A Look Inside the Logo Design Process

How do they do it? How do the best logo designers in the world create such elegant, expressive, sophisticated marks? And how do they do it under the gun, with very little time, or other challenges in terms of poor information or direction? Whether you’re a marketing director, a junior designer just getting started, or perhaps someone curious to know how the experts sit down and create a logo, Element is here to help.

We’re fans of Portland, OR-based designer Aaron Draplin, a guy well known in the design community for his clean, clever marks. He recently made this video for a Lynda.com logo design challenge to create a simple, strong mark in less than 10 minutes:


This video does a wonderful job of letting folks behind the green curtain and deep into the logo design process. Aaron walks you through his approach, offering a fascinating look at how many designers move from a blank page and an assignment to the final product. Even though the process we see in the video is a highly abbreviated walk through logo design, it touches on everything from research to final expression.

Pay particular attention to the portion of the video pertaining to logo scale. While Aaron doesn’t necessarily offer strategies for soothing the CEO who wants a logo on a billboard he or she can see from space, he does hammer home the need to consider simplicity of design for elegant and efficient scalability. What does all that mean? Simply that a lot of times a logo is practically applied to a small space or is in a small size where it must read legibly in a very tiny expression. Or, it is sometimes expressed in a sewn patch on shirts or hats where design complexity becomes hard to consistently, accurately reproduce. One must also consider the needs of Twitter or Facebook profile images, etc. That’s why it’s important to think about how and where the logo will be used. In these situations, if the target can’t read the name of the business or organization, the whole reason for the logo being placed in that application is lost.

As demonstrated in the video, in logo design, a lot of great ideas come from ones that don’t work, but, through a little diligence, can be effectively evolved. A designer really has to sit down and generate hundreds of different ideas, exploring the good and building on the bad, until he or she has one or more great marks for the client. It’s a process. But, guided by the suggestions in Draplin’s video, it’s one that can be very fulfilling for both agency and client.


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