In these modern times of instant gratification, I sometimes get requests to create an identity for a client and they need it “yesterday.” They ask if I can crank it out in a couple days. Usually the answer to that question is “Sure, I can whip something up but it wont be good and you will find yourself wanting to change it in the near future.” The fact is, you are doing your business a major disservice by not thinking conceptually and strategically, and not allowing for the time and research it takes to create a meaningful logo that represents you and your business on a deeper level. Your identity is the cornerstone of your business and shouldn’t be treated as an afterthought.
The reality is, yes, I can create a logo quickly, and it might look nice, but it wont be as effective as it can be without the proper steps. Creating an effective logo takes time, diligence, and patience—and some creative, strategic thinking to boot. Bypassing this process will yield a logo that may look nice, but it wont have a leg to stand on down the line. After time, you will find yourself wanting to alter the logo because you “thought of something” that would make it resonate more with your audience. So, you want to make the change. Then you run into the issue of changing up your logo and as a result, consistency—which is fundamental to branding—is out the window. You can avoid all this by investing the time in the beginning. Don’t treat it as an after thought. Your audience will notice and your business will suffer.
All designers work differently, but any good designer will implement these steps in some fashion. My process isn’t ground-breaking or proprietary, and I don’t use a fancy acronym to name the process. It’s just a no-nonsense process that I believe is required to create something that will be beautiful, effective, and have meaning and longevity. The more time you can devote to the process, the better your logo will be.
Whether you work with me or someone else, make sure you allow the time for this process and you will see the difference it makes. If your designer isn’s asking you these questions, then you may want to think twice about what kind of outcome you will get. It may cost a little more up front, but it will more than pay for itself down the road if it is done right.
- Discovery phase –This is where I learn about your business or initiative. It is pointless for me to design something without any of this information. This all starts off with a questionnaire I give my clients. They have to do a little homework and comeback with as much information as they can. For instance, I ask them first and foremost what their business is and Why they are in that business. Of course they are in it to make a living, but what drives them to start the business. It’s the “why” of it all. This is when you can start to get an underlying theme and build something strategic that will resonate. I ask who their market is. Is it people in their 30’s looking for lavish personal gizmos? Or are they single moms in their 20’s looking to furnish their house on a shoestring budget. That’s the kind of detail we are looking for. The more detail, the better. This is what will ultimately differentiate you from your peers
- Research – Now that we have an understanding of what you and your business are all about, we need to research your product or service, how it is perceived in the industry, what your target market typically responds to, and how to differentiate you from the rest. Research usually involves lots of reading, and image research as well.
- Exploratory – This step is usually done in tandem with the research phase. I Usually start with hand sketches and keep a Moleskine with me at all times (like most designers do). If something comes to mind I sketch it out or jot it down. I ask myself, “what if?” What if the logo was spelled backwards? What if it was turned on it side? What if we incorporated a monkey playing the drums? Okay maybe not that unless you were a circus performer, but you get the idea. Noting should be off limits. This is one of the most important stages of the process because it allows you to possibly connect things that otherwise wouldn’t be relatable and that is the sweet spot that can give you something amazingly creative, strategic, and original.
- Design and refine – Once we narrow down our exploration, we will refine one or more concepts. This is when we would look at several font choices and color palettes—although I usually start my logo designs in black and white so color doesn’t become a distraction to the design itself. If a logo can stand on its own in black and white, then you know you have a strong mark. Color will only enhance it. After any revisions are done, we will create an identity guidebook (a big process in and of itself and will save for another article) and finalize the file formats and color builds.
- Delivery – That’s it. The files and brand book are delivered along with instruction on how to use the logo in various formats. The identity guide book explains how the logo should be used in various scenarios.
I really tried to simplify the explanation of the process here. This process can take weeks up to months depending on the scope of the project. There is nothing more exciting than seeing a business flourish with a new identity and if it is executed correctly, it can have significant impact on the success of your business.
What has been your experience with creating your business identity? Was it painless? Did it drag on for months? Do you have any success stories?