When I started designing logos, I wished someone had told me all the things I didn't know about creating one. So, here's an article I wished I had read when I started out.
Caution: This article is not for you if you are a professional designer, but you should read this if you are starting out.
When you first start designing a logo, it can be very challenging. How do you communicate the offerings made by the brand into a small icon? It can be quite tough to understand and a challenging task to undertake.
Here are some tips to help you get better at designing logos:
Understanding what a logo is
A logo doesn't have to summarise all the things your brand does. Infact, it doesn't need to communicate anything your brand does. Surprised? Well, the most notable logos ever made never communicated anything the brand did (Apple, IBM, Ford, Facebook to name a few). If your brand is like an ice berg, the logo is just the tip of the ice berg. All it needs to do is, put an image in the minds of your audience for your brand, so that each time they hear your brand's name, a simple shape occupies their mind. In other words, your logo needs to be simple, unique and memorable. While you can still address what your brand does in the logo, it's never a must have.
Also, educate your clients about this so that they can understand the value of your final design.
Preparing a brief
Briefs can be multiple pages long or just a single line. While you can ask as many questions to clearly understand the requirement, you should ask these 5 questions to cover the basics:
What's the name of the brand?
What service does your brand provide?
What's the target audience?
Do you remember any other brand's logos that you have liked in the past?
Do you have any color preferences?
Doing your research
You need to look at what your competition is doing & what everyone else around you is doing. Not to copy what they do, but to understand how you can use all that knowledge to create something unique and clutter breaking. Study rebrands, study why big companies change their logos and study famous logos created by the greatest designers. Don't just research online, go out there into the physical world and see how your brand interacts with your customers. Form a point of view and then get down to work.
Sketching it out
This is one of the most important yet overlooked aspects of logo design. It's really hard to sit in-front of a blank screen and push your pixels to create a decent logo. Always sketch it first. Make multiple sketches before you narrow down on 2-3 sketches that have some potential.
Using Vector based softwares
Logos are made so that they can be scaled up or down as per the requirements. From a small pencil to the largest billboard a logo needs to adapt according to the application. Raster based softwares like Adobe Photoshop can’t cater to this. Adobe Photoshop uses pixels which can get blurred when you stretch them. Switch to vector based applications like Adobe Illustrator that use calculations to draw shapes, this way you don’t lose any quality even at a much bigger scale.
Using less colours
Always try to keep as less colours as possible while designing your logo. The reason behind this is simple: consistency. In a world where not every brand touch point can be produced by 256 million color values, there would be places where you can't use more than 2-3 colours. A black and white print out, or a gold foil printing might suddenly stop you from producing a full color reproduction of your logo. The take away is to keep things simple so that your logo can appear the same across applications and have a greater impact.
Analysing applications of your logo
Prepare a list of places your logo is actually going to appear. From obvious applications like letterheads, visiting cards and envelopes to more specific applications like embroidered logo on tshirt tags, make a list of these applications. Once you have these applications listed, try and find mockups that come close to your requirements. Test your logo on these mockups and check if your logo stands out in all those applications as well. Mockups don't just help you design better, but they also help the client understand the broad range of applications of their logo. Here are some websites where you can find free mockups:
Maintaining consistency across applications
Like we covered before, your logo needs to be memorable. And your logo can only be memorable if your audience keeps seeing a consistent brand logo each time you use it. From a small favicon which sits on the tab of your browser, to the largest hoarding your brand can take up, the logo needs to look as consistent as possible. The easiest way to ensure this is to use really simple shapes to create a logo, the simpler the shape is, the more consistent it will be across different applications.
Presenting your work
Never send your clients 5-6 JPGs of logos attached on an email thread. Always compile your work into a lightweight PPT or a PDF and go present in front of the client, or get on a call and take them through the presentation. What the presentation needs to convey is your thought process of arriving at the logo you have created. For your client this logo design is the first impression of their brand, it means the world to them. They aren't paying you for a fancy shape they can put next to their name, they pay you for a well thought through design which they can proudly show their friends and prospects.
I follow a simple 9 page document format to present my work, if you want access to it, go to the bottom of this page and fill out the form and write me a message saying "Send me the logo presentation" and I will email it to you as soon as I can (Sorry, I don't now how to add the download form to this blog page yet).
While all the above tips can help you get started, the only thing that will really help you get better is practise. Only a volume of work can help you get you from a beginner to a professional designer. Put yourself on a challenge to design everyday, because that's the only way you are going to get better.
Also, this gets us to the end of this blog post, but I hope you found this helpful. Also, stay tuned, there's a lot more interesting content I will be posting in the coming weeks. Do comment down below if you have any questions or suggestions!
Do check out some of the logo designs done by me here: https://www.behance.net/gallery/78192579/Logofolio