Making Logos for Clients
Table of contents
- About the logos we design
- The meaning behind our logos
- Working with our logo designers
- How long and how much time will it take to make a logo
- Getting your logo designed with Starfish
- How we make logos
- How affordable are our logos?
- Summary of design phases
- The “how to use this logo” guidebook
- 10 tips on avoiding a bad logo
Logos form the visual heart of a business’ brand identity. From our web and graphic design agency in the Philippines, we make logos for businesses from all over the world. Our logo service is very personal and totally affordable.
About the logos we design
We lean towards minimalist, simple and clean design. This is partly due to the team’s adherence and training on universal design principles such color theory, balance and contrast, rather than relying on their own personal taste.
The meaning behind our logos
Logos are more than aesthetic exercises. The big difference between web design, graphic design and logo design is meaning.
Logos can be simple and full of hidden meaning and logos can be complex and vacuous.
Giving meaning to your logo is helpful because people will ask and every time you look at it, you will appreciate that there is some depth to it, depth that will add as well as reflect on the brand’s values.
For this reason, our designers work at this level, rather than at the pure aesthetic level. However, meaning isn’t a must – and doesn’t have to be lofty or deep.
Working with our logo designers
It’s better to work with a single designer. Even though multiple designers can bring in different perspectives, making a professional logo is a joined-up thinking creative process where ideas evolve over time – so a single designer is best suited for that.
Since logos and branding don’t operate in a vacuum- the designer usually works better when collaborating with others (including the client).
How long and how much time will it take to make a logo
Our process is efficient and it involves you. A lot of people like to take their time because the logo represents the start of something new and potentially big. Others are in a rush because they have to get press releases out. Some clients just want something quick as a stop-gap until they have more time to think about their logo.
All this is possible with the Starfish Web Agency. You just have to let us know your situation. We’ll make it as affordable as we can by working to the constraints you set us.
Getting your logo designed with Starfish
If our web agency is creating your website as well as your logo and branding, then we suggest that the website, branding and logo be done at the same time. All three elements can influence and play off each other and they can all use the same planning procedures.
If you need to get printed material ready ahead of the website, that’s okay too. We’ll just make sure the logo is extra polished before going to the printers.
How we make logos
Unless you have very specific design instructions, we prefer to use an evolutionary logo design process. A logo that emerges slowly will have stronger meaning, stronger ties to the company it represents.
Professional logos aren’t a wham bam, thank you ma’am kind thing. This is why we don’t recommend using logo contests. You need to know the reasoning behind the design, you need time to warm up to the ideas shaping the logo, you need to make adjustments when your eyes have become accustomed to it. You need to be part of the logo design process.
With the Starfish web agency, you work with a single designer through a collaborative and iterative process. The designer gets to know you and this will give the design its personal touch.
Logos are made through a series of back and forth conversations where the logo idea or ideas evolve until perfected. There are no restrictions, just flowing ideas.
How affordable are our logos?
Starfish use the full design lifecycle for our logos as described below. This will produce well-thought-out carefully constructed logo. Considering all our designers are well trained in making logos, you’re getting a great service at great price.
Summary of design phases
- Briefing the designer
- Research phase
- Ideation phase
- Conceptualization phase
- Testing phase
- Concept Iteration phase
- Single Logo Refinement phase.
The briefing of the logo designer
You may have a certain idea of what you want your logo to look like, so you can show the designer sample logos you think would be suitable. The conversation could revolve around colors, moods, emotions, trendiness, styles. This type of brief can be quite limiting and may put the designer in a restricted spot.
For logos, a small brief about the business, the industry and its audience is enough to get the process going.
Mention where the logo will be used
Small business owners and new business always think big. They like to imagine their logo in big neon lights on the side of buildings. Who doesn’t? They imagine having a logo like Apple, Nike, IBM or FedEx, these well studied logo successes.
There is nothing wrong with thinking big but chances are your logo isn’t going to be used on its own in big neon lights. What is more, your logo won’t be recognized on its own, without the name of the company next to it, so why design it that way?
Logos for small companies are normally displayed next to the company name and this presents its own design restrictions and conundrums.
They will need to be designed for use on business cards, so please get the business cards made at the same time on order to test the logo’s suitability.
The research phase
Having been briefed about your business, where the logo will be used and when you need it, the logo designer can come up with a look at what’s already out there.
There are millions of logos, millions of ways this project can go, so the job of the designer is to get you both thinking alike, on the right track and inspired.
The designer will present you many logos (lifted off the internet) to choose from. Similar to a logo contest, this is a hit and miss process but unlike the logo contest, this is just the starting point, not the end.
The skill for the designer is to avoid presenting ugly, clichéd or inappropriate logos, so that you’re influenced by greatness.
Logos may come from inside your industry or because they are of a particular style or color. The point is to present a large variety so that patterns between logos become apparent. Once you’ve seen a hundred logos all in pink for example, you’ll be brimming with ideas, plus you’ll be able to direct the designer more accurately in the future.
If you’re lucky, you’ll find a couple of logos that are appropriate and can really get a discussion going about visual taste and suitability.
