I’m embarking on a design journey. I intend to recreate the logo development process and chronicle my progress. I love logos. As a public relations professional, I know their immense impact on the public’s perception of an organization. The best logos reinforce an organization’s brand values (what makes an organization unique).
What is a Brand, anyway?
The word brand is bandied around with enough frequency to make anyone’s head spin. It sounds suspiciously like a word developed by advertising execs to make their services seem important. The term has morphed to encompass every professional. We’re all brands—it’s not exclusive to social media influencers, politicians, or professional athletes. It includes you and the guy in the cubical next to you.
A brand is the public perception of an organization and its products or services. For an individual, your brand is your professional reputation. And, unfortunately, this is why we need to think before we post to social media sites or anywhere on the internet. Assume everyone can see everything you post, and everything you post impacts your brand.
The word logo is often used interchangeably with brand, which is understandable. Brand has its root in cattle branding—the marks that distinguish one rancher’s cattle from another’s. Logos are company cattle marks. A logo is the visual representation of a brand. I like to think of logos as the face of a brand. David Ogilvy, who coined the term brand, referred to the brandmark (or logo) as, “the personality of the brand.” Logos shouldn’t be neglected because they are the first thing we associate with an organization.
An interesting logo can open doors for you. After I completed a design program, I created my logo as part of the brand I was marketing to potential employers. During the interview process, my logo was specifically mentioned several times. It helped me land a better job.
What’s Makes a Logo Effective?
The answer is, obviously, subjective. An effective logo is one that garners a positive emotional response. It’s beneficial to examine the sequence of cognition, how we interpret sensory stimuli.
“Visual images can be remembered and recognized directly, while words must be decoded into meaning” (Wheeler, 2009, p. 52). We recognize shapes first, then color, and finally form (language, i.e., words and letters).
A logo needs to be unique and memorable and—given how our brains work—simple. In his book, Logo Design Love, David Airey suggests thinking small, that a logo should work at a minimum of one inch. He also advises that a logo focus on a single defining feature.
Paul Rand, the designer behind the IBM and ABC logos, expressed the importance of simplicity in his book, Paul Rand: A Designer’s Art. “A trademark, which is subject to an infinite number of uses, abuses, and variations, whether for competitive purposes or for reasons of ‘self-expression,’ cannot survive unless it is designed with utmost simplicity and restraint—keeping in mind that seldom is a trademark favored with more than a glance.”
So, a logo needs to be simple, scalable and distinct. Logo design is as much about what you don’t include as what you include. Unfortunately, an effective logo design requires more than a talent for illustrations or computer graphics.
To illustrate the logo design process, I’m going to create three unique logos for three fictitious companies complete with brand identity packages. Brand identity packages are to display the logos in context. I intend to include logos, business cards, letterhead and social media cover images. I’m going to create assets for a boutique brewery, a florist and a men’s fashion label.
The logo design process consists of five main steps:
- A consultation (also called a design brief). In this stage, the designer discusses the project with the client. This step sometimes is a questionnaire. The designer needs to know what makes a company unique and the company’s marketing goals.
- Research. A designer will research his or her client’s company, its history, and its competition. To create an effective logo, a designer needs a firm understanding of a business.
- Concepts/Drafts. Next, the designer takes the research he or she gathered and creates and refines logo drafts. The designer will select a handful to further refine on the computer.
- Presentation. In this step, the designer presents his or her work to the client in the form of a pdf with examples of the logo drafts on assets, like business cards. The designer also includes notes explaining his or her decisions. The client gives feedback and selects a favorite draft for more revisions and finetuning.
- Delivery. In the last step, the designer delivers a brand identity package. It likely includes multiple versions of the logo, business cards, letterhead and web graphics. It should also include editable files (e.g., eps file).
My challenge is to go through every step of the process for the three businesses. The only deviation will be in step one, where I will need to create the background and positioning of the fictional companies.
I’m anxious to see how this plays out. A logo—like a picture—is worth a thousand words. It’s the job of a designer to make sure it says what the company wants. Check back soon to see how I fare.
Airey, D. (2015). Logo design love: A guide to creating iconic brand identities (2nd ed.) New Riders.
Dvornechuck, A. Logo design process from start to finish. Retrieved from https://ebaqdesign.com/blog/logo-design-process/
Logo design process. Retrieved from https://logogeek.uk/logo-design/process/
Rand, P. (2016). Paul rand: A designer’s art (1st ed.). New York, NY: Princeton Architectural Press.
Wheeler, A. (2009). Designing brand identity (3rd ed.). Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.