Logo Design: Start to FinishPosted 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 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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
- The Brief
A good brief is essential. At minimum you want the target audience and the message. The more information you get the better.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.