How to write a logo design brief

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A collection of logo designs, created by am:pm graphics

The starting point

Whether you choose to hire a professional logo designer or create your own logo, writing a logo design brief is essential. There are so many aspects to your logo which you will need to consider before diving into the design side of things. Perhaps the most obvious starting point is knowing the name of your business or organisation! When considering your business name always check there are not other businesses or organisations using the same name. Companies House have a really handy, free name availability tool. https://beta.companieshouse.gov.uk/company-name-availability. Carry out research asking others what they think to the name and welcome any suggestions. It can also be valuable to check that there are suitable website domain names available for you to choose from. Ideally you want something which is clear, easy to remember and a dot com. Once you are satisfied that you have chosen the right name for your business, it’s time to move onto the design of your logo and building a brand image.

Target market

You want to make sure that your logo and image will appeal to your market and so therefore it is important to think about the nature of your business and who your target market is going to be. For example if you are going to offer cleaning services, will you be aiming for the domestic or industrial market? It might seem obvious, but a logo for a clothing shop for women under the age of 30 would be very different to that of a clothing shop for men over the age of 60. Knowing who you want your logo to appeal to and gain positive attention from will really help shape the design.

USP’s

Knowing your unique selling points is key when marketing your business. These selling points will differentiate you from your competitors and help your potential customers/clients know why to buy from you. What makes your business unique can shape your logo design as it may be appropriate to embody one of these USPs in the logo. For example if you were a car mechanic with particular knowledge and expertise around a make of car, you might want to use an illustration within your logo to help promote this USP.

Competitors

Researching your competitors both locally and nationally is always advisable and looking at their logos and marketing material is valuable when it comes to the design of your own. You don’t want to be the same as everyone else but you also don’t want to be so different that potential clients and customers don’t know what you do and what you sell. This research might also help you think about what you like and what you don’t like and you can begin to build a vision of your own ideas.

Logo straplines

A strapline has the power to really entice a potential client/customer. It should be short, perhaps no more than five words and sum up the essence of your brand. You ideally want people to easily remember your strapline so when they hear your brand name their brain automatically brings up the strapline. Here are some classic examples:

  • L’Oréal: “Because You’re Worth It” …
  • Tesco: “Every Little Helps” …
  • Nike: “Just Do It” …
  • Marmite: “Love It or Hate It”

You don’t have to use a strapline but in many cases is can be a useful aspect to include alongside your logo. If your brand name is abstract then a strapline can elaborate on the selling point. This will also reduce the need for your logo to be too obvious.

When you are just starting out and no one knows your business, a strapline including a value statement can often be a good idea. This concise statement can help to encourage potential customers/clients to buy from you, rather than their previous supplier. Try to think of a line which will arouse curiosity and grab their attention.

If your business offers something particularly unique, then a great strapline can help promote this aspect of your brand. Alternatively if you are up against a lot of competition then creating a strapline can be a good way to help you stand out from the crowd.

Thinking about where you will be promoting your business will influence your strapline decision. A strapline can be helpful when your logo will only be seen for a short space of time, such as on a vehicle or branded clothing. If you plan on producing printed material such as flyers or adverts it’s important to consider how your logo and strapline will work alongside your primary message. You don’t want to distract the eye from a specific promotion or call to action. You can always drop the strapline from some instances or change the format alongside your logo. Having a set of brand guidelines will help create consistency when it comes to the use of a strapline alongside a logo. Therefore taking the time now to decide what will work best now is invaluable and helpful for consistency within future design projects.

Your vision

Brainstorming your ideas is a great idea if you are designing your own logo or if you’re hiring a professional designer. However it’s important to realise your own limitations and expertise. You might have thought of a great logo concept but be prepared to be flexible and be open to other ideas. A professional designer will be able to give their expert opinion. Asking others can also sometimes be useful although you need to be cautious, as too many cooks can spoil the broth!

Your taste

When researching competitors or logos within other sectors it can be useful to start collecting logos that you like that you feel relates to this design project. Think about why you like the logos, looking at colours, fonts, concepts and layout/structure. This will help you determine what you like and will help a designer understand your vision. You can also include logo designs you don’t like. Again it’s always helpful to keep an open mind during the design process, as someone else such as a designer might come up with a great concept you haven’t thought of.

Logo colours

Your brand colours are obviously an important consideration. It can be helpful to look into the psychology of colours to determine which colour or colours would be best to use within your logo design. Here are some basic rules which show how colours can affect human behaviour. These examples are generally positive responses. There are also negative connotations to consider.

