The Creative Process to Designing a Logo

Finding articles or information about the Creative Process to logo designing is quite difficult.

You’ll get lots of posts on logo collections, complete brand identity mock-ups, maybe even the designing process of a graphic mark but rarely will you find a complete creative process on how to produce a logo design.

Why is that?

Is it a secret? Or maybe it’s too creative to specify?

Whatever the reason I thought I would show you mine, including some of the problems and queries that arise on the way.

Let’s take a look at my Creative Process to Designing a Logo

1. The Logo Design Brief

To create a logo design you need to know why the logo is being created in the first place.

What problem does it need to solve for who and why?

Who will it represent and more importantly who is it trying to attract?

Lastly how will it be used and where?

These questions are some of the elements used to create a brand strategy and scope of work, and if the client doesn’t have the answers then I offer a brand discovery and brand strategy service to figure it out because a logo design without any embedded values or communication goals behind it is just a useless graphic.

A logo without depth might be well designed and it might even be pretty but in the end who will really care about it if it has no purpose?

A logo design represents a brand and that’s what needs to be established first before creating a logo design; defining the brand?

If the client opts not to take the brand discovery/strategy services or has done so already elsewhere then I give them a creative brief to fill out instead.

A logo design brief asks questions that the client can answer to formulate a brand idea. It provides me with creative notes and insights from the client themselves. It also works as a regulatory document as to what should be achieved with the end logo design.

If you need a creative brief then you can download my brand and logo design brief.

Problem One:

My logo design brief has evolved over the years to get better responses from clients but I think that the logo design brief is flawed because it’s a written document trying to create inspiration for a visual project.

A brief tends to change instantly and progressively as soon as a project starts and that makes the brief a bit pointless.

To solve you need to realise that the brief is a literal document that’s not to be taken literally.

The brief is a springboard for design inspiration and nothing more which leads us onto step 2.

 2. Brainstorming The Logo Design

The brief will define the brand and vision for the logo in note form allowing me to create my own notes from it. I can pick out keywords, ideas and concepts and take into consideration any specific requirements the client may have.

Then I start to brainstorm.

I just go wild and let it all lose. Whatever comes out comes out. What you’ll end up with are concepts to start your research or keywords which can turn into visual ideas for the logo design.

brainstorming-a-logo
Brainstorming is creative exploration with words

3. Researching the Logo Design

After brainstorming and developing key concepts I begin researching.

I research everything from the company name to mythology, company location to company goals and competitors to concepts.

I look at other logo designs to observe technique, style and trends but this can be dangerous when designing a logo.

concept-logo-design
Creating concepts for logo design

Problem 2:

It’s very easy to see a design and copy it so to avoid this I try not look at other logo designs until a later stage.

In doing so I usually come out with a better design at the end.

 4. Start sketching the Logo Design

Once I’ve done my research, I’ll have a list of concepts, ideas and icons that I can use to start sketching ideas with.

I’ve seen some designers who have incredible logo sketches. They are 100% neat, tidy and drawn perfectly down to a tee.

I myself am a completely rough worker so I draw something rough (very rough) just so the logo design idea is down on paper as a starting point.

Their more like quick visual notes so I don’t forget an idea or concept.

sketching-a-logo
Sketching a logo design

Problem Three:

You may ask yourself now, how many sketches or concepts to create for a logo design?

Some say to only do 3- 5 logo design sketches. Some say 5-10. I personally do as many as I need to, from 3 to 20. I can afford to do this because I work very rough and 75% of any rough design I do goes to the design dumpyard.

This process allows me to add logic to the process and give me a good bulk of ideas to start with and use a process of elimination to get rid of bad ideas, usually ones which work only on paper.

5. Tools for Creative Logo Design

logo-design-tools
My logo design tools

Are there actually any special tools you should use to design logos at a preliminary sketching stage.

Not really.

I see some people use graph paper which can be handy and some using little notebooks. I actually prefer a book of plain A4 or A3 sheets. 

Some use compasses and rulers as well as colouring pencils. Maybe it depends on what your vision is but in general, I keep a compass handy and use a plain A4 sketchpad so I can sketch all over the place.

I stay away from coloured pencils as colours usually change when going digital but on occasion I’ve used coloured pencils and the end result for the sketch was pretty good.

I’ve seen some people think out of the box and start actually producing a real physical logo with paper which is pretty fantastic. It’s about whatever gets your creative juices flowing.

