The process of developing a corporate identity is not just drawing a picture. We also need to study the target audience, understand the business objectives, find a typographic solution and think about how the image will look on different media. The success of the whole undertaking depends on the joint work of specialists with the customer.
In the article, I will step by step analyze the process of working on a logo – from a meeting with a client to receiving a ready-made brand name. Let’s see what pitfalls both the contractor and the customer will face.
We delve into the nature of business
It is with questions to the client that logo development begins. The corporate identity tells the story of the brand – there are always words behind the colors and forms that the viewer reads at the level of emotions. Therefore, any clues come in handy.
Designers interrogate a client with a passion
Communication with the client is an unobvious part of the design work, but it is very important. The slightest misunderstanding at this stage will make all further work senseless.
It is usually easy to deal with large customers, where managers have the statement of technical specifications for a variety of specialists brought to automatism. Sometimes there are small business owners who have worked a lot with designers and clearly express their thoughts. Then there is nothing to worry about.
But very often the customer has a poor understanding of the design process. Accordingly, he has no idea what information is needed for the logo. Comes and says: “Make colors positive, expressive fonts, so that gradients and textures are everywhere!” =)
Here is a checklist which will be useful to interview all the afflicted:
- What are the goals and objectives of the company?
Maybe the customer wants to earn the first trillion, launch a product on Mars, or still find new customers among people … Or fight off crowds of buyers who are already breaking through windows and doors. We do not know, but we must find out.
- What prompted the creation of the logo?
This is especially true in the case of rebranding. To imagine that the company lived for a long time without a corporate visual at all is as unlikely as meeting a naked man on the street.
- What brand does CA have and how does the brand communicate with it?
Important gender, age, financial status, habitat and points of contact with the company. This will help not only understand the tastes of the audience, but also on which media the logo will most often be used.
- How simple or complex is the product, understandable or incomprehensible to potential customers?
Yes, sometimes the product is unfamiliar to the audience, but after due explanation it is sold.
- What is the company’s history?
There might be something interesting for the image.
- What are the distinguishing features of the product?
Cool when a product is truly innovative and unique. This is rare, but for sure everyone has some distinctive features.
- What were some funny events at the company or memorable events – positive or negative?
Good stories can be beaten, bad ones are also very important to know.
- What are the disadvantages of the company and the product?
It can be small things – an inaccessible office or expensive delivery. But they are also important to know. If it is known, for example, that a taxi is often delayed, and the designer will focus on speed, customers will be even more angry.
- Who are the main competitors?
There are not as many visual solutions as it seems. And if a competitor uses a certain font, color or graphic technique, you need to know this. Usually in order to avoid repetition.
- How does the client see the logo?
Perhaps he has ready-made ideas in terms of meaning, colors, and graphic means. It is not necessary to blindly follow the fantasies of the customer, but you can recreate in different way.
Customers, come with your ideas.
You are immersed in your business, so many things may seem obvious to you, but in reality this is not so. The same specialists are addressed with a variety of tasks, so all the details are important. Designers do not read minds.
It’s good if you have your own ideas. Even if you do not know how to draw and have never opened a graphic editor, you still have your own vision. Let’s say you definitely don’t want a pink logo, yellow – maybe you still associate the company with round shapes, and not with sharp corners.
Designers always complain that customers limit them too much without understanding the process. However, letting specialists go free swimming is also wrong – you, of course, will be made a picture of your own mind, but you are unlikely to be satisfied. Ideally, you need to clearly convey your goals, objectives and preferences, and then leave the designer with a choice of means of implementation.
If you discuss the details, you might get the impression that you speak different languages with the designers, then you will be saved by examples. Pick a few other logos that you like. Explain what exactly they hooked you on. This will help to set the correct vector in the work.
– I like it when the birds fly, there is something yellow, blue, pink, and triangles everywhere!
– What is it like?
Designer will look, think, and do something like this:
See what kind of logos are there and save yourself something that hooks. You can get inspired on the websites Awwwards , Logoinspire or on the well-known Behance . And take a closer look at the portfolio of those designers you decide to contact. There you can find a lot of interesting things.
