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Why would you pay hundreds of dollars for a professionally designed logo when you can get one on Fiverr for less than $20? What could a graphic designer worth their salt possibly have to offer over Joe No Name, who lives twelve time zones away? 

These are questions I get asked from time to time as a graphic designer. Usually, I respond with, "Why don't you buy a $5 logo and see for yourself?" Virtually everyone can tell the difference between a great logo and one that was created in minutes. Great logos have a "je ne sais quoi" about them, but there's nothing "je ne sais quoi" about creating the "je ne sais quoi". Logo design is a careful process that is divided into at least five stages:

  1. Research and brand discovery.
  2. Mood board creation.
  3. Brainstorming and conceptualization. 
  4. Drafting and concept presentation.
  5. Revisions, revisions, revisions.

Research and Brand Discovery

When it comes to building a brand, market research is crucial. In particular, there are three main components you need to look at:

  1. Your competitors (direct and indirect),
  2. Your target market, and
  3. (Most importantly:) YOU!

For The Incubator, the defining research to bring into the logo was the information regarding our target audience. Understanding that The Incubator is for no-nonsense entrepreneurs — both men and women, — we concluded that our logo needed to be modern, clean, bold, and most importantly, unisex.

Knowing the target market can help you select and hone in on key characteristics of your visual brand. If a designer skimps on the research component and only designs based on aesthetics, your result will be beautiful — and just that. As our UX Director Alborz puts in a recent video, "Your logo can help tell your story, even to those who have never heard of you." 

Mood Board Creation

Mood boards create a clear visual direction as to where the logo can go. When designing a logo, the images you select for your mood boards don’t necessarily have to be of other logos. These images can be of just about anything that brings inspiration to you. The mood boards I created for The Incubator, for example, contained color schemes, different cube shapes, vibes, and looks. After developing the initial few mood boards, I went through them with the team to select the ones that fit best with our research and desired brand.

Logo Sketches

Brainstorming and Conceptualization

Now, the fun part: sketching. Usually, at this point, I've conjured up an image in my head of what the logo could look like. The moment I draw it out, more ideas start to flow through. Sketching thumbnails (very quick concept ideas) is one of the best techniques to brainstorm visually. Good or bad, you'll want to get a broader conceptualization of possibilities.

Drafting and Concept Presentation

Sketches turn into concepts, which get further solidified. Once I have at least three concepts to continue developing on the computer, I go into revisions. This is where I render the sketches onto the computer and edit them until they are ready to be presented to the client. The client then chooses their favorite concept and the process of revising continues.

Revisions Until Perfection

Put succinctly, design is art plus functionality. Unlike for functionality, there is no clear path for creating art. The "art" component of design requires trial and error. Step one can lead to two, and back to one, and two, and back again. As repetitive as this process might be, for the ultimate encapsulation of your brand, it's worth it.

Concepts

Every logo serves a purpose, no matter how well (or poorly) designed they are. A simple logo doesn't necessarily denote "unrefined," just as a complex logo doesn't equate to "better." It's all about who you are, who you're trying to reach, and how your logo communicates that. For something as important as your primary brand touchpoint, "good enough" should never be good enough. Hire specialists who will go above and beyond to understand your needs, do the research, and work tirelessly to produce a result that will leave a strong first impression.

Logo Design