I generally assume my clients have no prior design knowledge or experience. That guides me to err on the side of more communication and explanation, avoiding conflicts and confusion later in the process. I outline my whole process with a rough timeline for deliverables, as well as provide language and rubrics to help evaluate logo designs. Letting the client in on my process also builds trust and confidence in my work. They see snippets of my research, justifications for drafts, and get to participate throughout the process with feedback rounds. The biggest thing I want to avoid, is doing a ton of work to create a polished design, only to discover it’s way off the mark from what my client wants.
The purpose of the design workshop is to discover the personality of my client’s brand, understand the brand’s audience/customer, identify all possible use cases for the logo, as well as clarify what a logo is and why we are developing one.
“A logo is not communication, it is identification. It shouldn’t try to say a whole lot. It is like an empty vessel that meaning can be breathed into over time, with consistency of use. Trying to communicate too much with a logo leads to it being too busy and distracting.” — Butler Branding
In the design workshop, I use scripted questions to facilitate a discussion around the personality and culture of my client’s brand— Lones Management Consulting. The script is a loose guide to ensure thoroughness.
Through that process, here is how we characterized the brand LMC…
With the brand personality and client vision clarified, I began gathering a collection of logos from competitors and adjacent industries to identify common patterns. Following industry patterns can help a brand look and feel like it belongs; however, diverging from common patterns may help a brand stand out. This all depends on the industry and the client.
Once patterns were identified and the returns on research were diminishing, I sent my client a snapshot, noting key patterns. I asked which logos drew their attention, which elements, typefaces, and colors they preferred. This all helped narrow my focus as I began sketching.
At this point, I had a direction to design in. I always begin with pencil and paper sketches. The limitations of pencil lets me move quickly, trying out tons of ideas. I narrowed my sketches down to a few icon-marks and a handful of full-logo (icon & word-mark) designs. These sketches were annotated to explain their pros and cons and reason for exploring, then presented to the clients for feedback.
I began the presentation with some pre-framing, reviewing the brand personality we identified, as well as a rubric for logos: is it appropriate? Simple? Memorable?
Feedback was gathered in the meeting, resulting in one icon-mark idea to pursue digitally.
I created a variety of digital black and white variations of the approved icon-mark and full-logo, all aligned to a grid for pixel-perfection. I start in black and white to separate the form critiques from the color critiques. Digital mock-ups were filtered to the most viable three and submitted for client feedback.
With a black and white logo form approved, I began exploring color palettes based on industry color trends, LMC brand personality, client color preferences, and USA color psychology reports. Colors can be extremely subjective and carry a lot of feelings with them. We ended up going through 5 rounds of color feedback.
Weeks later, we arrived! Everyone is happy with the final logo. Time to prepare the logo for all its use cases, organize the files, create a guide to the logo library, and deliver it all to my client. Collections of the full logo, icon-mark, and word-mark were made with variations for Color on White (standard), Color on Black, White on Black, and Black on White. Each logo variation was delivered in multiple file formats to suit different use cases, with a file format guide to answer any questions down the road.
As a designer, I always feel pressured to make a logo artistically significant. Sometimes my clients feel that pressure as well. To mitigate that, I keep my logo rubric in sight during all feedback presentations as well as while I’m designing.
Appropriate and relevant for the brand’s industry and audience.
Does it work at a wide range of sizes? Is it simple enough to be quickly understood?
Is it distinct enough to be easily recognized?
This project was a good reminder of how color can be the hardest part to narrow down and agree on. I underwent many feedback rounds of color, but I didn’t wrestle forever on each round. I tried to quickly iterate and narrow the choices after each feedback. That rapid iteration helps me stay on track and avoid wasting a lot of time in the wrong direction.