Creating a logo is one of the most important steps a company takes in its branding. A good logo, one that is carefully created, drives all other branding decisions and should be one of the first “to dos” in a marketing plan.
A great logo is simultaneously simple and complex. For example, check out what we did for Rock Creek Productions.
The shapes and colors are simple, easily understood, and recognizable, but still meaningful. Every time you look at this logo you’ll notice something different.
At Marstudio we’ve developed a five-step process for logo design.
Step One: The Branding Brief
Our branding brief is approximately 20 questions that we ask clients to answer. The questions range from simple “what logos do you like” to more complex questions about key words and emotions. The words clients use often have associated iconography that we can leverage and use to express the identity of the company.
Step Two: Mood Board
Taking the answers from the client, we create a mood board. The mood board includes colors, fonts, inspirational imagery, other logos, and other images. This helps us get an idea of what we want to design. It’s part of our research process and helps us avoid duplicating what’s out there.
Step Three: Start Sketching
Literally, we open our sketch books and start sketching concepts to see what works. Sometimes we fill a sketch book, sometimes we hit on the right answer in five or six sketches.
Step Four: Viable Concept Execution
We use Illustrator to execute on six or seven concepts. First, we come up with an image or icon and then a typeface. Sometimes we create a new font and sometimes we customize an existing font. Having a unique font is one way to ensure that your logo is unique.
We know that logos today are not two dimensional. You need horizontal and vertical options, and you need to make sure that the logo can be adapted for other uses. Logos aren’t isolated. We think about what might happen for the company in six months to a year. What if the logo needs to be used on shirts or trucks? How will the logo fare? Each one of the options has to have future uses as well. Sometimes we may execute as many as 30-40 concepts. We debate these concepts internally with the goal of having three to present to the client.
Step 5: Presentation Document
Our presentation document provides colors and alternative colors and uses of the logo. Each logo has its own presentation package. We present three concepts because if you present more than three concepts, it becomes too overwhelming to make a decision.
We also use three or four simple visual components to develop each logo concept. To explain that, let’s look at the Marstudio logo:
The red brush stroke represents creativity and print marketing, the eye represents the visual component of marketing, and the @ symbol inside the eye represents the digital aspect of our company. Basically, each logo we create has an elevator pitch built into it. If someone asks a client of ours about their logo, they can easily find out everything they need to know about the company.
Many people mistakenly believe that logo design is as easy as picking an image you like off the web. In reality, logos are an important part of your marketing strategy and if done correctly can help define your identity.