6. Go away and start again with the logo designs

After my own preliminary sketches, I leave the logo designs for 24hrs. This helps me do 2 things:

  • Calm down from the excitement of a new project ( I work better relaxed)
  • Cancel out all the crap designs I initially sketched

The mixture of excitement, creativity and pressure can lead to a flurry of ideas and more often than not most logo design ideas work well on paper but when you go digital you realise how rubbish of an idea actually is as a logo design.

revised-logo-sketches
Revised logo design sketches

I’ve become good enough to recognise bad designs before going digital so at this stage, I look at all my initial sketches and begin crossing out bad concepts until I’m left with 3-5 solid ideas. If necessary I can work up a few more sketches with more focus.

7. Re-Sketching the Logo Design

I take the 3 strongest ideas and re-sketch them with more finesse allowing me to refine idea.

refining logo designs

 8. Go Digital with Logo Design

I’ve read about designers who can work up a final digital design from their sketch within 20 min. Maybe it’s because their original sketches are extremely refined but for me it does usually take longer because this is really where I spend alot of time refining the design.

In digital form, I experiment heavily, tweaking, tweaking and re-tweaking until the logo design is near perfect.

tweaking-logo-designs
Tweaking logo designs
tweaking-logo-designs2
Tweaking logo Designs

9. Selecting fonts for a logo design

Text can form the whole logo to become a typemark or it will become apart of the logo design.

I usually pick a font that communicates the style that I’m trying to achieve with the logo design but a great logo needs repetition, so the selected font I use will have some elements of design that reflect on the symbol mark.

ie.If the mark has sharp points then so will te type.
If the mark has rounded corners then so will the type
If the is mark is circular then the type will be circular in some way.

For more information on typography and paring fonts check out How to Pick fonts for your logo design.

10. Technical build of a logo design

When I design a logo I always use the Fibonacci Scale and Golden ratio.

Read more about both in How to create the perfect logo design

fibonnacci-logo-design
Logo Design scaled with the golden ratio

The goal is to create a perfectly balanced logo design that adheres with design principles, taking into consideration scale, contrast and balance.

Every element of the logo should be considered when scaling and technically constructing the logo design.

And don’t forget, professionally constructed logo designs are always created with vector software.

11. Picking colours for your logo design

People think that designers just pick any set of colours which they think work well together to produce a logo design.

They don’t!

Colour theory calculates specifc colours that work well together and thats what I use when creating a logo design.

I may pick one primary colour to use in the logo design and then all other colours are chosen with theory and calculations to guarantee that all colours work well together. This is based on scientific evidence, not gut instinct or personal opinion.

Try out Adobe Colour to generate colour palettes or even better, try using Adobe Capture and when creating a logo have a palette of 5 colours but use only 1, 2 or 3 to create the actual logo.

Rule of thumb: Try not to use more than three colours at most for a logo design unless you’re creating a colour spectrum.

12. Presenting the Logo Design

Some designers believe in presenting the rough sketches to the client first, getting a sign-off and decision before moving onto the step of finalising a logo design.

I totally understand this process because of the amount of time it saves. I, however, go the whole hog, showing no sketches but showing the design decisions and complete identity design along with mock-ups of three final designs.

Problem four:

Presenting every detail of my work is incredibly time-consuming and seeing that 2 designs will definitely go to the design dump yard it can also be seen as a waste of time but what has made me stick with this process is the fulfilment of service. When clients see 3 concepts fully mocked up and finalised, it:

  • Makes it easier for them to decide
  • Creates a better sales pitch for both the designs and myself as the designer.

The only downfall is that the client may not like any of the designs in which case all 3 are wasted but what most clients soon realise is that logo design is a development and not so much a one-shot wonder.

A tweak here and a tweak there is usually a standard procedure for logo design and that one tweak can make an unfavourable design into the final selected design.

90% of the time this is what actually happens and we find that the client actually liked all 3 designs to begin with. It was just one element that they didn’t like which made them turn down the initial design.

final-logo-design1
Final Logo Design 1
final-logo-design2
Final Logo Design 2
final-logo-design3
Final Logo Design 3

Conclusion.

This is how I design logos but to be honest I haven’t always designed them like this. My process evolves constantly and changes every time I take on a new project.

Professional disciplines usually have a rigid workflow to achieve a constant successful result but we have to remember that the professional and creative process of a logo design is just that…..”creative”. And if its creative it means that it’s also a little personal so every designer does it’s just a little bit different.

You can check out the full and final logo design and identity design project here on behance.

I’m always looking to improve my creative process so I’d love to hear your creative process for logo designing as well.



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