When you’re starting out in biz, there can be 1001 things to do in order to launch your beautiful creation out into the world.
Developing a custom, on-brand logo will most likely fall pretty close to the top of that list.
But, where to start?
To answer that question we called on marketing and branding maven Elle Lynn, of JuJu Creative Hub, who (oh-so-generously) took us through a step-by-step process and all the questions to ask in order to create a timeless and relevant logo that turns heads and cuts through a crowded market space.
From writing your design brief, to knowing your competition, hiring your designer, DIY, mood boarding, colours and fonts, here’s what Elle wants you to know about creating a killer logo for your biz!
Too often new business owners fall into the trap of simply calling up a designer —usually in a panic —and uttering something to the beat of, “Help! My website is going live in a week and I need a logo!”
Or, “Can you put together a design that looks like this? I’ll need it back in 48 hours. Thanks!”
But the truth is, creating your logo (and getting it right) is about much more than great design work.
It’s about strategy.
Don’t worry, though. It’s not all suits and boardrooms. In fact, the strategic process of branding your business can actually be quite fun and will put you on the right foot moving forward.
Here are the steps you should take:
Before you even begin to look for a graphic designer, or design anything yourself (if you’re the creative, DIY type), it’s important to get clear on your design brief.
Without getting too bogged down in the paperwork, try asking yourself the following:
First and foremost, you need to understand why you’re in business. It may seem strange for a logo design, but getting crystal clear on your ‘why’ will help you ensure that every step in your business takes you closer to your ultimate goal.
Developing a simple one or two sentence statement that describes who you are, what you do and who you’re in business to serve will also help get any graphic designers you choose to hire on board with your ‘big idea’ — quickly and with ease.
Your logo is going to be one of the most recognisable aspects of your brand — the thing your customer recognises any product you produce as being uniquely yours. So, it’s important you know how you want your audience to feel when they first come across your product, service or blog. Brainstorm a few of those ‘feeling’ words as a starting point. Then try expanding them a bit further. One of my favourite activities for generating feeling words is to search for them on Pinterest. Pinterest can give you a broader perspective of other words that relate to your own feeling words.
For example, a quick Pinterest search showed me that people relate the word ‘empowered’ to the following feelings:
Connected, loved, abundant, liberated, leadership, strong, courage, dignity.
Conducting a little ‘guerrilla’ target market research will not only help you know where your business or blog sits in the market, but also allows you to really hone in on exactly who you’re in business to serve.
Join Facebook groups where your potential audience hangs out, follow the brands they love on social media and attend events they’re attending. Get to know every facet of them and the brands or blogs they love. You can use your target market research to form a profile of who your audience is and what they like. These elements should be taken into consideration when heading into the design phase of building your brand’s logo.
Don’t get me wrong, I want to say this upfront – be sure to keep your own originality front and centre when designing your logo. However, taking a look at both your direct competitors and brands that your potential audience already engages with can help you to decipher exactly where you want to be positioned in the market.
What is it that draws you in with their logo?
What are they doing that you love?
What are they doing that you don’t care for?
What could they do better?
What are they knocking out of the park?
Knowing the elements you do and do not wish to bring into your logo design will ensure your logo design process has a clear what-to-include and what-not-to-include.
After you’ve worked through the ins and outs of what your brand stands for, who your customers are and what they are attracted to, it’s time to decide whether you’ll attempt to design your new logo yourself, or find a designer to help you out. Here are my tips for working this out:
Most of the time, the answer to this question will be defined by your budget. So set aside some time to work out how much time, energy and cash you have to devote to developing your logo.
Remember to weigh up the amount of time you may have to spend on it, realising that the time and energy you’re putting into the design development may be better spent on other aspects of your business.
If you’ve decided you have the budget to outsource the design work, you need to consider whether you need someone to help you come up with the strategic brand elements with you, or simply put together the design for you.
– Brand Strategist:
A Brand Strategist should be able to help you outline your ideal audience and develop the story that needs to be told through your logo design. They’ll usually have a more holistic approach to the design, considering all aspects of where the visual elements of your brand — including your logo — will be seen. They’ll either complete the design themselves, or will be able to help you develop a clear design brief to take to your graphic designer.
Some graphic designers may walk through the strategic branding elements with you, but others are specifically designers. So, first and foremost, have a chat with your potential designers and ask them about their ‘process’. Some questions to consider when interviewing your designers are:
How do they like to work? Face-to-face, online, email only?
What are their time frames for the turn around of a finalised logo?
How many changes can be made to the final design?
Will I have creative input – or is it purely their strategic/creative design that comes to life?
Do they offer one final logo, or do they offer multiple concepts where one then gets finalised?
How much does it cost?
Can I see previous logos they’ve done (and preferably the design brief too)?
There is no wrong or right answer when it comes to working with a designer or brand strategist, but you need to ask questions to determine whether you’ll be a great fit together. I would definitely suggest interviewing multiple potential designers!
If your budget doesn’t allow for the hiring of a designer, or you’re equipped with the tools and know-how to do it yourself, then it’s important to set yourself some clear guidelines around what you’re trying to achieve.
Set yourself timelines to get the job done. It’s pretty easy to get lost down the rabbit hole of constantly tweaking your logo. Ensure that you also factor in some ‘breathing’ room — some time away from your design to think about your brand elements before coming back to it to see if it needs some changes.
Be sure to get feedback from your target audience and ask for feedback on what they think your logo says about your business or blog. Ensure there is incentive for them to provide honest and constructive feedback, so you’ll probably want to bench your friends and loved-ones from this part of the creative business process.
Consider where your logo will be seen
Probably the most important element that should be taken into consideration before you start to put pen to paper on your new logo design, is a list of all the places where your logo will be seen.
If it’s online, you need to consider certain colour combinations that are only visually appealing on the web, and similarly, with print.
As for the layout of your logo, this will be affected by where you’ll place it in social media graphics, on packaging or on your business card.
Jot down a list of all the possible places that your logo will need to be displayed, and a brief outline of the size of the workspace (dimensions). From this, you’ll need to consider:
The shape of your logo. Rectangular? Circular? Square?
Or, perhaps you’ll have multiple versions of your logo for different applications.
As I mentioned earlier, taking your key ‘feeling’ words and searching for them on Pinterest will bring up a host of like-minded ideas and visuals. Try and use these words as the basis for building a vision or mood board. Always keep in mind that you’re trying to design a logo that attracts your ideal client, while allowing you to stand out from the crowd. So, cull any images that scream “status quo!” for your industry or are specific to your own likes and interests.
Colour is an enormous element of your brand and should help your logo to portray the key messages of your business. Brainstorm some colours that will help facilitate the particular feelings you’re trying to convey to your audience.
Conduct some research — good ol’ Google can help you out with this — on the psychology of these colours and how that relates to your business.
I always start my logo designs off in black and white, before integrating colour. The reason is you want your logo to stand out from the crowd regardless of the colour. While colour will add elements to your brand, your logo should still be unique and tell your story — even when it’s printed in plain ol’ black and white.
Most logos, or forms of a logo, will include some text with the business name on it. As with colours, certain fonts can help portray certain feelings or position your brand within a particular market.
For example, if you’re creating a cutting-edge brand, you’re not likely to intrigue your target audience if you’re using a standard cursive script font. Again, there are plenty of resources on the web to help you determine which fonts are suited to your brand.
Above all, when choosing your fonts, ensure your font is legible. There’s nothing worse than a gorgeous logo with hard-to-read business name information!