After finishing nearly fours years of design classes, working at a graphic design agency, and freelancing in my free time, I have picked up some helpful tips along the way. I try to keep these following 5 ½ tips in mind each time I start a new project. These tips are written in regards to logo design, but can be helpful for any type of visual design you are working on.
Do Your Homework | Your client probably knows the ins-and-outs of their industry and that means you should too. Do your homework to see what their industry is all about. Research their competition, look at current industry trends, establish the target market, and find out what brands have already been established. You don’t want to duplicate a color scheme or look that is already in use, especially since your aim should be to help your client stand out amongst their competition. The more informed you are about your clients industry, the better prepared you will be to think “outside the box” when creating a logo design.
Simplicity Rules | Look at some well-known brands (especially those with global reach) and you will start to see that they all share a common design trait: simplicity. This doesn’t mean there wasn’t a good amount of time, thought, and consideration put into the design process; because you can be sure the top brands have been carefully crafted. The reason for logo simplicity is to create an easily recognizable and memorable mark. Your logo design does not need to represent every aspect of your clients business, it should only embody and convey the business’s spirit.
Use the Design Principles | While thinking outside the box is always encouraged during the logo design process, you should still adhere to the fundamental design principles in order to create a successful logo. A well-designed logo should be simple, versatile, memorable, and effective at relaying your client’s message. These design principles have proven successful time and time again so make sure your logo embodies them.
Let the Creativity Flow | Each of us have our own set of experiences, thoughts, and ideas that makes us who we are. Our unique view on the world helps shape how we approach any design dilemma. But sometimes we need to look outside ourselves to find a creative solution. For me this means creating a mind-map or using word association to look at design possibilities that I may have never considered. This also helps to generate ideas that are cleverer and not as obvious.
The Sketch Book, Your New Best Friend | I can’t emphasize this enough, keep a sketchbook with you at all times! You never know when you will be inspired. A new idea can creep up on you at the most inopportune time and you need to be able to capture it before it fades into the ethos. Your design process should start in your sketchbook—get off the computer! It is tempting to use the computer for your initial designs, but you don’t have the same freedom on a computer as you do with a sketchbook. I highly recommend buying a sketchbook and a pen/pencil you enjoy sketching with and keep them on your desk, take them in your bag, and put them on your nightstand each night. It may take some time to get into the habit, but it will provide invaluable help when generating design ideas for a new project.
Have Fun! | OK, so this is only half a tip because it is not always necessary, but have fun while you work. Crank up some new music, go to a coffee shop to people watch, or visit your local library to pour over random books to find inspiration. If you have fun during the conceptual design process it will start to show in your designs. Remember, you are a logo designer, you have the best job in the world!