While the design process can vary from designer to designer, Tyler Littwin shared his process with me. Here’s how he does it.
Step 1: Research the field/industry.
Before a designer like Tyler even thinks about putting pen to paper, he has to do his research. “Researching the field or industry helps designers get a sense of the environment the logo’s going to live in,” said Tyler. This is especially true for designers who haven’t done prior work in that field or industry. “You need to know the trends and what’s appropriate.”
The appropriate look and feel of a real estate logo, for example, is going to be different than those of a restaurant or band logo. “You’ve got to see what’s out there,” he says. “Which conventions are worth keeping? From there, you can start thinking about how to differentiate the new logo will from the tons of pre-existing ones.”
How different the new logo will be from the others depends on the context. In some cases, the logo shouldn’t be radically different because you don’t want to put people off. For example, in the health services industry, customers are looking for a certain level of comfort and familiarity; but in the concert industry, you might want to go with something more innovative and crazy. It varies wildly from field to field.
Step 2: Get to know the client.
Once the designer has a solid, objective understanding of the field or industry, it’s time to get the best possible understand of what the client does and who their target audience is.
There are two parts of this step, says Tyler. First, there’s the information you’re trying to glean from them: what they do, what they think about themselves, and who they sell to. Then, there’s the translation process. “If your client is a construction company but they talk a lot about how they’re really family-based, the challenge is translating that ephemeral idea into something concrete. How do you capture the essence of that company?”
When this part of the process is done right, it involves a lot of back and forth, asking questions, and pushing the client to articulate and deeply explain their value proposition. For newer companies, these discussions can actually be really eye opening. “A lot of companies aren’t aware of how they’re different — especially smaller companies. These logo design discussions can even help them think more about what differentiates themselves from their competitors.”
Step 3: Sketch, present, and iterate on initial ideas.
“I usually try to present the client with between two and three possibilities,” says Tyler. “Any more than that and you might find yourself doing revisions on all of your ideas, which sets you up with a lot more work and them up with a much higher bill.”
Step 4: Revise.
Sometimes, this step is only one little tweak. Other times, it’s a series of longer revisions. Tyler says he usually specifies in the original contract how many revisions he’s willing to do, which forces the client to be more thoughtful about each revision request. “Sometimes, clients ask you to start over from scratch,” he says. “You can avoid this by doing your due diligence when creating the original contract.”
Step 5: Organize the final deliverable.
Once the logo’s finished, Tyler will sort out with his client which file formats and other iterations they need that the professional logo design might live on. For example, Icon needed their logo to fit on the bottom of a snowskate. A restaurant might need menus, signage, and t-shirts designed.
Designing a logo from scratch is a difficult creative process that takes a lot of research, knowledge of a business and its audience, and a deep consideration for the principles of logo design. But if you partner with the right designers and have a solid process in place, you should end up with something your company loves (and people can understand).