Tuesday, December 7, 2010

5 Steps to the Birth of a Logo

I actually wanted to name the title "5 Steps to the Birth of a Brand", but unfortunately people still don't know the difference and that's why I'm writing today's post. You may be thinking it's time to invest in your brand and have a designer create your logo. Or perhaps you have a logo, but want to give it a good face lift. Well, I'm going to take you through the steps of such a process and hopefully create some converts. Let's face it, logo design is a big investment and some see it as one that is over priced. After all you're not a huge corporation. But success isn't measured in big or small. Size only matters in your way of thinking.

Logo design should run between $800 - $1000 (designer's prices will vary). Some people are cringing right now, but when you see what it takes to design a logo, you'll see why the price is more than reasonable. But first, I wanted to break down the difference between a logo, identity and brand. A fellow designer, Jacob Cass, put it best, so I won't try to reinvent the wheel.

Logo: Identifies a business in its simplest form via the use of a mark or icon.
Think of the Nike swoosh, McDonald's golden arches or the Apple icon.

Identity: The
visual aspects that form part of the overall brand.
Examples would be your business card, letterhead, env
elope and, of course, your website.

Brand: The perceived
emotional corporate image as a whole.
Think about what Apple has instilled in it's consumers through their marketing and advertising efforts and that will give you a clue as to how consumers can have an emotional tie with a brand. Those long lines for the iPhone aren't for nothing.

So, now we can move onto the birth of a logo in 5 steps. And it starts with you, the client. I'll be using my current client, Reach for the Stars, a non-profit after school and jump start program as my example.

1. Research: No job can start until you know the most important aspects of a company's background, and it can start with a quick questionnaire with questions like, "What is the reason you want a logo at this time?" or "How do you want to be perceived by your clients or customers?" The answers help me to see if you, the client, are committed to the project and how to best serve you. Once I am officially hired, I then start doing
the real research. This means taking 2-3 hours of research on what your competitors are doing and what routes they've taken that have worked or haven't worked.

2. Sketching: Yes, the thing you love to see me do here for fun is actually a tool. I spend a few hours sketching ideas for your logo at a coffee shop, bookstore or somewhere tied to the industry your logo is associated with . This is where the research infl
uences the rough ideas. Some work and some don't, but a good designer will take this efficient step to better process his or her ideas. Plus, it's fun!

3: Design: Once some solid ideas have been created, I begin to design your logo using Adobe Illustrator, which is the go-to program of choice. Because I've taken the time to first sketch my ideas, it's a breeze to bring 3 different comps (design samples) to life. These 3 comps will be different, but will live in the same design family that I've chosen for you.

4. Presentation: Now it's time for the big unveiling! This is the best and most scary part of the job. Will you like all three? Will you like one the most? Or not like any of them? In the case of Reach for the Stars, the Director felt strongly about comp 1 and 2. And after much consideration, comp 1 was the winner, with a few revisions. Speaking of revisions, an experienced designer will work a number of r
evisions into the price of the logo. In this case, we had 3 to work with, but only 2 were used. This saves time and money. Realize though, that as the designer, I make the choices based on experience and advise. You're feedback is always considered, but I ask that you trust me if I don't always agree.

5. Finalization: After hearing your feedback and making some revisions, your logo is ready! But you're not done yet. We can start talki
ng about your identity, website and overall brand strategy, but for now, your logo is born. The rest of its life is in your hands and in the hands of the designer you choose to assist you so make sure you like your designer and that he or she works with you. Take a look at this before and after.

I hope this has helped you see the huge benefit of a logo for your business. This particular process took almost a month to complete (time varies). It's definitely an investment, but one that will help to ensure your success. When it comes to branding I always say two things:

It's not what you see, but what you make others see.

In business, you want to be the needle in the haystack, never the haystack.

If you have any questions at all, please feel free to ask or email me at dsalvatier [at] gmail.com. Thanks for reading!



