Evolution of a Logo

Have you ever wondered how a logo is made? It may seem like an easy task, but usually it’s quite the opposite. A logo is the first impression many people will have of your business. That’s a lot of pressure for one little icon!

I’d like to share with you the process I follow. Note: All designers have a different process, and it’s an ever-evolving one. There is no “right” or “wrong” way to do it, I am just sharing my version of the process with you.

Step 1. Understand the Goal

The first thing I do is sit down with a new partner and get to know them. What are their needs? What are their business goals? Who are they trying to reach? I gather the appropriate amount of details and make sure I understand exactly what their problems and goals are.

During these conversations, I jot down any descriptive words or phrases that pop in my head.

Step 2. Benchmark

Next, I do a bit of market research. I look for effectiveness of branding in competitors. Are there any common visual themes or colors? What keywords, products, or services are other companies in this industry using? What has and has not been successful? All of this information helps me to get a better feel for the market my partner will be competing in.

In the examples you'll see throughout this post, our project was to create a logo for the Cumberland Economic Development Corporation, a local organization whose purpose is to support economic development and community development in the area of Allegany County, Maryland. Here are a few logos we gathered during the benchmarking phase:

Logo Benchmarking

Step 3. Paper and Pencil Sketch

As I read through my notes and list of descriptive words, symbols and shapes begin to take form in my head. I usually begin by sketching in a notebook. Why? Sketching is fast and flexible. Good and bad (sometimes really terrible) ideas go down quickly on paper. It’s better to put it all out there, and eventually an idea will spark! Don’t over-edit yourself; don’t try to be perfect.

There were two designers working on sketches for this project. I completely admit that I’m a messy sketcher (mine are on the bottom). Don’t fight it, just own it! :)

Logo Sketches

Step 4. Internal Review

We have several rounds of internal review, especially if more than one person is working on the project. We bring our sketches in and present them to the team. After explaining our thought process and reviewing the other sketches, we narrow the sketches down to only the strongest ideas.

During our first meeting on the CEDC logo project, we decided to iterate on the idea of a folded blueprint. I did a few more sketches to explore different types of shapes and folds. At some point during this process, a seal with a tree and acorn popped in my head, which ended up being key to this particular project. The acorn represented potential, the roots represented our history and heritage, and the “bloom” of tree leaves stood for growth and expansion.

Logo Sketches round 2

Step 5. Draft

I take the most promising ideas and flesh them out in Illustrator. This involves a great deal of trial and error. I keep everything; all ideas (good and bad) reside together in one document.

Here are some of the blueprint ideas we fleshed out in Illustrator for the CEDC:

Logo Drafts

Step 6. Client Review & Feedback

Time to present our top picks to our partner! The most important thing to do at this phase is to explain your process. Don’t just plop your designs down and say “What do you think?” You should be prepared to explain why you chose specific shapes and colors. What led you to the conclusion that this would be the most effective way to represent their company? You could even share your process (including early sketches) so they can see how the idea evolved over time.

At this point the partner will usually take some time to think about the logos, show them to friends, their own business partners, potential clients, etc. When they feel ready, they provide feedback. I return to Illustrator to make changes. This loop can happen one or several times. When all parties are satisfied with the outcome, I proceed to the final step.

Logo Semi-Finals

Together, with our partner from the CEDC, we decided that the seal with the tree and acorn was the best fit for the organization. I spent several days finalizing colors and typography. This was the final result:

Cumberland Economic Development Final Logo

Step 7. Final Details & File Prep

I do any last minute clean-up to the logo that is necessary, making sure that everything is aligned properly, the right colors are used, etc. I prepare the logo and export a variety of file types for use in different mediums.

I've recently added creation of a design board to my logo process. A design board has all of the logo assets in one easy-to-access location. You can check out the Cumberland Economic Development design board here.

As you can see, the logo process is anything but simple. It requires a team of people, and a lot of time and effort to come up with a beautiful and effective logo. But I promise, the investment is worth it! If the process is successful, our partner walks away with a valuable marketing piece that will impact his or her business for years to come.

Have questions or comments about the logo design process? Think our creative team would be a good fit for your business needs? Contact us using the button below, or leave a comment on this post! We'd love to hear from you!

Erin Fike
Graphic Designer
or drop us a note and say hello!