David Airey is an independent graphic designer working with companies of all sizes since 2005.

Design process

Here’s a quick overview of the steps taken throughout an identity design project.

The brief

Compiled from a Q&A session with the client, a design brief clarifies what needs to be done, keeps the project on track, and saves time for everyone involved. Here are potential .

Research and brainstorming

Time is spent reviewing the brief and asking followup questions before beginning more thorough research and brainstorming. Taken into account are a client’s competitors, market trends, product or service differentiators, the history of the business, the future, the current brand, and brand aspirations.

Sketching

Using a pencil and paper helps generate a strong set of possible directions. The alternative of a mouse and computer adds an extra level of restriction that hinders creativity. Most sketches are eventually made redundant, but the point is to explore as many directions as possible before narrowing it down to two or three.

Rendering

The most effective ideas are developed in digital format. The rendering stage involves transferring these options to Adobe Illustrator, to Adobe Photoshop, and printed to PDF for the presentation.

The presentation

Each design is shown in context using digital mock-ups (i.e., in situations where the design will be used upon project completion — on a phone app, billboard, signage, clothing, etc.). Then it’s over to the client to consider the designs and prepare feedback based upon how the ideas fulfil the brief.

Tweaks and finishing touches

This involves finalising an option or making revisions until exactly the right direction is reached. The aim is to create a visual identity that works for the respective business, and for decades to come, so there’s always flexibility here rather than the need for an immediate “yes” or “no.”

Artwork supply

Artwork is supplied via email and/or made available for download. Specific file requests can be catered for.

The visual systems created are used for a variety of purposes — websites, stationery, vehicle wraps, billboard advertising. Additional collateral is also an option.

After service

The offering doesn’t end once a client pays the final installment. Should any design-related questions crop-up, I’m on hand to provide an answer, or to offer assistance with design application. I can help with print procurement, or any related issue that might arise.

If you have any questions about how I work, feel free to ask.

You’ll find a more detailed explanation of the design process in my book Logo Design Love: A Guide to Creating Iconic Brand Identities.

My second book on Amazon

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124 appreciated comments about “Design process”

  1. I’ve done logo design a few times now, and I’m still working out the kinks on the business end. What do you do if you show them two options and they hate both? Do you charge per hour or per project? And either way, if they don’t like the options but are on a deadline, do they still have to pay you for your time and energy?

    I had a client recently (unfortunately, not a very good one) for whom I ended up showing 10 different options, they didn’t like any, and it took me 2 months to get my paycheck. It was frustrating all around, and I’d like to figure out a way for this not to happen again :).

  2. Hi Renata, with all new clients I ask for a 50 percent payment in advance, normally via bank transfer. How many options did you originally send? If you showed all 10 at once it’s possible your client was unable to choose due to the number of alternatives.

  3. I’m glad you linked back to some of your old articles. I really enjoyed those Five 54 logos, even if you didn’t! You do a TON of sketching for your logos! And I have a feeling those were only some of them. I’ve found that once I get all the obvious solutions to a design out of the way, that’s when the really good stuff comes up.

  4. Actually, if you substitute the word “writing” for the design specific terms in your process, the writing process isn’t so very different…

  5. I’m impressed that you have a process for creating logos. As someone whoes main job is to stare at a text editor all day, I had never even considered that graphic design could benefit from planning.; programming being something planning is almost essential to. I did orignally get into web development and the other avenues it has led me down through graphic design, but I only do the odd design now. I never really was one for logo design. If you would like to have a look at the couple I have done: one is on the URL of my comment and the other is at http://www.semlabs.co.uk.

    Do you ever have problems with people not giving you any information to work with to come up with a logo? I find this is ALWAYS a problem in website development.

    I also agrre with your point that good logos ain’t cheap, but there’s no need to spend too much, like the BBC with their £4milllion pound couple of boxes.

    I am scheduald to do a logo for a chili sauce company in the future and i’m sure that this post will come in handy.

    PS – You should stick a Digg button on here for easy access.

  6. Lauren, glad you liked the Five 54 sketches.

    I just couldn’t find an idea I thought would work. Maybe I’ll pick it up again as a side-project at some point. I agree that when the obvious is noted, you can really move things on. At least, that’s how it normally works with me. Sometimes I’ll come up with an effective idea at the start (not often though).

    Laura, thanks for leaving your comparison. I think the general process ideas can be transferred to quite a few professions, and I’d like to know how other people’s methods differ from mine.

    David, you’d be surprised how much planning is involved. I think a lot of people see it more as an art than a craft, and don’t realise that when you study, there are many rules. That’s not to say you need to stick to those rules. A wiser man than me once said that when you know them, you can break them.

    I’m unfamiliar with how much the BBC spent, but I do think it’s worth pointing out that the complete budget doesn’t go on just the logo. Guidelines account for a huge part of the job, and how the logo appears through different projects. A complete brand package is different from a stand-alone logo design.

  7. I agree that sketching is indeed important since that is usually the basis for one to come up with certain ideas. I also agree that there is indeed a lot of planning in just creating a logo it is the same when we were creating logos for our film projects.

  8. Thanks for covering this, it’s good to know the processes other people use.

  9. I have too agree that many great ideas are never first generation ideas. As a designer it takes me a little while to really burn through the ideas that are on the top of my head. I have come to realize that alot of those ideas have already been done and I am just redoing what I have seen before. I have a process for logos that is basically the same as yours.

