Anatomy of a Logo. 5 Steps – Due Diligence to Final Files.

I’ve developed hundreds of logos over the years and they’re designed primarily for 3 types of catagories. Corporate, product or event. Each catagory has it’s own design approach, but the goal is consistent – and that’s to communicate a message quickly and effectively while always keeping the brand in mind.

Here’s a quick look at how I develop a logo. Not every designer follows the same path as me, but I’m sure that in some form or fashion these steps are taken.

If you’re contracting someone to develop a logo for you, this is what to expect.

1: DUE DILIGENCE – This is as important a part of the project as any. It’s at this phase that lots and lots of questions should be asked. The brand should be fully understood. All unique aspects of the company, product or event should be understood. Any design expectations or limitations should be revealed as should all costs and timelines.

2: THUMBNAIL SKETCHES – Just about everyone expects to see some pretty refined and complete looking logos nowadays, but regardless of what the client sees for the first time, it’s essential that I first put pencil to paper. I’ll usually spend up to a day brainstorming, sketching and researching and put what amounts to doodles and thumbnails on paper. These are usually pretty crude, but it allows for a vision of what I want to accomplish to start to develop. Generally I’ll play with 10-20 directions before I feel comfortable enough to choose 5-8 of them to start developing more fully on the computer.

3: INITIAL CLIENT REVIEW – I’ll spend anywhere from 1-3 hours on each of 6-8 logos that then become part of my initial presentation. I usually have a pretty good idea which designs work the best, but I do include some that I may not think are as strong as others. I do this because the client may see value where I didn’t. If I need to, I can always explore that direction.

Part of a good logo presentation is a strong rationale for the designs. Whether it’s in written form or part of an oral presentation understanding the reasons for design choices can turn a seemingly irrelevant logo into a winner.

4: REFINEMENT – After the initial review and feedback, time is spent refining 2 or 3 of the logos. This may include exploring new font choices, colors, illustrative elements, client requests or suggestions etc. This refinement phase may go 2, 3 or even 4 rounds. Each time narrowing down the choices to the best solution.

5: FINAL FILES – Once a final design is chosen, the last step is developing all the appropriate file formats necessary for today’s varied marketing needs. There are primarily 2 marketing applications where a logo will be used. One is for printed material – offset or digital and the other is for internet use. When using a logo that will be printed, a high resolution (300 DPI or higher) file is necessary. TIFF or EPS file formats are best and should to be saved as CMYK color files. For internet use, a low resolution file (72 DPI) is used and saved as RGB color. These need to be formatted as either a JPEG, PNG or GIF file. If you’re not receiving a variety of file formats at the end of a logo project, you may be missing a crucial file that will cost you to have converted by your vendor. Don’t get caught not receiving what you’ve paid for.

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About Ray Bauer

I am an independent designer and marketer operating my own enterprise, rBAUERdesign, based in Grand Rapids, Michigan, I have an understanding of, and dedication to, the design and marketing process of firms in need of communication solutions. I bring my design, layout, creative and art direction experience and knowledge as well as applied and tested marketing applications from the advertising agencies and marketing firms I've worked at for over 25 years to every job I touch.
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