There are so many ways to design a logo. Some people start sketching ideas first in a notepad, others jump right to the computer, and some will begin with research well before they touch a pencil. There’s no right or wrong way to go about it, but there are methods that have a better chance of yielding great results than others.

Rather than discuss all the different ways to design a logo, I’m going to take you through the steps I take when designing a logo from start to finish. My process differs depending on the kind of logo I’m designing, the time constraints, etc. In general, my logo design process is that I first research the brand, then create sketches, then polish a select few of my sketches on the computer, then present the logo concept.

Logo ResearchingStep 1: Research

Doing your research is so incredibly important that you really can’t skip this step. Sometimes you can get away with minimal research, while other times you’ll need to spend months on this part. Yeah, you heard me. Months.

Ideally, designing a logo is part of a bigger, brand identity design or re-design, which is a very involved process. You would first research the competition, what their logo looks like, what colours they use, what their overarching brand identity says about them, etc. This helps you create something distinct from the competition.

You should also figure out what the logo needs to communicate about the brand. What’s the personality of the brand? What is the best style of logo to fit their brand?

After doing the brand and competitive research, you can start on research for the logo itself. Here, you can put together a mood board and set of fonts/colours, type styles, logo ideas, etc.

At this stage, I’ve usually started on some preliminary logo sketches already, which helps me to figure out where to go next in the research part, and then sends me back for more sketching. It’s back and forth for awhile, so let’s jump in to the sketching phase.

Logo SketchingStep 2: Sketching

This is the part where you dump everything down on the page; and I do mean everything. Every single logo idea you’ve got; draw it. Start with the name of the company. Write it out a few different ways in different styles and see if anything sparks your interest. From there, you can come up with some icon ideas. What’s the first letter of the company name? Draw that as an icon. Do it a dozen more ways. Try out some symbols that might fit the brand, and sketch them out a dozen ways. Mix the letter and the symbol, then the name and the icon.

Running out of ideas? Take a break. Head online for some logo design inspiration or check out a logo design book. An idea can spark from anywhere. When your brain is sufficiently fried, take an actual break. Get dessert, take a nap, play Minecraft. Take your brain out of it so you can come back to sketching later with fresh eyes.

Remember, the sketching phase doesn’t actually need to be done with a pencil and paper. You can use a tablet or your computer to sketch, or even start generating some super rough ideas in Illustrator on your computer. The ability to quickly duplicate an icon in Illustrator, then make a small adjustment to it, is incredibly helpful for the logo ideation process.

Logo DesigningStep 3: To The Computer

After you’ve sketched to your heart’s content and you finally have something you like, it’s time to head to the computer (if you aren’t already there). Here you’re going to use a vector illustration program like Adobe Illustrator to create a logo that’s significantly more polished than it was on paper.

At this stage you’re probably still figuring things out; working to refine shapes and forms. You can test out how your logo looks with a shadow, or with thin lines rather than thick, maybe try rounded edges instead of sharp edges, etc. I spend more time on the computer phase than on any other part of the project. That’s partially because there’s so much back and forth at this stage. You’re still doing some research, you might still be making the occasional sketch if a new idea pops into your head, and you’re testing out all possible options to see what works best.

Eventually, you’ll narrow down your logo options into just one or two that you really love. That’s when you start playing with colours, not before. Establish the logo in black and white/greyscale before you give it any colour. If the logo works in greyscale, it works. Colour is secondary to the form of the logo. Figure out your colours then polish the logo so it’s pixel perfect, then get ready to present.

Logo PresentationStep 4: Presentation

Unless you’re designing a logo just for fun, you’re going to need to present it to either a client, your team, or your boss; or potentially all three. Presentation is important, especially for a logo; since logos are rarely seen by themselves in the world. Presenting the logo itself, surrounded by white space, might look clean and polished, but it doesn’t give the viewer quite enough to go on.

Show your logo mocked up in a variety of real-world places like a T-shirt, mock website, magazine ad, or business card. Show the client/team how your design can live in the real world. A lot more confidence is instilled in your logo when it’s been turned from a simple computer graphic into something real. Make sure to include your rationale in your presentation. Your team/boss/client needs to know why your logo design works, how it fits the brand, and what it means to the company it’s for, going forward.

Remember, presentation isn’t always the final step in a logo design. Often, after you present a logo concept there will still be more work to do after receiving feedback from your team or client. You might present finalized concepts a few times before a logo design is fully approved. Design is an iterative process and it can take a while before all stakeholders are happy with the end result.

To Conclude

Logo design can take a lot out of you; mentally and creatively. You’ll often come up with a great concept after only a few hours of work and other times it might take weeks. That’s how the creative process works. Don’t be too hard on yourself if it takes a bit longer and don’t be scared to ask for help from another designer; they might see things in a different way than you, giving you an entirely new direction to take.

What are your thoughts on this logo process? Would you agree? Is there an additional step I’m missing? I’d love to hear from you, so give me some feedback in the comments below. Thanks!




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