So where does one get those gorgeous logo ideas from?
The first question that popped into my mind when I was learning to design logos.
It seemed all the designers are naturally born with this talent. They could just whip out these ideas and create all of these beautiful logo designs.
And then there was me, it would be days until I could narrow down onto a concept.
The first logo I ever designed?
And it took me forever.
I thought it will always be a painful experience like this. But as I practiced more and worked on more projects my process got better and the brainstorming much smoother.
Now, depending on the project I am working on, I slightly tweak my brainstorming methods. So I don’t necessarily follow the methods to a T. But I hope this post gives you some insight into it.
I walk through the brand messaging and try to find ideas or related material on the web. It could be anything from quotes, to tattoos, to photographs, to some literature reference, to historical origins etc.
The beauty of design is you can find inspiration pretty much anywhere. There was this one time I was inspired by a pattern on my sweater! So I don’t limit myself to looking for design ideas only in other identity designs or other graphic designs.
The few things that I use when researching are
– Some visual representation in the brand name itself.
– Any benefit that the brand provides.
– Any visual words that would best describe the brand.
– Any symbolic reference related to the brand origin story.
While searching, I either simply type in the words that I am looking for or I use related phrases to dig deeper. So if energetic is one of the words that describe a brand very well, I would search for
In this phase, I focus more on consuming and collecting all the information and taking notes rather than looking for that perfect logo idea from this material.
I create a new folder on the desktop and name it as brand_name_brainstorm. While I am looking for ideas, I keep the folder open in the background and drag and drop any images that I find into this folder. I also use Evernote for taking notes if any and name the note the same as folder name.
Once I have done enough, the ideas naturally flow when I sit down to sketch them.
2. All The Initial Ideas
I pull in all the images that I have collected from the brainstorm folder into a single Artboard on Illustrator. I note down any keywords from the notes on the Artboard itself so all the information is neatly available at a glance.
Next, I start sketching any and every idea that comes to my mind and also use any references from the information collected before.
Example – any words or symbols that have been repeatedly appearing in the research.
They are not really fully formed ideas and they don’t even need to be good ideas. They are quick doodles which I create to output as many ideas as I can.
Sometimes I just write down the ideas instead of doodling, whichever feels convenient at the moment.
3. Don’t Eliminate an Idea because it is common
I believe I have mentioned this somewhere before ( My terrible memory is not helping me out here ), but cliche designs for logos are not a good idea. Example a book for a bookstore or shopping cart for online stores.
They are overused and obvious ideas.
If you want to differentiate your logo and stand out, avoid your first ideas because they are going to be cliche.
But while I am doodling, putting ideas out there I don’t eliminate any idea just because its cliche.
When you stop at some idea because its cliche or silly, its like stopping your flow of generating ideas. It is like telling yourself that you should stop because you are not good at getting ideas.
Never. Do. That.
I just keep doodling or writing them down, they eventually lead to the good ones. ( Even though I might use a cliche idea as a starting point for generating ideas, there is no way it will make the cut to the final designs – If I can’t generate more ideas I have not researched well enough and I have to go back to the first step again)
4. Sketch Everything
Once I have finished brainstorming ideas, I pick the most promising ideas and work on sketching them into logos.
I usually pick one idea at a time, exhaust all the possibilities with the concept before moving on to the next.
When I say exhausting all the possibilities, I mean exploring different layouts, typefaces, shapes and sizes with the logo. This process in itself gives you tons of different variations of the logo by just using a single concept or an idea.
So if you can create at least 10 different variations using one concept and you have at least 10 different concepts brainstormed, that is like a 100 different logo options!
Those are a ton of ideas to work with.
I have a list of my go to typefaces handy. It is important to know their characteristics, what makes them unique and how they help to relate with the brand. It also helps to know which letters or alphabets in the typeface are uniquely designed so if a brand name consists of one of those you can just quickly select these types.
Like Baskerville has this unique ampersand in italics and a nice Q. Also the Q from Mrs Eaves and Adobe Calson Pro are gorgeous. So if you know these little details of certain typefaces you don’t need to keep searching all day for that right typeface, you already have some ideas at your fingertips.
Some of my favorite sans serif typefaces are – Futura, Helvetica and Din.
And some of my favorite serifs are – Baskerville, Bodoni, Didot and Mrs Eaves.
There are many more such typefaces which are well designed and look good as logos. I keep a list of these typefaces which are my favorite so that I can quickly take a look how the use of a particular kind of typefaces affects the look and feel of the logo. This is also a good way for me to judge if I need to look for a different typeface or I could just use one of these and save a lot of time.
I must admit I have never created my own custom type. I have only created custom letters or modified existing types.
So here you go, this is roughly my “process” or things I do to brainstorm good ideas for logos. This process may seem long but with practice your ability to brainstorm gets much easier and quicker. The more projects your work on ( personal or client based ) the better the results.
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