Tuesday 15 November 2016

Designing a logo - From inspiration to completion

I recently wrote a guest post on PeoplePerHour about my process when designing a logo and I thought it would be rude not to share it on my blog too :). For the curious, you can read the guest post here.

Today, I’m going to share with you a recent project that was a bit out of my comfort zone, but one I’ve really liked working on: Equine Apparel, a renowned British company and suppliers of the finest equestrian safety equipment and country clothing.

Step 1: Moodboards

I start with getting to know the person or company I’m working with before starting any design work. This way I can establish what my clients need and we can decide if we’re ready to go ahead with their projects. But before even starting to think about the concepts, moodboards are crucial in order to make sure that we are on the same page style-wise. As you can see on the image above, I collect relevant images and other branding examples that I think have the right feel for my client’s new logo. Moodboards are the base, the inspiration that you need to start a project, and they’re also very helpful to figure out which direction you should take.

For this particular project, we wanted to express the elegance of horse-riding, the clothing and equipment they sell, whilst showing the strength and agility of the horse. We also felt that an element representing the noble and regal side of this sport was needed, hence the crowns and laurels.

Sometimes I create a couple of pages showing various styles to see which one the client identifies the most with, whilst other times, the brief is quite straight forward and the style needed is very clear.

Step 2: Initial concepts 

Once I’ve received feedback from the moodboards, it is time for me to start the fun side of the project and put pencil to paper. I always start with really rough sketches to get the ideas out, and depending on the type of project it is, I sometimes include them in the document to show my client. As I usually only develop 2 to 3 main ideas/concepts, I think it’s quite important for clients to see that you’ve worked on many other ones before narrowing them down, and to me sketches are the best way of showing this. 

So on the first part of the image above, I included a few of my sketches before showing you the 3 concepts I developed on computer. As you can see, all of them have a very distinct style and I’ve learned that it’s important to show very different ideas at the initial stage rather than variations of the same concept. This way, your client can clearly tell which one feels more in line with what they want and best represent their company, shop, etc. What I’m not showing on this post is the fact that I usually present a couple of colour versions to choose from. Equine Apparel really liked the navy blue and gold so I stuck with it.

I mainly use Adobe Illustrator when designing logos as in terms of quality, it’s best to keep your artwork as vector files. Also, vector graphics are very flexible and easy to use as you don’t need to worry about the quality, pixel density, or anything like that when scaled up.

Step 3: Developing the selected concept

It’s pretty clear from the image above that my client went for concept 1 and didn’t request that many changes. Now, this is not always the case and sometimes, the development side of the project takes a lot longer and many revisions to reach the final version. This stage of the process is the key to designing a logo that is right for your client. I make sure to listen very carefully to their requests as I want my client to be 100% happy with what I’ve produced. 

On this example, we decided to simplify the wreath as it was too busy when the logo was smaller. Also, the crown changed slightly to be bolder and to ensure that it wouldn’t be lost in the graphic. You may have also noticed from the initial stage that we explored the idea of a concise logo that would be used to represent the brand as an alternative logo. This is not obligatory but it’s a nice touch to the overall branding and adds an element of flexibility.

At this stage, I also explore more colour combinations if needed, as well as different typography styles. You can tell that the font on version A is slightly different to version B even though they have a very similar impact. As previously mentioned, I was very lucky with Equine Apparel as they knew exactly what they wanted, but sometimes the development stage requires more versions and in depth revisions.

Step 4: Completing the logo

This is definitely the best part to me as at this stage, I know my client is happy with everything and we just need to finalise the logo in order to share it with the wide world. I always double-check the graphics, typography, spacing and colours to make sure the logo is perfect and ready to be used before saving the multiple files my client will need.

As most of the time the logo needs to be used both on web and print, I usually save it in jpeg, png and eps files. Along with the colour versions, I also make sure to save mono versions (for example if they need to place a white logo on a photo). By doing this, I know my client should be able to use their logo in any situation, which is something that they always appreciate.

Also, I offer a short brand guideline (see above), showing the final versions of the logo as well as the CMYK breakdown of the colour palette and the font that should be used. Sometimes it’s good to include more details, but most of the time, this is just enough to guide your client.

The next step after completing the logo is to look at the extra print material that will forge the brand like stationery, signs, banners, etc. as well as online elements. The logo is just the start! And that’s why I find my job so exciting :)

I hope you found this step by step interesting! I always enjoy seeing how other creatives work. And if you’re just starting a career in graphic design, I hope you found this really helpful. If you would like to see more of my work, head over to my website!

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