How to design a logo

How do you design a logo?

Oooo, today’s an exciting one! Today I’m going to be talking to about how to create a logo.

Before I start, I’ve got to say that I have been a logo designer for over 8 years now and everything I’m going to cover today has taken me literally years to learn and develop. That’s right, I’m giving you my secret sauce to logo design!

  1. Your name

Before we start I must make the point that before you start your or your client’s logo you must have a name and an understanding of the character or voice of the business. By this I mean, is your business energetic and fun or is it more conservative and professional? This plays a massive role in how your logo will look. Nobody wants a serious logo that looks like a solicitor firm when you run an outdoor activity business.

  1. Do your research

You might be bubbling with ideas but you really must resist the urge to jump straight into illustrator. You have to do some research first to create a logo that really represents what you do. This can be by Googling yours or your client’s competitors to gauge their tone of voice and style. You’ve always got keep in mind how you’re going to stand out from them. What colours aren’t they using? Do they all avoid certain typefaces? Always think of how you can make your design be more memorable.

  1. Create a mood board

Whether you’re working on a project for yourself or for a client I always find it best to create a mood board. A mood board is normally a collection of images that you feel encompasses what the business represents. It can literally have anything on it, it can be other logos you like the look of or something more abstract like architecture, flowers, magazines, fashion. Anything that gets the imagination going.

As a warning, if you are doing this for a client I would refrain from going too abstract with this. Especially if you’re not going to be there to explain what everything means, otherwise you just get a ‘what the hell is this?!’ email – and nobody wants that.

There are a few options to create a mood board, the traditional method is good old fashioned cutting and sticking images from magazines and books. This really is a great visual if you have the time to do it. I much prefer to just jump onto Pinterest, create a private board and just start pinning. If you haven’t used Pinterest before, the huge benefit of using it is that firstly it’s completely free! There are millions of different images and ideas to just get those creative juices flowing.

If you’re working for a logo design for a client, Pinterest is amazing because you can collaborate on the board with the client. If they just don’t like something they can remove it.

However, I must give you a word of caution giving your client access to editing the board. You can wake up in the morning with 200 random images on there which completely ruins the board (trust me, I’ve been there!). Make sure you only give access to clients you know understands how this works and has an eye for design.

  1. Start scribbling

Yep, that’s right, still, resist jumping onto the computer. From experience using a notepad and a pencil is a much better (and faster) way to get ideas bubbling. I normally print out my mood board, get my well-used logo design books out and as I have a look through them all I scribble down the ideas as they come in my head. Get every idea down that you have your head, even if you like at it and think it’s dreadful.

I know exactly what’s going to happen to you at this stage. You’re going to get about 10 to 15 minutes into this and your mind is going to get stuck on one design. Then you’re going to just be creating designs that are based on that style. My best advice is to put the kettle on and make a cuppa and just step away from it all for just a few minutes. Don’t start anything else, you don’t want to lose your design buzz. Come back, start a new page spread in your notepad and have another scim through your Pinterest board and books. I guarantee another idea will bubble up.

You will know when you have enough concepts to start the next step, for me, this is around 10 to 15 distinct design.

If you’re working for a client, some designers send these scribbles off to the client at this stage but personally I much prefer to create more of an experience for them and normally (If you scribble like me), it can be really hard for a client to understand what a scribble will ultimately look like.

  1. Initial ideas!

It’s official! You can now start using your computer! Personally, I always use Adobe Illustrator to create a logo design, however, if you’re not a designer this can be really expensive and difficult to use. If you’re after something free and fairly simple to use I’ve heard some great reviews about Inkscape. If you’re working on an iPad Procreate can create some amazing results as well!

I would never use Photoshop to create a logo as it works in raster instead of vector graphics. What does this mean? Photoshop is for photos (It’s in the name!) when you zoom in close to a photo you will see the pixels, meaning that if you scale up your 6×4 photo up to the size of a billboard it’ll become blurred and pixelated – which just looks bad! A vector based software (such as Illustrator or Coral Draw) doesn’t use pixels, it works on infinitely zoomable lines that will never pixelate. This means your logo can be tiny on your business cards and huge on a billboard.

