants the next step is to do some research and find some inspiration. Research at a minimum should include a review of the clients competitors See what the latest trends are for the clients industry and glean it for some inspiration. Be very careful though not to “copy” their competitor’s style though. After all you want your clients brand to stand out from the competition, not blend in. Still not satisfied with the direction you want to go. The internet, books, magazines and a whole lot of other sources can be used for inspiration. The sky is the limit.
Now that you have some guidance and inspiration, DO NOT go immediately to your computer. This is one of the greatest mistakes made in our highly technical design world. You should always head for your sketchbook first. Break out a pencil and draw. Place concepts in imaginary rows and columns for easy viewing. I would recommend drawing for no less than 30 to 60 minutes. Take some breaks in between, let the imagination flow and break free. You will soon find that you have a wealth of ideas. Some will be good and some will be terrible, but this exercise will open your mind to many possibilities. If you want to take your sketching a bit further, feel free to break out the colored pencils or markers once you have a nice black and white design. Working in black and white first though will help you develop contrast and ultimately a very versatile mark.
Finally, yes, you can now fire up your PC or Mac. I personally am not opposed to either platform and have found that both are sufficient these days for design tasks. Next, open up your design software. Logo designs should always be prepared in a vector format and never in a raster format. My software of choice is the industry standard, Adobe Illustrator. There are others out there including cheap to free versions, but for a professional result I recommend using the best. Adobe Photoshop, a raster based software, should not be used when designing logos 99% of the time. The reasoning for vector based will be discussed a little later on in this post.
During this phase, choose your best 3 or 4 sketches, scan them as a base and place them into your file. Redraw them using the tools available in your software and clean them up, add color and your artistic flare. They should then be presented to the client for feedback. Please present them in a professional manner on a cut sheet or something that has your logo and some option numbers for easy discussion. Always, always present yourself in a professional manner in person and on paper!
So you have designed a sheet of spiffy logos and sent it off to the client. In a perfect world the client would call you up and say “Great job. I like option 2, let’s go with it!” Very rarely, if ever does that happen. You will most likely be asked to tweak this or that or possibly even be asked to combine two of your draft logos. Most times this means back to the computer to make the revisions, sometimes you may even have to go back to the drawing board. Complete your revisions and return them to your client in a timely manner. Repeat this step as necessary until you get what the client wants.
One of the most asked questions I get is, “How many revision cycles should I give my client?” Most of the time I find that within 3-4 cycles you will have the client satisfied. Some clients however are more difficult than others. How many cycles you give each client will depend on how badly you want to work for that client? If you want to keep them around, go the extra mile, do 5-6 revision cycles. Going the extra mile will show that you care and you will possibly be hired to follow up work. After all the logo is the first piece of a branding package. If you really don’t care then specify a max of 3-4 revision cycles.
Once the client is satisfied get some record that they are happy. Whether it be a quick email giving you an ok, or a formal signed document is for you to decide as a business person. Mostly you want to cover yourself in case of any potential legal action.
Digital File Creation
Finally provide the client with the files they can utilize on a day to day basis. Earlier I mentioned I would explain why you should use vector based software. This is done for exporting reasons. From your crisp clean vector image you can easily export the design to many different file types. I recommend exporting their logo to at a minimum, a .jpg, .png, .eps, and a .gif file of various sizes (Small, medium, and large). Clients will use the logo in a variety of ways, including use in MS Word, Excel, Powerpoint, packaging, etc. If you want to get some extra brownie points provide them with a color sheet and suggested use sheet for reference. This sheet should include RGB colors, pantone colors, and CMYK colors. Some clients will also request a black on white, white on black, and grayscale versions of their logo as well. You should also always provide them the original artwork, even if they have no clue what to do with it.
As a courtesy I always call my clients up about a week or two after I have provided them with the digital files to see if they are satisfied with the product. This is a good practice for many reasons. First it shows that you care about your client. Second, it gives you a chance to market other design services such as business cards, brochures or webs development services for that matter. And finally, it is always nice to see how your artwork is being utilized. Don’t forget to ask your client for a sample and a testimonial!
Hopefully you have found this post useful or inspiring. I must remind you that these are the very basics of the logo design process. A lot more goes into each design and a lot more heart and soul goes into our dealings with our clients. After all, our goal is to provide the client with their vision of their business or venture.
Finally, keep your eye out later this week Studio Draco will be releasing its personal list of the 13 Most Timeless Logo Designs!