One of the many things that I do is help companies develop their brands. While I (or some of my clients) could give plenty of good reasons for letting Ballard Creative do it, there are plenty of start ups who just don't have the capital set aside to put towards a logo. They just need to set sail while they're still building the ship. Something I can identify with while starting my company.Here are the twelve steps to logo greatness.
btw : Make sure you already have a solid name chosen for your company (duh!) and that the proper brand personality has been established (Are you a Ferrari or a Beetle? Fun or Serious?).
Step 1 : Turn off your computer.
Ok, this probably sounds strange, however, the very first thing you need to do is grab a pencil and paper – the computer will come later. It's OK. Your computer has no feelings. It will be alright.
Step 2 : Draw.
Now, draw as many of your thoughts as possible. Brainstorm. Doodle. Don't worry what any of it looks like, we just want ideas. Get after it!
btw : Want more ideas? Hand out pencils and paper to your employees. Your spouse. Your Brother-in-law. They will come up with stuff you would never have thought of. This is actually a good thing.
Step 3 : Leave.
Put your pencil down and walk away. Your ideas are now brewing at the primordial level of your limbic system. You will now start getting ideas as you drive to the grocery store, while you read a magazine or while watching Grey's Anatomy. Look at as many logos as you can. Note to yourself the good ones as well as the bad ones. Why are they good? Why are they bad? Is the Nike logo really that great? Hmmmm...
Now take all your ideas and draw from your new inspirations.
Step 4 : Wash. Rinse. Repeat.
That's right. Do it again. Continue with this as you start gaining fresh perspectives. Leave it. Come back. Sketch.
Step 5 : The good, the bad and the ugly.
You should now have pages of doodles to look at. Separate the good from the bad. Take the best ones and start refining. Get those ideas on paper as tight as possible. Would an arrow help make the mark more dynamic? Should it point to the left or right? Maybe it should curve? Hmmmm...
btw : Tracing paper is a great way to quickly draw elements on top of your sketch to see what works and what doesn't.
Step 6 : Black and White.
Now, take the best of the best and scan them on your computer. Start tracing your work with a vector-based program (like Adobe Illustrator). Work in Black and White. Create a clean version of your drawing (which is haaaaaard to do as something is always missing from that magical little squiggle you spent 2 seconds creating).
btw : Working in black and white will force you to focus on the design.
Step 7 : Select a typeface.
Start picking fonts. There are thousands out there. Each variation of Helvetica will convey a different feeling. Hevetica vs. Helvetica Bold vs. Helvetica Bold Italic. The spacing and size in relation to your squiggle says different things.
btw : Don't feel the need to get cute. The classics will always be a good choice.
Step 8 : Tighten up.
Make sure everything is clean and neat. All the elements are lined up. Curves are curvy. Letter spacings are even. The lightbulb illustration actually looks like a light bulb. This is the stage that most logos skip and go the way of looking like your mom did it (She can still make goulash on Sundays, though).
btw : Think about how this will be reproduced. Will it be embroidered? Faxed? Silkscreened?
Step 9 : Get honest feedback.
Take three to five options and show them to someone that will honestly tell you what they think (your mom or spouse). Show to more than one person. Just don't go crazy and show too many people as this could make your decision harder.
btw : Do not trust yourself! It is soooo easy to fall in love with what you create.
Step 10 : Color.
Now we can start on color. Yippeee!
If there are some pre-determined brand colors, give 'em a shot. Try some different ones. Choose colors that compliment each other. Don't just use the bright ones that are defaulted in your color pallette. Look at other logos you like for reference. This will help keep you from going color crazy.
btw : Once again, Think about how this will be reproduced. Will it be on a sign? Or just on the internet? Should the logo have shading? Or flat colors? Or both?
Step 11 : Pick a winner
Pick the best one and create a FINAL version of it. Name it so when you distribute it, everyone knows what it is, ie. yourcompany_logo_cmyk.eps, yourcompany_logo_black.eps, etc.
Step 12 : Yeah, there's one more step.
Now you need to create the different versions to be used for print, web, fax, etc... You will need spot color, cmyk, rgb, black, grayscale and reversed. Then, you need to format these logos in EPS, JPG and PNG formats. Keep the same naming conventions as before so you (and everyone else) can easily find and use the right logo.
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You should now have a fairly professional logo that didn't cost you a dime. For more inspiration, go to logolounge.com and click on the trends link. It will give you a year by year analysis of what has been done in the recent past. While giving you some good ideas, it will also show you the minimum level of craftsmanship you need for your mark.
I hope this helpful. If not, find a branding expert.
Now, where can you find one of those? Hmmmm...