A small primer on the process of getting a logo done professionally.

Congratulations, you have decided to start a new enterprise, or dust off an old idea you had. Whatever the case, well done. You have probably decided by now that you need a logo, a visual mark to represent your business. Fantastic! Commendable move. The logo is a cornerstone of your brand identity and a brilliant one can signal to people that you mean business.

Consider this a little primer on logos in general. I am going to shed some light on the process, touch on some things you should know about logos and give you some guidelines so you know if your logo at the end of the day is good enough.

I do hope you are looking to hire someone professional to create your logo. Sure you could ask your cousin who knows photoshop to do it and he would probably create…something.

But there are people who sweat over this sort of thing on a daily basis and have expertise on how to create marks that are appropriate, functional and perhaps even exciting. It is worth the investment and depending on how serious you take your enterprise, one you shouldn’t make lightly.

So what is a logo?

Like I said earlier, it is a visual mark that represents your enterprise – that could be a business, your personal brand, an organisation, a school, whatever you are selling.

Notice I said represent.

The logo should represent or identity your enterprise, not describe it. Save that for your company profile.

Many people fall under the misconception that a logo should show what the business is. We are a cab company so we definitely need a drawing of a cab in the logo. Perhaps if you were in a very primitive society where you have to communicate with pictographs. But our societies are fairly sophisticated and meanings get attributed over time. So it is okay to go more abstract and simple.

After all, what does a half eaten apple have to do with computers? Or what’s essentially a checkmark have to do with athletics? But Apple and Nike are some of the world’s most recognisable brands with logos that have stood the test of time.

What makes a logo good?

According the Sagi Haviv, partner at the brand design firm behind such logos as PBS, Chase, Showtime and National Geographic, – a logo should be appropriate, distinctive & memorable, and simple.

It’s appropriateness lies at having the right vibe or energy for the enterprise or brand that it represents. You wouldn’t want flowers or ornate text to represent your bank. Logos should also be distinctive and easily memorable. A good test is to see if your audience can draw your logo by hand and from memory.

And logos should be simple. Simplicity allows the logo to be flexible and easily remembered. It also allows it to be used in a wide variety of contexts and sizes, from a small embroidery on a shirt to being blasted on a bill board.

Different types of logos

There are many types of logos such as monograms, lettermarks and wordmarks, letterforms, emblems as so on, which we would go through in another post. The type of logo you go with will be influenced by your preference but also by the nature of the brand. Different types of logos come with their advantages and disadvantages.

What your designer should ask

A good logo designer is going to want to get to know you and your business fairly well. To create a mark that is truly unique and rooted in your brand, they will need the right information. They will need to know what you do, who your audience is, what kinda vibe your brand is, what you are seeking to achieve, and so on. This helps to build a full mental image of the visual problem your designer will be solving – creating a mark to represent all of that.

The logo design process

So you know your designer isn’t just faffing away drawing pretty doodles, this is a short description of what it takes.

After you have briefed your designer properly. He or she will probably go do some research, that could online like browing through pinterest or their favorite sources of inspiration, or might involve some outdoor work like going to the store and physically looking at competing brands.

Then they will do some sketches, exploring various ideas on paper before moving on to the computer. 10’s, sometimes hundreds of explorations later, they will provide you with options to choose from. Usually each option tries to tackle the problem from different directions, building on separate ideas or conjuring differing vibes.

Listen to your gut instinct but also listen to the rationale and explanations as to the design decisions made. Sometimes it is love at first sight, sometimes you have to let the logo grow on you. Logos are after all an exercise in conditioning.

Once you have picked a logo, you might have some more edits and then it is ready and delivered to you.

Files

Speaking of delivery, you should get your files in various formats. You should get it in a vector (open) file, in image form (jpgs and pngs) and probably in pdf as well. This way you are able to have the right format for the right context or use. When the next designer asks, you will be able to confidently send the correct files as opposed to sending a stretched out file embeded in a powerpoint or something.

What next?

Build out the rest of your brand identity. The logo is just one part of that but an important part nonetheless. A full brand identity will alllow you to communicate and build recognition over time.

Congrats again, and good luck.