These days, when people can get logos for $250 on the internet, it can be difficult for prospective clients to understand why graphic design firm logo fees are what they are. The short answer is that truly effective and well-designed logos require a great deal of time, thought, effort and skill. A logo is arguably the single most important piece of branding for any business, no matter how large or small, and it’s imperative that it be memorable, unique, appropriate, and usable across many formats. Most importantly, it must accurately capture the essence of the business it represents.
With that said, I thought it might be helpful to share our logo design process and how we go about achieving those goals. I’ve included images for each step from a logo we designed that’s never actually been used as the company no longer exists.
Research and information gathering
We start all projects, including logos, with extensive research. First, we interview our clients thoroughly. We ask a series of questions designed to garner as much information as we possibly can about their business/organization and what they want their logo to say about them. The list of questions includes:
- who are you? what do you or your business/organization do? what is the history of the business/organization?
- what are you trying to communicate and why? What emotions, thoughts, or ideas do you want your logo to evoke?
- who is your target audience? What is their demographic (age, gender, income, tastes, views, attitudes, employment, geography, lifestyle, etc.)?
- who is your primary competitor and how do you differ from them?
- where is the logo going to be used?
- have you got a benchmark in mind (examples of what you consider to be effective or relevant logos)?
- is there anything the designers should NOT do (styles, colors, etc. that you do not like or wish to see in the design)?
- Is there specific imagery that must be included in the logo?
Our next step is to convene all three designers in our firm for a brainstorming session that can last a couple of hours. Our sessions are pretty free form, and we start by throwing ideas out at random, while also sketching and thinking. We feel that three heads are undoubtedly better than one for this process, as our best ideas are often sparked by something someone else says, draws or points out. Before the end of the meeting, we select a handful of our best ideas to develop.
Before going to the computer, we develop rough sketches of each concept, fleshing them out and refining them until we feel they represent the concept well enough to share with each other. If the logo is a mark, as opposed to a type treatment, we usually do not incorporate text at this point, unless we feel the client expects or needs this in order to visualize the end result adequately. If the logo is a type treatment, we may begin working on the computer earlier in the process. The sketching process can take several days, including both concentrated sessions of drawing and quick ideas jotted down on napkins while doing something else entirely.Reviewing
After sketching, we reconvene and review all of our sketches to select our best ideas. We will then either refine the sketches by hand or scan and refine on the computer to prepare them for presentation to the client. We eliminate anything we don’t feel is up to par and generally show between three and five of the best options. If we’ve been particularly prolific, we’ll show more ideas.
Hopefully, the client will choose one concept to pursue from the several we present, although sometimes we have to further refine two or three before the client can select just one. This, of course, requires more revisiting and another presentation.
Once the client has narrowed the ideas down to just one, we return to the computer to further refine the logo and add the business name, if this hasn’t already been done. We will then present the selected mark, still in black and white, with different treatments of the name to the client. This often includes handwriting, adapting an existing font, or even creating a font, as we prefer that every aspect of a logo be entirely unique. Once treatment of the name is finalized, and the logo works in black and white, we present it to the client for approval. Once we have approval, we will begin selecting colors and again present the client with a number of options (unless he or she has dictated the color choice from the start, as was the case for this logo).
Final logo file production
Once the logo mark and copy are finalized and colored, we create an archive of the logo in all color formats (cmyk, rgb, grayscale) and all versions required by the client (with or without taglines, horizontal and vertical, eps, tiff, jpeg, etc.) on a disk. Then we all do a little dance and eat some chocolate to celebrate!