Logo Design: Start to Finish

Posted on 18.02.10 53 Comments

I recently created a new identity for my client DANZK. This article is all about walking through the process it took me to create the logo and give you some insight into the way I use my own steps to create a logotype from scratch. Hopefully you’ll learn something new, see something you already know, and see the work the goes on behind my designs.

DANZK is a soon to launch lifestyle blog focusing on culture, food, art & design from Denmark. The aim of the blog is to gain exposure for the Danish way of life for Danes and non-Danes interested in the country, and to recommend and review Danish products such as food, design and music. I’m currently in the process of designing the website for DANZK; once it’s launched I will be writing a similar blog post to this about the process from the beginning to end of the website design.

The Brief

The brief was relatively simple. Create a stylish and modern identity that had a relationship to Danish design, but one that didn’t use cliché elements. It was a bit of a shame about the use of cliché elements as I was really looking forward to creating a really ‘Danish’ design; with Viking helmets, Danish flags, Lego, Bacon and Pastry.

Probably not the look DANZK was going for.


I wanted to make sure there was a subtle connection to Denmark, so I delved a little into Danish design.

“Danish Design is a term often used to describe a style of functionalistic design and architecture that was developed in mid-20th century. Influenced by the German Bauhaus school, many Danish designers used the new industrial technologies, combined with ideas of simplicity and functionalism to design buildings, furniture and household objects, many of which have become iconic and are still in use and production. Prominent examples are the egg chair, PH lamp and the Sydney Opera House.”

Some great simple and functional Danish furniture design helped inspire the logo.

Sketches & Ideas

Armed with the two keywords of simplicity and functionalism, I set about designing a logotype that would break the word DANZK down into its most functional and simple parts. My sketching process generally starts with me sketching down ideas in my sketchbook as they come to me. They aren’t refined or really useful for anyone but me; They’re essentially catching something thats in my head before I forget it. Hence most of these ideas come out on the train journey on my commute to work. I then refer to these later and can usually recall what I was thinking in my head when I drew them.

Ideas drawn as early as possible.

The next step after I feel I’m heading in the right direction with the sketches is to move on to more finalized drawings of one idea . In most cases I’ll use a gridded note pad. This is a longer process as it usually requires so much refinement to get the idea close to what I want to acheive digitally.

More refined drawing in a grid note book.

I created the simplistic characters separate from each other initially to make sure I was happy with each of their forms, and then worked on bringing the characters together to form the logotype. At this point it should become clear of any issues with the typeface, I wasn’t particularly happy with the right-hand cap of the N and the left-hand cap of the Z sitting so close together. Technically they were correct, but I didn’t like the repetition. I set about working on a way to bring the N & Z together neatly.

Some more intricate work on the N & Z

Going Digital

I was pretty happy with the results, and felt I took my sketching as far as possible so it was time to go digital. I set about recreating my logotype in Illustrator. During this process there is a lot of tweaking, stepping away from the computer for a while and really analyzing the flow of the logo.

Creating the logo digitally in Illustrator.

During this stage I find it helpful to look at the semi-final logo on different media. I print it off, look at it at the standard ‘web’ size logo and I even send it to my iPhone. This way I get to look at the logo at different sizes, light conditions and distances. It really helps you get a feel for the logo, to make sure that the rhythmn is right. It’s also worth at this stage to get some critque from other professionals. I uploaded the early version of my logo to Logopond for some feedback. I got some helpful feedback regarding the D of my logo, as it currently was it didn’t seem as wide as the other characters. A few tweaks later and I was a lot happier with the results.

More small adjustments, and I’m happy to say I was done with the logo.

The final logo on dark and light backgrounds

What DANZK Thinks

When I received Pete’s initial proposal I knew he was spot-on; he took my guidelines and understood immediately where I was going and took the project to a whole other dimension. He has not only provided me with a perfect logo, but has added his own ideas and suggestions along the way.
The unpretentious work process fulfils my needs and requirements completely, and working with Pete has been a pleasure I look forward to repeat. I would strongly recommend him, for anyone looking for a professional but inspiring partner in the design process.

What to take from this?

