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Behind-the-scenes of my logo design process

14 December 2019 • Filed under Branding, Portfolio

By working at direct contact with clients on a daily basis, interacting with them, learning how to speak the design language in a way that feels approachable to non-experts, after a lot of trial and error, I can say I was able to finally craft a logo design process for myself that I’ve seen rarely (if not ever) failing.

Behind-the-scenes of my logo design process from start to finish - Miel Café Design

I find very fascinating how each designer has a unique approach to the process of logo designing. And I strongly believe, as a client considering different designers to work with, it’s a good practice to learn how the process works before even hiring someone. Because the process, as in any creative fields, is one of the things that really makes the difference between one designer and another.

Choose the designer based on his style and portfolio, but definitely ask about his process and see if it resonates with your way of thinking and working.

I talked about the generic essential steps of a logo design process in the past, but today I wanted to bring you along in a recent branding project to show you exactly what happens behind-the-scenes of any of my designs!

But first, my logo design process from start to finish, could be sum up a little like this:

  • Discovery phase or brand study
  • Visualization
  • Conception and drafting
  • Logo designing
  • Creation of secondary logo variations and coordinated graphic elements

Discovery phase or brand study

Writing a brief can be daunting. Especially for a client who has zero experience in the field.

So instead of asking my clients to try and write a brief straight away, I put together a client questionnaire that includes all the essential questions you should be asking yourself whenever you first decide to put your brand on the market.

Brand design is about displaying your unique voice while also being strategic about each graphic choice. The end result, believe it or not, shouldn’t necessarily match your aesthetic preferences (at least not primarily) but work in your field, attract the right clientele, be specific about what you do and why people need your services/products.

Behind-the-scenes of my logo design process sketchbook - Miel Café Design

After years and years of forging my client questionnaire, now I feel confident it will literally never fail me! Through it I’m always able to grab essential information such as:

  • The aim of the brand;
  • The target audience or, as I like to call it, the ideal clientele;
  • A unique ideal client profile;
  • Services/products price range;
  • A competitors list;
  • A list of adjectives describing the brand and its essence.

Visualization

My work here consists in reading between the lines, finding your core values, discovering your true essence and then start visualising how all that could be rendered into a design.

I do it through a shared vision board (which I usually create on Pinterest) in which I put together a proper first brand proposal only by explaining my intentions through saved images, examples and inspiration.

This is where the concept starts appearing and becoming clearer. This is where the theory meets practice and I start to get an actual idea of what the final design might look like.

Behind-the-scenes of my logo design process vision board - Miel Café Design

My clients get to see the finished board together with my comments on each of the images saved explaining how we can reinterpret that idea or use a similar style. I care about any small choices in this phase, and make sure it’s clear enough, even on the client side, what I’m suggesting and why.


Conception and drafting

I ask each of my clients to send over an in-depth feedback on the vision board, giving them the chance to add more to the mix or bring in any last minute idea, before I start designing.

My design process always starts with a pencil and a sketchbook. I’m a very visual person and, while I might already have a clear idea in my mind, I need to properly see it to understand whether it’s going to work out or not.

This is the time I get my creative juices flowing, spend hours in front of a piece of paper and draft away until I have a more definitive idea and logo concept.

Most times this is the phase when I realise my initial idea wasn’t that great, or some part of it might need to be refined a little. It’s also when new ideas gain a fundamental role in the play.

Behind-the-scenes of my logo design process drafts - Miel Café Design
Logo concept for Adriano Mazzocchetti, wedding and portrait photographer: the crest is a symbol of family and the foliage illustrations adorning it represent leaves of oak and linden, typical of the areas Adriano lives and works, but also linked to the myth of Philemon and Baucis (symbol of love and union).

I love showing my drafts to my clients, always! Even when they’re terribly messy or very imperfect. I want them to enjoy the process as much as I do, to see where it all came from. But also, sharing this very initial design phase with them means they are able to give me helpful feedbacks even before I start designing.


