Professional Logo Design Process – 10 Steps for Branding Clients

Professional Logo Design Process – 10 Steps for Branding Clients

Table of Contents

 

This in-depth article showcases our Logo Design Process for Graphic Design and Branding projects with clients, in a step-by-step guide.

Although every project is different regarding scope, style and industry, the design process itself tends to remain the fairly consistent.

In the simplest terms, it comes down to understanding the client’s needs through questions and research, creating and developing the concepts, finally discussing and expanding the design into all the forms the client may need to get up and running.

If you want to jump to any of the specific logo design process stages to learn more, use the navigation links above in the table of contents.

Otherwise, let us begin.

 

Part One – Initial Graphic Design Process Steps

 

inkbot-design-branding-process-belfast

 

1.0 – Construct the Creative Design Brief

 

The first step in any professional design project is to build a creative design brief.

To understand the client and their needs, we must ask questions and develop a clear understanding of their business, their industry and the issues they have been having.

This initial phase of the graphic design process stages can be completed however the client is most comfortable – be it over the phone, in person, using an online design questionnaire or simply via email.

Ultimately, the purpose of the design brief is to help the designer understand the project, so the more they know, the better they can communicate through the initial design concepts.

 

1.1 – What is a Creative Design Brief?

 

A creative design brief is a document intended for a design or development project, created during a consultation between the client and the designer.

In our case, it is a set of around 20 questions and takes approximately one hour to complete in full. The more complete the answers, the better we can communicate through the design concepts – so we advise clients to spend time in completing it.

 

1.2 – What Questions do we ask Clients?

 

The logo and branding questionnaire we use is broken down into several key areas:

– About Your Business – What does your business/product do? What problem do you solve for your customers? What about your background, product or service sets you apart from your competitors?
– About Your Customers – Describe your ideal client, What is the primary message you want to convey to your customers?
– About the Project – If you have an existing brand/identity, why isn’t it working for you? Please share three links of Brands/Logos that inspire you. What do you like best about them? Using five adjectives or short phrases, describe your brand’s desired look and feel.

 

logo-design-process-branding-agency-steps

 

2.0 – Research & Discovery Phase

 

Once the answers to the questionnaire are complete, we will go through and build up a solid base to work from moving forwards.

Further questions may arise, which can be discussed so we best can understand the project before getting started.

 

2.1 – Client Discovery

 

We look into the existing business (unless it is a brand new startup) and try to uncover where they are at currently, in regards to Branding overall.

There may be facets of their business that had not been mentioned in the initial consultation, but the key point to client discovery is to understand their issues further to provide the best solution possible.

Often, the client may not know ‘why’ their brand is struggling, but to an expert brand consultant, looking to their current setup may provide meaningful answers in the graphic design process.

 

2.2 – Industry Discovery

 

Working in so many varied industries, learning about the particular ’niche’ the client resides in is always important.

We look at their competitors to see what they are doing – if they are doing well, we consider what they are doing right.

If they are doing things badly, we can quickly know what to avoid to help our clients succeed.

 

2.3 – Primary Research – Qualitative Research & Quantitative Research

 

For more comprehensive Brand Identity design process, we delve deeper into the research levels of the Brand in question through Qualitative and Quantitative research methods.

Naturally, this takes a lot of time, so the lower priced logo design packages will tend to skip over this part.

Qualitative Research is primarily exploratory research.

We use it to discover reasons, opinions, and motivations – it provides insights into the overall problem.

Qualitative Research is also used to uncover trends in thought and opinion.

Quantitative Research is used to quantify the problem by way of generating numerical data that can be formatted into useable statistics.

It is used to quantify attitude, opinion, behaviour, and other defined variables – and generalise results from a larger sample population.

Quantitative Research uses measurable data to formulate facts and uncover patterns in research.

 

2.4 – Secondary Research

 

If possible, we will delve deeper into the client’s existing Brand Identity, looking into their existing Brand collateral such as reports, stationery and of course the website.

 

Part Two – The Logo Design Process Steps

 

Design-Process-Sketchbook-Logos

 

3.0 – Logo Sketches & Brainstorming

 

Every great logo design starts with a sketch.

Be it a doodle on a napkin, or a carefully crafted pen crafted illustration – every project starts with on paper.

