Logo Design Brief Ultimate Guide
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What is a Logo Design Brief?
Traditionally, the brief has been an essential tool for successfully executing any type of design project. The brief serves as a guide to designers for inspiration and direction, while staying aligned with the client goals and business objectives.
A Logo Design Brief is typically created by an Art Director or Creative Director to hand off to a designer. But even if YOU are the designer working solo, I still strongly recommend doing this exercise to help organize and structure your creative explorations.
Plus writing a brief a great way to be exposed to what it means to be in leadership role as AD or CD. You’re not going to remain a Senior Designer forever, right?
The Benefits of a Logo Design Brief for Designers
The #1 benefit of a well written brief is that it loops in the client from the start, gives them an intellectual stake in the process and the outcome. It makes the ultimate result (the logo) much easier to “sell” – because the client helped develop the framework you use to be inspired.
You need a Logo Design Brief to enable you to create meaningful, authentic Logos. Otherwise it’s all guesswork and conjecture. Would you build a house without a blueprint? Nope. Would you build a website without wireframes and Information Architecture? Never. So how can you create an effective logo without knowing precisely WHO you are designing for and WHY they will care? Enter the Logo Design Brief.
This article will help you not only understand the benefits of a Logo Design Brief, but also how to write one as a solo freelance designer. You’ll approach the creative challenge with confidence knowing you’re following professional practices, while you’re enabling yourself to do your best work. This provides the best opportunity of producing work that matters.
Discovery is NOT a Brief
There is a very common misconception that simply getting the client to complete your Logo Discovery questionnaire equates to a Brief. It’s just not the case. Yes it is a critical part of the process, but it’s not the Brief.
The actual Logo Design Brief is written after the client completes your Logo Discovery questionnaire. It is written by the creative consultant, in collaboration with what information the clients supplies you. It is only then you will have the information you need to write the Brief itself.
Refer to this post: #1 Biggest Mistake Logo Designers Make and get a free copy of the Authentic Logo Discovery document I use with my clients. THIS is your starting point.
The Logo Design Brief in 10 Steps
The outline below is very useful in writing a comprehensive Logo Design Brief. This defines everything the designer needs to execute solutions to the creative challenge at hand.
Note: This article is specifically focused on the development of a custom Logo for a Freelance Graphic Designer, therefore it has some distinct differences from a standard Creative Brief an advertising agency may use to give to a team for a classic ‘design’ project (a website, poster, brochure, or packaging project, etc).
Note: This is the 20,000 ft view of the creative challenge. For the purposes of this template, I am using a sample subject of Quentin Tarantino.
Category: Custom Logo Design & Twitter Profile Brand Extension.
The Brief: Custom logo & Twitter profile capturing the essence of the famous movie director Quentin Tarantino.
2. Marketing & Business Goals
Note: The general goal of a new logo is to elevate the company as they evolve away from their old existing brand, into something with more relevance and authenticity. Ultimately the company wants to improve and strengthen their relationship with their customers/target audience.
The Goals: Since this is a logo capturing the essence of an individual, not a company, business goals do not apply to this creative challenge. If the client stated specific goals in the Discovery, they would be placed here.
3. Project Requirements & Deliverables
Note: This is where you define the exact text to the used, and list out the details of the logo expectations. Is this logo a wordmark, lettermark, symbol/icon, or combination? Are there any color restrictions? Speak to the usage requirements, although it’s assumed the logo should be flexible enough to be used in both print and web, and both large and small usage. Also outline the various expected deliverable formats of the final approved logo – vector source file(s), PDF, JPG, PNG, 1-color and full color versions, etc. Everything the client will need to use their new logo moving forward. Check out my Free Logo Design eBook for more information about delivery of file formats.
Exact Text to be used for the Logo Design: Quentin Tarantino
Requirements: This custom logo is not constrained to a specific format, it can be a workmark, symbol/icon, or combination. The designer will decide what is most appropriate. It is also up to the designer to define the color usage. If you feel a 1-color black logo fits the concept, then so be it. If you use color, I suggest working in RGB vs CMYK for the most vibrant color for presentation.
