The best way to represent any brand is through the use of a logo. A logo is every brand’s unique identity that tells what they are, and what they do. As a designer, you have to bear in mind that a client approaching you for a logo is not always looking for something fancy, or trendy. They are asking you to portray their brand in the best way possible. Logo design may seem like a small part of branding, but it is the cornerstone of most branding schemes.
A great logo is a complex blend of design concept, theory analysis, and color. Any good designer will be able to create an all-purpose logo, but mastering all the diverse aspects of logo design would take an impressive amount of time. Nick Carson, an editor of Computer Arts and chairman of judges for the prestigious Brand Impact Awards, is in the business of speaking to branding professionals about what it takes to create a good logo - from the research phase, to logo design craft and application of the mark.
Research your design
Thorough research is vital for a logo design. In fact, it is the first step behind which others trail. Below are some tips to keep in mind in this planning stage:
1. Know the competition
It is paramount to know the competitors in the market, and what they are doing with their brand logos. This is where rigorous research comes in. Your client should be able to provide you details of their clients and their main competitors. Compare the logos of the competitors - and you may find trending brand conventions in the niche market. You can apply the information you have gathered to create visual associations that appeal to customers. Or you can do something different from the convention, which is the success secret of the world’s top logo designs.
2. Stay flexible
Once you have come up with a logo strategy and idea, don’t let the idea be cast in stone. You need to be flexible enough to identify the gray areas between the strategy and design. Some conceptual ideas can be wonderful when imagined but when it is visualized, it looks like an eye-sore.
3. Represent the brand’s heritage
2016 heralded retro branding. The UK's Co-op was one of its pioneers, and it earned them the sought-after Brand Impact Award. The redesigned logos for Kodak and NatWest came a few months after. If a company has an untapped heritage with the potential to make a mark, then it should be taken advantage of - though some experts do warn that designers should be wary of the trending retro design.
Artists - irrespective of their field and specialty - have one thing in common, which is that they run out of creative juice at some point or other. When you are feeling a lack of inspiration but have a logo design job to complete, the following tips will come handy.
1. Go through the archive of design websites
The spark can light up when you go through archives. It doesn’t matter if the website deals strictly with logos or not. Anything in the visual arts genre, including photography, has the potential to inspire a unique design, even in the form of logos.
2. Borrow a cue from other businesses
No business is “new” in the strict sense of the word. It is often a replication of a service or product already in the market - but with a twist. When you are contracted by a client to design a logo, look around for other businesses in the same niche. The idea is not to copy what previous designers have done, but to identify what they have not done yet.
3. Identify the values of your client’s business
Look at the history of the business. Read through the mission and vision statements. What values stand out? What is the image the company wants their customers to have about them? When you know the company inside out, it will be easier for you to find a symbol that best represents the business. Over-thinking tends to rob creativity from designers. You can begin your quest to create a new logo by getting out a pen and paper, and begin doodling. Fill the paper with some random stuff. Doodling lets your hand flow freely without being obstructed by too much thought. This activates the creativity of your subconscious and in a short while, you will find the spark coming together.
4. Get adequate rest
Fatigue sets in when you overwork yourself - and it has a way of clogging your brain. A clogged brain tends to be less productive, or creative. There are times when you may need to work beyond your regular hours to get a pressing task achieved. Once the work is done, find time to sleep and refresh your brain for the next task.
Factors to keep in mind
While designing your logo, there are a few tips you must keep in mind. These key factors, when adhered to, will help your logo stand out.
1. Simple not complex
If a logo is crammed with too many elements, it becomes confusing and the message may be lost to the audience. Logos are mostly minimized especially when used on merchandise like letterheads. If there are too many details, some of them will become invisible to the eyes when they are reduced to smaller sizes.
While it seems obvious, the elements used in the design must be related to the theme. Imagine putting a monkey on the logo of a fish pond. Every brand has an image they portray, and the logo has to be in tandem with that image.
3. Feel free to experiment
The world of art and craft is vast. Art is not like science, where you have laws and procedures you must adhere to. Art allows you to try something different. Just because everyone is going in one direction doesn’t mean you should follow the trend. As long as you keep your design relevant, you can explore and experiment to any length.
4. Mind your color combination
Color is vital to a successful brand. Bright colors grab attention, but can be brash if used inappropriately. Every color has an implication. If it is not moving the image forward, it will become a nuisance. This is an infographic showing the psychology of color in logo design, and you should have a look at it. One of the creative ways to handle color is to make it uniform with the predominant color(s) associated with the business. Think of the use of red in the Virgin or Coca-Cola brands, or the yellow-black combination of Caterpillar.
Jumping into logo design can be a huge challenge. Many times, you will see young people step into the industry and replicate an idea that has already become a cliché. It may seem to them they are trying to be trendy, without knowing they are hurting their career. While it is ok to draw inspiration from other work, the creativity must still be personal.
The demand for graphic designers has been growing as more people embrace the uncertainties of entrepreneurship. It is unlikely a graphic designer will remain quiet for long, and can browse through the thousands of project postings on platforms like freelancer.com. Once your job is underway and you are looking for logo design inspiration, you will find a great collection of one hundred random designs here at Creative Arts.
Graphic design is a popular art. If you are a graphic designer, tell us the source of your inspiration in the comment box. If you found this article helpful, feel free to share it with your friends.