Often sketching or doodling client’s with a rough brainstorming session, usually visual in nature.

 

3.1 – Mood boards and Reference Imagery

 

Mood boards and reference imagery are collected from the start, occasionally with assistance from the client who has sent over images that portray the look or feel of what they want communicating in the logo design.

It can be hard to describe ’themes’ or colours in words, so we recommend the client send us over some visual inspiration if they can.

 

3.2 – Quick Sketches and Basic Forms

 

From the very first sketch in the notepad, there may be visual iconography or shapes that are appealing, and worthy of development.

At this stage, we may move to grid paper or dotted paper, redrawing and enlarging the original design, and refining with a pen for the next step.

 

3.3 – Refining the Logo with Gridlines

 

Further development of the logo sketches may take the form of grids and lines being drawn to balance and align things correctly.

Even organic shapes can be improved with a constructed grid, be it how the logomark could potentially sit alongside the logotype.

 

Logo-Designing-Process-Stages

 

4.0 – Conceptualisation

 

Although conceptualisation can be defined as ’the forming of a concept’, at this point in the logo design process for clients, it is more a case of refining an idea further, by way of getting onto a computer.

The ‘idea’ is given a new viewpoint, when it can be viewed on a screen, allowing for us to observe any immediate concerns that may have been overlooked in the sketch.

 

4.1 – Creating Digital Versions from the Sketchbook

 

Working either with a scanner or recreating manually in Adobe Illustrator, the primary forms will be digitally constructed.

Having digital versions allows for quick amendments, adjustments and the ability to efficiently fine-tune the designs.

 

4.2 – Exploration in Monotone

 

Before colours are applied to any design, consideration of the logo must be taken in monotone black and white shades.

These are the extremes of colour, light and tone.

We see a lot of poorly created logo designs where the designer did not worry about how the logo would look in black and white.

Even though ‘fax’ as a medium is dying out, a great logo design must have the ability to look good in any format, in any output.

 

4.3 – Creating a Logotype

 

Once we have some rough ideas to work with for the logomark, we will start to think about how the company name will be represented through the logotype.

We will have a general idea of the style of typeface we are looking for, such as a contemporary sans-serif or old style serif, but finding the perfect font for the job involves browsing through an extensive font library we have collected.

If we want to be communicated find anything that fits the bill, a stylistically ‘close’ font may be customised to fit the needs of the project.

This can be advantageous, as it further creates a unique quality to the Brand, however, expanding this out to a bespoke font may add to the costs involved.

 

4.4 – Pulling it all together

 

Once we have a handful of typefaces that are appropriate to the Brand, we will explore how they look side-by-side with the logomark symbols created previously.

Several chosen colour palettes will be integrated into the design, to see what feels like the strongest approach.

Ultimately, this part of the logo design process stages involves many comparison prints where they can be considered on one page.

 

Professional logo design process

 

5.0 – Refinement & Client Presentation

 

At this juncture, the strongest logo concepts will be collated into a client presentation document.

We will show how the logo looks on various background colours, at different scales and alongside some logo mockups, such as a rendering of the design on a uniform or vehicle wraps.

This helps the client visualise their logo in a ‘real world’ setting, rather than just central on a page.

 

5.1 – Colour Scheme Exploration

 

Other alternative colour schemes may be presented to the client at this stage, again, to help visualise the potential of the concept.

As we said before, colour is very subjective, and a simple shift of hue can make the world of difference.

Maybe one of the red tones is quite vivid or a tone too light, we can show some quick alternatives to suit every eye.

 

5.2 – Future-proofing Adaptability

 

Consideration of ‘how’ the logo may know in future is taken, for we believe a logo should be timeless, rather than create issues down the line, or appear dated in just a few years.

 

5.3 – Creating Digital Mockups

 

Showing how a concept could look in real life if the client were to use it on a shirt, for example, can help them see the idea itself over the visual aesthetic.

It always impresses too, so we spend some time ensuring appropriate mockups are included.

 

5.4 – Logo Design Presentation to Client

 

The initial logo design presentation is exported to a secure PDF format, allowing them to view on screen or print out.

Printing is always recommended as their monitor may not show colours accurately, and the embedded print profiles allow for a more accurate representation.

