WHAT IS OUR DESIGN PROCESS?
On a near day to day basis, we get asked about the process involved when producing a design. What are the steps we take? And approximately how long does each stage take?
So we decided to write an article to explain just that. Though the below outlines our personal process, every company is unique and may approach design completely differently. This is 100% the Maroon Baboon way.
For the following article, we will be using the logo design process as an example.
STAGE ONE – CUSTOMER PREFERENCE
When undertaking any new client work it is paramount we must first understand the clients preferences. Not just what they are looking for in their design, but what is their style preference? What type of styles or layouts do they appreciate and enjoy.
This lets us get inside the mind of the customer to try and envisage what they would love, and what they would hate. The hardest part of any design job is getting it right for THAT client. Though any half good graphic designer can produce a stunning looking finished product, the skill is in understanding the clients requirements and desires, and ultimately getting the finished item perfect for them, and their brand.
Before starting any work either on paper or online, we ask the client for a complete brief. This is broken down into three parts. Below these three parts we have included a standard (fictitious) response.
- Logo Name
- Should the design include a slogan or tagline? If so, what?
- Should the logo include any other text? For example, “Established 2014″ or “Since 1995″
- Do you have a colour palette in mind? If so, what?
The four bullets above give us the tangible factors of the logos make up. What the logo should say, and in what colours. However, it doesn’t give us any real idea of the style the logo should portray. The second part of the brief (outlined below) is aimed at unlocking the type of logo design the client is looking for.
- What is the style of font to be used? Should it be up-right or curvy? Should it be bold or light? Should it be straight or italic?
- Do you have any specific fonts in mind?
- Do you want an icon included to further emphasise your brand identity? If so, what?
- Do you want the logo or slogan boxed?
All of the above information gives us a much clearer idea in our mind what the client requires. The last really important factor before beginning to design for a client, is asking for examples of the type of logos or work they appreciate and would like for their brand. The final step is useful for all facets of design, not just logo and branding work.
The final part of the puzzle is to ask for the customer to forward us three or four designs they really admire and enjoy. This really helps us understand the type of lettering and finish the customer is looking for.
The Customer Response
Detailed below is a standard (fictitious) response to the three parts attached above.
“Our company name is “The Big Day“. We are a small company of hair and beauty artists who specialise in weddings. Our slogan under the logo should be “The Wedding Stylists“. We don’t want any other text included in the logo. Our colour theme should be lots of whites, pinks and pastel colours.”
“The type of fonts we really enjoy are curvy or wavy, with an italic (slanted) feel. It should look handwritten, but tidy. It should be easy to read, but not to thick in size. We would also like some sort of beauty or wedding related icon included somewhere, to really give the customer an instant idea as to what we do”.
“Attached below are four logos we really love”
STAGE TWO – THE LAYOUT
Stage two is figuring out the type of layout the client wants. Logos can take a range of sizes, shapes and formats. Now we have the information detailed in stage one, it becomes easier to understand the layout the design should be, especially from part three.
The layout also depends greatly on the type of company we are dealing with. For example, a trendy new bar or restaurant may want their logo primarily revolving around an icon or a couple of initials. This styling would obviously not fit so well for a care home or a dentist. So taking into account the audience of the company involved is crucial when looking at creating a brand.
Below is a typical layout styling we would do for stage two. This particular design is for our eyes only. It really helps if the identity is laid out ready. A more unexperienced designer, would get stuck straight into the fonts and the icon creation (the fun part). But designing in this order can be a nightmare should you have to change the layout at a later date.
Here is an example of a basic logo layout. You can see the main logo displayed centrally, with the slogan directly below and the icon space inserted above.
Okay, so it doesn’t look particularly special, but it will. The above gives us an indication of where each element should be, but in respect to each other. For example, how big the slogan underneath the main logo should be in comparison to the logo text itself. This of course can all change once the chosen font is in place, as each font has its own unique interpretation of sizing.
One font at size 50 may be nearly twice the size of another. Sadly, thats just part and parcel of being a designer.
STAGE THREE – SELECTING THE FONTS
Now the logo layout is complete, we begin browsing through a range of relevant fonts. This indeed can be labelled as the fun part, but with a database of over 10,000 different fonts, finding that magically style can be somewhat frustrating at times.
A frustration which is worsened if your client wants a specific logo they have seen in another design. Unfortunately, image based files don’t leave a trace of what fonts were used in the production. So without physically asking the designer what fonts were used, it can be a matter of trial and error.
After several hours of hard work, our font selection is complete. We chose two fonts we felt worked really well together. I hope you agree?
As a rule of thumb hand written cursive fonts generally look better with the first letter capitalised or completely lower case. In the case of this particular logo, we decided to capitalise each first letter to make it stand out.
The slogan itself, was hard to incorporate directly under the logo font, because of the g from the word big. So decided to right align it under the word day.
In reality we try to give most clients at least three options to choose from. After the first draft, we then try to enhance and modify one of those options, which would become the finished piece.
STAGE FOUR – INCORPORATING AN ICON
Icon inclusion is always difficult. Knowing where and what to include can be tough. There are a sea of icons available on the net, so choosing the correct one can be a long process. In the example below we have decided to include a love heart style icon, to bring together the theme of love and marriage. Again this design is purely the first stage/draft of this overall design project. If the client doesn’t feel comfortable with the icon used, it will be changed to another option. The exchange process between designer and client is key to designing a great logo.
STAGE FIVE – MASTERING THE LOGO
Mastering the logo is the final step in getting a design completed and ready to be sent to a client. This includes colouring the logo as required in line with the clients requirements. At this point we also try to work out if the logo needs any customisation to the font or to the layout itself. Below is an example of the completed first draft, with its colour elements in place.
STAGE SIX – PREPPING THE DESIGN
An important factor of showing off the design, is prepping the finished product to show any client. We use a range of mock ups and virtual tools to show what the logo draft would look like across a range of media including business cards, poster, signage and much more. The image below shows off “The Big Day” logo on a digital business card mock up.
STAGE SEVEN – THE REVIEW PROCESS
At Maroon Baboon we offer three design review phases. So once the client has reviewed the first logo, we begin development based on their recommendations. Our goal is to produce our client the perfect logo, whatever it takes.
If you are interested in design of any sort, please do get in touch firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks for reading.