Your small brief should now expand to contain relevant logos and hopefully a well thought out guide as to the style or styles of logo you’re after.
The project brief should still be open ended, so that the project can still go off in a variety of directions and you still want the designer to have the freedom to present something different.
The ideation phase
The designer now needs to sketch out rough abstract ideas. They can be word ideas or doodles.
The more ideas the better. This is a brainstorming phase and so there should be little filtering to no filtering. No idea should be off limits, off brief are deemed stupid.
The meaning of a logo can come from thinking or from spotting meaning within an idea. Ideas breed meaning, meanings breed ideas. The main thing is to find meaning, without getting carried away.
Superficial meanings are fine, as long as the translation isn’t too literal, otherwise you’ll end up with clichés like globes (international business), handshakes (win-win) and trees (helping a business grow) and a lightbulb (ideas your business generates).
Quick and ugly doodles or jotted words are fine. The ideas may have several central themes that play on each other.
When the designer shows you these ideas, don’t be put off by the presentation. Our design agency is totally transparent and this may mean you putting up with a bit of roughness.
The whole point of ideation phase is the creation and transmission of ideas. Ideas that will lead to other ideas that will eventually allow you to hit upon a creative gem.
If you’re not seeing anything that inspires you, you can go back to research phase, you can tighten the creative brief or you can ask for more logo ideas.
You should pick up to three strong ideas that can then worked upon individually or as a whole.
The further you advance through the design process, the longer each individual logo will take to draw, so it’s best to advance steadily, rather than trying to rush to the finish line
Before you start the next phase, the brief should contain some nice ideas that can lead to clever concepts. For example, “elephants remember, use elephants”, “pitch forks referencing American Gothic”.
The conceptualization phase
Armed with abstracted ideas, the designer can interpret these ideas into concepts or conceptual logos. The sketching may be still slightly rough, but they shouldn’t be doodles. They need to smooth enough to not be off putting and to convey some degree of what the polished logo will look like.
At a later phase (the concept iteration phase) each concept can be interpreted into dozens of refined concepts, so it’s best to stick to only a few of strong main concepts.
Some designers may explain concept in detail. It’s good for you to understand the thought process. Designers sometimes don’t fully appreciate industries or foreign cultures, so you can set them straight when you understand what they are thinking.
At this stage, you’re still solidifying your ideas. There is room for error, meaning you might love an idea or a concept only to find you reject it later on.
This is why it’s good to have back up ideas and backup concepts.
The logo testing phase
You may have several concepts you like and it’s good to test them early, before spending time on color, fonts, and what is to follow. Early testing will give you feedback into the practicality of the logo.
For testing, we suggest putting the logo in someone else’s website (screenshot) or in a mock business card.
Seeing things in its final destination will let you know how well your logo plays with other colors, small sizes and enclosed spaces. For example, you may have a nice vertical logo that simply creates too much spacing problem for a business card or the details don’t show up once reduced to the size of a thumbnail.
This valuable feedback can help you eliminate some of your concepts and shape up others to be stronger contenders.
The concept iteration phase
By now, you’re fairly excited at having a clever concept but you want to see if you can squeeze any creative juice more from it. This is because a clever concept can fall flat or not seem that clever after you’re used to the idea. Secondly, a clever concept can lead to a really clever concept, if you persevere.
For one or more concepts, the designer will play around with the basic premise and produce dozens of variations.
Variations will bring in new ideas and design embellishments but overall the concept should be solid and unwavering.
At this point, the designer may decide to switch to using Adobe Illustrator to draw. This will slow him/her down, so you won’t get as many concepts, however, the advantage is that you’re getting a more accurate representation of the final logo.
Single logo refinement phase
You’ve chosen a logo but now it needs polishing. Letter Kerning, color balance, perfecting shapes and line thicknesses. You can ask the designer to show you multiple variations of the logo in different colors, kerning (the spacing between individual letters).
Logos must also go through final testing on various colored background, and color inversions to test its overall flexibility.
Logos must be ruthlessly simplified. Logos need to be simple to be useful. Cheap logos are busy and complex.
The “how to use this logo” guidebook
This is a book where you describe how your logo should and shouldn’t be used. It’s not a necessity but it does help, especially if you’re working with contract designers and internal marketing people, who may not have training in logo design and branding. See Corporate and brand identity.
10 tips on avoiding a bad logo
Our designers will follow your instructions, so give them bad input and they may object, but ultimately they will follow.
- Don’t go for the obvious or literal link between business and logo. For example, renovation firms using roof tops.
- Don’t use the internet too much. Logo designs are trendy, trendy is good but it date you to a particular period and you’ll find your logo looking the same as everyone else’s.
- Design your logo alongside your business name. This will avoid you using initials for logos.
- Don’t copy famous logos
- Don’t make puns
- Don’t use a freelancer or design contests, unless you want to start again.
- Let the designer do their job
- Don’t use established clichés, like trees, lightbulbs, arcs, hands.
- Avoid gradients, too many colors, circles anything too detailed.
- Choose your font carefully and avoid overused fonts.
Here’s a bonus one for good measure: 11.Don’t ask the designer to make the logo bigger!