  10. I start to design a Blog Directory Site logo this week. The site ( Blogsrecord.com) is still in Beta version. Could you give me an idea what is the best theme for Blogsrecord logo?
    I come with smiling icon similiar to Friendster.com logo :p but Im not sure. If I use symbolic icon logo, I think it has to be simple, and welcoming for everyone.
    Sketching up for ideas would take longer time than giving the final touch to a logo in my opinion :)

  11. Chase, do you have any examples of your film logos? I’d like to look.

    Lou, thanks, you’re very welcome.

    Daivid, good to know. It’s all too easy to come up with ideas that have already been done, and I reckon the same thing goes for a lot in life, not just with logos.

    Kukuh, I’ve taken a look at blogsrecord.com. First thing you should sort out is the formatting – AdSense is covering up some of your content, which isn’t great. Also, I’d advise removing the FeedBurner chicklet until you attract more subscribers. I kept mine invisible until I reached 300.

    Are you saying that you don’t have time to sketch ideas? I’m not sure what you meant.

  12. This post is very helpful and useful not just for clients but for other designers as well.
    Question to you: you wrote that you submit only two quite similar logos to your clients, do you also show them your logo sketches or not?

  13. Very informative post, as is the case with any info about a freelancer’s creative and business process. It’s good reference.

    I can def see the advantage of just showing the client two prototypes for a logo. Too many choices would be hard for the client to narrow down, and with only two you, as the designer, can focus only on the two strongest designs. Not two strong designs and maybe an additional of three bad ones just so you can have five to show.

    So how many rounds of final revisions do you allow your client to have before you start to charge them for additional hours of work? Also, what’s the average amount of time you spend on a logo project from start to finish? Like, what’s the turnaround time you usually tell your client?

  14. This post is great! It teaches me a lot of stuff about logo design. I’m like a student who wants to do design and your site always inspires me to design :)

  15. Hi Vivien, I have shown sketches, but normally I don’t. The majority are ideas I don’t think will work, and it’s never a good idea to show a client something you don’t like. Sod’s law they’ll choose it.

    Too many options can create an impossible choice for the client. Narrowing the focus as much as possible is the way forward.

    PG, revisions depend entirely on the client. As for turnaround time, a few weeks or months is usual. How about you?

    samsam, that’s great to know. Thanks for saying.

  16. I really enjoyed this one (and the other articles as well). I’m still studying to get my DTP/ Graphic Designer degree and this surely helps me figure out more what the process involves of getting from sketch to finished product.

    And thanks for the explanation on how to go about presenting your work to clients.

  17. Hi David,

    I originally showed them three, which they didn’t like, so they gave me different directions, and I worked with those (and then lather, rinse, repeat, when they did this several times).

    I generally do ask for a down payment (half when we nail down the idea, and half upon completion). These people were on a deadline of a week, so there wasn’t really time to — which was my mistake, and I should have insisted on it anyway.

    *Sigh* Chalk it up to live and learn (“and then get Luvs!” Damn being an advertising major, everything I say turns into a commercial…)

    Renata

  18. Hi David,
    first of all, I want to say thank you for your feedback. I really appriciate that.
    What I mean about sketching up a logo in my previous comment is that, I do always spend more times for that phase than any other stage of design. I can not start the refining part without feeling sure about the sketches. Some other designer perhaps would have done it better than me…

  19. Hi David,

    I use to freelance prior to working for G3 Creative as a senior designer
    and found it really difficult getting even happy clients to part with money.

    I am very glad to leave that scene behind and leave all the money
    chasing to someone else.

    Long live the monthly salary.

    Regards,

    Marianne

  20. Hello David,

    Regarding colors, do you use RGB or CMYK? Or is it depends on where they want to put their logo?

    About your Logo Questionnaires, can I used it too? I’ll keep your site as reference.

    Hmm… the idea of making questionnaires might apply in any kind of design process, because I might got forgotten on what are the usual questions that I asked during customer meetings. Also, customer didn’t have to waste more time waiting questions from me.

    Great idea, David!

  21. Matt, best wishes on your course.

    Renata, “live and learn” is very apt, and I’ve learned so much more than any course could teach since becoming self-employed.

    Kukuh, you’re very welcome. I reckon you’re right not to start refining until you’re sure of the sketch. It’ll save you a lot of time further down the line.

    Marianne, for sure, there are pros and cons of self-employment. Personally, I enjoy sourcing my own clients. It’s not for everyone though. Thanks for dropping in.

    Didik, the colours used are entirely dependent on the medium. RGB for web, and CMYK for print.

    As for my questionnaires, by all means use the info. Obviously you’ll have to create them yourself, or you’d be showing my logo. Good luck.

  22. Hi David,

    Thank you for a very inertesting read. I am a self employed designer & would have to agree that the added responsibility & freedom is great (to be honest I wouldn’t have it any other way) but there are quite a few issues such as chasing payment & fussy (sorry confused clients) that need to be considered. I have found that it is imperative to have a design plan & this must be shown to your client so that they are aware of the processes involved to reach the final goal & of course you must be paid for the hours you put in before & after you complete the process. Some how most clients believe that your work should come with a big price tag saying “free”. I have come across your article as I still needed to refine my design process to combat the issue of a confused client. Hence the importance of a having design plan & sticking to it. At stage one, I make contact with my client & obtain an understanding of their business/product enabling me to complete my brief. I then email a quote requesting 50% payment then work can commence. After payment has been received my client then recieves 3 designs to choose/amend/refine. The final is then sent for approval & final balance is requested. Upon receipt of payment & then issue their logo kit. Its great when it goes according to plan, but there are times when you just want to scream. I have felt frustration towards the client (sitting alone at my desk in the very wee hours of the morning) only to realise that it is myself that I am frustrated with because I didn’t have a fail safe in place to prevent such issues arising.

