It’s not always easy to call forth creativity, much less brilliance, whenever we’d like, but there are steps you can take to encourage the ideas to keep flowing, and to channel them in the right direction. Following are ten tips dealing specifically with logo design that you may find helpful in conceptualizing images, bringing them from good to better, and better to brilliant.
1. Know the company
Know what they do, and how they want to come across. Being familiar with their industry isn’t enough. One candy manufacturer, for example, may specialize in mass production of holiday gift-boxes sold at discount stores, while another may specialize in gourmet chocolates. The latter might require more refined lines and muted colors than the former, which may benefit from a more vibrant design that screams for attention.
2. Know yourself
meaning your best working style, and how and when you’re at your most creative. If working on the computer kick-starts your creative juices, then go with it. No one’s forcing you to sketch first, and if you do, you may end up with nothing more to show for your hard work than a pile of crumpled paper in the trash. On the other hand, you may prefer to sketch ideas manually, and find that the best software in the world can’t replace the expressive freedom facilitated by pen and paper. Maybe you like to jot evocative words and phrases as you work. Whatever your most productive methods are, be aware of them, and put them to use.
3. A logo should be demonstrative
Make the logo suggestive of the company’s product or service without depicting a literal representation. A dress designer doesn’t need an actual dress as a component of the logo, though a graphic suggestion of a dressmaker’s mannequin might work extremely well. Perhaps designing the logotype, or text, of the designer’s name itself is all that’s needed. A separate mark or symbol can be useful, but isn’t always necessary.
4. Lines and shapes
Consider the types of lines and/or shapes you’ll want to use predominantly for the project. Soft curves or hard angles? Thick or thin? Flowing or rigid? For instance, a legal firm may want to convey that it provides stalwart professional counsel of unquestionable integrity and competency. Sharp angles and clean, solid lines and fonts would most likely be appropriate to suggest these kinds of attributes. That’s not to say you can’t also incorporate a circular aspect as well, but think about the overall impression and make it appropriate to your client.
5. Don’t be cliché
Examine what’s already out there, and rather than following trends, set your own. For example, that stalwart law firm mentioned above doesn’t need a “scales of justice” image in its logo, does it? For one thing, it’s a rather obvious symbol, and for another, it’s been done – over and over again. Unless you’re adding a truly inspired twist to a worn-out concept, start with a fresh approach.
6. Make it simple, yet memorable
You don’t want the logo to be so intricate that it dilutes its own impact, not to mention making it more costly for your client to print. Conversely, you don’t want it so simple that it looks generic. Consider the potential recognition-factor of your design. It should have one prominent feature or quality that draws the eye and distinguishes it from the logo of any other brand.
7. Use clever visual devices
While you want the logo to be striking, a subtle wink can often have as much impact as an overt display. The FedEx logo, for instance, is brilliant because it uses both: bold, solid letters in a recognizable style, along with a subtle arrow formed by the negative space between the “E” and the “x”.
8. Design it using vectors
Speaking of various sizes, use vector software to create the logo, otherwise your well-defined work may become a blurry mess of pixels when your client needs it re-sized. Adobe Illustrator is one of the most popular vector programs, though it costs hundreds of dollars. Those with limited budgets may want to consider Inkscape, a free vector program that gets high marks.
9. Get an objective opinion
Like Rorschach tests, designs are subject to various interpretations, and you may be so close to the project that you miss certain aspects others will be able to see.
10. Test it out
Look at the logo from different angles and distances, and print it in different sizes. Turn it on its side and upside down, to get a clearer take on the balance. Visualize how it would look huge, as on a truck, versus small, as on a business card.
The disciplines of the process, along with your client’s needs, provide the structure in your playground, but there’s still plenty of room to run. Explore it, climb around, and have fun. It’s through that creative energy that pure brilliance can emerge.