Brad Johnson said...

What happened to the sketches? Haha jk. This is a great post dude. Seriously, if you don't get some gigs from this post it'll be stupid. if I needed a logo, I'd hire you!

Rob BErman said...

Great to see you moved you blog to your website. I think the three definitions early in your post set the right tone. Having worked with a designer on a logo I think your process is right on. You have shown how easy it can be to work with you. Definitely a bonus.


Tanoshiboy said...

@Brad Thanks? haha. No, really. Thank you. :)

@Rob That's great to hear that this lines up with your experience, Rob. And thank you!

jpaladino@writespeaksell.c said...

Excellent post. From a writer's perspective, we go through a similar process. A simple brand statement could take hours to write but a client says "Wow, all that time and money?!". You can define terms like brand and positioning in different ways. The way I define it, a brand is what a company wishes to be known for. It's an inside out view. Positioning is how a brand is perceived by your targets. It's an outside in view. The goal is to get your brand and positioning in alignment.

Tanoshiboy said...

I definitely would agree with your last statement. In the end a logo or a website isn't the answer to success, but simply, tools that when brought together, can create something special.

TJ Lubrano said...

Very interesting and it makes total sense. There are quite a few steps that are hidden for others, but necessary for the designer to go through. Clients tend to forget this.

Posts like this definitely help me to get a better feel on things are done in the design/illustration world and I can fine tune my own prices as well. I can definitely use a few of your tips for my own logo design!

Thanks for sharing!

Tanoshiboy said...

I'm glad this will help you. And that's what this is all about. Educating. You know where to find me. :)

Inmar said...

I really like this post man, to be honest I had opened it at work and tried to read it in between adjustment to something I'm working on. But i didn't get to really enjoy your narration of the process till I stopped and read it in it's entirety. Even helped me a bit, thanks bud.

Inmar said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
the Citizen Rosebud said...

It's not what you see, but what you make others see.- what a great quote.

good post. definitely loosens up my imagination on what I'd want a logo to be.

Tanoshiboy said...

@Inmar Glad it helped, man. Thanks!

@Bella That's great to hear. Thanks!

Susan Oakes said...

Good points Dennis. I would add that the client actually needs to provide their positioning which is based on the knowledge of their customers and competitors, rather than leave it up to a designer. I have always seen positioning based on this knowledge as how you want to be perceived by your customers.

Also one thing I liked when working with a designer was thinking about the brand's personality which needs to be reflected in the identity.

To be honest I have paid more for logos and it has been money well spent as if you get your brand identity right then it makes life a lot easier.

Tanoshiboy said...

@Susan You'd be surprised how many times I run into a situation where the client hasn't done any research on their competitors. That's why I do it whether they know it or not. One thing I would add to your statement about injecting personality into a brand is that it varies on the brand. Some lend themselves very well, to it, but other times I find clients want the logo to be about them and not their business. That's when it gets a little hairy for me.

Susan Oakes said...

I know what you mean Dennis. I do some workshops and always I get people saying they have never thought about doing research on their competitors. To be honest I am amazed as that is one one the fundamentals.

Regarding personality I had not considered this and I think this is a worry.

Keyuri Joshi (on the ball parent coach) said...

Dennis, I really appreciate this post as it gives us a great appreciation of your work at every step. The logo is the first of vital steps to create a brand and I remember creating mine in a painstaking process. If only I knew you then! Regarding price... you are worth yours. I once heard this story: A lady gets a drawing from Picasso on the street corner. He draws it in 2 minutes and charges her a thousand dollars. She says "but it only took you two minutes!!". Picasso says, "no my dear, it took me a lifetime"!

Kate F. Eaton said...

Excellent, Dennis! I admit to being seriously ignorant of the design side of things. This post made it very clear the value you add to the client's logo and overall branding each step of the way. Appreciate the new bytes of knowledge.

Fran said...