Logo designing

Wow, would you think the actual design would be this far down in a logo design process? But I truly believe it’s that intense brand study done together with the client, that is doing all the difference in my logo design approach.

Yes because, although I’m open to exceptions, most times I only propose one logo option. No more endless options to choose from, but one focused and strategic design I’m sure it’s going to work.

I used to propose several logo options to my clients and give them the complete freedom to choose the one they preferred. But to be honest, not only this confused my clients, but I deep down knew there was only one option between them I was confident for them to choose. Only one option I had no doubt it was going to work like a charm for their brand.

And so I changed my approach and structured solid foundation in order to make sure that one option is 100% going to work while also predict what my clients would choose.

This allows me to focus on only one concept, put all my energies and time into it. Sometimes logo concepts require research, a lot of it, and this means I can have my mind working at the only one concept I know it will be chosen instead of several others.

The result, I have to say, is of a complete new level than when I was proposing several options at once. And the risk of my clients picking the wrong option for their brand doesn’t exist anymore.

Behind-the-scenes of my logo design process. Logo design and variations for Adriano Mazzocchetti wedding and portrait photographer - Miel Café Design
Behind-the-scenes of my logo design process. Logo design and variations for Adriano Mazzocchetti wedding and portrait photographer - Miel Café Design
Designed for Adriano Mazzocchetti (wedding and portrait photographer)

Wondering whether it ever happened that a client didn’t like the design proposal? Well, the answer is no! At least not until today. Because my clients go through the process alongside me and are able to point out whatever detail it’s not working in any of the previous steps.

Do I offer revisions? Of course! In any step of the process.

It means the design proposal might not be perfect in the right immediate, but can be perfectioned and refined with the help of the client.


Creation of secondary logo variations and coordinated graphic elements

Once the logo design is arranged, I always make sure I also provide different logo variations to fit in any spaces the main logo wouldn’t. Logo variations are also essential to make the brand look cohesive and coordinated but never boring or repetitive.

Together with logo variations, I provide my clients with extra graphic elements coordinated to the brand, such as patterns, textures or illustrations.

Behind-the-scenes of my logo design process. Logo design and variations for Adriano Mazzocchetti wedding and portrait photographer - Miel Café Design
Designed for Adriano Mazzocchetti (wedding and portrait photographer)

Both the logo variations and the extra graphic elements help in generating the feel and mood of the brand, making your target at ease, attracting the right people your way.

But they’re also an extension of your main logo design. They might involve concepts and feelings we weren’t able to include in the primary logo design, and therefore they can add even more meaning to the whole picture.


Explaining the logo design process

Since I only provide one design proposal, I like to make sure the client has no doubts about it. I always accompany the design proposal with an in-depth presentation including:

  • The brand brief and target audience;
  • The inspiration and drafts;
  • The concept and explanation behind the main logo design and how it meets the initial project goals;
  • Examples of application of all the design elements provided.
Behind-the-scenes of my logo design process presentation - Miel Café Design

At this point my clients can really see where and how their branding is going to work its magic. They’re conscious about its potential and instructed about how to use it even when they’ll be on their own.


Quite honestly I’m aware that my process is quite unique and might not work for anyone. But the purpose of structuring such a personal and different experience, is indeed to make sure I can get my best designer’s qualities at the service of my clients. And this is the process that my brain and creativity require in order to craft beautiful, timeless, strategic brand identities for my clients.

This is why I highly recommend, whenever you’re in the process of hiring a designer, you are first and foremost conscious about his method. You need to like it, trust it and, most importantly, ultimately love it!

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2 comments
Behind-the-scenes of my logo design process

  • Sandra says:

    Thanks for your article ! Very interesting ! May I ask you how long your branding process takes ?

    • Giada says:

      Hi Sandra, thanks for your comment. Usually my branding process (as described in this post) takes about 3 working weeks (plus additional time for coordinated marketing materials if requested). Obviously each project is fully customized to each client, therefore the time frame can vary based on a huge amount of factors! But after consolidating my process in the last few years, I’m being able to stick to the 3-weeks time frames for the majority of the projects.