Last week I talked about five tips for graphic designers to build awareness. One way to getting recognized is building a personal brand identity. This week we will take a look at the importance of crafting a company’s most personal, and yet often overlooked identity, its logo.
Designing a logo is arguably one of the most challenging projects to take on, but can also be among the most rewarding. Logos are everywhere; we see them on the sides of buildings, in the pages of magazines, and hovering over us on billboards. They flood the digital landscape in the form of television commercials, online ads and smartphone applications. According to CBS News, the average American is exposed to upwards of 5,000 logos a day. So how does one manage to design a logo that encompasses a company brand that is simple, memorable, versatile, appropriate, and stands the test of time?
My design process can be broken down into four easy steps: research, concept, execute, and evaluate. We’ll use an identity project I worked on during my time as an Art Director for the Tannery Communications as an example. Gift of Life is an international non-profit that deploys brigades of doctors around the world to perform life-saving heart surgeries on children in need. I was tasked to develop a new logo appropriate for multiple audiences, including businesses, citizen donors and medical professionals working in hospitals.
STOP. Go directly to jail. Do not pass Go. Do not collect $200.
Before you do anything in the field of communications, you must always take the time to research. Research is the most valuable step on the path to creating a successful logo. Ask yourself: What is the client’s target audience? Who are the client’s chief competitors? What is the client’s marketing strategy and long-term goals? Always ask the client why they want a new logo and what they want the logo to accomplish.
Gift of Life was interested in promoting awareness and separating themselves from other children’s non-profits by targeting female donors with a feeling of warmth, community and compassion.
This is the brainstorming phase. This is the chance for you to get out all of those ideas and revelations that you gleaned from hours of research. Put in the hard work and do not jump straight onto the computer. Take the time to sketch out multiple concepts, write down keywords that matter to the brand, mind map, and pull inspiration from research imagery. This is where the magic happens and sometimes it isn’t always easy, especially when designing a logo. Be patient and push yourself to develop your ideas beyond the ordinary. Great logos are a labor of love.
I sketched more than 100 different logos for Gift of Life before arriving at my final design solution.
Take your revised sketches and scan them into a vector-based program such as Adobe Illustrator. This will allow your logo to be infinitely scalable up or down with no loss in quality. Choose the final concept(s) and trace it with the pen tool, or continue to develop it further. Print the logo at different sizes and test how it appears on different mediums. A strong logo will always work in black and white and will always make an impact. Decide on colors and typography carefully, and always have a rationale for every design decision.
Too many designers pop the champagne bottles after the logo is accepted by the client, hits the press, and goes live on the web. “My job’s done,” they say. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in public relations it’s no job is done until you’ve measured the outcome. This goes for graphic designers too.
After developing the Gift of Life logo, we tracked the number of increased traffic to the website, donation rate in our target audience, and the effects the new brand had on media outlets.
Do you find identity design difficult? What advice can you give readers on your own design process? If you are interested in logo design, visit LogoDesignLove, a wonderful blog devoted to all things logo.