Both for the client (it’s going to be your new look for the foreseeable future) and the designer (we must conjure up something that the client is going to love – no pressure!).
An amazing logo and brand project can also be an expensive undertaking, depending on your viewpoint. Clients who understand the power of a great looking logo and brand can see it as a base for them to build their brand, client roster and revenue. From the opposite perspective, some clients just want something to print on their business cards and shirts and really don’t care too much about how it looks or how it can impact their business.
The purpose of this article is not to go into the power of a great logo and complementary branding. We are going to explain the process that we go through when creating a logo and brand identity for a new client project.
Prior to the initial design meeting commencing, we talk through our process with the potential client in a discovery meeting. We discuss if the project is for a new business or to re-brand an existing business. We discuss what the goals that the client wishes to achieve, where their product or service is to be positioned in the market (eg. budget, middle, premium), how many decision makers will be involved in the process, the target demographic and so on.
We setup a Zoom or in-person meeting with the designer and the decision maker/s. The emphasis on the meeting is to create a brief for the project. Whilst a brief seems like a given, we have rarely worked with clients (with a few exceptions) in over 20 years who have prepared a solid design brief that can solely be used to create a logo and brand identity.
Prior to the meeting, the designer will use the information gathered at the initial discovery meeting and then personally research direct and indirect competitors and the industry to understand both the product/service and to start thinking about some ideas that could help to create a unique identity for the client. We identify if there is a common “look”, colour or style that competitors are predominantly using, so that we can differ from them.
The initial design meeting takes approximately 45 minutes to 1.5 hours depending on the client and number of decision makers involved.
Part of the first stage of designing a new logo is to start researching typography (fonts) which will meet the brief or outline we came up with in the Initial Design Meeting. Even if the logo does not include a fully written logotype with the business name, it will normally use initials or even a text tagline depending on its use.
The length of the typography research will vary depending on the budget of the client. It doesn’t make sense to spend more than a few hours on this part if the project is on the lower end of the budget scale. However, for some logos which are for government departments or medium to large businesses, we could easily spend 2+ days assembling the different typography options prior to beginning to style them into a logo concept.
For logos with smaller budgets, we have a list of “go-to” fonts which, through many years of experience, will work well in the categories of sans-serif (no tails), serif (with tails, eg. Tiffany & Co.) and then into sub-genres of mono (the font has an even width/thickness throughout the character/letter).
The total time we invest into typography research typically takes 3-4 hours through to 16-20 hours for larger budget projects.
Logos can be classified into several categories. These can simply be classified into logos which use type (logotype), logos that use images/symbols (logomark) and combination logos which use letters & words combined with images/symbols. For further reading here is an interesting article we found which goes much further into the different logo styles.
Many clients have a preference as to the type of logo they wish to adopt which we discuss at the Initial Design Meeting. If the logo we are creating includes a symbol, image or abstract mark, we begin developing ideas at this stage of the process and combine them with the typefaces we compiled as potential candidates in the previous step.
Symbols/Icons can be used to great effect in branding, as the symbol can be separated from the logotype and used by itself as part of the overall brand suite.
Some logos we work on may have letters which can be substituted with symbols to incorporate into the logo. Eg the capital letter “A” is of a triangle shape so a triangle shaped icon can be used in lieu of the letter. This works well if the logo name is a common word or is easily recognisable as substituting a symbol (as a character/letter) and retains legibility of the name.
Often during this part of the process, we will try out a huge range of concepts. Sometimes the concepts will be very different, and sometimes the concept we are developing may have many variations coming from the single typeface if we feel that it meets the brief. Often concepts will have the “kitchen-sink” thrown at them prior to being stripped back to containing only elements which have a purpose.
The total time we spend on this part of the process can range from 6 hours through to 12 hours depending on the complexity of the logo (minimal logos normally take the longest), the budget and the brief.
Once we have some preliminary logo concepts which we believe;
We setup a concept meeting. A concept meeting will involve the designer unveiling each logo concept to the client. During this process we will gauge the client’s reaction and feedback. For logo concepts we believe to be most suitable, we normally display not only the logo concept by itself, but also in-situ. This could include signs, vehicles, stationery, flyers etc. A logo will rarely be viewed in isolation except in the design stage. Logos will always adorn a sign, stationery, a website or other form of collateral. It is for this reason; we choose to display how a logo may look in-situ as it is how the audience will see it.
