Every business needs a logo. Sometimes a business is just starting out and building out their marketing collateral. Other times, the business is rebranding and looking for a fresh take.
No matter who your client is or how old the company, the logo development process is fairly consistent. There’s always some competitor research involved. There are brand-related questions you’ll ask every client.
That said, there are some tricks that speed the process along and leave your clients happier in the long run.
So let’s dig deep into some areas of logo development and see if we can help to streamline your process.
Start Logo Development with Competitor Research
Before you draw your first sketch, you must research your client’s competitors. It won’t matter how great your design is if it resembles an existing logo.
This isn’t just a question of avoiding confusion, though that matters. A new logo that resembles an existing, better-established logo just works as a marketing tool for another business. You don’t help your client by advertising for someone else.
There’s also a legal issue at play. Many businesses trademark their logo. Give your client a logo that looks like someone else’s and you create a potential legal problem.
No one will thank you for opening up that can of worms.
Of course, you can’t possibly research every logo in existence. There’s just too many of them. The best you can offer is a good faith effort at not recreating a competitor’s logo.
Make Sure You Understand Your Client’s Brand
You can’t design an effective logo if you don’t get what your client’s brand is about. That doesn’t mean you must read their mission statement, but it does warrant a conversation. Make sure you ask a few key questions, such as:
- What are your brand values?
- How do you communicate those values to customers?
- Do customers perceive your brand that way you intend?
The answers to those questions will inform almost all of your design choices. A company that aims for a light, cheery brand isn’t well-served by a heavy font or dark colors. A business with a reputation for cool professionalism is best served by capitalizing on that reputation.
There is no greater friend in logo development than simplicity. There are a few important reasons for that.
Remembering simple things is easier than remembering complex things. For example, almost everyone knows that 2 + 2 = 4. On the other hand, how many people remember the Quadratic Equation from their high school math classes?
It’s more complicated and that makes it harder to remember.
Think of any images you create as symbolic. You’re trying to evoke an idea, rather than paint a scene.
You can see a great example of simplicity at work in a logo over at The Marine Battery. The anchor image is incredibly simple, but it evokes the idea of the sea.
Play Around with Several Ideas
Another key element of good logo development is not getting hung up on your first idea. Coming first doesn’t make an idea good or even viable. On the whole, first ideas are either vague or overly ambitious.
The brain is pretty lazy when you get right down to it. If it can work less in reaching a goal, it will.
Say your new client is a self-employed bricklayer. Your brain probably jumped straight to a picture of a brick or brick wall.
What about a freelance writer? Your brain probably conjured an image of a keyboard or a pen.
The problem is that you almost certainly share most of the same cultural and social touchstones as your competitors. That means their brains also went straight to some variant of those images.
Think of your first few ideas as cobweb clearing exercises. They let you deal with the obvious and the derivative. Once you get through those, you can start the real creative work.
There is always the temptation to avoid color in logo development, but don’t go there too fast. Color is a primary reason around 85% of customers choose a product.
Again, the goal here is simplicity. Limit your palette to a few colors. If the business already uses specific colors for it’s marketing collateral, most of the decision is made for you. Consistency in branding more or less requires you stick with those colors.
If the business is new or hasn’t settled on a color scheme, reference their answers about what their brand represents. Choose colors that dovetail with their intentions.
If all else fails, look at broader industry trends. Is there consistency in color choices? If so, start with those colors.
The client can always ask for different colors if they aren’t happy.
It Must Scale
You can’t predict where a client will use a logo these days. For now, it might just go on their business cards and letterhead. It could turn up almost anywhere down the road, such as:
- The client’s website
- Social media accounts
- Product packaging
- Television ads
That means the logo must scale and still look good. The less complicated the image is, the better it scales. So there’s another argument for simplicity.
The real trick here is making sure you give the client the logo image in a scalable file type, like Scalable Vector Graphics. That lets them use it at any size without any grainy pixelation.
Good logo development is about striking a balance between conflicting forces.
You must balance creativity against the practical reality of existing logos. You must balance your own view of a brand against the company’s stated brand values.
You should strive for simplicity, even when your imagination takes you toward complexity. Developing multiple ideas is more difficult, but first ideas are often stale.
Using color requires some restraint because it’s easy to go overboard. Yet, it also helps drive sales when done well.
The one straightforward part is that you should always use a file format that lets the image scale. It simplifies your clients’ lives in the long run.
Looking for another way to streamline your logo development process? Instead of building logos from scratch on your own computer, try out our free logo maker.