INSIGHTS

The Process of Logo Design

A logo is perhaps the most requested project that any designer encounters. But for being perceived as a “simple” task, the process of designing a logo is a long and detailed one. This article is going to take a look at what really goes into the creation of a logo, and you will hopefully walk away with a greater appreciation and understanding of the process.

 

Scope

 

Every project begins with a scope. That means that the client and designer communicates so both parties fully understands what is needed and what is expected from the project. For the sake of this article, I chose to develop a logo for a fictional company, Riptide Apparel. Based on that alone, I was able to produce a broad scope, but in a real project, the client is an integral part of producing a detailed scope.

 

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I knew that based on my fictional company, the logo had to accomplish a few things.

  1. Work as a monogram
  2. Relate to the name somehow
  3. Be adaptable

This is a very broad scope, because these three things are almost always required in any logo. In reality, many more factors come into play, such as the companies target audience, their competitors, even how long they’ve been established. So the scope for this project is pretty sparse, but it still gave me a few key aspects to focus on and give a starting point in the next step.

 

Sketches

 

Every experienced designer knows the importance of sketching. You might be thinking, with all the technology available in this age, why would we choose such an archaic action of using pencil and paper!? Sketching at the beginning of a logo design is important for at least two reasons.

It helps get a lot of ideas on paper in a very short time.

When you’re on the clock for a project, you don’t want to waste a lot of time developing ideas that don’t have substance. By quickly sketching out designs, you can quickly eliminate the ones that shouldn’t be pursued.

 

 

It can help you discover a design.

Often times, logo design is more like gold mining than anything. You have to sift through a lot of dirt, but you might just strike gold. Now, this isn’t to say that design is just luck! But in the sketching phase, the goal is to put down as many ideas as possible. When playing around with shapes and forms, if something catches my eye, I can draw and erase until it becomes a sustainable design. If you work on the computer first, it doesn’t allow for this organic process.

For the Riptide logo, I knew I wanted a singular form, comprised of only one or two shapes. I liked the idea of taking a R and incorporating a wave into it. Ideally, the shape would be more abstract in form. I wanted the letter and the wave to be noticed on second glance rather than first glance, but the entire logo itself to be visually interesting from the start.

I was able to quickly sketch out a few iterations and see what would work and what should be left at the drawing board. After spending some time on this, I found the basis of my logo. I then scanned it and dropped it in Illustrator to begin the next step.

Each logo idea can easily have dozens of accompanying sketches. Since I already had a vision based off of the scope, I found my design relatively quickly. But I still used sketching to explore a few variations and see what direction strengthened my vision for the logo.

 

Development

 

Once the sketch is in Illustrator, I created the form as a vector and then proceeded to spend some time playing around with it until it felt right.

This might not sound like a concrete step in the process. But while there are a lot of “formulas” in a good logo, a large component is simply how it feels. This could be labelled as the “aesthetic feel” of a logo. Some logos can be perfectly functional, but just doesn’t look great. I knew my logo hit all the right marks as far as quantifiable attributes go. However, the negative space required a lot of fine tuning until it felt comfortable. In the end, it required smoothing out the angles and rotating the logo so it sat well on a horizontal plane.

The benefit of working in Illustrator is easily duplicating and tweaking designs. This allows me to troubleshoot quickly and try out a bunch of different options. After the shape was nailed down, I explored color options.

Since Riptide Apparel was focused on beachwear, it made sense to use colors associated with the beach. I landed on a dark aqua blue as the primary color, and a lighter blue and sandy brown as the complementary colors.

The font selection can make or break a logo design, so it always requires a lot of time. Since I wanted the logo to be the focal point, I didn’t want a flashy, decorative font. A sans serif font for RIPTIDE, paired with a handwritten font for APPAREL nicely complimented the logo, as well as evoking a sense of personality and playfulness that I wanted in the brand.

 

 

Implementation

 

A logo is only as good as a how it’s utilized, so I took some time to flesh out the finalized Riptide logo. I designed a homepage design, put it on some t-shirts, and explored some advertisement designs.  In the end, it was a successful logo, because it fulfilled the scope and worked in every capacity it needed to.

To see the rest of this project, check out my portfolio on Behance.

Conclusion

By now, you’ve hopefully understood a little more of what goes on during the creation of a logo. This can easily take hours of work, especially when a client is involved throughout the whole process. And once the logo is established, creating a visual identity is a whole other project!

To learn more about branding, visual identities, and logos, check out my three part series here. And if you have a logo project you’re ready to start, please contact me here

 

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