    Thanks again David :)

  23. Hi Jade, your process seems quite similar to mine, asking for 50% up-front. That’s something I do with all new clients, although once I’ve been working with them for a while I can then revert to a NET30 payment term.

    I’m glad you found my design process of interest, and I hope everything goes well in your own self-employment. Do you have a website I can see?

  24. Hey David,

    Thanks for the excellent tips. This one is going in my bookmarks for future reference.

  25. No problem, Kim. Thanks for reading the post.

  26. Man, it must be nice to have clients smarter than the average rock. Here’s how it goes in our office:

    1) Design briefing / meeting: “I have no idea, just make it look cool. I don’t have time for this, I have a meeeting,” is about all the art direction we can expect from the average client.

    2) Steps 2-4 mentioned in the above article. Spend hours doing our best to provide our client with a contemporary, clean, effective no-nonsense logo.

    3) Meet with client for review. Listen in bewildered shock as Client tells you “None of these will work, here.. my 3-year-old drew this last night, isn’t it cute? Let’s just use this!” (Swear to god, we recently had a client go with a cartoon dog they pirated FROM A COLORING BOOK for their logo).

    4) Barely manage to resist the urge to strangle client, comforted by the fact that there’s a full bottle of gin at home.

    5) Rinse, repeat.

    Where do you find clients that actually listen? That’d be awesome.

  27. Hi David,
    Just to let you know that the 3 hyperlinks to your logo design questionnaire are not working, both on this page and the about me page.
    Thanks

  28. Thanks very much Max.

    I’ve been having some domain name issues of late, and greatly appreciate you keeping me right.

  29. Hello David!

    I’m new around here, I have been a while ago as well, but I have lost the link… Now I am glad I found you again! It’s really nice that you talk about these issues! Anyways, I want to ask you if you write a contract everytime for every project and how do you deal with contracts via Internet? With the signatures and stuff…

    Thank you for replying! Maybe you already have a topic about this, I will check now… :)

    Andreea

  30. Hello Andreea, Welcome back. Regarding contracts, most of the time there’s nothing “official,” and email is used to document the relationship, because with all new clients I request 50% in advance. This ensures I don’t go out of pocket for the work put in.

    Retainer clients are different, and I tend to get something in writing.

    Hope that helps. If there’s anything else you think I can help with, let me know.

  31. Thanks! David~! It’s great to read about your working process. As a graphic design student, I am thankful for what you’ve provided here for graphic design learners.

  32. hello everyone.. i’m new here.. hi david.. good day to you… your post is very interesting.. i make my own logos too but never really had a process of doing so… i have bookmarked your site already.. thank you for your wonderful content…

    -angela

  33. Hi David,

    Just to say what an excellent blog this is! There are some really interesting articles.

    In reading your process above I note that you use pantone references when proofing the initial concepts to the client.

    I wonder if you can tell me how you deal with the differences of how pantones are viewed on screen as opposed to when printed. No matter how I seem to calibrate my screens the pantone colour on the screen never matches the colour when printed or the colour shown in the pantone swatch book – so the colour the client proofs and agrees to is not the final colour on their business cards etc? We tend to work the other way and find a colour the client likes and then pantone reference from that? How do you overcome this?

    Also, when i am creating logos with pantones and then converting it to a RGB version for use online they always seem to come out looking a bit dull and I have to create a version with slightly different colours to look more like the final printed version of the logo?

    How do you overcome this?

  34. Steve, the ideal situation is for your client to have (or see) a Pantone swatch booklet. You can never be sure of on-screen colours — the chance of two monitors having the same calibration is slim. A digital proof from a commercial printer is recommended for print jobs.

  35. Hello! :)

    Thank you for a great introduction to your logo creation process. I’m a beginner and just got my first logo designing job so I’m researching articles, tips and anything that can help or inspire me. Don’t know if you remember your first job of this kind or if it was so stressful as mine but I hope you know what I mean. :) Want to give the best I can.
    I also linked to your article in my recent blog post “5 great design articles on the web…”.

    Thanks a lot again and cheers!
    V

  36. Great post David (I’m going trough half your blog these days), it will definitely be very helpful now, and in the future as I am self-studying logo design at the moment.

    Do you have any recommendations on things to read when just starting out with logo design?

  37. Jesse, I recommend reading books on typography. There are some great ones listed here:

    Typography tips and advice for design students

  38. Hola David,

    I must say that I recently discovered your blog, and every day I find something new and interesting as I finish reading it all.
    This article about your work process is really interesting; we always stick to the process, and try to communicate it to our clients before even delivering them a quote, so they know how we work. Recently I’ve been planning to collect all the important facts about our work method and services and “pack” them into several documents to have the pertinent one delivered to new clients along with our quote, this article you wrote just reminded me of that, so thank you in some way!
    Speaking of what, precisely today we had a meeting with a potential new client who wants to renew his business’ website; the guy hadn’t even taken 5 minutes to stop and think what he wants for his new website, no idea about what contents he wants to show, a basic concept of hierarchy, nada. This one will be getting one of our new documents depicting our work process.