The most important thing to learn is how to setup your own process. My approach isn’t too different to most designers approaches, and most identity development work can be broken down into a few phases

  1. The Brief
    A good brief is essential. At minimum you want the target audience and the message. The more information you get the better.
  2. The Research
    Do some research focusing on the industry, its history, and its competitors. Make a note of anything you find of interest. Look for obvious shortcomings and over-used themes.
  3. The Inspiration
    Google is your friend here. Research the words associated with the product/service, see what kind of results you get. Hopefully in your brief you’ll get a selection of keywords on how you client want the identity to feel. ‘Elegant’ ‘Fun’ ‘Modern’.etc – Research into the correct style of design and find common traits. Adapt and improve these traits into you design, or use their underlying theory.
  4. The Ideas
    Put that mouse down! The idea process should be on paper. Many designers miss this part as they claim they “can’t draw”. You’re not sketching lifelike portraits here, just squiggles that represent the logo in your head. You’ll find it allows your mind to flow and you can quickly move between ideas.
  5. The Creation
    I think its best to use Illustrator for this part, but use whatever you’re comfortable with (even if it is Photoshop…). Either scan in some of your sketches or re-create them by hand. The important thing here is to learn to take breaks! Stepping away from your design for a while can help you see the faults when you come back to it.
  6. The Polish
    This is when you add those finishing touches to your design. You’ve got your logo in its primitive form, but nows the time to choose colour schemes, lighting effects or anything else you want to do with it.
  7. The Aftermath
    You’re done! Sit back with a beer (Carlsberg in this case.. it’s Danish) and bask in the glory of your finished work. Hopefully you’ll get some nice compliments from other professionals, get a few critiques, maybe even get an award.

I hope I’ve shed a bit of a light on the process, and that you can perhaps take some of these ideas away and work them into your own process. If you have a different way of doing things, or any recommendations please leave a comment; I’m sure your own insights will help me and others reading.

In the mean time, don’t forget to head over to and signup to get notified when the site launches, or follow DANZK on twitter. Also, since you’re doing that, follow me as well.


  1. Sweet work man, love the presentation!

  2. Another top example of work from Pete. Highlights the clear importance of a brief (a point to work from). I like the pencil mark making on grid paper. Very nice!

  3. Nice and concise Mr Lacey, although I don’t see what’s wrong with Viking horns in logo design?

  4. Excellent work, that design is excellent, and stuck to the main principle of logo design.

    Also i love your process, i will definately be adopting similar in any upcoming projects i have.

  5. So simple… I love it!

  6. Wow – Really nice work.

    And as I Dane: Jeg glæder mig til at se mere til dette projekt. Det starter godt :-)

  7. Thanks everyone!

    @Ed – I felt that too. I always try to include Viking horns in *any* logo I do, I know that one day the client will love it

    @Alan – Let me know how the process goes for you :)

    @Martin – Tak :D

  8. Terrific work and an even better breakdown of how you got there. thanks for sharing!

  9. I love the logo design and appreciate that you shared your process with us. I don’t have as much experience in logo design, so this is great.

    PS. I’m learning Danish

  10. Amazing work! Thanks for the tutorial…I’m not a professional graphic designer but I’m always willing to learn.

  11. Keep it up chopeh – make us keep coming back

    - Raja

  12. @Brian

    If you are learning Danish, DANZK is definitely for you. There will be loads of information about Denmark, the culture, the food and leisure. All things that are important and not atleast interesting to know, when you’re learning a new language.

    Good luck with it :)

  13. Inspiring stuff here. Seriously inspiring. The start to finish aspect of the project was the selling point.

  14. I really like this, logo design is not my strongest skills. Thank you very much, looking forward to the website of DANZK

  15. Very well done. I love seeing the sketch process. This is a great article to understand the true process behind logo design and the thinking that goes into it.

  16. Nice logo!

    One final thing that would be helpful, is what you sent to the client – how did you present it and what wording (if any) did you support the logo with?

  17. [...] logo design process [...]

  18. Beautiful Work!

  19. Very impressive, I love seeing some behind the scenes to a great mark.

    btw, non related question… What is it on your site that makes elements fade in as you scroll down?

    Great work.

  20. Nice view in the kitchen, Pete. Indeed we forget too often that creative ideas are most of the time are not generated behind computer screens. Use pen and paper and that is true for many things. From logo’s to presentations to complex computer systems.

  21. Really cool, legible and original logo. Nice job, I love it :)

  22. Very nice design. I love your approach. Sketching is essential!

  23. I really like the logo! Wonderful artwork!!

  24. Love love love the baUhaus styling!

  25. Vey nice logo, it’s nice to see these processes and how other designers go about them.

  26. Nice process, the result is great !

  27. Nice work! Love your process, especially scetching on grid/graph paper. Nice tip!

  28. Love it, when ppl share their processes. Love the final Identity.

  29. I love typography logos and this one is perfect example, but as we speak I’m working on VDJ or VDj or VD – now be smart and help me with some cool typogo like yours?

  30. I wonder who got there first. Your logotype bears an uncanny resemblance to work by Neil Clavin in 2003 for the now seemingly defunct fashion designer Chenpascual.

    Take a look at ‘New typographic design’ by Roger Fawcett-Tang, David Jury (also on Google Books). I don’t know who’s the copycat, but someone is.

  31. Nice work.
    A similar example at:

    in french, sorry.

  32. I’ve got a quick 5 mins to reply, so I’ll do my best!

    Thanks everyone for the positive comments!

