Often, designing a logo is like putting the pieces of a jigsaw design puzzle together. The client would come to you with a box in their hands. Rarely, the box would have a picture on the lid and you right away know what the client is looking for and what they need.
Most of the times, though, there is no picture on the lid and you open the box to find a bunch of puzzle pieces. It is the logo designer’s job to sift through the puzzle pieces, research, investigate and then put the pieces together to create a coherent and meaningful logo design that not only looks great, pleases the client but more importantly connects with the client’s target audience and broadcasts the right message.
Of all the design disciplines, logo design is one of the toughest. One hardly recognizes this fact mainly due to heavy commoditizing of the logo design industry. I agree we are also guilty of doing that to an extent. Once upon a time, designing a logo was an art form. It went beyond graphics and visuals. But with the advent of online logo services and the ease of launching a logo design business by anyone from anywhere on the planet, designing a logo has become a cheap and sordid affair, to put it mildly.
Having said that, there are still companies and designers out there today, amidst all this chaos of flea market of logo design websites, who continually strive to approach logo designing as an art form. They are the designers who try and figure out what all the pieces in the box mean and how they all fit together. Check out some of these logo tutorials at Tripwire Magazine and you will see how designers share their knowledge.
The most basic and important pieces of the puzzle are:
Research into the company history or if it is a startup, get to know the company philosophy and core values. This information can come from the client, the company website etc. Understanding the company in isolation and in the context of our its competitors is very important.
Research into the market segment that the company caters to is quite vital to the development of a great logo. This includes general design trends and how companies are branding themselves.
An in-depth look into the target is very critical to the success of the logo being developed. The demographics and sensibilities of the target audience would help you understand the tone and sentiment of the design that is required.
It would pay to take a look at the competition in terms of how they are crafting their brand strategies, what they are trying to communicate and how they are being perceived.
The process starts with this investigative work and as the pieces fall into place, the designer could then construct a mind-map (I will talk more about this in an upcoming post). Having a bird’s eye view of the landscape before digging into the actual design or before firing up Adobe Illustrator would pay large dividends during the brainstorming phase.
Of course, this process relates to the designer that cares about their clients and the effect their logo design would have on their company’s image and bottom line and get paid enough to make this happen. These days, you often find designers throwing together recycled designs or worse yet, plagiarizing other logos in an effort to work on a volume rather than quality to make ends meet. To be honest, you can not blame such designers entirely since clients encourage the “cheapest” kind of offerings that lead to the deterioration of the market sector.