People ask me all the time, "Priscilla, what do you actually do all day?" They really know I love my job, but what I do is a mystery. Just like anyone else, there are some truly fun projects at work surrounded by more mundane tasks that just have to be done. But at Little Bird Marketing we are known for great design and branding and that includes logo design - one of the hardest and yet most rewarding projects we accomplish. I find many people are afraid to ask me about the basics of logo creation because the business world makes people feel stupid for not knowing this, but I find it ridiculous to expect the client to understand the logo process. However, if they understand it, we will inevitably create something better by collaboration.
Here are my thoughts on the process of branding and logo design:
You can't nail down a single image until a broader canvas is created. Brand aesthetics is a wide net that has to be cast to understand the bigger picture of look and feel within which a logo will live. Because of this , an inspiration board kicks off the beginning of every branding project. We like to entertain many ideas for a brand's aesthetics before we commit to a specific direction. This allows for full exploration of color, themes, typographic styles, textures, patterns, keywords, imagery preferences and desired experience. This exhaustive approach keeps us delivering fresh ideas and creative approaches to any brand, time and time again.
Once the boundaries have been drawn around the actual aesthetics, logo design begins. A distinct and recognizable logo is a powerful investment that pays off for years to come. Even logo revisions can pack a powerful punch when the identity of a brand is accurately portrayed visually. An effective logo increases brand equity subtly and immediately communicates to the targeted audience how to respond emotionally.
If you think you have a winner ask yourself these final questions:
Is it simple?
Will it last? (the trendy test)
Placement versatility? Agencies ask, "Will it look equally good on a business card and a billboard?" and "Will it look good on a screen and in print?"
Is it understood? If the client has to explain an obscure reference for that "aha" logo moment, you have missed the mark.
Colors can communicate powerful messages. A brand requires a color family for its primary communications. Secondary ideas and strategies can be served with a fully developed secondary palette, but both complete a full definition of a brand’s look and feel. A brand’s promise which can be made more memorable with the correct color selection. The color is the final detail giving the brand one last layer of depth to convey meaning and competitive difference.
Whether you know the difference between a font and a typeface or not, a brand’s typography is the cornerstone of its visual appeal. We could go on and on because we love this subject. Suffice to say, “When in doubt, don’t use Comic Sans or Papyrus”. Any questions?
Those are the basics, but there is a process that is actually more important than this knowledge. People may think we are just having fun, letting each idea take us where it may. What is funny, is the opposite is actually more true. My biggest rule about logo design is HONOR THE PROCESS. Walking through these correctly brings consistency to producing great branding time after time. Here is our process at Little Bird Marketing:
A Few Parting Thoughts About Branding and Logo Design Specifically for Designers:
Test what you've created to make sure you haven't inadvertently copied anyone. We process so much art and so many ideas that influence is inevitable. But great logo design never goes past influence and truly creates something unique.
Skip past the "usual suspects". Beware of the first idea that pops into your head or the first round of brainstorming with your team. Chances are it will be high on the understandability and low on uniqueness. That kind of tradeoff is rarely worth it. While you might incorporate a globe for an international company, or a plug for an energy service make sure there is a deeper meaning and uniqueness to the overall design or face looking like all of the rest of the competitors, which is precisely what you are trying to avoid.
Encourage your designers to sketch first. While going to the computer first for research might be your first inclination just know that the brain works differently when engaged online and offline. Give your brain some space to think creatively before bombarding it with all of the other work that has gone before you OR staring at a blank screen.
This post was written by Priscilla McKinney, CEO and resident Momma Bird of Little Bird Marketing. As a full service agency, they provide full branding overhauls, website development, and extensive digital strategy including inbound marketing packages. Hear more from this Momma Bird in her podcast, Ponderings from the Perch. Read more on her blog or follow her on Twitter @LittleBirdMktg.
Check out actual work we've done just by clicking here. If you like what you see and want to work with the peeps, but just don't know where to start hit us up for a free marketing assessment!
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