Great Logo Design - What Is It and How Can You Do It?

Great Logo Design - What Is It and How Can You Do It?

Category: Typography,
Date: 10-29-2011
I ran across some of the best logo designs I've seen from one person in a long time and wanted to share it, and talk about it. It's by a cool fellow named Orlando Aquije Abarca.

This inspired me to put together a post on how to make a great logo which follows below, be sure to scroll down to read the post!

Let's cut right to it and show you Orlando's work that got me thinking:

Why are they so good? 

They are stylish, but not over styled.

They are balanced.

They are easy to read.

They are memorable.

They are strong.

They are creative, but not weird.

They are unique in that they don't look like a lot of other logos I've already seen.

They use typefaces in a creative way. Often the typeface is manipulated to make it more unique and original.

How do you go about making a great logo?

If you're fantastically talented the job is easier. But if you are not as talented you'll have to work at it. The process is generally to start with pencil and paper comps. Generate a few pages of thumbnail comps. Find some you really like and render them in Illustrator. Do variations of the ones you like best. I often generate 10 or more versions of any given logo idea. So in the end you might end up with 3 or 4 good logos concepts each with maybe 10 or more versions.

Start with pencil and paper.

It takes a long time to digitally do the initial comping steps. Using a pencil and paper is a graet, fast, fluid way to start generating ideas.  Using a program like Illustrator or Photoshop will seem attractive, but trust me, it will slow you down and it will slow your creative idea flow because you are hampered with using the left brain instead of the right brain in order to make anything look halfway reasonable.

Free your mind and engage your right brain.

Try to relax before you start. If you just came out of a stressful meeting or just finished crunching numbers on a spreadsheet the process may take a lot longer. Go for a walk first. Think while you're walking. Try to visualize some logos and concepts that you might want to explore. Open your mind to let your intuition and creativity sneak in.

It helps if you have a general design concept or direction.

It will definitely help if you have a rough idea where you're going. If the client is conservative you know you have some limitations with your shapes, fonts and overall design. If the client is a skateboard company you know you can get more creative and push the boundaries more. Try to get a rough creative concept in your head to give you a general direction. It will help you start with design comps that are at least in the ballpark for what you are trying to accomplish.

Sometimes if helps to look at other competitors in the space you are designing for. But if you decide to do that, be careful not to knock off someone else's idea with your own twist. Sometimes we inadvertently copy a design we've seen recently, only to realize at some point that, "Oops! My design looks REALLY similar to another design!" Some people (myself) prefer to look at some logo example websites (like CoolHomepages for example, which has a great logo examples section here) in order to get a little creative juice flowing and expand the possibilities in your mind before you start.

You should have a solid understanding of weight and layout to make a balanced logo.

This is a hard step if you don't already have a solid understanding of good composition. Google it and study it. Good composition and weighting of your elements is a necessary part of ANY design, it's not just for logos. If you're not clear on all this try to spend as much time as you need to reading up on it and looking at examples. I'll try to do a blog post on this topic soon.

Show the client your comps (and maybe sway their opinion in your direction!)

When you show the client your logo comps, it's a good idea to number them so he can refer to 'logo number 14' instead of 'that one on the right middle with the red thing on it' when giving you feedback.

Make sure the logo comps are at least medium size... not too small. On screen, at least 300-400 pixels across. Things just look better and more impressive when they are not too small.

If you have a runaway favorite and you are hoping the client chooses it, try the old technique of showing the client your first two logo sheets with your LEAST favorite logos first. Show the sheets one at a time. Then, reveal the third sheet with your favorite logo on the top of that last comp sheet.  It's surprising how often you can let the client "find" your favorite logo after showing the least impressive ones, then finishing with your best logo. They will think they chose it and they will also think you created a great piece.

Good luck. Now start comping!

Here are some well known corporate logos to give you a benchmark for what has worked and been successful in the field:



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