Logo design (or redesign) is hard work.
With a website, or a brochure, or almost any other marketing piece, you’ve got a branding guide to start from. Something that’s already established as a basis for the design.
But not when you’re creating a new logo.
You’re literally starting with a blank sheet of paper and a set of ideas, and the possibilities are limitless.
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So whether you’re creating a logo for a client (difficult!) or for your own business (wickedly difficult!), knowing what makes a logo successful is really hard!
Use the following steps as a guide during the design process:
Because you’re starting from scratch, brainstorming is absolutely essential in focusing your logo design efforts.
It’s easy to want to jump straight in to sketching, but you’ve got to narrow down your options, to hone in on general concepts and ideas you like. And equally as important, what elements and “feels” you don’t like.
(Nothing is as crushing at the reveal as hearing that your client specifically doesn’t like the element / color / font you chose and they just forgot to tell you.)
So whether you’re talking to a client or yourself, asking a lot of questions is a vital part of what makes a logo successful.
Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- 55+ Questions to ask when designing a logo
- Take your logo design to the next level with a super brainstorm
- How to create a killer branding questionnaire
This is something I don’t think we talk enough about here at Millo, but research is a critical part of what makes a successful logo.
Know thy self
First, get a sense for how the logo is going to be used.
- Is there a sign near a roadway? What shape is it?
- What does the front of the business look like where the name / logo will be?
- How will their products be packaged? (the same logo that looks great on a narrow glass jar may not work well on a bread bag, for example)
- Will they have promotional items or uniforms with the logo on it?
All of these answers have a huge impact on the size, shape, and complexity of the logo…better to find out now than try to cram your beautiful design into a different shape last minute.
Know thy enemy
Okay, that’s a bit dramatic, but know what your (or your client’s) competitors’ logos look like, as well as what the industry as a whole is doing.
- What colors / imagery / fonts are they using?
- What adjectives would you use to describe their logos?
- What do customers expect their logos to look like?
By sampling logos from competitors and the industry as a whole, you’ll get a deeper understanding of what the “norm” is…and when to adhere to it as well as when to set yourself (or your client) apart.
Example: The vast majority of dentist offices have teeth in their logos, and those who don’t often have smiles.
That doesn’t mean every dentist absolutely must have one of these elements in their logo, but if their sign is right on a major thoroughfare, maybe a tooth is important for immediate recognition.
Yay! We’re to the design part!
Some people prefer to use a good ol’ pencil and paper. Others use a drawing tablet or simply “doodle” in their software of choice.
It doesn’t matter whether or not you have a specific set of fancy pens or a handful of your toddler’s broken crayons: getting ideas on paper (or screen) is very important when it comes to what makes a logo successful.
Because your first ideas are likely mediocre at best. And you’ve got to get all of those out before you get to the really good stuff.
I know it’s in you. You know it’s in you.
But that cliché, seen-on-every-street-corner application is smothering those super-awesome, unique ideas.
So get ’em out of your way by putting them down as possibilities.
Read more on the benefits of sketching here:
- How sketching will take your design process to the next level
- This painful, terrible, amazing exercise forced me to become a better designer
Alright. You’ve got pages of sketches or 20 fonts running amok across your screen.
Now it’s time to take all of those ideas, find the perfect ones based on your creative prowess and the results of your brainstorming earlier, and refine them into serious logo concepts.
Choices! So many choices!
And then the simplification…it’s so hard to whittle down complex ideas into simple, memorable logos, isn’t it? But it’s such a huge part of what makes a logo successful.
Let these posts help you:
- Which fonts work best for brands logos? + how to pick the perfect one
- Designing my own logo: the final design and tips for creating yours
- Sending a clear message in logo design
- 22 logo design mistakes you might be guilty of
Now the scary / exciting part…showing off your logo concepts to your client (or to a confidante if you’re designing for yourself).
Should you explain your design choices? Should you let the design speak for itself? Should you explain to your client what makes a logo successful and what doesn’t?
How many proofs should you present?
Use these posts to guide you:
- Minimize client revisions by pitching your proof like this:
- Why I never explain my designs before revealing them to my client
- What’s the magic number of design proofs your clients get?
- 7 Tips on presenting logos to a client
In your opinion, what makes a logo successful?
Do you have tips, tricks, or steps on what makes a logo successful in your experience? Share them in the comments!
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