Ask an Expert: How to Design a Logo
When asked to think of the most memorable company logos, what comes to mind? Are they complex? Intricate? Multi-colored? Probably not. At their best, logos are simple, clean, and easily recognizable. Oh! And should encompass the overall message and values of the brand all tied up into one neat, tiny box — no gift wrap necessary. To some of us non-design experts, creating a logo seems, in a word, impossible. But, given the proper information, inspiration, and mad design skills, creating an awesome logo for your company can be an exciting challenge!
So, what goes into creating a killer logo?
Let’s ask a pro: Astute Co. Art Director, Shane O’Brien.
CR: So, Shane, A company has come to you requesting a logo that will encompass their brand, be multi-functional, and undeniably recognizable. What’s first?
SO: We ask a lot of questions. This usually happens during a brand exploration meeting where we start by explaining the Jungian Archetypes and then the questions begin. Such questions as Who is the client? Who do they want to be? How do they want to get there? What are their goals? Really anything else we can think of that might be relevant in helping us determine their archetypes.
When it comes to the archetypes, we like to create a well-rounded image of the client by choosing a primary, secondary, and tertiary archetype. This provides us, and the client, not only with a direction for the logo, but a direction for a name if that is still needed, and also a tone of voice.
CR: What are some aspects you consider when making the logo?
SO: There are really so many different aspects to consider. Although some of the main ones are usually things like:
- What is the industry/type of business?
- Are there any obvious directions to take it?
- Such as a monogram, logotype, icon, badge/crest, any specific objects, etc.
- How is it being used and where?
- Print, web, stickers, watermarks, patterns, etc.
- Are there any things that the client either loves or hates?
- This could be fonts, colors, or styles.
CR: Where do you look for inspiration?
SO: My personal go-to is Dribbble. I know there are many great places to turn for inspiration but, I believe that it’s some of the best design on the internet especially for logo designs, and illustration.
Some honorable mentions go out to Behance, Coroflot, Instagram, Pinterest, and just Googling things.
CR: What software programs do you prefer when creating a logo?
SO: When it comes to logo design, I stick to Adobe Illustrator exclusively. You ALWAYS want to create a vector-based design so that it is infinitely scalable.
CR: How do you feel about complex, heavily-detailed logos?
SO: I think it really depends on the application of the logo. I think there is a case to be made for creating a logo with lots of detail but you should keep in mind, if this is going to be applied to things both large and small (maybe a bottle cap or a web favicon) there needs to also be a variation on that logo that is simplified. You want to make sure you are putting forth a good impression at every touchpoint.
CR: What’s your take on logo generators you can find online?
SO: Please, I beg of you, do not use these. Logo generators are essentially decreasing the value of an agency or designer and our ability to help you solve a very real problem around your brand identity. A logo generator is usually a bandage on a bullet wound. When you hire someone for a service, such as a logo design, you are paying for our years of experience, much like when you hire a lawyer or an accountant. You expect that they are an expert in their field and the same goes for design.
CR: How do you know when you’re done?
SO: When both we and the client are happy! At the end of the day, they hired you to do a job and we want to do the best job possible.
CR: What’s your advice to anyone attempting to make their own logo?
SO: Please don’t. Unless of course, you are a trained designer with years of experience under your belt. Because, typically, what you actually need is more than just an icon that represents your company. What you most likely need is a complete brand identity, including voice & tone, logo, imagery, colors, and typography. So, the best advice I can give is to find an agency or designer and have a conversation with them to determine what your needs are. You may not be able to or want to afford them or maybe you decide all you need is a logo but at least this way you’ve figured out, more specifically, what you need.