Logo design, or now the buzzword is branding, is something that was selling on eBay for $10.99. Wow! In the past 13 years in the design industry, I have never seen a logo auctioned off like kids clothes. Capitalism is great.

I guess that I should start over, “Real” logo design is a multi-faceted skill that isn’t something developed overnight. It takes years of education and on the job experience to get the big picture. A logo is a mark, which will represent your company and must integrate all of your marketing strategies and business goals into a tiny little mark. It’s kind of like having a baby. And since I have done both, I can really understand. You spend years perfecting this skill. And it is a 5-step process. The designer starts with research and I mean thorough research of the company. This includes reading through business plans and meetings with the leads from the client side.

After immersing yourself into this company, then you start to ask questions like who is the competitive landscape, what are you short and long term goals, etc. Once you have those answers and a good understanding of where the company is and where it wants to be, then you still can’t start design. You need to prioritize this research for the client. This is critical. What is the single most important piece of information that you gathered. Is it the personality of the company? And if so, can you say it in one or two words? What is that thing – or in the marketing world, what is your key differentiator. Now, do you have it? If so, you can finally start thumb nailing. And this isn’t quick. Do not thumbnail on the computer. Thumbnails must be hand drawn and you can’t just do a couple. A minimum of 50 thumbnails should get your creative juices flowing. Remember, this logo needs to represent THIS company, not any other company. They didn’t spend a day building Rome…

Okay. A few days later, you should look again at those thumbnails and pick out the top five. The top five are roughs. Ah..ah..ah. No computer yet. Now, you spend some time adding more detail to each of the thumbnails until you and three other designers can tell what it is. Got it? Now, at this point, the ball is still in your court. So, you get to pick one or two of your favorites. Now, go to the computer and you are probably already there and start working in a vector software program – not to name names, but I recommend Adobe Illustrator CS3.

After working on the logos for 2 days, you should have some nice vector versions in black and white that you can share with the client. Keep it in black and white because if color is integrated at this point, the client may not be focusing on the actual mark. They may be subconscioussly opposed to the color yellow, because they just hate bananas. So, you don’t want to get into that mess. So, keep it simple.

After your explanation and their critique, in a perfect world, the client would have selected one option. At this point, start working on color palettes and remember create a 1 color, 2 color and 4 color process logos. This will be used in all manners and the client needs to see that from the beginning. So, after some back and forth with the client, you should have an elated client and you should be quite satisfied with the results.

So, it goes back to the eBay logo for $10.99. How in the world do they possibly make any profit from $10.99? Unless they work for 10 cents an hour, it’s not possible. The client will never have what they need –a distinct mark that integrates marketing strategy with design. It will be something that’s worth $10.99 and I’d rather have a nice juicy hamburger for $10.99 not my design!