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The Art of Logo Design

I am doing some branding work this week for the SMSBF. I am assisting them with a new look and marketing plan for the New Year. I have also been putting together this [sparkly new] website you are viewing now. While rummaging through folders and files of past work, deciding what to post in the portfolio, and working on logo concepts for SMSBF, I became very conscious of the process I developed over the years to create logos. I tend to start the creation process with thumbnails using pencil and paper. To some, this is “old school,” as many designers today never touch pen to paper in their design process. All designers have their own process to reach a deliverable. It can be a personal process or a design process, of which they may be partially or completely unaware. This is what I find so interesting about the video “The Art of Logo Design,” part of the PBS series “Off Book.” It gives us a glimpse into other designers’ processes. Some prioritize strategy, some research, and some do a million ideations. And then of course there is the Paul Rand (logos above) approach of providing one, and only one, concept for client review – would this approach work today? Have you tried it?

“Recognizing the need is the primary condition for design.”
— Charles Eames

My approach to logo (and branding) design is from the outside in. I start by interviewing stakeholders. All of them, from client to end user. By identifying the needs of all stakeholders, I have a good idea of what the design needs to accomplish before I put pencil to paper.

Trends come and go in logo design, but in my opinion one thing should always be true of a successful logo: It should clearly communicate the values, objectives and culture of the company … and it must be easily read and identifiable.

A logo must accomplish a lot, with very little. Like a Picasso drawing, a few lines must tell the whole story.

How do you design a logo?

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