Each concept has its PDF, ranging from 5-10+ pages depending on the scope of the project.

 

Logo-Design-Process-Branding-Agency-Belfast

 

6.0 – Feedback & Consultation

 

We advise clients to at least spend a few days, to a week, with the initial concepts, although first impressions are always worth noting.

Print them out, stick them around the house or office and let the eye be drawn to them randomly, and naturally, as any real life viewer may do when encountering the Brand.

Get feedback from trusted friends and family, including any current employees who of course will understand the Brand through their involvement.

Even if there are mixed opinions, all are valid and provide direction that allows us to improve anything that may be needed.

After that, a meeting can be arranged, or feedback can be provided via email to move forwards.

Occasionally, we will have more questions at this stage to further extract detailed feedback from the client.

 

6.1 – Discuss Logo Concepts with Client

 

We will spend some time discussing the concepts with the customer to gauge feedback.

The discussion may take no time at all, if the client has found one of the concepts to be perfect, to several hours if they have any uncertainties or questions that need clarifying.

It is all part of a professional graphic design process!

 

6.2 – Advise and Provide Guidance on Selection

 

Normally, when we present initial concepts to clients, we will have a view on the ’strongest’ idea from the start, and showing the client these inherent qualities is often part of the discussion.

 

6.3 – Discuss Potential Developments the Client would like to see

 

Development varies considerably between projects, but overall, it is easier to develop the aesthetic side as supposed to the conceptual.

Aspects such as an alternate colour scheme or typeface can change the ‘look’, but the significance or meaning behind a logo is much harder to modify.

 

7.0 – Concept Developments

 

Based on the feedback and discussion with the client, we will look into developing and tweaking a chosen concept.

This may be minor changes to the colour scheme, looking at different layouts, or presenting some alternative typefaces for consideration.

In almost every case, one concept will be perfect for the client, but on occasion, we have had to go down two chosen routes where a client simply cannot decide.

Usually, at this point, only one or two development cycles are needed, as it comes down to a colour or style element.

 

8.0 – Completed Graphic Design Presentation

 

Similar to the initial concepts presentation, this stage involves a more focused approach, where one concept has been fully fleshed out.

Further mockups, and realised stationery or business cards could be presented as the next logical step.

 

Part Three: The Branding Process Steps

 

Design-Process-Sketchbook-Logos

 

9.0 – Expansion to Brand Collateral

 

Once the final logo design has been signed off, providing that is not the end of the project based on the client’s needs.

We can move to expand the logo onto the further branding process steps.

As mentioned before, a typical example is the company stationery.

Everything from the letterheads to the business cards or marketing materials can be created.

 

9.1 – Create Branded Stationery based on the Final Logo Design

 

Based on the physical location of the client, consideration has to be made of the local stationery dimensions.

A letterhead to a UK printer is very much different to that of a US-based printer.

We have created several templates that suit the global location of the customer, so it is just a case of working build the specific layouts.

 

9.2 – Expand the Branding onto Social Media Elements

 

different and we ensure clients are thinking about that through creating their social media design.

From the social network profile images to the banners and headers, current dimensions are used to ensure everything looks perfect for the big reveal of the new Brand Identity to the world.

 

9.3 – Provide any Further Brand Collateral Required – Vehicle Wraps, Signage, etc.

 

This step in the Graphic Design process is always individual to the client, as not every business would need external signage for example.

If you run a gym, you may need to be Branded with uniforms, or if you own a car salesroom, vehicle wraps may be the better fit.

 

Branding-process-of-Inkbot-Design-Belfast

 

10.0 – Final Files, Delivery & Support

 

Everything is created in Adobe Illustrator, in vector form and can be exported to any format required.

The standard files consist of: .AI (for future editing if desired), .EPS / .PDF (for printing), .JPEG (for viewing) and .PNG (with a transparent background for web use).

The Vector file formats allow for the maximum range of output because you can scale the size without a loss of quality or sharpness.

This means that the same logo design that looks great on a business card will also look perfect on a billboard.

 

10.1 – Export all Final Files and Organise

 

The final files for a project will be neatly arranged so that the files are clear where they are to be used.

All the appropriate formats and layouts are included, along with monotone black and white versions for varied usage backgrounds.