RED – Power, courage, strength, warmth, energy, masculinity, excitement.
BLUE – Intelligence, communication, trust, efficiency, serenity, duty, logic, coolness, reflection, calm.
YELLOW – Optimism, confidence, self-esteem, extraversion, emotional strength, friendliness, creativity.
GREEN – Harmony, balance, refreshment, universal love, rest, restoration, reassurance, environmental awareness, equilibrium, peace.
PURPLE – Spiritual awareness, containment, vision, luxury, authenticity, truth, quality.
ORANGE – Physical comfort, food, warmth, clarity, security, sensuality, passion, abundance, fun.
PINK – Physical tranquillity, nurture, warmth, femininity, love, sexuality, survival of the species.
GREY- Psychological neutrality, Lack of confidence, dampness, depression, hibernation, lack of energy.
BLACK – Sophistication, glamour, security, emotional safety, efficiency, substance.
WHITE – Hygiene, sterility, clarity, purity, cleanness, simplicity, sophistication, efficiency.

BROWN – Seriousness, warmth, Nature, earthiness, reliability, support.

As well as the psychology of colours you will also need to consider the brand colours of your competitors. Whilst you want colours to suit your market and ethos you don’t want to be like all the other businesses within your sector. If you decide that blue would work best and you discover your main competitors also use blue within their branding, you could always incorporate a second or third more contrasting accent colour to help stand out

What message do you wish your logo to communicate?

At this point you probably already know what you want your logo to say and what feelings you want to get across in the design. Do you want your main message to be friendly, trusting or calming etc? For example a solicitor could want to convey trust and knowledge through their logo; whilst someone within the fitness sector might wish to give a message of optimism and energy. Think about your USP’s and who you are targeting. What feeling is going to win you customers and increase sales?

Logo case and format

How would you prefer your logo to be written? This seems an obvious consideration but it’s often overlooked at the initial stages. For example here is a list of some alternative uses of case for the business am:pm graphics.

  • AM PM GRAPHICS
  • AMPM Graphics
  • Ampm graphics
  • ampmgraphics.com

As you can see there is also an example that includes the domain tld. It is worth noting that domain names do not take case into account.

Whilst the use of case doesn’t need to be set in stone before the logo is designed, if you have a fixed idea in mind then it is important to let the designer know from the start. Again if you are able to be flexible with this aspect of the design this can open up potential concepts.

Where will your logo be used?

Considering where your final logo will be placed and how it will be used may affect your design choices. For example if you plan on having your logo embroidered onto clothing then a clear, bold and less intricate logo design would work best. If you have a shop and plan on having signage outside, it’s always a good idea to look at the backdrop of where your branding will be placed. For example are you alongside other businesses? Will your branding stand out? Do you have to consider the colour of the brick work and/or doorways to your shop?

Whilst you don’t always know where your logo will eventually be used, if you think you’re going to be having business cards or magazine adverts created then you need to make sure that the logo will work in small scale. If you have a long business name then you could use an acronym. If you do just have letters then this is where a strapline can work well to compliment and voice what your business is about.

Logo icons

Linked in with where your logo will be used are logo icons or logo variations. These are often smaller more simplified versions. They need to still sit within your branding, keeping the main logo elements the same such as font, colours etc. These might be created further down the line, as and when they are needed. For example when creating a website it is recommended that you include a FAVicon which is the small icon displayed in the browser tab of your site. Not only will this look more professional but this will benefit your search engine optimisation.

Some profiles for online business directories or social media accounts work better if you have a square version of your logo. Whilst this is not essential, it can enhance the look of your online presence, whilst not compromising on your overall branding.

Changing your current logo

If you already have a logo design and you are planning on changing it, you need to think about the reasons for the revisions. If your business has been established for many years and you believe your logo has become recognisable to clients/customers and therefore potential new clients/customers, then it would be important that your new logo doesn’t lose this reputation. You would need to look at ways of keeping the brand identity, whilst updating your logo. If you believe your logo is perhaps hindering your marketing success, then having a re-brand can be an interesting and often positive step. There will obviously be cost implications to having a new logo designed, from website changes through to having printed materials re-printed and vehicle livery re-made. Therefore gather quotes and ensure costings fall within your budget.

Always keep in mind the reasons for any changes to your logo during a re-brand process as this will help avoid the same design pitfalls.

Summary:

There are quite a number of different things to think about before starting to design your logo or hiring a professional. It is important to spend time considering each aspect. Knowing your business will help you create your brand. Knowing what you want to achieve will enable you to design a logo which will hopefully become a large part of that achievement.

About us and this blog

am:pm graphics is a graphic design partnership based in Buxton, Derbyshire. We offer a range of quality, affordable graphic design solutions for print and web, helping our customers achieve a consistent professional identity across a variety of media.

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