    @James – Presentation to the client varies as sometimes they can come in to see me, I can go and see them, or I have to present it over the internet. Usually I’ll create some files to go full-screen on the monitor, show some thought processes, and then finish up with the final logo and some situational examples (ie. business cards, fake brochures.. that kind of thing).

    @Ryan – It’s called jQuery Lazyload :)

    @Vladimir – Help isn’t free :D

    @Blair – Since the completion of logo I have it pointed out a few times that their is some resemblance to previous works, namely some of Paul Barnes type work in 1996. I can see where you’ve drawn your conclusions. I was a little disappointed discovering these typefaces after I finished the design, I wished it was something I would have found before as it would have caused me to design the logotype very differently to avoid accusations like this.

    However, looking back I know that I’ve created the logo from scratch using my own thought processes, and it turned out exactly how I wanted it to. In fact, I’m very proud of it. I find it pretty fascinating that similar ideas can be created entirely separate from each other. So think what you will, but at the end of the day I know I’m happy with the work I created :)

    @Ian – Looks a good article, just wish I could read it!


  33. Nice to see the evaluation of Idea, but painful to see you’ve been through the same process which I went through long ago, for other brand…

  34. @RebelDesigner – Sorry it was painful to see, but I love doing work like this more than anything :)

    I guess your process was similar to this one in removing the unnecessary parts from characters?

  35. The connection between the Z and the N really smooth.

    Thanks and Regards

    Noel for
    a graphic design studio

  36. Great work!

  37. I read your post yesterday, felt inspired by it and saw this nice work on typo for an album art today. Gotta like this

  38. Pete, you again prove to be a king in designing unique and stylish logo’s

    I’m glad to be a cliënt of yours…

    Keep up the good work (sure u’ve heard that one before! ;)

  39. awesome work. great presentation and mark. well thought out.

  40. @Noel – Thanks! Took me a while to get their, but then the best option was the simplest one staring me in the face :)

    @Jeremy – Thats some funky typo right there.

    @Léon – Glad to have you as a client.

    @Ryan – Cheers!

  41. I love the end result. Thanks for showing us the process. It’s really inspiring and helpful to see the steps you took to create a beautiful logo.

  42. After reading you site, Your site is very useful for me .I bookmarked your site!

  43. Hey Pete

    Can’t wait for the website, I hope it’ll be soon!

  44. WOW!
    Don’t be afraid, I think that there will be always “something similar” in graphic design industry. Your idea is very original and you can be proud of it.

    One question: I am quite new in logo design process and a lot of good logo designers use these circles when creating logo design. Are there any rules or mathematical principles about the size of these circles etc..? Pls, can you write something more about this or do you know some good sources where I can find good info about that? I tried to find something about these but I found just articles about using illustrator tools but nothing about using grid, mathematical rules or these circles.

    Thanks a lot and write more about your great projects ;-}

  45. Totally love the design! The approach inspires me, thanks for sharing the thoughts! :)

  46. I really like to see the process and the result, but there is something that really bother me about this solution.

    The top right and top left serifs of the N and Z have been joined into one (or Z’s has been removed) and that makes the “top” of the Z seems wider than its “bottom”. I know that there are actually no lines there, but our brains automatically figure out the relationship between the structures (Gestalt) and mine keeps making me look at that.

  47. Amazing work Peter! Congratulations!

  48. Absolutely stunning work! :-)

  49. Fantastically impressive. Such a process of layers honed down to a wonderful finished product. Cheers!

  50. Right, sorry for the delay in this follow up comment. Things have been busy!

    Thanks everyone for the nice comments, I really appreciate the positive feedback.

    To answer some of your questions:

    @Jacko – I use the circles simple to ensure consistency throughout the curves used in the design, I don’t use any formulas or fancy math. I just create the curve I feel would work well with the piece I am doing. However I’m sure there are ways of working this out using the golden rule or similar proportion theories.

    @Fernando – I’m making a deliberate play on the Gestalt in-order to create the form of the Z without having most of its parts. Seeing the top as wider is a small side effect of that, but without that I feel the logo would loose some of its magic.

  51. Really beautiful logo, and a great account of your design process. As a design student I love reading about how other designers work and this is very inspiring :) Can’t wait to see the website…

  52. Love the post. It’s always cool to see how others work.

    One question: Was this the only logo that you presented to the client, or were there other directions shown?

    I would love to get to a point where I could show one direction, if I feel strongly about a particular logo design, but often clients insist on seeing multiple directions, if only to feel like they’re getting their money’s worth out of it.

  53. Nice post. I learn something tougher on totally different blogs everyday. It is going to always be stimulating to read content from other writers and observe a little bit one thing from their store. I’d choose to make use of some with the content on my blog whether or not you don’t mind. Natually I’ll give you a link in your internet blog. Thanks for sharing.