Why is it Important to Understand a Brand Before Designing a Logo

by Mike Jansen
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Understand the Brand before designing a Logo

“Design is thinking made visual”

Saul Bass

One of the well-known names who made the design industry what it is today, Saul Bass, is more versatile than the color white. Known for his design of motion-picture title sequences, corporate logos, and movie posters, this graphic designer is also an Oscar-winning filmmaker. The designer emphasizes the importance of looking clearly and directly at ideas that already exist. However, he believes that in order to do so, the only path is by understanding the company, its tone, and everything else that may or may not be on the surface. 

Related: Paul Rand’s Logo Design Principles (And How They Can Help Designers)

While many of the iconic logos evolve over time – such as Apple, where its branding and logo design journey helped them in building relationships with the customers – starting right can never be overlooked. 

Also read: Dress to Kill | Apple Packaging Design Gets as Pretty as a Picture

Knowing It All 

Or at least most of it. 

Just on a previous Sunday at a brunch with fellow designers, Jason, a US-based designer with around 2 decades of experience, hit the elephant in the room, he asked “shall a business be based on its logo or a logo stems out of the business?”

After what felt like a 3-hour long discussion, we all came to the conclusion that there is no black or white answer to the question. However, one factor came out to be existing on the common ground: with the current segments of customers, a logo has to be much more than colors and fonts. 

Brand Evaluation

There is no something-for-everyone approach in a logo design. Rather, your logo should be filled with elements that portray everything for everyone. Moreover, as a logo is considered the first impression of a brand, it goes without saying, a logo should be about that brand. Nevertheless, you as a designer cannot impart different aspects of a brand into a logo if you are not familiar with the same. 

Related: Steps Towards Building A Strong Brand Design For Luxury Brand Marketing

While some clients will provide you with a design brief, it is upon you to dig further. Moreover, there will be clients who may not be entirely aware of how they want the final design to appear. Therefore, regardless of the client, you must conduct wholesome research that shall help you with the following:

  • The industry, packaging material, target customers, and other specifications. 
  • The use of the logo – will it be used digitally or on clothing materials, hoardings, and signage as well?
  • Their preferred style: a combination of text and graphics, or a solid color, or text only – and so on. 
  • A set of adjectives that shall describe the logo. For instance, a logo should appear to be minimal, feminine, abstract, etc. 
  • The brand’s color palette or preferred set of colors. 
  • As per the brand’s objectives, what shall a customer think and feel as they come across their logo?

As you get all the above-mentioned information, I would suggest forming your own opinion on the brand, and representing a combination of the two through your logo design. 

Related: How To Get A Logo Accepted: 8 Steps To A Better Design Workflow

Industry Research

Why is it Important to Understand a Brand Before Designing a Logo

While a brand has to be evaluated, the industry associated with the same is to be researched thoroughly. 

On the surface, your client’s brand might be working towards standing apart from the crowd, its industry, but it will have to comply with its standards and norms. Thus, to ensure that your logo design stands apart from the crowd while maintaining the industry norms, you must research the brand’s competitors and industry in its entirety. 

Through this, you can find out which colors and geometric shapes work better than the others in this specific industry, what is considered generic and has been overused (thus, should be avoided), and which type of customers are the epicenter of the industry. 

Read more: Types of Logos: Creating The Ultimate Logo Design 

For instance, the automobile industry mostly consists of brands with Emblems as their logos, which represents the corporate identity of the company. 

Benefits of Knowing It All

Research is a powerful tool. Yes, it is a time-consuming and back-aching process, however, the results surely outmatch the efforts and time put into it collectively. Therefore, to get yourself a glimpse of how your design will be affected by the research, I’d like you to go through the following points and walk wearing my shoes:

Knowing about brand’s growth perspectives

Design a logo. Now, ask your client where they see their brand in the next 10 years. Design a logo again. The difference you will notice between the two is due to the elements you considered in the second scenario, which were missing from the first. Knowing a company’s long-term goals will help you foresee the aspects required to be outlined through the logo throughout the years.

Knowing about trends in the industry

There was a time when stripes and geometric shapes were considered aspects that make a great logo, Adidas, for instance. However, the entire point of logos is uniqueness, no two logos shall be the same. Therefore, knowing the nitty-gritty factors of an industry will not only help you create a unique logo – which is the basic requirement of a client, but will also help you understand what works and what does not work in this specific industry. This, of course, will come in handy the next time your work with a brand in a similar industry. 

Conclusion

Statistically, it takes 50 milliseconds to notice an image. Thus, you have around 50 milliseconds to showcase your skills, efforts, opinion, and everything that you have put into your logo design. This will be a lot more highlighted if you consider the individuals and companies on which this 50 milliseconds impression has to play its role.
Moreover, having an opinionated and well-researched design reflects you as a designer onto your designs. For instance, Nike’s logo journey was not as smooth as it seems, initially, the swoosh was not even considered the best by one of the founders: Phil Knight. Nonetheless, now it is one of the most beloved and recognizable logos in the world.

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