During this part of the process, we determine if the client believes that any of the concepts have merit and we also try out any variations they may have (such as colour or even combining two different logo’s elements together to form a new version).
The total time to prepare for the meeting is approximately an hour including designing the mock-ups. The meeting usually takes up to 60-120 minutes depending on the number of decision makers.
After the Logo Initial Concepts Meeting and using feedback provided during or after the previous meeting, we then regroup and develop the chosen logo concept/s.
If the concepts presented during the previous meeting are not favourable, we will begin new design/s using feedback given. In rare cases (1 in 50) a client may not like the initial concepts we have presented.
We will never progress to developing brand new concepts without a specific direction from the client after the Logo Concepts Meeting as the process then becomes a gamble.
The time for this part of our process can take anywhere from 1 hour to several days of actual design time depending on the size of the budget. When the process takes several days for larger budget projects, we will often have follow-up meetings to discuss progress and present revisions. This helps to keep the process as efficient as possible.
At this stage, we make the revisions requested by the client which may also include additional variations we may feel work “better”. The client will normally approve the logo or make subtle revisions for final approval. At times when the client has approved the final shape of the logo, we may present alternative colour options based on feedback and our personal thoughts. This may take a couple of short Zoom meetings to pin down.
The time for this part of the process can vary from as little as 30 minutes through to several hours depending on the budget and number of options being worked through.
After we have an approved logo, colours including any alternative designs (such as vertical, stacked or horizontal versions of the logo) we begin creating a set of branding guidelines for the project.
Branding guidelines include the colour breakdowns for both print and digital, the exclusion zone, intended usage of the logo suite, typography, not only of the logo, but also for copy text and headings in other collateral, and may also include minimum size rules (and alternative logo/s if these cannot be met) to maintain legibility, positioning, colour variations along with complementary branding elements e.g. wallpapers, backgrounds and icons.
The branding guidelines document will also display a range of collateral which demonstrates the use of the logo and branding such as business cards and stationery, signs, vehicles, retail spaces, electronic mediums, websites, packaging, uniforms, and advertising collateral.
An example of a Branding Guidelines can be found on our logo design page by clicking this link.
For logo and branding projects with smaller budgets, the branding guidelines is delivered to the client as intended by the designer without alteration. It has no allocation of budget for revisions of the projects demonstrated within. Any revisions or changes which you may desire can easily be adapted when the individual projects are commissioned.
For projects with larger budgets, an allocation of budget may be included in the scope of works to refine these details after review.
The branding guidelines creation component can vary in time taken. Smaller projects take approximately 6-7 hours of design time. Larger projects may take upwards of 40-60 hours depending on the detail and revisions required by the organisation. A larger organisation at this point, will normally appoint us to be involved with the ongoing creation of their brand collateral by way of a retainer package which protects the integrity of the brand’s aesthetic throughout the organisation.
The last part of the project is to output the various logo/s in their different colour options for both digital and print use. These are then saved into their respective folders and delivered along with the Branding Guidelines, by way of digital transfer.
Businesses who engage us to create their logo and branding, generally engage us to design future collateral along with having it printed (stationery through to vehicle wraps, signs, apparel and more). Often, we save clients large amounts by providing the design of items to suit their respective printing budget. For example, we recently saved a client $2500 on a single vehicle wrap by slightly altering the design concept we portrayed in the branding guidelines. Many clients undertake an ongoing retainer relationship with us, enabling them to request design work on a regular basis with an easy to manage monthly cost which aligns with their budget and amount of design work required.
The investment in a quality logo and brand identity project takes considerable time, creativity and experience to deliver the best results. Our logo and brand creation process has been developed over 25 years (and continues to evolve) to provide your business with a unique and effective identity. We believe that a successful logo and brand design project requires these steps to ensure the best result for your organisation.
We have packages available for brand new small businesses right through to government agencies and large organisations. The scope of works will be discussed at length and a proposal will be tailored to suit your requirements.
We look forward to creating a new and exciting logo and brand for you.