    I woud like to know, if I may… how did you create your pricing structure in the first place, or how did you come to the one you’re using these days? We recently did a small survey to check the prices of our local competitors, and it’s disheartening to see how little some people charge for their work. We are probably the most expensive design firm in our city! That scares me sometimes, but still there are clients who value quality over price (not too many, though). That said, we’re currently rethinking our prices, we’re going to do a wider market research, but any thoughts from a fellow professional designer would be nice (and perhaps more useful than any market research).

    Thanks for your time reading this and congratulations for this great blog. Regards from Spain,

    Angel Dominguez \ Globulart Diseño

  39. Hello Angel, thanks very much for the compliment. My pricing structure was initially set using an hourly rate. I can’t offer a specific figure that would help you, unfortunately, because markets vary across different countries.

    What do you feel is suitable compensation for an hour of your time? How long on average would you spend on a particular design project? Answering those questions will be a good start for anyone setting their price.

  40. Hey, I love your website, I’m learning a lot here. And the design is really neat. I also like your logos, they are of quality. It’s great work! But I have to say the title images you use in this article feel kinda weird in comparison to the rest of your website.

    I felt I needed to say it because it actually caught so much of this attention that I set it as my homepage for later reading. And that reading I did was so long… I believe it took me 40 minutes to read.

    And keep blogging and designing; very inspiring!

  41. We’ve found it useful to tell the client we’ll only start on their corporate identity/logo project once we’ve got enough information to work on it, and make it very clear at the start that, after the agreed number of concepts have been created, additional hours/days will be charged at your hourly/daily rate – I’m happy to explain to the client that they could easily pay $10 for a template logo, but that they’ll probably end up hiring a professional designer eventually to correct the mess, or just start again!

    I’d definitely agree that most clients don’t appreciate the work that goes in to a logo: countless pencil-sketches, ideas that never make it as far as paper and those you start, get so far with and then restart with a slightly different angle. To some extent, you can help the client understand this by giving them your process, and explaining why the logo concepts will cost £x.

    Good post, thanks for sharing David!

  42. Dominic,

    Glad you found the article of interest. If you have any suggestions on how to improve the look here, by all means let me know.

    Richard,

    I completely agree about not starting a project before enough info has been received. The importance of this cannot be underestimated. Good of you to comment.

  43. I have been caught in web 2.0 Dilemma since an year ago and am wondering that to do with that or what is that actually. I have browsed many sites, tutorials(video tutorials on Youtube). Almost all of them have one thing and that is a shadow under the logo. In the questionnaire(which I have downloaded and thanks for that) I haven’t seen any such option as well. Will you or someone else tell me something about that to get me out of that dilemma.

  44. Qaswar,

    Thanks for the comment, but I’m not exactly sure what you’re asking. Do you want my opinion on shadows under logos? If so, don’t use them.

  45. Such a great post, you have no idea how much this is going to help me in my logo design work. :)

  46. Good article, why don’t you make a video?

  47. Hi David, I really enjoyed reading your post. I do some design work including logos and your design process has provided a good insight in addition to a few useful pointers.

    Excellent site, keep up the good work.

  48. Hello Hargopal,

    That’s great you’ve picked up a few pointers. Thanks for the props.

  49. You are such a great guy to share your process with the world in such detail. Great work also! I’ll be following you closely.

  50. Since moving to web site design full time I find that I do little sketching. Photoshop has become my ‘pencil’ equivalent for conveying concepts and mocking-up designs.

    Not quite as gratifying as the older analog methods I’m afraid . :-)

  51. David,
    I appreciate the time you take as a busy professional to read comments and questions from inexperienced readers like myself. I have read with consuming interest several of your articles offering guidance about using desktop publishing software, and have gained more than a few insights.
    I am retired and have absolutely no experience with desktop publishing products. Nevertheless, I am considering launching a home-based desktop publishing business–nothing big, just one or two clients at time–in order to earn a little extra cash.
    I have been working with computers since purchasing my very first computer, a Commodore 64, in 1985. During the past 23+ years I have have used many different word processors, including nearly all versions of Microsoft Office. Currently I am using Office 2007.
    Despite my inexperience, I am hoping that making the transition from using a word processor as powerful as those offered in Office XP with Front Page or Office 2007 to using a full-featured DTP should not be too challenging. I also have used photo editing software, such as Pinnacle Studio 9 and Microsoft Picture It! 10, which I like.
    I worked professionally with service bureaus, such as Xerox and Anacomp, so I am slightly familiar with the technical side of the publishing process.
    Accordingly, I was hoping that you could offer me a few pointers concerning how to get started, including the following: (1) how to advertise; (2) which DTP products I should consider using; (3) what type of printer, if any, I should get (just for producing initial draft proof copies); and (3) what special fonts I will need to acquire, in addition to any that normally come bundled with my DTP package.
    I realize that I will be working closely with a printing house, but I am concerned that most of them would not consider jobs as small as those which I would be accepting when I initially launch the enterprise.
    I also realize that when you are working professionally, the rule that “you get what you pay for” generally applies. However, since money initially will be tight can you recommend any freeware or reasonably-priced shareware?
    Any suggestions you could offer would be greatly appreciated. Thank you again for your time and patience, and good luck to you and your company.
    –Robert Marma

  52. Hello Robert,

    All the very best with your DTP endeavours. I’d highly recommend using Adobe InDesign as a leading page layout program. As for advertising, publishing a blog is an excellent way to attract new clients.

    Thanks to everyone else for the additional comments.

