So, you’ve decided to design logos. It seems to be an easy and creative job, doesn’t it? You just scratch a circle, bundle a company’s name inside, and your task is complete (as some designers like to describe the process). Truth is, clients pay you to do much more than that.
Millions of designers are trying out their luck in the design industry, many of which end up delivering rush, low quality pieces on freelance platforms and crowd sourcing websites.
So, what is it that makes a professional designer stand out from the crowded market, and dish out good logos that are actually worth the attention? Keep reading to find out!
But before we start comparing logo design practices, let’s wrap up how a logo is supposed to look.
You must understand this concept so that you can further work on developing your skills and gaining the necessary experience. Note that great logos also require a creative mindset, and have plenty to do with your personality.
How is a good logo supposed to look?
In short, a good logo is a purposeful one, easy to adapt to different sizes and materials, contemporary, but symbolic and memorable to distinguish from other logos.
The logo design world is not exactly black and white, and there are no strict rules to adhere to, but there are still bad practices you should avoid.
A day in the life of a graphic designer
When you’re a graphic designer, you bear the responsibility for ‘reinventing the wheel’, namely coming up with unique ideas and design pieces, especially such that aim to promote and advertise content.
You are not the guy in the front plan, but rather the engine behind the door that uses drafting tools to help advertisements convey a visual message.
Depending on how your career is progressing, you will either work independently or within a team that works jointly to promote content to the customer. Some of the tasks you’ll be assigned next to logo design is book cover design, typography, web design, advertising, package design, and so on.
The usual skill sets of graphic designers
All graphic designers are expected to be creative, and posses a set of analytical skills.
For some of them, it will be easier to rough-sketch a piece of paper and present it to the customer, so that they know whether they’re moving in the right direction before they’ve finalized it.
The practice is quite common in the graphic design world, and generally perceived as being the most successful one.
Another thing each graphic designer should possess is good time management. He should take over as many tasks as he can complete at a time, and be organized enough to meet his deadlines.
At the same time, he should be a solid communicator, so that he would understand what clients want and expect, and whether he is able to deliver such work for them.
His or her creativity will come into play when beautifying the logo with symbols and emoticons, and when choosing the right colors, shapes, and details, while his analytic skills will be most useful when ensuring that the logo does convey the right message and reaches in whatever way the minds of end customers.
Basically, a good graphic designer is a visual thinker, who can bring any type of thoughts and ideas together on the canvas.
The logo doesn’t have to describe the exact activity of the company
If you give logos of today a proper look, you will see that most of them don’t reveal what a company is involved into. Think of the golden arches of McDonald’s, for instance – no hamburger there, right?
Or, take FedEx as an example – their hidden, cool arrow is there to substitute trucks and plans. Nike’s swoosh is also an excellent example, as it’d be a bit difficult to indicate all the products Nike creates and distributes.
In some cases, portraying the company’s activity seems appropriate, but what most designers prefer is depriving corporate logos from a detail chaos.
Instead, they adapt them to details that are more specific to that company – the Apple logo, for instance, it is a genuine Apple, but reveals little on what the company actually does. Still, it is one of the world’s best known logos for being practical, and displayed equally well on different devices.
Making a design brief
Before you start working a logo, schedule an interview with the clients to understand what they want or need.
A good idea is also to prepare a standard questionnaire, and distribute it to all interested clients.
Do some research
A good corporate logo requires a throughout research on the industry it belongs to, as well as some knowledge on how the company developed in the past, and where it stands on the market compared to competitors.
Once you know all of this, designing a logo will be much easier.
Learn from good examples
Do some research on similar logo designs that became popular in a short lapse of time, and try to stay in line with trends and innovations.
This won’t always mean that you have to follow a particular trend, but rather be aware of it in order to design a logo that will last.
Offer a free sample: There is no better way to enhance your creativity than collating different types of data and recreating existent mock websites, brand logos, and letterheads.
Always have some custom masterpiece by hand to impress a client, and pack up an admirable portfolio that will attract attention in the corporate community. Work on some samples for your potential clients to let them know that you can meet their expectations.
Join the community: Designers worldwide like to keep in touch, and organize some awesome brainstorming effects. Try to establish contact with popular performers and attend their events, and you certainly learn a lot. The more you communicate with professional and talented people, the better your own work will become.
The crucial importance of color
When designing a logo, the first thing to consider is the color palette.
This is not a decision you should simply rush into, as it will almost certainly define the way viewers feel about the logo. As you already know, all colors have different meanings, and communicate different ideas.
The common approach is to replicate the color typical to a brand, but not all companies will demand that. Sometimes, you’ll be set free to explore different possibilities, and create something that is indeed unique and memorable.
Capture interest: Designers’ biggest challenge is to design an interesting logo to capture interest, and this is exactly what distinguishes good from great designers.
Use tutorials: Experienced designers have all launched their careers learning from guides and tutorials, and this is something you should do as well when hitting off with your logo adventure.
There are many awesome tutorials you can use to improve your week areas, adopt new methods and familiarize with trends, and practice until you become a professional.
Redesign what other people did: When feeling particularly impressed by the masterwork of a designer, try to redesign it. This is the best way to understand how far your abilities have reached, and how many of the details you’re able to figure out and recreate. This is one of the best methods for improving your skills.
Get a design degree
This is probably your very first task before you start exploring the design world, even if possessing a degree doesn’t necessarily prepare you for launching a career. What it does is to help you understand the basics of this subject, and teach you how to use popular technologies to create some breathtaking designs.
Practice to perfection: Sketching is not only a beginners’ practice, so get used to it being a compulsory part of your work.
Even when you’ve mastered the art, there will be new arrivals and technologies to work at, and you’ll need more of these experiments to gain confidence in your skills. Besides, practice is simply vital to arrive to a concrete idea and examine its outcomes, so keep your sketchbook by hand.
Designing logos is probably one of the most creative jobs ever, almost as if you’re solving a single puzzle that meets several different purposes.
The more skilled you become, the easier it will be to solve the puzzle, and the more able you will be to hit off with a more complex one. Sometimes your work will be great, other times not so much, but in all cases it will meet its ultimate goal – raising awareness among end viewers.
The identity design industry is expanding rapidly, and specialization is becoming necessary to distinguish those that are actually worth of staying in there.
If interested to be one of them, learn continuously, and consider also non-design skills that will support your reputation of a professional designer. Most importantly – never stop practicing!
About the Author!
Bogdan is a designer and editor at DesignYourWay. He’s reading design books the same way a hamster eats carrots, and talks all the time about trends, best practices and design principles.