Less aesthetics, more market research
Usually, a team works on design, which needs to think over all the information received from the customer, understand marketing tasks, and specifically imagine the target audience. Do not immediately rush to draw – it all starts with a visual concept, and the concept must be based on the interests of the consumer, the nature of the brand and the situation on the market.
Designers, think over an associative row
To specifically imagine the buyer, you will have to work not with colors and shapes, but with the great and mighty English language. When you orient yourself in the market according to the client’s words and study those who will be addressed to your design, it would be good to fill out a list of abstracts.
Choose adjectives, nouns, verbs that will help describe the product and create the final brand name that will appeal to a certain group of people. Choose what is most important for them – technological effectiveness, comfort, speed, prestige, beauty … Even products from the same segment may differ in the set of these associations – because group A will buy a sofa to sleep on, and group B will buy it to play table games with the guests.
Behind the logo will be the mood and values of the company. If there are enough associations, for clarity it is better to make a mood-board (this is a set of associations, but not in words, but in beautiful pictures).
It is necessary to make a collage of photos, illustrations, letters and spots, which will correspond to the message of the company. It is better to make several options and discuss them with the client. In each collage, the dominant color and basic emotion must be understood.
Mood-boards are great things that help arouse creativity, tune in to work and quickly bring your ideas to the customer. This is how they look:
Sitting down and drawing a logo from scratch is very difficult, and time is limited, giving the variety of shapes, colors and graphic techniques. All that a designer does at first is narrowing down the task, setting a framework for himself. And to choose from shades of yellow, for example, is already much easier than from all known colors.
After discussing the mood-boards with the client, you can proceed to the sketches of the logo itself. Therefore, it is good when the designer knows the basics of freehand drawing. There are a lot of ideas, there will not be enough time to bring them all to the final version. The easiest way is to draw on paper.
Even if the logo seems simple and consists of one word, all the same outline should be done. In them you can reflect the combination of letters, height, slope and features of the form – and it will immediately be clear which options work and which look bad. In essence, the drafts are also a study of associations, but already more detailed.
For more complex logos and sketches, more detailed ones are needed. It seems that to conditionally depict an object is easier than to draw in all the details, but this is not so. For a symbol, it is important to correctly identify the distinguishing features of an object that make it recognizable. Here, look at the sketches of the logo with a light bulb.
Based on the results of this work, you will have several sketches that best reflect the selected points and will potentially be attractive to the consumer. They can be developed further, polished form and select specific colors in graphic editors.
Customers, do not blame designers for their inability to draw
Ironically: it is entrepreneurs who are soberly looking at marketing, they understand that the tastes of Central Asia can differ from their own, and the logo should be convenient to use everywhere and for a long time. And entrepreneurs are upset if the result of weeks of work and money spent is this logo:
But generally minimalistic logos are cool. And to make them is much more difficult than detailed illustrations, because you need to cut off everything unnecessary and leave the main thing. And also – laconic logos work. Just think of Windows:
You can give a lot of examples of very concise logos of famous brands. Of course, there are more complex ones – it all depends on the nature of the company. But creative logo just for creativeness without a semantic load looks bad and distracts the client, who must grab the correct associative row from the picture in a split second.
Here is a popular example of a bad logo (it seems deceptively that the designer puffed on it more than on the “tick” from Nike):
People tend to love beautiful and complex pictures. But it’s important for an entrepreneur to be able to look at the logo from the perspective of a buyer who will catch a glimpse of a sign above a shop window, passing by.
If you do not plan to exhibit your logo in museums, moderate conciseness should only please you – such images will better help establish contact with Central Asia. You can learn more about visual communication techniques with your audience from upcoming post.
Don’t succumb to hype
Unlike an advertising banner, info graphic, interface or even packaging design, the corporate identity has a significant difference: everything will change, but the corporate identity will remain. Advertising, by definition, does not last long, the design of the site or the wrapper of the goods can be replaced relatively painlessly. But changing the logo is always a difficult process.
Designers, fight for minimalism
Often, companies re brand on their own free will – if you need to change the target audience, sell other things, position yourself differently. But just because of the outdated logo, re branding too often is stupid: it is both a big cost to upgrade all branded products and risks that old customers will not recognize or understand the company.
