This blog post is for anyone who wonders what I do all day... especially my fiancé, who to this day is convinced computers do all the designing and all graphic designers do is drink tea, trawl Buzzfeed and go on snowboarding holidays.
When designing a logo, I start the day the same way everyone else does with two hours of Tai Chi, some improvised jazz and a few chapters of my leather bound Lord of the Rings first edition. I'll then go for a five mile hike across the Norfolk Broads before settling in at my desk and checking my emails.
Well one of the above is true... maybe two...
The life of a logo starts with a chat.
My new client and I will jump on Skype, meet at their place of work or in Norwich City centre for a latte and a chat. We'll fire some ideas around and I'll be listening out for some key points. To get this right, I'll need to understand what they are trying to achieve and I can only do that by paying attention and asking questions.
After the chat, I'll send out a questionnaire. This simple little document asks all manner of seemingly unimportant questions, but does become my bible. It's the details which this simple Q&A reveals that can make all the difference and allows me to evolve a concept into a logo.
By now I will understand my client’s values, their customers and most important of all, I should have an idea of their identity.
Next comes the brief
The brief is often an ill named document and I've seen some half a hundred pages long with separate chapters and pages and pages dedicated to adjectives. The brief is the crux of what I do and if the initial chat and questionnaire have gone well it will be concise and succinct. Once it's signed off I can get the cauldron on the boil.
The research stage is next
I'm just throwing this out here, and I don't mean to speak ill of my profession, but there's a reason that folks think we spend all our time drinking margaritas in the company ball pond. There are too many chancers out there with a mac book pro, a pirate version of Photoshop and a listing somewhere on Google that tells people they are a graphic designer.
The truth is there is an art to what I do, it's a skill I've learned and I work hard at, and one of the first things I do... is the leg work. It never ceases to amaze me the amount of 'graphic designers' who'll just knock out a quick logo without so much as a glance at their clients competition...
Research is an essential part of what I do. I need to understand my client, their market and their competitors. I need to know who's doing what and why. Before I put pen to paper, I need to put finger on mouse and I need to pull that finger out.
Once I've established who's who and what they do, I can begin to help my client stand out.
Sketchy . . .
Here's where I get my favourite pens out, and yes, I do enjoy the feeling of fresh paper and the smell of felt tip pen. I'll spend the morning sketching ideas. By the time I'm ready for my mid morning tea, I'll be covered in black ink and sporting a wide smile.
It's time to get digital
I'll fire up the -puter and begin the delicate art of translation. Some ideas will make the cut, others will not. Some will be improved, others will evolve, but I'll only take the best of them to the next stage...
Colour deserves a blog post all of its own and when I have time I'll link to it here. Colour theory is a fascinating world and I'll spend hours choosing the perfect blends and swatches. Colour can convey values, mood and if chosen well, can say more about your business than the finest crafted mission statement.
Next I'll choose the font. I'll admit, I may have a thing for fonts. In fact, according to my fiancé, I even have a habit of naming fonts I see on menus, posters and well basically anywhere I see them. She used to take me for lunch once a week... please note the emphasis on 'used to'.
I am a good designer, but human, so after staring at my designs for hours, I need to step away to let the ideas sink in. Once I've lost the urge to microwave my Macbook, I reassess the job using the brief as a guide. This is how I filter out the best ideas.
The Final Stage is Delivery.
I used to worry about presenting my concepts to my clients, but not any more. Because I've listened to them, produced an in-depth brief, applied the research, chosen the best colours and the perfect fonts and done my job well, my clients are often ecstatic.
Before the final hand over, I'll mock up some real world logo examples, like tags, bags and erm... flags? (less so with the flags...)
The last stage is a final chat where I am usually showered in adoration, high-fives and proposals of marriage.
After that it's time to hit the slopes with the rest of my boarding buddies before having a giggle at all the epic fails on Buzzfeed.
Check out this case study for a more in depth look at logo design.