  53. Hi David,

    Awesome site. My design process is very similar to yours so it is good to know I am on the right track :D
    You have given me the idea to also put my process on my site so people will know how much work actually goes into a logo. Hopefully this will let people know that they are getting their moneys worth and wont mind so much at paying a little bit more. ;)

    I have also put you as a friend in my links page if that is ok with you.

    Thanks
    San

  54. Hey David,

    Stumbled across your site and have been clicking around since, great to see your process, as above I feel inspired to show clients how I go about things, to let them know how it works. You go so far in depth into research etc etc. Great stuff!

  55. San,

    It’s helpful for clients to have access to this overview, so I’d recommend adding your own process on your site. Thanks for adding me to your links page. That’s kind of you.

    Mel,

    I’m glad you’ve taken a little time to read various pages. Those comments you left are much appreciated too. Cheers.

  56. Wow, there are so many steps involved. I have actually ordered a few logos from some freelance designers, I am not sure about other steps, but they actually do send me two prototype designs to choose from.

    It’s nice to learn about the modus operandi of a graphic designer, I am more inclined towards writing, so I wouldn’t know about it if not for this post. Looking forward to reading other posts on this site :)

  57. Hi David,

    Really enjoy your site. I am in the design brief stage of a logo design process for a church in my hometown. I am a full-time media designer and I am just starting to do more freelance work, mainly print with some web. I have almost three years of professional experience as a designer, and I just need some guidance on how to set my pricing for freelance work. I’d like to begin making a profit off of my freelance work, but I’d also like to keep the project reasonable since the church is on a limited budget. They want me to start with a logo design and then they will have me implement that logo into an identity package down the line, as well as spruce up their verrry outdated website. Is it best to charge hourly, since we’re just taking the re-branding a step at a time–versus a flat package price? Is $25/hour a fair price? I know it’s hard for you to say 100%, but it would at least help to know if charging hourly on every step of this project (print, web, etc) is the best way to go.

    Thank you for any advice you have to offer!!!

  58. AhLiang,

    I hope other posts are equally beneficial, and thanks for reading.

    Cindy,

    Good of you to compliment me. I believe you’re underselling yourself a great deal. If you have the talent to lead a corporate identity and web development project, then $25 per hour is incredibly cheap. Personally, I charge a flat rate, and keep hourly figures for any possible project additions, such as those final explorations or amendments that weren’t included in the initial design brief. Good luck with your project.

  59. Hi David

    I’m doing research for my thesis at Solusi University in Zimbabwe. I’m majoring in Marketing and my research topic is an investigation into the creation and development of a logo for our marketing department your article has opened my mind. at the end of this research I’m supposed to come up with a solution to the problem, So far it has been fun your contribution will be most welcome

  60. Thank you, Collin.

    All the very best with your thesis, and your future career in marketing.

  61. Thanks for sharing your process. I never realized how many steps it really takes to be great a graphic designer. By laying it out step by step, it makes it seem a lot easier to get through the process. Now I just need to start utilizing this : )

  62. hi david,

    thanks for showing your process. It is really helpful for new logo designers myself to have a guideline. I have a question about Mind mapping and word associations. It may seem simple. but when you have or creating a mind map what exactly are you looking for. And how do u translate your mind mapping to sketch thumbnails. here is where i am stuck. after i study the client brief. i list a bunch of words i think would be associated to the logo, the company and the service, and arrange them in a mind map. but from there am not sure what i am looking for and how to translate it into thumb nail sketches

  63. Kelton,

    Use those words and try describing them through simple imagery. For instance, global could translate as a circle. Friendly could translate as soft curves (as opposed to rigid angles.

  64. thanks for your response. David.. a real great blog u have here.. i read it everyday.. one last question in terms of sketching.. drawings vs concepts. sometimes i feel that all my sketches are are jus drawings and not really a logo concept. any tips on that?

  65. Keep it simple, and try not to overcomplicate your sketches. Remember the logo doesn’t need to describe what a business does. It should act as an identifier.

  66. Hi David,

    Great blog you have here. Great resources. Makes me want to start my own blog.

    Anyways,
    here in my part of the world, cultural belief is very much an issue — if not THE issue.
    It is not uncommon for a design to be rejected because the client’s spiritual advisor (common thing here) told them that the logo isn’t “lucky” enough for them.
    I ended up including research on the client’s Feng Shui as part of my research stage.

    Can you share your similar experience in your future blog post?

  67. Hi Sonny,

    I’d recommend starting your own blog. Mine has proved to be an excellent networking / marketing tool. Regarding spiritual advisors, I’ve not had one involved in my logo design process, so can’t share a similar experience. It’s interesting that you mention it, however.

    All the best.

  68. Hi David,

    Thanks for all this information that you are sharing with the audience (very, very, very useful).

    One question: are you the author of the font Danube? (you used that font to develop your logo, right?)

    Roberto

  69. Hello Roberto,

    Thanks for visiting my website. I’m glad you found some information of use.

    I’m not the author of Danube, but it is used in my personal logo.

    Bye for now.

