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July 26, 2016

Logo Design, from Start to Finish

July 26, 2016

Navigating a rebrand can be a tricky process. There are a lot of points to be taken into consideration and a lot of voices that want to contribute and have a say in how a new brand comes to life. Not to mention the blank canvas of a new brand—there are so many opportunities and potential paths to take that it can be hard to know what to expect.


Like many things we do, our brand and logo design process begins with listening. We use a number of research methods to do so—interviews, surveys, insight sessions, etc. We typically aren’t experts in our clients’ industries, so we want to hear from those who are. By setting aside our assumptions, we can better understand what they feel and experience in relation to the brand.


After listening and conducting research, we're often left with a lot—sometimes an overwhelming amount—of data that needs to be compiled and organized. Once it’s organized, we begin to look for patterns and themes in what we heard which can then be used to outline criteria for exploration. It’s important to make sure our work remains relevant and aligns with what he heard in our research.

What we usually take from this phase is a set of traits or values that define the brand experience. These are meant to define the overall feeling we wish to evoke with the logo, color palette, visual aesthetic. These inform messaging and tone of voice too – but I'm focusing primarily on our logo process here.


Once values have been identified, we can begin exploration using these foundations to guide us.

This often starts with a mood board (for more on mood boards, see Sarah’s blog post) before ultimately going to logo design, which can be broken down into a few steps:

1. Conceptualize

A good first step in designing a logo is ideating on logo concepts. We already know how we want it to look and feel, so this step is meant to define what the logo should represent.

This is where recurring themes from the Listen phase can come into play. Did any themes arise that might make a good visual representation of the brand? Another method is to simply come up with a list of words (the more the better!) that come to mind when you think about the brand—literal or metaphorical. Do you want to represent a product? An emotion? An idea?

After we compile a list of the strongest concepts, we move into the next step.

2. Sketch

This next step is about building on the strongest ideas and beginning to sketch out different ways of visualizing concepts. Once we think we’ve reached a good number of sketches, we keep sketching! This phase is all about ideation and iteration. The more ideas we put on paper, the more likely we are to uncover unique solutions.

After a myriad of sketches, we narrow in on the best ones and begin to iterate.

3. Digitize

It’s nice to have a handful of options going into the digital phase of logo design. We often find that logos we loved as sketches don’t work as well digitally and vice versa. This step is largely about refinement and polish, but there is also ideation and iteration to be done digitally as well. Sometimes we go through several digital iterations before landing on the final logo design.

All in all, our logo design process comes down to listening, framing what we heard, and using that to guide our exploration. Our rebrand also includes a heavy focus on messaging, strategy and design elements beyond logo, but hopefully this overview shows you that this isn’t just magic. There’s a mix of method and play to help bring the visual to life. Okay, I guess you can pair those with a little magic (aka creativity), and you have yourself a recipe for a new logo.

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