Creating a Logo Design That Doesn’t Suck

Make your logo stand out.

According to this study, the average person encounters roughly 5,000 marketing messages every day.

We hear ads on the radio.

There’s a label slapped on every single item in the supermarket.

We drive by countless billboards and scroll past dozens of promoted posts.

But exposure doesn’t equal absorption. A great logo design must engage with consumers to break through the noise of these thousands of messages.

I’ll be walking through these guidelines using a past logo design project as an example. The Pink Moose, an artisan furniture and home decor business, needed a logo to accompany their new e-commerce website and growing digital presence.

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Logo Design: Set the mood (board).

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: A strong logo design starts with a strong foundation. Set the tone and expectations of your project by putting together a creative brief that outlines:

  • brand purpose
  • target audience expectations
  • challenges
  • your brand’s unique selling points

Once you’ve nailed down this direction, construct a mood board that brings the creative brief to life. My boards always feature a mixture of client examples, other applicable branding, photographs with potential color palettes and whatever else strikes my fancy. This is a great, free-form way to tap into a creative headspace. Pull anything and everything that inspires you. Remember, you’re only as good as your resources.

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Pink Moose Mood Board

Logo Design: Explore Multiple Directions

Once you’ve laid the foundation with your creative brief and mood board, it’s time to bring those logo design ideas to life! Start by designing 2-4 initial concepts that explore the strongest directions from the creative brief/mood board.

There’s a reason I say 2-4 concepts: Any less and you won’t have enough options. Any more, and you risk going down the rabbit hole of indecision.

It’s crucial that you stay organized during this phase. The practices you establish in the beginning will set the tone for the rest of the project and establish expectations. Keep your first round to a manageable number of options, and actively narrow down those options with each draft. If you incorporate a new design later in the game, do so very purposefully. If you overwhelm yourself, it can complicate the creative process.

If you’re a sketcher or doodler, nothing beats pencil to paper during this initial phase. This is especially helpful if you’re going the custom typography route, which I did for The Pink Moose. It’s helpful even if you aren’t a natural illustrator. Think of it as organizing all those ideas floating around in your mind. If you find yourself skipping this sketching phase, try investing in a nice sketchbook (Baron Fig) to create incentive. Sometimes I want to jump straight into Adobe Illustrator, but I’ve found that my best work happens when a logo design starts in the ol’ sketchbook.


Pro Tip: Use Adobe Capture (free app!) to take photos of your drawings and import them into Adobe Illustrator as a vector image. It’s a game changer for illustration & custom typography. 

Once you’ve gotten the creative juices flowing, it’s time to create the initial concepts. These should all be different directions so that you have lots of directions to explore. Remember, 2-4 is the magic number; just enough without being overwhelming.

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Once you share your initial designs, have an honest and open dialogue with the client. Encourage them to be truthful. Sugar-coating feedback is detrimental to the creative process. Be prepared to discuss the creative direction behind each design.  Once you’ve compiled the client’s thoughts, leverage that feedback in the second round and focus the strongest 1-2 designs.

Logo Design: Rinse and Repeat

The next phase is a process of revising your logo design based on the feedback received, presenting them to the client for review and repeating the process until you have one final design that’s ready for full production.

I’ve outlined the second, third and final round of revisions that we went through for The Pink Moose. As you can see, we made minor adjustments each round until we hit that sweet spot.

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Logo Design: Final Production

Once you’ve finalized the design, it’s time to produce any additional versions the client needs. Maybe they’ve requested a version without the tagline or a one-color option. Create and organize these variations into a brand guide. This guide includes all of the client’s requested variations along with the official brand typography and color palette. This keeps everything organized and gives the client a point of reference for future marketing and design needs.

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Voila! A logo design that doesn’t suck.

If you start with a strong, creative foundation, explore several directions and refine the design(s) as you proceed, then you’ll have crafted a logo that breaks through the noise and resonates with consumers. If you’d like to have a conversation about logo and branding services or are struggling with a design you’re working on, feel free to contact us to see how we can help.

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