  70. Hi David,
    I simply and humbly wish to thank you (a billion) for your hard work and time put in sharing your experience with us, it’s most valuable.
    I am setting up a self-employed graphic designer and I always come back to your blog for reference and inspiration.
    I’ll definitely point to your blog at the first opportunity in the intention to bring you more traffic as it is the only thing I could do to pay you back ))
    I am a french guy who lived long enough in Ireland to feel for it.
    Now I am in Estonia where my soulmate comes from and reading you makes me feel a bit nostalgic )) and I enjoy it.
    You take care
    All the Best.
    Ludo

  71. Thanks very much, Ludo. Here’s to your success in self-employment, and a happy life in Estonia.

  72. I hired a graphic designer to do a logo for my new business. I explained in detail the direction of my business, potential clients etc…She said she would bill me by the hour, which was fine, because if I didn’t like the logo’s, I wanted to be sure she would still be engaged in the creative process. She sent me over 2 logo’s – I seleted 1 and made adjustments to the font; but all in all it was a very smooth procress. Now I hired a business attorney to service mark/trade mark the logo and it is 99%identical to another company, offering a similar service! The attorney says I would probably not get it approval to have it service marked since it is SO close to the other and not to spend the money with him to go through that process, rather have another logo designed. What, if any, is the designers role in this? I think it was an honest mistake but I can’t afford to spend another $1400 to get another logo designed! Any suggestions? I have written & called her asking if she has ever run into this problem before and I don’t get a response.
    If this happened to any of you, how would you handle it as a designer? Any ideas of how I should handle it as a client?

  73. Hi Doug,

    Thanks for your question. How long has it been since you tried contacting your designer? Have you had communication issues in the past, and did you discuss trademarking prior to hiring an attorney?

  74. Hi David! I have been following your blog since 2007 and it has helped me a lot, being a freelancer myself. Your articles are always on point and very, very informative as it is inspiring. I would like to ask about rules/conditions/limitations when using specific fonts on a logo. For example, i decide to use a certain font that i bought (but not actually intended for any specific use) and then decide to use it later on for a logo design, how will the licensing work for this? How about using pre-installed fonts like Arial, Helvetica or MyriadPro? Hope you could enlighten me more about the matter. Thank you very much! Keep on.

  75. Good of you to keep reading, John. It’s always a good idea to read each copyright notice when purchasing. All the best.

  76. it’s great to read your post. I just started my career in graphic design, and sometimes i have doubts about my process. I learned a lot from the sharing of your process, so i can adjust mine for the better direction.

  77. Hello, I am a recent college grad, that has been doing some freelancing and would like to do more. Your posts are really informative!

    One question, so far with clients I usually show the rough sketches too, to see if I am headed in the right direction. Should I not be doing this? Not show them anything until I have some computer polished ideas?

    Thanks, Lea

  78. Hi Lea, if you’re going to show sketches, make sure they highlight only the idea (or ideas) that effectively fulfill the design brief. You can actually save time that way (showing good ideas as sketches instead of having the client get hung-up on polished details).

  79. Hi David,

    I just wanted to say i have found much inspiration on your site today. I graduated with a degree in graphic design last year and due to one reason or another i have found it rather hard to get a job in the design field. This has made me go into freelancing work which so far has been for mostly family friends and local businesses. I work on a 9-5 job that i “like” but do design work mostly in the evenings and mostly through the night.

    Reading through the various threads on your blog has opened up my eyes and helped me to not give up when i dont get the “big” jobs that i want most of the time. I particularly like your design and thought process when you work. I work in a similar way but i think i will adopt a few more of your methods.

    Thank you for opening up my eyes and keep doing wat you are doing.

    Great stuff.
    Cris

  80. No worries at all, Cris. Don’t feel too down-hearted about the a perceived lack of design jobs at present. My advice is to contact all the design agencies and studios you want to work for, letting them know of your availability (if you haven’t already). Visiting them in person is also a good tactic, where possible.

  81. Hi David: I thought it would be interesting to toss out a post I just completed about the entire creative process for a sample logo. I included all the artwork and details shots of the important turning points of the creative process. Many people don’t know just how many sketches a single idea might take to get to the point where it’s presentable…

    http://bonfx.com/logo-design-process-revealed-in-23-steps/

    I start at the end, but then walk all the way through the process from the beginning, and revisit the final design in light of learning how I got there! I hope this is informative for people!

    This post is a such a great resource. Thanks!

    Douglas

  82. Glad to be of help, Douglas. Dropping by now.

  83. David,
    I came across your website with my morning coffee. I am a graphic design student and your work has been very inspiring. I am quite fond of how you include an overview of your design process for the different logos that you have created. In school, my teachers harp on the importance of documenting the design process through photographs. I would like to mention your website to my class if I may.

    Thanks!

  84. What do you do when you have an annoying client who keeps asking for revision, after revision – how do you put your foot down?

  85. John, no need to ask. It’d be a pleasure if you mention my site. I hope your studies are going well.

    Simon, the number of revisions you work through is determined in some ways by how much control you have over the design process. I talk about this in my upcoming book. One way to counter endless revisions is to make your client aware from the outset that it costs extra. At least that way you are adequately compensated for your time.

  86. I’m sure you’re probably very busy but, I really wanted to get in touch and tell you how inspiring your work is. I’m incredibly new to the logo design universe and I’ve still got a lot to learn. I was wondering if I could get a few tips from a professional. I’d love to ask a few non personal, completely logo related questions. For instance, what kind of paper do you recommend for sketching your ideas? I sure hope you get the chance to write back. I’ll be looking forward to your reply. :)

    Tabitha Kristen

  87. Hi Tabitha, the type of paper you sketch on really doesn’t matter. What’s important is that you record every idea you think of, so you can either develop it, or rule it out in favour of a stronger option.

    You’ll find a little more advice here: logo design tips, and if you have any other questions, feel free to ask.