From your scribbles, I would choose 3 concepts that you feel that will visually look the best but also best represent the business the best. I would then, one by one on their own individual artboards start developing and tweaking them. I can’t take the credit for this bit, this is a technique Aaron Draplin uses in his logo design tutorial on SkillShare. Don’t just go over the top of the original design, every time you make a change duplicate the design and put an arrow to show the flow of how the design developed. Honestly, it’s great to see how it develops and also if the design takes a wrong turn you can just go back!

When I create a logo design for a client I only ever send over 3 designs I have set up in Illustrator. At this stage I’m just working in black & white with nothing else – no colour and you don’t want to waste time on mockups. This is just about the core design and you want the client to focus on that. The last thing you want is them going, can you tweak the shade of green and not give any feedback on the design itself.

It’s at this point I’d like to introduce you to the chilli scale. This is something I do with every logo design and it always works. The chilli scale is obviously split up into 3 sections – Mild, Hot and Spicy! The thought process behind each one is:

Design 1 Mild – is exactly what the client is expecting and normally is the safest option that tends to look like everyone else.

Design 2 Hot – pushes the boundaries a bit, still very closely linked to what the business does but normally has an unconventional font or the overall layout is different to all the other competitors.

Design 3 Spicy – this is your chance to just go mad with it. How would you have the logo, if you had complete control over the design? This gives you a bit of creative freedom whilst still respecting the initial brief.

This approach always works for me, people do always tend to go for 1 or 2 however depending on the type of client you’re working with, if you tell them about the scale after you’ve sent the concepts over it does tend to push them up the numbers a bit. Everyone wants to be a bit edgy and trendy!

Once I have set so it visually looks great I normally send this over to the client with the finished mood board.

If you’re designing your own logo design, this concept does work for you as well. You just have to force yourself to think outside of the box and really push yourself. Obviously, you don’t have a client to send these too but the best approach when I’ve designed for myself is to print out the designs and put them up somewhere that means you walk past them a lot. Would keep them up for a good few days just to give you a few days to think about them, and most importantly, ask for other people’s opinion of them!

  1. Revisions

If you’re working for a client I would always give them a few days to just process what you’ve sent over and likewise if you are designing for yourself give yourself some time to think about it. Your logo is really important!

I normally offer 2 or 3 revision rounds to clients and you have to stick to it otherwise you end up going to down the spiral of endless revisals. The best approach I have found is to just say, ‘be completely honest if you don’t like the design. Ultimately it’s their design at the end of the day. It ends up being more difficult to change the design at the end of the revisions than at the start.’

If you haven’t been designing logos for long, you have to quickly grow a thick skin. Even though you have put a lot of effort into a design the client will always want to change it. So be prepared for that. You have to create a design that the client is happy with and sometimes it will be difficult if their vision is different to yours but always positive and normally you reach a good middle ground.

During the revisals, I like to experiment with colours, but only when it’s clear the client is edging towards one design over the rest. It’s only on the last set of revisals that I like to create mockups of the design on items such as a business card or on a piece of packaging. These normally seal the deal, everyone loves to see their design in a ‘real world’ environment.

  1. The final design

At the end of your revisals, you have to prepare your logo files for day to day use. If you have designed the logo yourself I would always try to be prepared for everything. So I would save your design as a JPG, PNG and a PDF as well as always keeping your working files. If you’re working for a client, I would only ever send the JPG, PNG and locked PDF. If they want the working files I would always charge extra for that.

As a note: when you save your file as a JPEG or PNG, the file is no longer a vector file. So, if you stretch your jpeg to the size of a billboard it will pixelate. To get the best results, enlarge your PDF or working files as they are still vector files.

So there we have it, that is how I create a logo design. Like I mentioned at the start I’ve been designing logos for over 8 years and these are the techniques and processes I have learned along the way! I hope they have been useful for you whether you’re a designer or a business owner who wants to rock a logo they have made themselves.

As always, thank you for taking the time to read/watch this, it means the world! If you have any comments please let me know. Thank you for your time and see you next time! Bye!

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