how to translate a brand into a logo design.
By now, you've surely heard that your brand is more than simply a nice logo. It's about the full experience a person has with your business, the values you carry, and the full visual picture of all your materials from email signature to business card to blog graphic. Let's say you've done your branding homework. You understand your target audience, your brand values, where your logo and brand will be used, and have even narrowed in on a color palette. So...how do you then translate that all into a logo design?
The simple answer, of course, is to hire a designer to bring her expertise to the project. But, for those starting out with small or no budgets, you may wish to tackle it on your own. For that, I'm excited to share some of my logo process with you today!
Step One: Background Information
Before you can even begin to think about a design, you have to be prepared. It's so important to understand what makes your business unique, the top message you want to convey to your customers, your target audience, and so on, so that you can take those messages and share them with your visual brand.
Some of my most important questions include:
- What is your elevator speech about what you do?
- Who are your ideal clients or customers?
- What words do you want associated with your business?
- What are the most rewarding moments in your business life?
- Where do you see your business going in one year? Five years?
- Where will your logo and brand identity be used? (website? billboards? packaging?)
P.S. See and download my full questionnaire here!
Step Two: Moodboard
The next phase is to develop an overarching game plan. I do this by compiling a moodboard. This step usually starts with my clients creating a Pinterest board of images, typography, and colors that inspire them (here's an example board!). Then, I evaluate their collection and look for patterns or themes within the board. I take the strongest ones and compare how they relate to their brand values and targets from step one.
Once the patterns are established and aligned with their goals, I make a collection that includes typography styles, color selections, and photos with the right style vibe. This serves as an inspiration and reference for all future steps. Here's an example:
The colors are neutral, there are soft elements like the ampersand, and the typography combines sans serif fonts with some script. The photos feel light and airy, and the overall vibe is calming and reassuring.
Step Three: Sketching and Initial Concepts
Now the real (and fun!) work begins! I like to begin with a major brain dump session: I take some of the key words from the exploratory phases and come up with as many word associations as I can. I write them all down on a big sketchpad, and then I see how those words could translate into imagery, shapes, or graphics. For example, a clever or smart brand might be represented in a fox, or a wholesome foods brand might associate with a circle. There are no wrong ideas at this point! I start sketching these images and shapes and seeing how they fit with the business name. It's a fun challenge to see how words or letters can integrate into images or at least pair well together.
Once I have a general game plan, I move to the computer and start building the ideas into a logo design. I tend to have anywhere from 5-10 logo concepts, but I push myself to edit and try to send no more than three to the client. I don't want them to feel overwhelmed or send anything concepts that are too similar to one another. Then, it's time for feedback and refining!
When asking for feedback, the best plan is to ask for thoughts on how the logomark relates back to the brand values and goals from earlier steps. If you don't like a certain color, is it because it won't connect with your target market? Is type feeling too feminine when the brand should feel more neutral? These types of thoughts are the best way to make solid decisions and not let the design get too personal and not business-oriented.
Step Four: Refine and Build Out
After a few rounds of revisions to truly make the brand solid, it's time to create a brand board with the final logo, secondary or alternate logo, color palette, and typography choices. This serves as a reference for all your future visual brand decisions. (See my post on brand boards here for reference!)
The process can be difficult, but as long as you keep your business front of mind, the brand will find a way to come out. When in doubt, keep it simple!