How to start designing a logo

This is probably one of the most frustrating parts of a design journey but can be incredibly rewarding if you get it right. Unfortunately there is no holy grail or solution to this, sometimes it’s just a case of sitting in a dark room and having a ureka moment! One thing is a certainty though and that’s having the inspiration and information to get the process underway.Unlike being an artist with a blank canvas and creating something that’s not necessarily meant to meet a brief, designing something to hit a certain criteria is going to need a seed or desired goal and that usually comes from the client’s brief.

So how to start designing a logo is going to require a seed which usually comes in the form of a verbal conversation or in some well organised situations a written brief! Both are equally valuable starting points although the latter is a little easier to have and refer back to but, there is nothing like actually having a conversation with a client to understand where the direction should be taken or what needs to be achieved. In my experience a written brief can sometimes be a little clinical and misleading so having those “reading between the lines” conversations are far more valuable than what’s been written down and probably months out of date. It’s important to use your ears at this stage, after all there is a very good reason for having two ears and one mouth! If you have the luxury of having both then you’re potentially on to a winner because if the written brief is in complete contrast to the client’s vision you know you need to please the client and not the brief. Believe me it’s one of those “understanding what the client likes and dislikes” moments as opposed to a brief that’s full of bull, stats, demographics and misleading facts that everyone likes cats!

By now you should have some mental notes, make sure you’ve put them down as real notes and put some dates to them as well… it helps! You can now start the thinking process, start making a vision in your mind about how you think the logo should look, think outside the box, it’s important to let the mind wander too! A distraction can be a progression in a subliminal way. Now look at those notes you made and start all over again, I know it sounds tedious but this is the fine tuning process, it’s a way of getting all the rubbish out of the way before you stumble on the golden egg!


At this point you should be putting pen to paper with sketches and doodles, do whatever works for you, put the things down that you’ve been thinking about, patterns, letters, shapes. Get as much down as possible. If you start to come to a dead end try something else, fire up the computer and start playing with type – do whatever you can to keep things moving, set up a grid and start playing with geometric shapes. Don’t stop until you get that “yes” moment! I find working in this way helps to unshuffle deep ideas that can get suppressed by negative thoughts, keeping it chaotic doesn’t allow you to start getting doubtful and frustrated.

Now you can go back and look at some of the crud you’ve churned out and hopefully start to refine a few decent ideas, probably cleaning up some of the spacing, kerning …if type is involved! Put some presentational boards together and go present! Usually there with be 1 out of 2 your happy with but, you’ll scrape together a third from the junk and present that first! God forbid the client chooses it yikes!

If you get it right you’ll know about it and be confident enough to present them all with equal credibility, it will just be down to the client to choose and hopefully they will choose the last one you present but hey who knows, if they don’t then you can put that one in the recycle bin right?

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