The logo becomes obsolete if you use tricks, techniques and forms that have recently come into fashion and are urgently relevant now. There is a big risk that in a year the fashion will change.
Typically, a logo is made with the expectation that in the next five years it is guaranteed to look modern.
The simpler the logo, the more durable. Clients often themselves push the designer to trend effects and artsy fonts, but try to dissuade them. Look, here is such a simple logo from designer Massimo Vignelli happily lived 46 years:
In 2013, they did this rebranding:
Work for the future is something that the client will not appreciate immediately, but will be grateful to you in a few years. You can determine the year of its creation by a bad logo, and only a whole era can be determined by a good logo – as is the case with American Airlines.
Customers, do not insist on trend effects.
Any entrepreneur wants to stand out from the competition. If you see that everyone around has flat logos with chopped fonts, you may have an irresistible desire to demand a 3D picture with animation and calligraphic letters. But so you will only lose money in the near future.
Creative is good at advertising, which you will replace in a month. And for corporate identity it is better to choose simple solutions. And to stand out from the competition, you can find other ways – thoughtfully choose the color and shape.
Let’s look at competitive mobile operators. All have simple sans-serif fonts and unpretentious logo forms – but they certainly cannot be confused with each other.
So the lack of colorful gradients, transparency and filters does not prevent us from expressing the mood of the company – on the contrary, the audience will quickly grasp the message. And it will not be confused with endless rebrandings if you choose a simple and durable logo.
Using winning colors
Colors greatly influence brand perception. Usually, gamma is determined at the stage of discussion of mood-boards, but color is a complicated thing, it can be difficult to agree on it. One shade in combination with another looks new. And if you take the shade a little warmer or colder, darker or lighter, the composition changes completely. It can become gloomy or, conversely, defiant.
The question is complicated by the fact that the color rendition is different on different monitors, and on the print is completely different.
The issue of choosing shades should be considered carefully, because when making changes, replacing one color may entail the need to change everything as a whole.
Designers, talk with the client about color
Color plays a huge role. Our brain perceives colors very quickly, and associations with them are largely common to all of humanity. Take, for example, the well-known facts that red increases adrenaline, and green – soothes. Of course, one particular consumer may not like green if it has a difficult childhood, but this is an exception to the rule.
In many respects, our impression of companies is due not so much to the logos themselves, as to corporate shades.
To choose a good gamut for a logo, several questions need to be clarified.
- What colors does the customer want and why?
If an entrepreneur already sees his business in a certain color, then this is not just a whim. The choice of colors will set the tone for the whole design – whether the picture will be bright, cheerful, dynamic or will it express respectability and calmness. Therefore, when the client justifies his choice, it is worth listening.
And if the client is infuriated with green because grasshoppers have bitten him as a child, it’s better to gently remind that we do the logo for Central Asia, which did not experience such tragedies.
- Will the logo be on a dark or light background?
There are logos that are equally suitable for both dark and light backgrounds. Large companies like to make brand names with flexible color solutions so that they can be used literally everywhere.
If the company is going to brand a lot of diverse and colorful products, you should think about the logo versions on dark and light media. The easiest way to do this is if the logo is black or white.
However, almost all well-known logos are suitable for different backgrounds. For example, we are used to seeing the McDonald’s logo on a red or white background, but on black it will also look normal – unless unusual.
It is worthwhile to find out from the client how he will use the logo, and choose colors based on the background. But too light shades of colors, as well as too dark, should not be taken – unless you are planning several versions of the logo. Regardless of the preferred background, it is important that the brand name on both black and white is sufficiently contrasted for normal perception.
- Will the logo be printed?
Sometimes corporate identity is done only for the digital environment. For example, if we have a small online store. But if you plan to print printing – packaging, signs, business cards, souvenirs or banners – you need to think about how colors will look on paper and on other surfaces.
Monitors emit light, they are a priory brighter than paper, and the possible range of colors is wider – they use the RGB palette for digital design, in which there are a lot of bright colors. It’s harder to print. Paper reflects light, it is dim, and not all colors on the web will match the colors on the print — it’s the CMYK palette.
