Once the client completes the Creative Discovery, and once the Research is done, it’s time to start visualizing. It always starts with copious sketches. Start sketching like a madman or madwoman.. dig in deep to explore as many options as you can think of. Leave your ego at the door and do not self edit or eliminate any ideas yet, this is the time to let all ideas take some visual form. Later you can cut them down to a short list of your best ideas, but for now you want to examine as many concepts as you can imagine.
I often start with a Mind Map – MindWerx has some nice samples. Create a Mind Map using adjectives and descriptive terms from the Creative Discovery the client fills out in the beginning of the project. 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 Mind Map using the core adjectives that describe the brand. Mind maps can help you jump start the visual logo design process.
Sample Mind Map:
Finding inspiration can be difficult. You have to be in the correct mindset. I have collected some techniques to get my brain in the right place and to get over the hump when the ideas stop flowing. The key is to open your mind to as many solutions as possible.[
Sketch like a Machine
Ignore fonts. Step away from your Mac (or PC) and go analogue. Once you have your Mind Map completed, sharpen your pencil and start making sketches. Fill 5 pages of different approaches before you take a break. Explore as many conceptual ways of visualizing the logo as possible. This is one of the most critical times during the logo process.
Just Walk Away..
Once you have some sketches completed, take a break. Walk away. Clear your head so when you return to the project you can evaluate your initial work with a fresh perspective. I personally like to play music or work on another creative project to reset.
In the beginning, your job is to explore ALL ideas. But once you return to review your sketches, be critical. You should know in the first 3.27 seconds if an approach ‘works’ or not. Do not overthink it, follow your gut. Look closely at what you have accomplished.
Some of your ideas will be refinements of a single conceptual approach, so if you do not have enough logo ideas generated, go back to the sketch pad and open your mind to new ways of seeing the challenge. But remember you do not want to confuse your client with too many choices, or you may find yourself living in hell.
Presenting Sketches in Black & White
In the beginning, explore ALL ideas. But once you return to review your sketches, be critical. You do not want to confuse your client with too many choices. I like to present my best 10 sketches to my clients for their initial feedback. Keep everything in Black and White at this stage.
Do not let the subjective power of color kill a great concept. Effective logos work in one color anyway. So do not start exploring color until the forms of your logo are dialed in. Only then start to use color to enhance and add value to the original concept.
Simple is Complex
Do not forget to REDUCE your concepts down to the most simple visual forms. Clients often say: ‘I just want a SIMPLE logo’. Of course they don’t know that simple means going through all of the trite ideas, and all of the second best ideas, THEN reducing the best idea down to it’s most basic form.
So essentially Simple is Complex and time consuming. It takes a lot of reduction & experimentation to finally arrive at a simple elegant solution. Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. What you leave in is as important as what you remove.
Once the sketches are done, and the core logo has been approved in Black & White and reduced down to the most basic forms, you can dive into color. Go nuts with unique color combos during this exploration. But remember to present only your best color combinations to your client. You do not want to overwhelm them with too many options or the project runs the risk of taking way too long. Remember to use color palettes that make sense for the target audience and the industry you are designing for.
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– Your Creative Junkie