If there is any ‘layout’ design, such as brochures or marketing flyers, files will be packaged in InDesign to include the images and fonts used, where applicable.

 

10.2 – Create Brand Guidelines Document

 

Brand Guidelines are just the ‘rues’ of how the Brand is to be presented to the world.

They can be passed along to a web developer who can see the exact colour values quickly to be used on the website, and what fonts are to be utilised in the content.

Similarly, these guidelines can be sent to a printer to ensure maximum accuracy when the documents are printed, through Pantone colour values.

 

10.3 – Send ZIP to Client and Archive in Dropbox

 

Everything is zipped up and emailed to the customer, CC’ing any additional employees that may need access to the original files.

We then permanently archive the ZIP file into our Dropbox, allowing the client to have a backup should they misplace the designs.

 

10.4 – Ensure Client Understands all Final Files and give Usage Instructions

 

We want to make sure the client knows how to use the designs they have paid us for, so we are on hand to provide immediate assistance or to answer any questions they may have, at any point in the future.

 

Further notes on Our Logo Design Process Steps for Branding Clients

 

As mentioned above, every project is truly different, that is one of the most enjoyable parts of being a Branding Agency.

Therefore, not every project will pass through every step above, instead of skipping anything that the client may not have the budget for.

For example, if they are just looking for a professional logo design for their startup, it may not be sensible to allocate significant budget into further Branding process steps.

They may have already completed market research themselves, so that can be passed along to us, which means we can proceed to the next stage with the work already done.

The above Graphic Design process for clients Logos and Branding can be used as a template to work from if you wished to create your own Brand Identity, although we do of course advise working with an expert.

Hopefully, that helps, if you have any questions about our professional design process for creating successful Brands, get in touch today!

 

 


If you wish to discuss how we can develop your brand or provide graphic design for your product or business, email us at: [email protected]

Inkbot Design is a Creative Branding Agency that is passionate about effective Graphic Design, Brand Identity, Logos and Web Design.

T: @inkbotdesign F: /inkbotdesign


 

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10 Comments on "Professional Logo Design Process – 10 Steps for Branding Clients"

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mar-shar
mar-shar

My problem in logo design is that I don’t make a lot sketches, specially when the client need it after one or two days. Just 3 or 4 sketches design, and when I have a good one I focus on it to make it better. But this way don’t work all time.
The second problem is how to choose the best color and which tone exactly?
Thanks 🙂

Stuart
I feel sketching to be very important, if not essential. It helps to quickly get a lot of visual & conceptual ideas down on paper, even if it’s very rough. I would say 3-4 sketches isn’t enough (for me) as I like to spend a good few hours doodling and jotting down concepts. Colour and tone should not really come into the design until further down the line – all my sketches and initial ideas are done in greyscale so the focus is upon the logomark. Sometimes clients have a colour they would like to see, so I will use… Read more »
mar-shar
mar-shar

BIG thanks

Alannah
Alannah
I found this article via google alerts – I can see why it was a top hit for ‘logo & brand identity’. I have been trying to define what it is I specialise in and what it is I want to share with my audience for almost 10 years now, I’ve taken a break from the paid creative to focus on family, but this has really sparked the passion to get back in the game – the process outlined here is spot on – and you’ve really articulated brilliantly so that there really isn’t room for confusion when it comes… Read more »
Fiona
Fiona

Thank you for sharing this – so helpful and much appreciated !

Rosanne Simon

Good to see how another designer creates visual identities and/or logos. I have the same steps more or less in the process. I research a lot, and the visual identity has to work first in black and white before adding colours.

Lynn O'Connell
Lynn O'Connell

The free form sketching step is critical! Not to show my age, but I find that some designers jump to the computer too quickly. Once you’ve spent the time to create the actual graphic, it is easy to get “stuck” on your first few concepts. It doesn’t matter whether you’re good at free form drawing or not… just doodle/outline and let your brain play with the concept. You don’t have to worry about perfection because no one else has to see them. Just give yourself time to focus on the concept before you worry about production.

Noel Fernandez
Noel Fernandez

Thank you Stuart. This article really helped me a lot in my identity and logo design process especially in sketching and doodling. I often miss those parts. Thanks for reminding. 🙂

Syed Furqan Hussain Bukhari

Thanks for explaining the whole logo designing process i appreciate!

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