  88. Hello David,

    Great work. The logos are awesome, they are all very unique. As far portfolios are concerned would you recommend showing sketches of logo in the portfolio? Is it good to show employers part of the design process or do you find it to be unnecessary?

    Thank you,
    Dave

  89. Thanks, David. This is my portfolio, and I show sketches. I think it helps others gain an appreciation of the process us designers work through.

  90. Thank you, appreciate the help. Look forward to seeing more of your work in the future.

  91. Hi David,

    Great site full of really useful insight and info. Keep up the good work fella!

  92. You’re very welcome, David. And Richard, thanks for dropping in. All the very best this festive season.

  93. Hi David,

    I just discovered your blog and it’s been very interesting reading your articles. I was wondering how you deal with getting the final printed stationery. Since most of your clients are overseas how do you make sure the printer does a good job and the quality and color comes out as you want it on the final piece? Do you have printers/vendors overseas that you know and trust? or does your service ends with the delivery of the vector files and the client is in charge of the printing.
    I’ll keep looking around your blog, there’s plenty to learn from.
    thanks!

  94. Hello Carolina, with foreign clients I advise them to work with a printer in their locality. A good relationship with a commercial printer can be a huge help when deadlines are looming, and I’d rather my clients build this relationship than me. Of course, I’d love to have a list of trustworthy printers the world over, and I’ve previously wondered about how to piece together something like that.

  95. we need a creative consultant to work with us in the design of logo, card, stationaries of a new univeristy in Africa

    Education Alliance

  96. Hello Dare,

    I’ve sent you an email with further details. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask. All the best.

  97. Hi David have just been looking through your portfolio and have to say I love the simplicity of your designs.

    My question to you is what do you think of 3D logos? I had someone ask me to do them one, never really had experiance doing them, and have to say really didn’t enjoy it.

    The client didn’t like it too much either so I was left with a day wasted and no money :(

  98. Thank you, Alessio. I think 3D logos can work, but I believe to be of most benefit to the client, a 2D version should first be created. Then both options can be used, depending on the medium.

  99. Hi David,

    Just regarding your method of the NET30 payment you have with some clients. What is your course of action if the client does not send payment after 30 days?

    Thanks for sharing your knowledge.
    Ian.

  100. Hi Ian, unless I’ve done business with them previously, the client doesn’t receive artwork until payment has been made.

  101. Hi David,
    I was asked to do print collateral for an organisation and sent with my estimate an agreement form that a friend recommended. This job includes over 10 pieces of collateral and over 20 rollouts of cards. I grouped it as good as possible and came up with a price which also a friend thought was appropriate. I was even concerned it might be too low with lots of busywork as this client seems to need lots of revisions due to their democratic decision process.
    The contract also required a 50% advance. I never heard from them again. Not sure if this was a trouble client per se or if I charged too much. Any idea?

  102. Hi Tori, if you ever think you’re charging too little, it’s probably because you are. Don’t worry about the clients who aren’t happy with your terms. Focus on those who are.

  103. I see that you refine your sketches until you chose two ideas to prototype. Have you ever had a client request to see your initial sketches? Do you show them or not? If you do not how do you explain to them why they cannot be seen?

  104. Hi Nick, I’ll only show sketches if a client is absolutely adamant, but not before explaining that the vast majority of the ideas aren’t effective. I hope all’s well with you and in your role at Boost.

  105. Hi David,

    Like a few others here, I have stumbled across your site and viewed the PowerPoint video you posted. Absolutely true. I have been in design, development & facilitation of corporate training for a while. I have dreamed of starting my own training and business consulting firm. I have found my interests are in strategic planning and implementation. After reading through your site, I have a question for your business. I am fascinated with the creative side of interpreting a strategic plan, culture, and business trends and then turning that into a brand image. Can you speak more to that ‘inner’ process without giving up your proprietary edge?

    Thanks!

    JG

  106. Hi Jeffrey, have you read my book? I talk more in it than anywhere else about the process I follow when working on design projects. There’s a free chapter available through the link.

  107. Hi David,

    It’s me again. Would like to ask, at which point do you exactly ask for the 50% DP. Is it totally upfront, or is it after you discussed with them the prepared Design Brief? Also, I think you have summed up nicely what we do for most design work (Consultation, Creative, Production, Delivery) in one of your posts. Would you mind if I use them, too? Thanks a lot.

  108. David,

    Love your site – it is so insightful! Thank you for taking the time to share your wisdom. :)

    I have to ask – have you ever had a situation where you just couldn’t nail down what a client wanted? It’s only happened to me once but it was a rocky experience. I have a short process of qualifying new clients. I learned very early on that all the money in the world isn’t worth dealing with certain kinds of clients, so I have flags I look for. In this case, it was a referral and I overlooked a few flags. (Referrals can always be tricky). In this situation it seemed really to be an incompatibility issue. The more we came close to nailing down a final logo, the client would veer off with a different idea. We chased them for a while, even beyond our original scope trying to give them what they wanted. But it became very clear they just didn’t know what they wanted and couldn’t commit to any direction. With those two facets it made it impossible for us to move forward and we gracefully bowed out – eating the final 50% of the scope and out hours over what we budgeted.

    Since that project anything beyond the clearly defined scope incurs an hourly fee. (Though I’ve been known to give a little grace, when grace is due).

    Have you ever experienced a similar situation? What would you have done differently?