Deliverable: The Logo deliverable will be a high resolution jpeg – at least 2000 pixels on the horizontal of an 8.5 x 11 page. The original Logo should be created in vector format, then you’ll export the logo to jpeg for delivery.
4. Target Audience
Note: Define the demographics: occupation, gender ratio, average age, nationality/location, psychological demographic, lifestyle preferences, and motivations of the target audience. If there is more than 1 target audience identified, please label them as primary and secondary. This info is pulled from the Logo Discovery your client completed. Very important to remember: The TARGET AUDIENCE is who you are designing for, you’re not designing for the personal aesthetics of your client.
The Target Audience: Because of the notoriety of the subject, the target audience is large in this case – anyone that is a fan of Quentin Tarantino’s work. That could mean anyone from 18 – 80. I will say however, the overwhelming age range would fall between 30 – 55, and more male than female.
More male because QT makes movies that are incredibly violent, full of cursive language and racial epithets, and the plots of his popular movies have revolved around gangsters, samurai, war, and western genres, which are mostly popular with male audiences. Tarantino includes lots of homages from older movies & genres and writes scenes that are “pop culture-friendly” that would appeal to fellow movie buffs, who may tend to be more male.
Having said that, if you look at his movies most of them have very prominent female characters and sometimes they are the lead as well. Very few directors have created female characters with such integrity and strength. It’s important to note is Tarantino is a master of character development, male or female.
5. Research Target Audience & Competition
Note: Find out what primary pain points the Target Audience is experiencing, and what pain needs relieving.
Audience Research: Try to visualize the primary target audience based on how they are described above.
Competitive Research: Analyze the commonalities of other movie directors may share with QT. Look for similar color palettes, visual associations, imagery, etc. Make sure you take notice of both the visual and verbal tone of voice used by these other directors. Identify any common themes or connections that may appear during your research.
Note: Provide brief examples of style / overall look you want the logo to achieve. What aspects of the current branding can be used as a starting point for the design? What feelings or metaphors reflect the spirit of your product or company? What tone & style needs to be achieved?
Tone & style: intensity, dramatic, violent, angry, brilliant, bold, vengeful, impatient, chaos with a pinch of sarcasm, humor, and in your face honesty.
Visuals: Below are visual examples of style & overall style of Tarantino’s past movie posters. Also included are photos of the director himself.
Potential Visual directions to consider: BOLD fonts, hand-lettered rough characters, splashes & splatters, the color red, unexpected approach, unique one-of-a-kind textures, decidedly UN-corporate.
Some of Tarantino’s Movies:
The Hateful Eight, Django Unchained, Inglourious Basterds, Kill Bill, Jackie Brown, Pulp Fiction, and Reservoir Dogs.
Create a MindMap: MindMaps can help you jump start the logo design process and offer visual inspiration. Create a MindMap using adjectives and descriptive terms from the Inspiration section above. Place key terms in the middle of a blank page. Allow those words to stimulate other avenues of exploration. Keep branching those terms into more and more detail, before you know it you’ll have completed a MindMap. MindMaps can be text-based, or image based, or a combination of the two, see some samples below.
8. Conceptual Sketching
Note: Step away from your laptop. Avoid the constraints of technology when you are first diving into your concepts. Always start your creative exploration with a sketchbook and a pen or pencil. Black & white only, do not let color be in influencing factor as this early stage. Here is a video showing how I sketch out logo ideas.
Conceptual Sketching: Write out the company name, lowercase, uppercase, and a mix. Analyze the forms, structures, and counter-forms of the letters. Look for opportunities and relationships that may exist, differences, unusual shapes and repetition. Think about negative shapes that exist in the letterforms, and how they can be exploited to reveal a meaningful symbol in that negative space.
Fill as many pages of your sketchbook as your ideas will take you. Work tight, work loose, work fast, work slow. In the beginning all ideas are worthy, do not judge yourself during this time of exploration. I often spend time sketching in 3 different sessions, allowing some time between each so I can look at the previous work fresh each time.
9. Logo Development & Twitter Profile
Note: Once you have explored many different creative directions, take time to stand back and assess which sketches have the most merit and potential. Since a logo is the visual representation of the promise you are making with the customer, you’ll need the personality of the logo to reflect the right emotional tone.
