I’ve read a lot on the brand identity design process, and every designer has their own process they like to follow. I have a Stambaugh Designs Process I like to follow for most of my larger client projects and remains general enough I can apply it to most any type of project. It can take years to perfect this process but in general, this is how the branding process is completed, so you can use this as a guide to establish your own preferred process. Clients will appreciate having a solid process to fall under as well.
- Design brief: This comes from the client. It can be anything from a paragraph or two describing their company to a full fledged interview with the client to get the design brief. This is the most important step in the entire process in my opinion. I say this because you can be the best logo designer in the world but if you don’t listen and truly understand the needs of your client’s business then the logo rendered won’t be effective. Take your time getting to know the ins and outs of the business you’re designing a logo for because it will set you off in the right direction.
- Research: Now it’s time for research. Conduct research on the company’s industry, the company’s history and its competitors. By understanding these key points you will be able to set your client apart from its competitors in a meaningful way which they will most certainly appreciate. You are also looking for user groups – who’s going to see this logo? How should it make them feel? Try to put yourself in the shoes of the target market consumers who will be directly influenced by the logo you design.
- Inspiration and reference: Have you ever looked at a successful company’s logo and thought, man, that’s nice. Well, that’s the goal and it’s time to dig up those logo inspirations again. We can learn a lot from successful logos and apply the same principles to fresh logo designs. Also be aware of current styles and trends that are related to the design brief.
- Sketching and ideation: This is where the fun (for most designers) actually begins. Develop the logo concepts around the brief, research and inspiration. Start with small thumbnail sketches of concepts you have in your head. Don’t worry about perfection – this is a brain dump to get everything out on paper. And yes, I said paper. Even though we live in the digital age and everything is done on the computer it’s very important to not skip this step. When you sketch things out with a pencil and paper it’s fast, efficient and allows you to look for things like balance and weight in your ideas. When I have about 3-5 solid ideas I move forward the vector design stage.
- Reflection: Be sure to take breaks throughout the design process. This gives you some breathing room and lets your ideas mature while renewing your sense of enthusiasm for the project. Sleep on it. Never rush a design because it won’t be a reflection of your best work. If the project was put on a rush order by the client then they’re only doing a disservice to themselves and I usually don’t accept projects of that nature. These things take time, and the creativity of the mind is a complex process that requires rest and inspiration.
Get feedback on your work so far. Not necessarily with the client, but friends, family and if you have access to this wonderful group of humans, fellow designers. Perhaps even better is to ask the target user group of the logo. What do they think of it?
- Finalizing: Steps 4-6 have large overlaps. From sketching concepts to finalizing it in a vector format I often times revert back to an earlier concept or idea. Once you have a few vector designs it’s also easy to mix and match components from the vectors to see how they look. Vectors are free so feel free to duplicate and move things around as you see fit. This final stage of the process can take days, weeks or even months fine tuning vectors and constantly referring back to the design brief to make sure you have a proper solution. I usually have an “ah-ha” moment when I find the best solution and it is oh so sweet.
- Presentation: When it comes to logo design, many designers deliver multiple concepts to the client so they can have a chance to choose their favorite one. Personally, I don’t see the purpose of these multiple concepts. I submit to you, if a designer has arrived at two concepts, his work is not done. Design is an iterative process. You start with many concepts and refining until completion. It is the designer’s job to establish a process that concludes with the most effective concept.