Logo Design Process of Inspirational Graphic Designer Jon Sandruck
Do you want to learn about the logo design process from a logo designer who is going to have two of his logos to be included in the inspirational Logo Lounge 5? Then please welcome the very talented Jon Sandruck. Today Jon Sandruck is going to detail the process he took when he designed the logo for Alliance Business Insurance. Jon really enjoys documenting his logo design process and has graciously written about it for us today. I hope that you can learn a bit about his design process and adopt some of his methodology. Jon Sandruck is a very talented graphic designer with an inspirational portfolio online, so don’t forget to check it out.
I was recently commissioned to design the logo for Alliance Business Insurance and, as luck would have it, haven’t accidentally destroyed my notebook yet, so I’m presented with the golden opportunity to document my logo design process.
I feel it’s noteworthy that although I do have a general process for logo design, it changes on every project. First, I am always trying to improve it. Second, every client is different. Third, I think design is about discovery, and you have to go where tha process takes you. Although design is a process, it does have a result, and the service of that result needs to be the ultimate goal.
Okay, so now that I am down from my soap box, here’s how I designed this logo.
I start by interviewing the client. I have a questionnaire that I use, which I got from one of those “Forms for designers” books and modified, but I prefer use it as the basis of an interview rather than having the client merely fill it out. I get more juicy info from them that way.
I then start doing a little word association. I break out the dicitonary and thesaurus and I start writing down words that strike me as potentially easy/fun/interesting to visualize.
If you can read the list, you can see that I was hitting a lot of words that are derived from Alliance’s definition: “A union or association formed for mutual benefit.” It struck me that a big part of what an insurance company like Alliance provide their customers is assemble the best mix of products for their clients…or build an Alliance. To that end, I focused on the idea of assembling multiple pieces into a whole.
Because the company’s name is Alliance, and the capital A is a triangle, and the triangle is THE most visually stable shape, and stability is a key attribute in the insurance industry, I decided to focus on icons that formed the letter A.
You’ll also notice that there are some drawings of dogs in the notes. That’s one of those things where the client had asked if his Golden Retriever could be incorporated into the design. My response? “We’ll see. I’ll do some sketches, but if they don’t work out, don’t be alarmed.”
As part of my research I always spend time in the USPTO database (that’s the United States Patent and Trademark Office, USPTO.gov) making sure that I avoid using things that other companies are using, and checking out what’s being used in the client’s industry. I also spend time on sites like LogoPond.com and LogoLounge.com looking at what’s going on in logo design.
Partly I am looking for inspiration, but I am mostly looking for things to avoid: to avoid my client looking like the competition, to avoid someone else’s mistakes, and to help my client avoid getting sued…and if they decide to do so, help make it easier to get their logo trademarked. If your logo is too similar to something else in the market, your trademark will not be granted.
As I look through these sites I sketch out techniques I see that lend themselves to my solution, doodle out ideas that are inspired by other people’s solutions, and make little visual notes to myself. I find it really helpful to try and draw this stuff by hand first. That way I am sure that I can make it work before I involve software and potentially complicate things.
Sometimes there’s a fine line between an idea just not working out, and not being able to get your tool to do what you want. It’s those times that I find working with the simplest tool I have, a pen, is the best way to work it through.
Once the pen-drawn sketches are concluded I start auditioning fonts. I generally plug some custom type (In this case, Alliance Business Insurance) into my font manager and start looking at the previews and noting the ones I think are interesting. You can see in the notes below that I have written out a few that I liked.
After I identify and activate fonts I want to try out, I create an Illustrator document that I call a worksheet. The first one has all the fonts I want to use on it, which I use as a type palette while I am drawing icons. I ditch the ideas I don’t like when I am about to show it to the client, so imagine that in the pasteboard for this document there are like 50 discarded logo:
This is the first document the client sees. (Click on it to make it bigger and see some detail). At this point I try to sit down with the client and talk with them about the ideas I’ve presented. In this case, after our meeting the client took the worksheet and showed it to some peers and coworkers to get feedback. He came back and chose to continue development on number 4 (that’s bottom left), although he noted that he really enjoyed the type in number 2 (Bodoni). I moved on to working on worksheet number two. Again, imagine 50 discarded ideas in the pasteboard:
I render them in black and white as well as full color for the ideas I think are noteworthy. In this case the client picked the very bottom right one. So, I proceeded to prepare the final formats:
When I finish a logo I I always present it in Black & White, Spot Color (even if the client doesn’t think they’ll ever use it), RGB and CMYK, and then I save off file formats of each type. I then deliver my client with two disks (one to keep in a safe place, one to keep around the office) with about 50 files on it.
And, that’s about it. It’s not the same for every client or every logo, but that’s the general idea, and that’s how I designed this logo.
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