Digitize Sketches: Select 3 of your sketches to start transforming into vector artwork. Paste the sketches into Adobe Illustrator, make them 50% transparent, and trace them into shapes you can fill. Do not make these perfect, they are only to express the concept, not intended to be final artwork. Create the main visual element of the logo in vector first before you start deciding on your font & color choices.
Fonts & Color: Next, take your vectorized sketches and start exploring fonts that work well with the goals of the brand. It is also time to explore basic color usage, refer to the Project Requirements for the color palette you choose.
Pro Tip & Time Saver: A great way to examine multiple fonts is to use http://wordmark.it. Once you’ve selected some fonts, explore different graphical shapes and proportions that fit with your concept.
Twitter Profile Brand Extension: Now you extend your Logo work into a Twitter Profile. Use this template to correctly size both the profile Thumbnail and the large Cover image. Use Quentin’s face or your logo for the Thumbnail image. Consider using a famous quote from one of his movies as inspiration for your main Twitter page Cover image design – Notable Quotes.
10. Schedule & Budget
Note from Captain Obvious: For the independent freelancer working solo, the work outlined below is after the initial Discovery – the client has already submitted answers to your questions. YOU will then put a Work Schedule together with your fees in the form of a Design Proposal. AFTER they agree and sign, THEN you start working.
Intensive 1 Week Work Schedule. Ready to feel the burn?
Day 1: Research the audience & competition. Take it all in. Then create a MindMap to get the juices flowing.
Day 2: Start sketching once you’ve found inspiration from your MindMap. Dive in deep. Stop. Dive in deep again.
Day 3: Narrow your sketch concepts down to the best 3. Be ruthless in your selections. Digitize your 3 sketches in vector. Start creating one color logos.
Day 4: Further refine your Logo ideas, add color. Select Font combinations to add to your symbol/icon or wordmark.
Day 5: Pick the best concept and finalize the Logo. Be decisive. DONE is better than perfect. Perfection is a myth.
Day 6: Design the Twitter Profile Brand Extension. Use Quentin’s face or your new logo for the Thumbnail image, and then create a bold Cover image for the Profile page. Design 2 or 3 and pick the best one. Weed out the bullshit.
Day 7: Wake fresh and review your work in the morning. Make final tweaks/improvements. Remove embellishments and refine. An effective logo and branding needs to tell the right story, to the right audience in 2.37 seconds or less. Once it’s complete, follow the submission instructions below and Submit your masterpiece.
NOTE: As stated above, I have laid out an intensive 1 week schedule. The truth is, on average, you can TRIPLE this timeline or more, depending on the budget and timelines for any given logo design project.
The Budget: Let’s assume the budget is not defined, and you are working solo for yourself. You need to pitch the client with a value-based price. Take big picture approach. Tell them this is a marathon, not a sprint. This is an investment, not an expense. If they are a $1 Million company and the new brand direction improves their bottom line by as little as 3% per year, that’s a $30,000 profit for your client every 12 months. Over 3 year period that equates to almost $100K. Taking this big picture approach will increase your revenue on every project you pitch moving forward. Value-based pricing is the approach to make the money you deserve as a professional graphic design consultant. Do not forget it.
Before anything happens, before ANY numbers are thrown out, before you’ve even decided to collaborate with this client, this is the process at a high level:
1. You provide your client (or prospective client) with your Logo Discovery questionnaire.
2. They complete the questions and send it back to you.
3. You read through the answers and decide if you want to work with them.
4. You have a face to face meeting (or skype, google hangouts) with the client to talk about the Discovery and their pain points.
5. If budget has not been discussed, decide what you think the value of a new logo is for this company should be. Write a design proposal with a value proposition, then write up a Design Brief. Send both to the client. btw, get a Free copy of the Design Proposal Template I use with my clients.
6. The client signs your proposal, and off you go. Time to get to work kicking creative ass! Remember, always UNDER-Promise and OVER-deliver. And never ever ever blow a deadline, hard to rebound after pissing off a client.