They say tools don’t make the man. But they also say a man is only as good as his tools. I say here are 5 tools you need to design a good logo:
I always insist on sketching a logo by hand before doing it on the computer. These sketches are more beneficial when they are gathered in as a single sequence on a notebook with sewn sheets (not spiral since those are easy to tear, voluntarily or involuntarily) instead of being scattered on several loose pages. Sketching is a necessarily messy and playful mental process but eventually you will need to introduce a logical and orderly process of analysis.
It is essential to record every small step of the creative process since designing a a logo feels more like a discovery than a construction. When capturing each iteration, we give ourselves the opportunity to return to an earlier version to try different design approaches and compare them.
Given that at first the ideas come diffusely, ambiguous and in violent staccato, it is important to set a chronicle that gives them meaning and facilitates decision-making along with each ramification (for example, permutations of color with fonts) . The ideas that immediately excite us are often not appropriate by the end of the creative process; it is useful to be able to return to the fork on the road in which we believe we should have taken the opposite way.
I always recommend writing down all the ideas that go through your mind, good and bad. On more than one occasion what was “trash” for one project turned out to be a treasure for another. Inspiration (I use this word in an analytical and non-emotional context) for several logos I have designed arose as unused sketches for other projects from years ago. Experience has taught me that it is important to have a sense of history and from time to time I consult my notebooks as an anthology of an entire profession; it is a good mental exercise and allows me look at problems from a fresh perspective.
The pen obviously accompanies the notebook but deserves special mention due to the following: we should not erase our mistakes (ideas that didn’t make it to the final design, unaesthetic strokes). Writing with pencil puts us on a constant occasion to fall into the temptation erase it (sometimes we would like to have a clean record of our thoughts). But successful designs are built on hundreds of small and constant errors. An error is not such if it is learned from it; recording it helps us to assimilate learning and to go back with wiser eyes when necessary. In addition, our approach is refined as we move forward in our design project, and what seemed an error at the beginning can become a gem under the appropriate changes.
I never tackle a design problem assuming I know enough about the subject; doing so would be lazy, irresponsible and dangerous for my client. You must hit the library as soon as youhave received the brief (information given by the client to carry out a design project). On Internet we have immediate access to many more sources than a brick-and-mortar library allows, but we do not always know how to use that power. The media can be many but the goal of the research prior to the sketching is always the same: to gather enough information that will enable you to justify your visual solution. A good logo doesn’t just need inspiration; it demands justification.
Smartphone (with camera and voice recording app)
The library (digital or physical) can give you an excellent theoretical framework but there are things that can only be learned from within the organization. When designing logos for existing corporations, I interview each of the partners and key stakeholders at all levels; on lucky occasions they authorize me to ask their clients what it is that moves them to choose them over the competition. This information is gold and should be recorded live in real time (the core concepts will later be written don on the notebook).
When natural forms, art or optical illusions in our environment bring visual inspiration for my logo design, I am grateful that my phone has a camera with a good-resolution, since I will later be able to analyze and base my sketches on the pictures I take.
*It is not essential but I really enjoy taking a trip to the museum and walking along the exhibits with my phone and notebook in hand.
I always make sure that this digital tool is used until the end of the design process of a logo, when I have well-defined concepts and a clear idea of what I want to achieve.
Although a logo can be designed with many different software not focused on vectors (Photoshop, PowerPoint and even Word), I do not recommend using them since by nature a logo will need to be vectorized, which allows modifications without losing quality.