So far in this series on logo design we have outlined the initial preparation stage, defining a brand identity, choosing a design agency to work with, how to compare quotes and the nuts and bolts of developing a creative brief. If you missed these then you can find Part One here and Part Two here. In this final article in the series, the rubber hits the road and we examine the creative process, look at how branding direction translates into visual concepts and discuss how to evaluate concept explorations.
The first step is to understand what a graphic designer actually does compared to say a fine artist. The difference is fairly straight forward even though the tools, skills and techniques used can often be quite similar. Basically a fine artist communicates their own personal vision to a prospective audience, whilst a commercial artist communicates a business or marketing vision to prospective customers. As such, choice of design elements, photography, fonts and colours should not be based exclusively around personal taste, but around the science and psychology of colour, form, function and style. Understanding how different design elements interact to transmit a message on a subconscious level should be second nature to a graphic designer. Therefore, as the client required to evaluate design concepts created by a designer, to some extent you will need to separate your own tastes from the needs of your business. What you might personally like may not be what your business actually needs. If you can remain somewhat objective about this you’re already halfway there.
Secondly small business owners often fall into the trap of trying to only communicate their product or service offering through their marketing materials. Of course this is important as prospective customers need to understand quickly what it is you do. However your main priority should be communicating how you are going to solve your potential customers’ problems. If you refer back to the BabyCakes example in Spotlight On Logo Design Parts One and Two, you’ll recall that our brand message did not focus on selling baby care products, but instead solving the problems of being a tired, time poor and stressed out parent – a common experience for people with young children. So choice of colours, fonts and graphic elements becomes more about reflecting this core message, than making the designer come up with a graphic image that you think looks cool or suits your personal taste.
To illustrate how these principles apply to an actual logo design project, below are two case studies we’ve recently completed for clients with vastly different product and service offerings, target audiences and marketing objectives. The initial image displays sketches or concept ideas submitted by the client, along with the brand message that the logo needed to communicate. Thereafter follows the logo explorations developed for the client and the final result.
Case Study: The Herbal Body
The Herbal Body produce a range of personal care products that utilise authentic herbal ingredients based on naturopathic principles. The owner, a trained naturopath, wanted her brand to cut through the vast and confusing array of products out there in the market place that claim to be herbal and organic, but in fact are more likely to be manufactured in a laboratory using chemicals, than real herbs or essences.
In order to communicate this idea, we came up with a logo mark that symbolises a modern day apothecary. Whilst the burnished gold font and realistic plant illustrations give an olde-world feel, the use of a striking complimentary colour palette gives it a contemporary edge that works in the modern market place.
Case Study: Facility Logistics
Facility Logistics is a start up company that provides facilities and building management services to small business. The owner, Martin Hughes, wanted to steer clear of using graphic devices that were too literal and instead focus on portraying an image of stability, consistency and security.
We agreed that this was the core branding message to be communicated to his target audience and utilised a series of design concepts featuring a square made up of a core of interconnecting triangles – the most stable of all the geometric shapes. Coupled with a blue and grey colour palette the overall effect is quite striking, yet balanced and stable.
Well that about wraps it up for our exploration of the logo design process. Hopefully it’s provided you with some food for thought and has shed some light on what you need to prepare before embarking on your own logo design project.
We’ll leave you with this video, recently published on Bloomberg Business Week featuring Sagi Haviv, a partner at renowned design agency Chermayeff & Geismar. Although dealing with refreshing the logo of a high profile fashion brand, Sagi pinpoints the steps involved in designing a corporate logo which remain the same across all brands – from the small business just starting up, to the established multinational corporation.