Making your Mark: the Process of Logo Design (Part II)

Welcome back! Time to delve back into our look at the corbin creative process of designing and building a logo for a client, with work samples from the logo developed by corbin creative for Samantha at Lowes Consulting.

 Step 4: Let’s get digital

You’ll notice we’re four steps in before the digital work starts. The foundation needs to be fully set before I’ll start working on-screen.

Why? To be honest, I’m not entirely sure. I just feel that better, more relevant work—in any field— comes from solid research and concept development.

If you don’t work to develop your ideas, to come up with strong concepts that are meaningful to your client, then all you’re doing is making decorations. And while I’m sure the odd great logo design has come from a quick turn at a computer application, the bulk of superior work out there comes from those who took the time to understand the goal, tried different ways of getting there, and came up with a pile of ideas which they then refined. Personally, there’s also something about putting pen to paper that tends to make my brain work more creatively and intuitively than it does staring at a screen.

In order to move the work onto the computer, I flag the best concepts in my sketchbook, scan them and open them in Illustrator, then trace the sketches to digitize each one.

Then each concept goes through a series of revisions—studies of colour, size, shape and space. I’ll explore a range of typefaces, seeing which ones work best with the image concepts (any symbols or icons) and which ones are most appropriate to stand alone, for any type-only (or “wordmark”) logo concepts. Often, the chosen typeface gets modified to make it more unique and relevant to the logo design.

Here’s a bunch of still-rough ideas I was working on mid-way through the digital conceptual work.
Here’s a bunch of still-rough ideas I was working on mid-way through the digital conceptual work.

In this phase, if I started with more than three concepts, any concepts that are no longer working will get weeded out—my goal is to have three great, relevant logo designs to show to my client.

Step 5: Send them out

The three concepts moving forward are then reworked until they’re client-ready. In my opinion, the logo should be strong without the embellishment of colour (for example, I dropped the big, colour-blocked “L” logo for Lowes because it didn’t work the way I wanted it to in greyscale.)

The concepts are sent to the client for review in greyscale and/or black and white only, not only because I want them to see the logo in its simplest state, but also because I have learned that many people—including myself—are swayed by colour. And at this point, what I want is for my client to choose a logo that feels right because of its style, its suitability, its unique visual attributes. I don’t want them to choose one because blue is their favourite colour. Or not choose one because they hate that shade of green.

These are the three concepts I sent to Lowes Consulting for review.
These are the three concepts sent to Lowes Consulting for review.

I send a brief description along with each logo, outlining the reasoning behind the choices I made, why I feel it’s a strong contender, and/or how it meets the criteria specified by the client. For instance, the text for the logo option that was selected by Samantha states, “The text sits on top of an abstract illustration of stacked paper, skewed at a slight angle. The ‘L’ shape of the stacked paper is reflected in the two uppercase Ls in the text. The logo reflects the organization, attention to detail and professionalism inherent in Lowes Consulting.”

I also ask that the client print out the concepts and take time to carefully consider each logo, before letting me know of any revisions they might like made.

Finally, I tell my client that once they’ve chosen a logo some colour options will be developed and sent for their review.

Step 6: Revise and Colourize

Once the client has responded and let me know which logo they want to move forward with, I’ll make any necessary revisions and send them back, along with some colour variations of the logo (and a brief description of each one.)

The four colour options presented to Lowes.
The four colour options presented to Lowes.

Colour choices might be made to create a seamless fit with existing materials or branding, or they may be colours requested by the client that are also suited to the logo design or they could be colours I personally think help the logo to shine. I tend to avoid any colours used by competitors or any “trendy” colours, though there are instances when both might appropriately be used for a logo design. After sending these to the client, I wait for feedback.

 Step 7: Finalize!

The client may come back to me with more revisions or a desire to see more colour options, but generally the logo is finalized fairly quickly once we get to this point.

In order to have it fully finalized, the client signs off on any last revisions, and then I set up various logo files to meet any potential printing or web requirements. Each file format is saved as colour, black and white, and sometimes as white on black (reversed out).

Then it all gets packaged up and handed off to the client.

And there you have it.

I have no doubt there are as many ways of going about designing a logo as there are designers, but I do think this process follows a number of steps most professional graphic designers will use when designing a logo. It’s a solid, communicative process that requires the use of a range of skills and practices in order to get the job done well.

It’s not a quick, easy process, but it’s a worthy one—focussed on creating logos that will help businesses to look great, do well and above all, to make their mark.

 

 

(Many thanks to Lowes Consulting for permitting me to share their files in order to demonstrate this process!)

 

 

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