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A logo is a simple image. And you know what your company does. So designing a logo should be easy, right?
Maybe for some, but most of us feel pretty daunted by the task of coming up with a single image to represent everything we want to say about our businesses. How, in one simple graphic, can you represent an organization and its mission? Where does one even begin this process?
If you prefer watching to reading, be sure to check out the video version of this blog post as well:
View our tips in the visual summary below or click here to read a detailed description of how to generate logo ideas for your business.
You might remember learning about brainstorming in grade school, when you were told to come up with ideas for a story, a project for the Science Fair, or even show-and-tell. And although you might not think about it, the old-fashioned brainstorm is probably something you’ve done as an adult too, whether it’s something you’ve worked through at an office job or while planning a theme party. (That Game of Thrones shindig is not going to cater itself, is it?) We think the best way to begin your logo design process is with brainstorming, and we’ve collected a few tips to help make your experience a success.
Whenever you brainstorm, whether it’s for logo ideas or when planning a work presentation, it’s important to follow the basic brainstorming rules. These rules work for every kind of brainstorming exercise.
You should brainstorm when you’re feeling most creative, which can be a different time for everyone. Maybe it’s first thing in the morning, over coffee and breakfast, or maybe it’s at the end of your day when you’re winding down from a busy work day. Whatever the case, choose a time that will help foster your creativity, rather than hinder it.
When you begin your brainstorm, more is more. That is, the beginning of a brainstorming session is not a time to cull or curate your ideas. Everything that comes to mind during a brainstorming session is worthy of your attention.
As soon as the storm clouds begin to brew, take note of every idea you have. This will undoubtedly include some bangers, and will assuredly include some terrible ones too. But even the most off-the-wall thoughts can spark a genius idea. At the end of your writing/typing session, you’re going to want a lengthy list. The more you have to work with, the more effective your session will likely be.
After your idea-generating brainstorm, put down your list—or close out your doc—and give yourself 24 hours before looking at it again. Your list of ideas will look different with fresh eyes, and help you in the branding portion of your brainstorm.
One of the most important aspects of a logo is how it resonates with the brand it represents. In order to successfully do this, it’s important to identify what your brand stands for. What is the story behind it? What are your goals for your brand? What about your brand mission?
If those first few questions seem daunting, it’s okay! We have some tips to get you there. This branding work will also help you with coming up with content for your website, fine-tuning your elevator pitch, etc. so it’s a useful exercise beyond the limits of your logo design.
Write a list of adjectives that describe your brand. Perhaps your brand is enthusiastic, fun, and welcoming. Or maybe it’s elegant, classic, and sophisticated. Start with 25 adjectives, and cull your list to the top five adjectives that fit best.
Now, think of how you want people to perceive your brand. What is the most important perception of your brand—that it’s innovative and bold, dependable and consistent? Create the ideal perception of your brand.
What do you want people to feel when they look at your logo? Do you want them to feel excited and invigorated? Calm and relaxed? Thinking about the potential emotions of your audience will help shape your branding and logo design.
Now that you’ve done your brand brainstorm, it’s time to think about how design elements can help communicate your brand story. We recommend making an inspiration board. An inspiration board lets you gather all of the things that inspire you and keep them in the same place. Then you can identify trends in your own design inspiration. Are you compiling a lot of images from the same color palette? Are bold, cartoon graphics catching your attention?
Whatever it is, it’s all fair game on your inspiration board. Consider a broad range. When something catches your eye, include it on your board. Later, you’ll take some time to think about the patterns and what drew you to each item.
When you put logos on your inspiration board, you might notice that similar logos appear on your board. This is a good indicator of the direction you want your logo to take, whether it’s dominated by an image-based logo, text-based logo, or a combination mark.
These four logo types represent some common design types. Be sure to review this article, which identifies the 7 types of logos. This will help you identify the distinct kinds of logos when you’re looking into what you like and help direct you toward a style for your brand.
Typography is an important aspect to a brand’s logo; it can help reinforce your brand’s story. What fonts are you drawn to—minimalist sans serifs or whimsical handwriting fonts? What kinds of fonts help convey the adjectives you used to describe your brand?
When you look at your board, you might notice that you’re pulling from a few colors more than others. Perhaps you’re drawn to calming blues and greens, or minimalist blacks and grays. The palette you choose can help communicate the way you want to be perceived. This logo color discovery tool can help you find the best one for your business.
Logo type, typography, and color are all critical in your logo design, but the style of your logo is just as important. A logo’s style helps to convey your brand’s personality. When you look at your inspiration board, what are the stylistic trends you’re seeing? Perhaps you’ve compiled a lot of watercolor images, or sketches of flowers. Maybe vintage postcards and drawings dominate your board. Whatever trends you see, be sure to let that style factor into your logo’s design.
You’re almost there! There are just a few more things to think of before you call it a day on brainstorming logo ideas.
Once you’ve done some brainstorming on your own, bring others into the process to get some feedback on your direction and hear new ideas that you may not have thought of. For example, your branding brainstorm might favor different perceptions than those of your accountant. If you’re a one-person operation, reach out to your network, a mentor, or contractors you’ve worked with. Even family or friends with tangential experience can help give you insight into your logo brainstorm.
Think about the other companies in your market. What is a successful company that you aspire toward? Look at their logo and think about what is working, what might not work as well, and how you can apply its positive attributes to your own logo while staying on brand. Don’t rip off a competitor’s logo, but use them as inspiration to help guide your design.
When you design your logo, you want to think about how it would be viewed by your intended customers. As a potential customer, what is important to you, and what do you want to see? Anticipating your customers wants, just like you thought about their feelings in the branding brainstorm, will help you create a satisfying logo.
When thinking about your logo, you should always keep its use at the front of your mind. Where do you see this logo: on your website, letterhead and business cards, signage, or merchandise? Think about how your logo will work on many mediums, rather than a small screen. If you visualize your logo on a boardroom wall and a ballpoint pen, you’ll need to consider something that can work in both large and small formats.
Once you’ve completed your brainstorming session for your logo design, you should have a much clearer vision than when you started this process. You’ll know what you want to say, and have a good idea on how you want to say it. If you want a more in-depth look into the creative process of designing a logo, you can download our free ebook on how to get the perfect logo for your brand.
Now that you’ve got some tips to help develop your logo design, your next step is to let those storm clouds brew and start your brainstorming session. Good luck!
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