If you only have £50 to spend on your logo, I’m not the designer for you.
That’s pretty blunt; why not?
I know what you’re thinking: “There are plenty of designers out there who will whip up a cheap logo; what makes you so special, missy?”
The short, or flippant, answer is: because I have a mortgage to pay!
That’s probably not a good enough answer though. Everyone has bills to pay.
There is, of course, more to it.
Let’s be honest, your logo is important. It’s usually the most memorable part of your branding. It’s a visual shorthand or symbol of just how freakin’ awesome your business is. So that’s not something you should scrimp on.
And many people think designing a logo is easy. After all, you’re just slinging together a wee icon with some nice text, aren’t you?
Nope. The truth is designers just make it look easy.
We’ve studied hard and trained, and well, we do this stuff all the time. So we make it look easy. Just as the mechanic who fixes my car makes it look easy. He knows what he’s doing, so to him it’s no problem. But if I started poking around in there I’d quickly be in trouble.
And there’s an awful lot of work that goes into creating a logo – at least, any logo worth having. More work than most people realise. So let’s take a look at just what’s involved in designing a logo:
Stage 0: The Strategy Session
Before every* project starts we have a strategy session. This is a 45 minute chat, either in person or virtually via a service like Skype or Zoom, where we can get to know one another.
I’ll ask you a whole bunch of questions about your business, your products/services, your customers, your aims, your marketing… you get the idea, I have a lot of questions. That’s because the more I know about your business, the better prepared I am to create you a crackin’ logo.
I’ll also be able to offer advice and these questions can help you nail down the personality of your new brand, if you haven’t done any work on that already. Plus, you’ll be able to ask me questions about how I work, the design process, and so on.
Chatting this way means we’re both on the same page about what we’re trying to achieve with your new logo. Plus we can get a feel for whether we’ll work well together and want to proceed with a project.
*Technically it’s almost every project – over 95%. Occasionally a client will prefer to work through the questionnaire on their own and email it to me rather than us meeting to complete it together.
Stage 1: Research, Research, Research
At the start of our project, I’ll ask you to compile a Pinterest board of inspiration for your new logo. This builds on what we discussed at our strategy session and gives me some visual examples of the kind of style you’d like to achieve.
Even though I’ve already asked you for keywords to describe the look and feel of your new branding, this is an important step. Because words can mean different things to different people. So if we discuss a vintage feel for your branding, when I see your visual examples of what you mean by that, I know what vintage means to you and I can design accordingly.
And it doesn’t stop there. Research is vital, and the more I can do, the better. So I’ll also be looking at your typical customers, your competitors and your industry in general. This can give me a feel for what’s needed to design something appropriate for your market and look for ways that will let you stand out as the go-to business in your niche.
Stage 2: Ideas Time
We’ve both already done a fair bit of work (because the best designs come from a collaborative process) but now it’s finally onto the fun bit! Um… not that the preliminaries aren’t fun, but the initial design phases are my total favourite 😀
So the next part of the design process is sketching, and lots of it. I use good, old-fashioned pen and paper to draw as many ideas for your logo as possible. Working in pen means I’ll draw lots of ideas really quickly without getting too precious over the details (that comes later). It’s a big brain dump. This way I can quickly explore lots of different ideas and shapes to find the ones with the most promise.
Then I’ll usually grab some pencils and work on refining the best ideas. More time is spent on these sketches than the first round, as shapes get refined and details come into play. A lot of it is done in greyscale so I can work out how the different elements work together, but I do sometimes add a bit of colour to try things out.
Stage 3: Let’s Get Digital
Once I have 2-4 concepts I’m happy with (the number depends on which logo design package the project uses) it’s finally time to open Illustrator and start drawing those most promising ideas digitally.
Adobe Illustrator is the industry standard software for creating logos. That way the design is created as vector artwork, so it can be really precise and, most importantly, scalable.
Your logo needs to work at small sizes (like at the top of your website, or printed onto the side of a pen) and large sizes (like if you wanted to get a sign made for your premises, or a banner for an exhibition). It also needs to work at low resolutions (again, for things like your website, as screens use a resolution of 72 dpi) and at high resolutions for print (standard dpi for print is 300). And it’s just really tough to get that flexibility and scalability if it hasn’t been created as vector artwork. That’s why I only ever create logos in Illustrator.
Again, I work initially in black and white, making sure that in each design concept the shapes, words and overall composition work well together. I’ll test different fonts to find the best one/s for the design. And I’ll test the concepts at different sizes to make sure that fine details aren’t lost when the designs are very small, and that they also look good in large sizes.
Then comes colour. This goes through a similar process of trying colours in the designs, to find a palette of colours and tones that work well together and are appropriate for the context of the idea and for your business.
All through this process (stages 2 and 3) ideas are discarded if it becomes obvious that they’re not right, and new ideas may come and need the same level of development.
Stage 4: Feedback and Revisions
This is the bit you’ve been waiting for! You finally get to see those concepts.
At this point you, the client, will be presented with the best idea/s and be asked for your feedback.
Again, it’s important to get a lot of information here. It’s just as important to tell me what you don’t like as the bits that you do like, and if you can tell me why you like or don’t like them, even better. The why is super important. That’s how we make a plan about what needs to be changed, or any additional ideas or variations you’d like to see.
It’s rare for a client to be completely happy with what they see in the first set of visuals, with no changes required, although it has happened a few times! It’s more common for the process to take two or three rounds of presenting ideas to you, and then developing the idea/s based on your feedback.
Stage 5: Final Design
Once you, the client, are happy with the logo design – including any variations, submarks, colour scheme and font choices – I then need to prepare all the files you’ll need.
I provide logos in a package of files that should cover a variety of uses, from your company stationery, to your website.
The package includes a series of files ready for print and screen use. And since there may be alternate versions, such as an alternative layout or colour scheme for a particular use, a single colour version, and different sizes, and files need to be created for all these too.
Plus you’ll get either a Brand Board – a one page PDF to act as a quick visual reference for the logo versions, colours and fonts – or a more comprehensive Brand Guidelines file. Again, that depends on which logo design package we’re working on.
The Brand Guidelines also give you colour and font references, but it provides a lot more detail about using your new logo. Like explaining the different files you’ve received and when/where they should be used. It will also show you how to get the best from your new logo, from keeping a ‘safe zone’ of space around the logo, to the smallest size it should be used at, and will also contain a list of ways in which the logo shouldn’t be used. That last one is super important for the consistency and integrity of your new branding.
Phew! That’s a lot of ground to cover, isn’t it? Now that you know how much work goes into creating a logo, will you invest more than £50 in yours?
If you’d like to work together on your logo, I’d love to hear from you. Get in touch to book your strategy session and let’s see how we can make your business stand out.
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