My logo design process

There’s a misconception that design work starts at the computer and that designers have a constant stream of ideas on tap just waiting to be channelled into something amazing with Creative Suite.

Logo Design by John Robinson Design

At times I really wish it was that easy but with any kind of design work there’s an awful lot going on behind the scenes that the client never gets to see. This is particularly true in the case of a logo design project.

With that in mind I wanted to write a short post about the way I tackle logo design. Hopefully this will give anyone who’s interested a really good insight into the process.

There are some key stages that are essential to the success of a logo design project and the first one always begins with a hot cup of tea (usually Yorkshire Gold if it’s a particularly challenging project!)

The question stage

To kick off a logo design project I ask a series of detailed questions about the client, their business and the industry they’re in. Over the space of five years I’ve whittled these questions down and refined them to make absolutely sure I’m getting as much of the right information as possible.

I encourage the client to answer every one of these question and provide as much information as they can. The results of this document are gold dust because they give me a crucial starting point for the whole project. Without them the design process would become a bit of a stab in the dark and the project wouldn’t be a success.

The research stage

Once I’ve got the answers to these questions I start on the research stage of the project. I’ll start to look at the client’s competitors and how they brand themselves. I’ll then compile that into a short document which I’ll add my comments to and share with the client.

In recent months I’ve started using a Pinterest board to capture competitor’s logos and elements of their branding. I’ll usually focus this around the client’s local competition but I often spread the net a bit wider and look at larger businesses in the same industry across the whole of the UK.

This research along with the information provided at the questions stage starts to give me an insight into where there are opportunities to differentiate a client’s business. That is after all what they’re commissioning me to do.

The ideas stage

At the ideas stage I’ll start to do some simple word association and mind mapping to give me a starting point and from there I’m usually able to start generating the spark of an idea.

When I’ve got some ideas that I’m happy with I’ll start to sketch them out with an art pen and a sketchbook. If there are any stationery geeks out there I use a Pilot 0.5! This isn’t a particularly high tech solution but I’m a born doodler so it works really well for me and I find this part of the process really enjoyable.

Using a pen and a piece of paper feels far more natural than jumping straight onto a computer. With pen and paper you can just keep going, trying new ideas and experimenting freely without the distractions you’ll find on a computer.

I like to try and create logos that are easy to remember so this is another good reason to sketch out ideas. If I can draw a logo without thinking too much about what I’m drawing then I’m happy that it’s on its way to being simple and memorable enough.

Foodlife logo sketches

When I’ve got two sketched ideas that I’m happy with I’ll go to the computer and start to create them as finished artwork.

I’m not the sort of designer who creates ten different logo concepts for a client. I’d much rather put all my time and effort into creating two great ideas than ten ideas that are just ok.

The presentation stage

When it comes to presenting the logos I will never simply email them to the client as a jpeg. I create an example branding document which talks about the goals of the project, how I arrived at the final designs and the decisions I took along the way.

Logo design branding presentation

The document shows the client their logo in context which they always find really valuable. They get to see the logo ideas on a number of real-world items like a business card, a letterhead, a uniform, or on the side of a van or a shopping bag, where applicable.

This document helps to demonstrate how the finished design will work in the real world rather than just on a computer screen.

The amendments stage

The final stage is dealing with any amendments the client has. Over the years I’ve never been told by a client that they didn’t like either of my ideas. I can only put that down to doing sufficient research and explaining my decisions thoroughly. I’m sure if the logos didn’t meet the client’s goals or expectations they’d soon tell me!

The final stage

Once any amendments are done the logo is sent to the client in various formats, usually with a guide on how it should be used, and once the final invoice has been paid the logo becomes their intellectual property.

If you’ve interested in working with me on a logo design project get in touch. It’d be good to hear from you.