Graphic Design Tip: How to Brainstorm an Effective Logo
Before I started going to art school, my parents (as a lot of parents do) really overestimated my own abilities. During my high school years, they launched their own non-profit organization for breast cancer advocacy, where the entire group was essentially run out of a room of our house. My father was in charge of building the website and making sure that it ran smoothly. My mother was the spokesperson, often attending various conventions and symposiums to address those in the medical field about breast cancer and HER2+, a more aggressive expression. Launching the group was running quite smoothly until my parents approached me with a favor. They wanted me to design their logo. Andddd it didn't go so well. They gave up and found a professional.
Fast forward to my life after art school, and I'm looking back at my high school years wishing I could have helped teenage me come up with a great logo design. While creating a logo is not as easy as it looks, it really is perhaps one of my favorite design challenges. There is a lot to consider when you're making a logo, and I've decided that it might be helpful to make a simplified list for all of you Vingle designers so that you can go out into the branding world and create beautiful things!
1. Keep it simple. As fun as it is to be given the opportunity to really utilize your creative side, it really isn't the appropriate time to start busting out all of those fancy and elaborate tricks you might have learned doing other projects. Creating a visually 'busy' logo is just not effective marketing.
2. Keep in mind that you're creating a symbol to represent a company. It can be pretty direct symbolism, ie: the apple logo for Apple or the red cross for American Red Cross, or it can be more abstract, similar to the Nike swoosh. Another popular logo option is to reduce down to a strictly typographic design. Disney or Kellogg's is a good example of effective typographic logos. Get creative, but keep it simple. My favorite example of balance between creativity and minimalism is the FedEx logo. Have you ever noticed there's an arrow between the E and the X?
3. Do your research. Before thumbnailing your own logo ideas, think of all of the logos you've seen that really caught your attention. Even try drawing them out freehand. Look up interviews with the advertising designers behind some of the world's most famous logos. I would recommend "To Inform and Delight", a documentary about Milton Glaser, the artist who designed the I♥NY logo.
4. When you're finally ready, begin making a list of all the descriptive words you associate with the company and how you want your audience to feel when looking at your logo, like 'friendly' or 'sophisticated'. Then think about your nouns. When you think about your company, what images come to mind? If you were creating a logo for Tropicana Orange Juice, for example, maybe the first thing you think of is a tree or an orange or a glass. Try to think of as many nouns as possible, as these will definitely help you when you start putting pencil to paper.
4. USE YOUR SKETCHBOOK. I can't stress the importance of this. I feel like a lot of artists go straight to their laptops and begin working on Photoshop or Illustrator over working on actual thumbnails first. Technology can really stifle the creative process that is so important in the early stages of design. Draw at least 100 thumbnails in your sketchbook. It will really help you push your own boundaries and give you a number of ideas to choose from.
5. When considering which thumbnail you want to use, think about the different ways your logo will be translated for pamphlets, packages, and other promotional materials. Does your logo translate well to color AND black and white? How does it look on a dark background versus a light background? How does the logo look with text and without text? Is it as visually effective when you adjust the scale? Manipulate your logo over and over, and if it is still recognizable, you probably have yourself a really iconic logo!
I hope this can help some of you designers and marketers, especially those of you who might be in the middle of branding or rebranding a company. The logo is always the first start! Happy designing!