Pan-tone numbers can be used for accurate color matching, but printing with them will be expensive – even large companies try to avoid this. Therefore, the designer is working on the optimal transmission of color shades both on the monitor and on the print.
White is of particular complexity – on the print it means the absence of any ink. Therefore, it takes an imperceptibly grayish tint for it, otherwise when printing on a colored or transparent surface, your white elements will shine through the background.
- How will the logo look black and white?
The company may use black and white documentation with a logo. The client can print the order confirmation from the site on a black and white printer. Or your logo may occasionally appear in a newspaper. One way or another, the monochrome version should not be inferior to the color one.
Therefore, designers primarily care about contrast in tone, and contrast in color is secondary.
Customers, trust the designer
When choosing colors, you cannot clearly imagine how the logo will look with their use. Coloring is insidious in that when combined with each other, different colors look different – our eye adapts to the spectrum that it sees.
Most people will say that the strawberries in the photo are pale pink.
On the logo, no one will make you a gray strawberry. But they try not to take the most vivid shades of colors, as well as the purest colors – rather, the designer will choose a complex shade with medium saturation. So the picture will turn out more interesting and will not irritate the eye.
In addition, all the colors in the logo should be connected by something uniform. Either they should be muffled, or dark, or in all there should be a little the same pigment. Therefore, complex and subdued colors combine together much more harmoniously than bright ones. Although the palette may seem dull – just wait for the final picture, evaluate how it will look on the site or on the sign. Most likely the issue of color saturation will disappear by itself.
Select scale-able shapes
A logo is a thing for wide purposes. He can show off on a huge billboard or in the corner of a business card. Therefore, it should look good in any size.
Designers, don’t be afraid of simple forms
Most often, logos are made without unnecessary details – they gravitate to circles, squares and triangles. And there are reasons for this: it is simple forms filled with one color that look equally advantageous from any distance and in any size. You will recognize such a logo both on the advertising sign, and on the website, and in the mobile application, and on the product packaging.
Need to strive for simple forms – they are suitable for most brands. Of course, there are exceptions to any rule. Sometimes a complex logo is justified – perhaps it is like Central Asia, it has developed historically or simply conveys the character of the establishment. But to blindly scale such a logo is not an option. You will need two versions – for large and for small media.
In a small logo you need to minimize sharp corners and complex shapes – all these details will not be perceived. And, of course, logos are always designed and stored in a vector format so that at any time you can stretch the sign to the desired size.
Customers, don’t be afraid of simple forms.
Typically, it is the customers who want to make the logos more detailed and fight with designers for complex contours. But just take a closer look at the signs around – you rarely see photo-realistic pictures as brand names. And if you meet them, they will seem old-fashioned or simply poor-quality against the background of the rest.
Good scale-ability should be taken care of by a good designer. All that is required of you is to convey to it on which media the logo will be used. Despite the fact that the form is needed universal, it can more or less successfully look in large or small size. For example, it makes no sense to make a logo with sharp corners, if it will mainly be printed on small souvenirs – on such a scale, all corners will seem rounded.
Making readable fonts
When developing a logo, one has to deal with typography. Sometimes this is a typographic logo consisting of letters, and sometimes they take a picture as a logo, but under it you need to write a slogan.
The inhabitants do not attach much importance to fonts – they think so. In fact, old-fashioned or, conversely, hackneyed fonts immediately catch your eye and cause hostility on an unconscious level. Therefore, it is not necessary to use fonts that have already been taken by competitive firms. And don’t look at fonts designed twenty years ago, unless they have become classics.
But the most important thing is that the font is easy to read. Unlike colored geometric shapes and spots, the font for us carries not only visual information, but also semantic information. And even if the letters are the most modern, beautiful and harmonious in the world, but the word is difficult to read, the consumer will not like it.
Designers, Don’t Look for Template Solutions
A font is an important tool along with color to express the spirit of the company – especially when it comes to typographic logo. And they are now in fashion, despite the fact that the conventional sign is usually preferable to the text – there are exceptions to the rule. Some services and products are difficult to show in one concise picture.