Hi Dennis:

wonderful post and wonderful work.

You are right the kind of logo you are talking about should take minimum of $700 to star.

Dennis i belong to the world that pays $40 to a logo.

But I know you are an elite artist and your kind of rates are right for you.

Keep up the good work and reach where you belong.

Best wishes for you
fran A

Tanoshiboy said...

@Susan I'm curious about what worries you specifically?

@Keyuri The funny thing is I use a variation of that Picasso story at least 6 times a year. Because people just don't get the value that comes from this level of design work. Thank you.

Tanoshiboy said...

@kate I am here to educate. :)

@Fran Thank you, Fran. I want to mention something that I hope you do not take offense in, but this is in the spirit of education. What people who charge $40 for a logo provide is comps that just didn't make it. Glorified clip art. There is no research, there is no time take to design a logo that will encapsulate everything that you want to convey in a single image. They simply rework logos that have been sitting there for God knows how long and they present the very least of what they have to offer. The worst part of this joke? They turnaround and sell it to someone else slightly different, but still your logo. I pride myself on being able to work with people's budgets because I believe I was put on this Earth to use my talent to serve others. I charge a fair price for a hard days work. And this post was not a commercial but a simple way to help others and in a weird way, help myself. Because my hope is that I and all the other real designers out there will one day never have to tell the Picasso story or something like it again.

David Fisher said...

Great article. I never knew so much went into the design of a logo so mission accomplished. I'm not longer ignorant. Really like the logo too.

Martha Giffen said...

Good post! I have really been lax in this area. Not sure why, just haven't focused on it. Your post makes me understand how important it is. Thanks!

New Internet Horizons for Small Businesses said...

Great insights into the design of a logo and the importance of one. And yet, here I sit with a really crappy one :( but I hear that the shoe-maker's shoes have holes in them. That is my story and I am sticking to it!

Thanks for sharing!

patweber2004 said...

Great post. My own company logo went through this kind of process - twice - in 1990. It fit my brand and position. Your post helped me realize, sadly, a new logo needs to be a priority for me in 2011. Thanks for the easy step-by-step which led to the reminder!

Catarina Alexon said...

Great post Dennis. Would also have chosen the first option.

The company I worked for in Saudi Arabia had an ugly logo. But it was still a logo and known. Asked a few advertising agencies to do mock ups of a broshure for me. One of them made a new logo (!) without being asked. On top of it, on the cover he had a hand with a diamond in it to symbolize what a great company it was...

Susan Oakes said...

Hi Dennis,

Just saw your question. What I meant was if they want the logo about them and their personality and have not given thought to longer term issues then they may find the logo may need changing instead of being able to evolve.

Dennis Salvatier said...

@Martha For most people it's about money. That's why you really have to look at this as an investment and not an expense. You still get the tax right off. :)

@Julie Not for long. :)

@Pat Happy to help!

@Catarina How nice of him to give you something like that.

@Susan That makes sense. Yes, I agree. Evolving is a great way of putting it.

Heather Fonseca said...

I so cannot wait for you to design my logo! This was a great post, really informative. My design work is almost the same: research, quick sketch, finished sketch, review, revisions, final illustration/design. I wonder if it's like that for every design project?


Dennis Salvatier said...

I can't wait either, Heather. :)

Abz said...

Informative, and really makes me feel great being a designer. ;) Check out my work- and hopefully follow me too! haha...


Ken said...

Nice post, Dennis. This should enlighten other designers a bit more of how it's done. Plus that comparison among 'logo,' 'brand,' and 'identity' is just a nice enricher in the head of creatives who should now be able to use the terms more confidently :)

Dennis Salvatier said...

Thanks, Ken. I thought so too. :) I'm here to help.

Lewis N. Clark said...

I actually wanted to name the title "5 Steps to the Birth of a Brand", but unfortunately people still don't know the difference and that's why I'm writing today's post. logo design

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