The Logo Smith is One Person.
On occasion I'll get asked how many people work at The Logo Smith Design Studio.
This always gives me pause for a bit; I've mostly assumed people know it's just a one man band. Apparently it's not as obvious as I thought; and some clients have assumed that the logo designs in my portfolio are from multiple sources.
It's therefore mightily important for me to clarify: all the creative work you see on the Logo Smith website, in it's numerous portfolios: Logo Portfolio, Monomarks, Case Studies and Logos for Sale, have all been designed by yours truly.
When you speak to me or communicate with me in some form, be confident that it's also me working on your project, and it's not me passing on your brief to a part-time designer I've only just hired.
Good to know, right?
The A-Z of Working with Me.
My logo design process (which many of my previous clients, in their Testimonials, have commented very positively about), and general way of thinking, is based around the notion that there is often one ultimate solution to be unearthed, rather than that 'scatter gun' approach of 3-5 weak logo ides.
Getting to-the-point of developing that ultimate logo idea takes a mixtures of skills, and of course, a fair bit of time and experience, which I have a fair bit of: some 25 years within the Graphic Design, Commercial Printing and Advertising & Marketing Industry.
Timelines & Deadlines:
Thought I'd quickly cover this, as it's a question that's nearly always asked, but one that's nearly always impossible to give an accurate reply.
There is no 'promised deadline' guarantee I can/will give a client. However, I always try my best to keep some element of forward momentum going, on the project, for my clients.
TImelines vary due to: specific client needs, challenges, requirments and project scope.
Any kind of 'implied' deadline is also dependant on the client in many ways: if said client takes a dislike to a number of my logo ideas, or is not timely with return feedback, then I'm hard pushed to keep that forward momentum going.
A mostly 'typical' logo design project, on average, will take 4-6 weeks.
However, If I find an idea early on, then the project could be completed more quickly than usual, say 1-2 weeks at the earliest; conversly, it can rumble on past 6 weeks, especially if the project is proving 'challenging' in any number of ways.
The Design Brief:
The first real step for a client, and typically before actually Hiring Me, is to fill out the Logo Design Brief.
Without a brief there's not an awful lot I can do, so it's important that any potential clients do create a brief that is as detailed as possible. I currently have two versions: the Basic Brief, and the Detailed super Brief.
Ultimately, the Detailed Brief will be needed to be filled in at some point, usually once a client is OK with the Proposal; the Basic Brief is good to get the initial ball rolling. There is also a Microsoft Word version of the Basic Brief for download, if you don't like fillingn in online forms.
I'll always forward a copy of the brief back to the client, so even if I'm not to be hired, the client has all that information to hand.
Once I have the brief, and have soaked up all the information, I'll work on a Preliminary Proposal.
This'll outline the: project scope, budget break-down, and any other pertinent information, then I'll email it back to the client as a PDF.
Assuming the client is happy with the Preliminary Proposal, I'll create and forward on a Contract using Hello Bonsai.
This will have already been 'digitally signed' by myself, and thus only needs the client to accept and sign the Contract themselves.
Sometimes a client will have an NDA (Non Disclosure Agreement) for me to sign, so I'm always quite happy to do this.
The only thing now left, in order to get the logo design project underway, is for the some money to come my way.
I typically ask for around a 50-75% deposit, with the remainder due on completion, and before I release any digital files to the client.
However, I am flexible on the deposit amount, and open to negotiations.
With the banality of admin, contracts and money out of the way, the real fun part can get underway…
Research is the key:
If you don't spend adequate time getting to know and understand your client and their needs, as well as understanding what direct/indirect competitors my client might have.
If you don't fully understand the clients' competition, or even know what their collective brand logos look like, then you are not really designing for the client at all.
Brainstorming unlocks the hidden, and often overlooked, "it's right in front of you", logo design solution.
Brainstorming often consists of: mind-maps, sketching in numerous scrappy note books, writing down what ever ideas and thoughts come to mind, furiously messing around on a huge 4000px x 4000px Adobe Illustrator page, and copious quantities of post-it notes.
You can view past and ongoing examples of my brainstorming process at: Ongoing Logo Design Case Studies
Three Possible Starting Points:
Often, I'll start a logo project by focusing on finding a selection of typefaces before thinking about any kind of logo mark, or symbol.
Why? Some brand names emit a strong emotion, so choosing the right font seems essential to help amplify that emotion, then I'll work on developing the visual element further down the line. If indeed a logo mark is needed, as many logos end up being purely typographic in style
Alternatively, i'll start the project by trying to develop the graphical component (logo mark, symbol, icon, brand mark, etc) of the project by sketching, and the above process of brainstorming.
There is a third direction: some logos need a solid and descriptive tag-line, so this will be developed first as this will create a form of narrative, that helps define the brand name. This narrative also then gives me a framework from which to base the visual part of the logo from.
There is no set process with the above, it just depends on the project, the client, and brief in question, and what ingredients I have to cook with.
There really is not one size fits all approach, as each client and brief is so different.
Collaborating With the Client:
There are several ways a logo design project unfolds, when it comes to how much client collaboration there is during the actual progress of a project.
Some clients like to be part of the brainstorming, and process, right from the very start; happy to see really rough sketches, and napkins doodles, as they occur.
Other clients find it hard to interpret these sketches, and struggle to visualise how a rough scribble could look all polished and gleaming.
Therefore, in these situations, a client would generally be happier seeing a more polished idea a bit further down the line.
I'm happy to accommodate both approaches.
However, if a client wants to be part of the process from the start, there are often complications. These usually take the form of getting too emotionally involved with the project, demanding their way is the best way, or simply not listening and/or actually taking my professional advice. Then I have to have words…
Nothing is forced upon you:
A really important point I tell new and potential clients is, that: as my client, you are NOT forced into accepting a logo design idea you simply do not like.
The aim-of-the-game is that I try my very best to interpret the clients' brief to the best of my ability, so that I'm able to craft and create something that is fully appreciated by the client.
If my efforts at brainstorming end up not being on target, then client and I simply discuss the good points, and bad points, and I recalibrate my interpretation of the brief.
It is important that interpretations of a brief will alway vary from designer-to-designer; given the very subjective nature of all our collective outlooks and experiences with life, and then how these experiences and perceptions are visually interpreted by both designer, and then client.
I'll be frank: I’m not always the quickest logo designer; I do like to think things through, ponder, deliberate, try this and try that, etc.
I don't like to rush any logo project, as ideas have a habit of appearing when you least expect them, and often a small break from a project is when that idea will hit you.
If there isn’t a mad rush, then having time on side is very useful, and very valuable.
Don't get me wrong, I mean, I can be quick I need to be, and have done projects that were super urgent in 24 hours, but it’s far from ideal, obviously.
I currently use Invison.com to: upload, and present all my ideas, sketches, digital mock-ups along with appended comments, to each project.
This is a super handy way for both client, and designer, to see progress at a glance, and refer back to other past ideas, comments etc.
With Invision, the client can also add notes to the screenshots, create tasks for me, and even download the various images.
Ultimately, this was an attempt to give you an 'average' idea of my overall logo design process, but please do bear in mind: it certainly will vary from client-to-client, and project-to-project.
Overall though, it's a pretty accurate summary of my process.