In addition, sometimes a typographic logo is the customer’s desire. This makes sense, for example, if the name of the company is sonorous and is well known to consumers.
Our brain does not process text like ordinary lines, circles, and rectangles. If we distinguish letters in them, semantic information for us becomes more important than visual. Therefore, the nuances of typography simple mortals do not distinguish. If the bends of lines or the distance between the figures changed slightly in abstract forms, everyone would have noticed. But we are distracted by the perception of the text.
Let’s look at a few typographic logos. Canon letters seem simple and easy to read, but they have personality in the form of unusual serifs.
In the next logo, the font looks modern and dynamic by superimposing letters on each other. But this overlay is negligible and does not interfere with readability.
Even if you are not going to make a typographic logo, anyway the corporate font is very important. But if for logos designers sometimes choose decorative fonts or even draw letters on their own, the font of the slogan should be guaranteed to be simple.
When working with typography, do not be afraid to moderately violate the rules that are inherent in the font. Sometimes specific letter combinations do not look very advantageous; you can slightly increase or decrease the distance between them manually. But in any case it is not necessary to narrow or tilt the letters manually – this is always very noticeable. If you need a narrow or oblique font, select the appropriate option created by the developer. Or find another font at all.
The text must be handled carefully: if you make any changes to the font, they should not be radical. You can slightly push or move a couple of letters, but do not stretch the word of three letters to the entire line – it will be unreadable and ugly.
If you have both a typographic logo and a slogan, you need to think about one more thing – their combination. In order for two fonts to look good together, they must be as similar as possible, or radically different.
The classic combination is the grotesque (sans serif font with the same line thickness) in the logo and the antiqua (serif font with different line thickness) in the slogan. But now you can often find two grotesques – as is the case with Bosch. The worst case scenario is when the fonts are not alike and differ slightly. For example, if Bosch’s slogan was written with a mediocre line thickness, it would look worse and read more slowly.
Customers, do not insist on complex fonts
You wouldn’t want the inscription on your credit card to look like this?
Typography for the average person is boring. You will probably want to express the message of the company as clearly as possible, including through the font, but entrust this choice to the designers – the nuances of the styles can be much more convincing than the fancy drawn letters.
We work for the result
The client can come to the restaurant, order a specific dish indicated in the menu, and just get it. Unfortunately, this will not work with design – it is always a joint work in which the client is an active participant. It is important for the designer to listen to the customer and most accurately express his words by visual means. It is important for the customer in detail to tell about the company and entrust the designer with a choice of shades, fonts and shapes – unless, of course, their choice is justified.
Designers, don’t sell bad logos
All designers have different approaches to presenting options to a client. I know a designer who doesn’t fix anything in the presence of the customer so that they don’t think that everything is very easy. I know cases when they show bad options too, to quickly convince them of the good ones.
It’s better not to dump all your rough work on the customer. Some of the best choices are the best solution. But sometimes even among the final options there are frankly weak ones, and the choice of a client is an unpredictable business.
If you see that one of your logos is definitely good, and the customer chooses an unsuccessful solution, try to dissuade him. This is a rule of good form, it will replenish your portfolio and bring a plus in karma.
Even in the portfolio of world-famous studios you can find two options for the execution of one project – a good option and the one chosen by the customer. Not always entrepreneurs can be convinced that they are right, but it’s worth a try: all the more so, in a really good logo, every little thing is no coincidence and there is an explanation for everything.
Customers, now you know the design evaluation criteria
If you doubt whether the logo that you are offered is suitable for you, remember what is important in a good design. You need a concise sign with a simple shape, harmonious colors and letters that are easy to read. And how much the logo corresponds to the idea and tastes of world is up to you to judge. The main thing is to think about business and the practical use of the logo in different situations.
And if the designer is trying to dissuade you from the chosen option and offers another, think and listen to the arguments. Perhaps you just do not deeply understand the principle of operation of various visual aids. To fix this, check out our selection of useful design articles to communicate with specialists in the same language.
At RR Solutions you can order logo design for your company. Tell me about your business, together we will find the best solution.