Designing a logo: How to know when it’s working.

When you spend your life doing something, the process of it usually becomes intuitive and automatic. The process is something you can’t, or rather don’t need to understand anymore in a step by step way. Like riding bike – you say go, the wheels are in motion without too much of a thought. I often feel this way about my design process, it is something I have been doing for so long now that the steps I take aren’t overtly defined anymore. There are definitely things that I always do despite the route I take- research and more research, in the form of design workshops and gathering as much inspiration and as many ideas as possible. I think of this as filling the well, so that you have hundreds of idea seedlings all ready to be drawn out and played with. But the actual making, the moment of pen to paper, that is something that is more intuitive and less defined.

This week, I stopped to notice the development of a logo I’ve been working on, paying attention to it’s development from the design workshop with the client, right through to the finalised logo. It got me thinking, what is the moment in the design process when you know you are on to something? When you know your design is working? And what is the moment you decide to kill your darlings and go back to the drawing board?

I looked over my designs and could see five clearly defined moments.

1.

 

The development of initial concept, which was based on the requirements as defined from the design workshop. The requirements were:

For the logo to relate to a dog in some way.
To have a superhero feel.

But it was too obvious and forgettable. It needed to be scrapped.

2.

 

The next attempt where I went back to the drawing board to bring the elements together. It was definitely more interesting and I liked the deconstructed hound elements on the superhero mask. That they were distinctly two seperate elements that worked seamlessly together. But it was too arty not quite right.

3.

 

The development of the ‘next attempt’, to something cleaner and more refined. But again, 3 refinements in I hit a road block. The eyes were too sinister and I couldn’t find a way forward.

4.

The moment of working out sideways. Keeping the things that were working from the logo, but almost taking it back to the drawing board and seeing if that could open up anything new. What it did reveal was a idea of raising one of the dog’s ears, as though he is ‘listening out’ which as well as helping to create a more dynamic and interesting logo, was conceptually relevant to the brand.

5.

 


The moment of having fresh eyes laid on the work. Sometimes the greatest key after having so long with a design. It was suggested to change the colour, and simply doing so from yellow to red unlocked the final piece of the puzzle, lending itself to a much more superhero and complete feel.

I am not sure if is possible to really articulate in a 1 + 2 = 3 way why exactly a design does or doesn’t work; at the end of the day it is art not math. But I think that by laying the process out like this, it is clear how one changed element leads to another and how a logo evolves and grows into it’s full self. As nice as it would be to have an exact formula for beginning, middle, end, I suppose it is what makes something created so special, that is there is no formula and that at it’s core it is created from the most human of elements: intuition.

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