  109. Hi Dennis, I ask for the downpayment after I have received enough information to prepare a quote. It’s not possible for me to ask “totally upfront” because I don’t know what job needs done, and as such, I can’t set a specific price. Feel free to use the content I publish, but please use no more than 15% of a single page, and credit the source.

    Nicole, it gets easier to spot potential problem clients after you’ve worked with a few. I think you know that. It’s also easy to make exceptions with referrals, because in a way you’re acting on behalf of the person who recommended you, but it’s important to treat everyone the same, whether they’re a stranger, a friend, or even a family member. That mightn’t help much, but thanks for stopping by, all the same.

  110. Enjoyed reading your site David, expecially your logo design process.

  111. Thanks for a great read David – will be taking some of your approach into mind when working on future designs for clients. Your logo design ideas are something I’d like to bear in mind.

  112. Ahh! you’ve changed it. I rather liked the old one and refer to it every so often. Whats missing is the orange.

    Now it looks like a concrete block of… concrete.

    And maybe some spacing after each block (title and text) to seperate them.

    But change is good.

    :D

  113. It was last week, Kennui (I think). I come back here every now and again, too, updating if I feel compelled.

  114. Hello David:

    Being a creative can be such a daunting task—given that once a person or a client who has absolutely no creative input or abilities views a concept, they come up with their own, in my opinion, a “horrible” revise. Being an artist as well as a designer, I found it comforting to know that even Michelangelo, the famous Renaissance artist, has documented his frustrations with a few of his patrons.

    My Question is, with all the great commissioned work you have created throughout your professional career, have you ever come across clients who have absolutely no idea what they want in a logo or design but then once you show them a few concepts, they suddenly become designers themselves and change everything and if so, what was your approach?

    Thanks in advance :)

  115. Michael Bierut said, “My clients are the same as yours.” When we’ve been in the game for a while, Vincent, it’s easy to justify that. The experiences you have with clients will be very similar to mine. The only difference is that with time designers get better at handling the interaction and driving the process.

    When a client suggests a change, it’s important there’s valid justification. For instance, “I like red” isn’t valid. But, “Using red will help separate us from the competition” is.

  116. Hello David:
    I’m a graphic designer student at Keiser University in Tampa, I read the free chapter 7 of your book and you actually concrete what my teacher been preaching for the longest “before you get in the computer, PLEASE draw your ideas on paper first” but we never listen and jump in Photoshop to do our deed. I’m so happy I found your site to actually understand the reality of this trade. Tomorrow I’m running to Michaels stores to get me a drawing pad for my projects. I will make copies of chapter 7 and hand it out to my fellow students (if you don’t mind of course) and also I will suggest your book as a reference book for our Photoshop, InDesign and Illustrator projects. Thank for sharing your knowlegede.

  117. It’d be a pleasure if you distributed the chapter, Herman. I’m glad it helped, and good luck with your sketching.

  118. Hello David,

    I have been reading your articles for a long time, now and completely respect you for the work you have been delivering.
    Here are some problems I face when I do branding.
    1. I feel logo design is very subjective. After showing 2-3 options if they don’t like the options, how do you take it forward from there?
    2. At times I keep on giving options (10) and till the end they are not satisfied with the results. Is there any specific way by which you can know what they exactly want.
    Thanks.

  119. Hi Medha, if two or three options aren’t suitable, you need to evaluate the questions you asked. The options should fulfill the brief, and if they do, it’s the brief that’s wrong. I talk about the questions you should ask in chapter four of my book. Good luck.

  120. Hello David!

    I hope this message finds you good in health. I belong to a customer service industry and require your help. While giving the customer service to customers, what aspects you should keep in mind… Like it’s not about selling to them but giving them an exact help… Of course, I am not an old sales person who is wrapped off with old, pushy sales techniques… I want to help them in appropriate manner and want to play a role of an assistant rather than a seller! So being a pro, what would be your advice for me as far as reading of designing for customer support is concerned? Or what books or articles would you recommend to escalate my design customer support information?

    Thank you in advance!

  121. If you’ve yet to read it, Alvi, here’s a book I’ve found useful for building relationships with customers: How to Win Friends & Influence People.

    A quote from inside:

    “Here is one of the best bits of advice ever given about the fine art of human relationships. ‘If there is any one secret of success,’ said Henry Ford, ‘it lies in the ability to get the other person’s point of view and see things from that person’s angle as well as from your own.’”

  122. Hi David, you are an inspiration for the designer community. I have been reading your blogs for a year now.

    I am new to designing (have designed 15-16 logos and a few web and print design projects) and I would like to create a website. But would it be wise to start a company of my own or work as a freelancer for online projects? I really need help on this.

    Also, what is the average price I should charge? I understand that this range varies but according to you how much would a designer with 1 year’s experience charge for a logo design project? And another problem I face is if the designs are not accepted by the clients then how much should I charge? Should I keep the 50% instalment if they don’t like the designs?

    Thank you.

  123. Hi David, found your site while looking for design tips. I have just launched my site with a bog standard plain text logo. It seems to fit. I was thinking of running a small scale competition on twitter for users to help select a new one, something a little more memorable. How do designers select which design to use? Do you ask your existing customer base which they prefer or do you just KNOW that thats the one?

  124. I’ve asked readers in the past, David. Not everyone will agree on one idea, so if you ask for feedback, be selective about who you listen to (I often receive one-off comments from people who don’t leave their name or web address).

Anything to add?

Comments may be edited or deleted if I don't like the cut of your jib, but that's quite unlikely.