Logo design: 5 questions to ask about the brand

Don't dive straight into Photoshop - get to know the company or product properly before you start designing its logo, says Martin Nilsson of Logosack.

Though to the untrained non-designer it make look like a piece of cake, creating a successful logo design for a brand is a huge challenge. This is why logo creators are well-paid, in-demand and highly revered in their niche. Standing out is hard to do.

Creating a logo isn’t just about creating some pretty and functional. At its heart, logo design is about understanding the brand and the business the logo will promote. So it's not enough to take a quick glance at the company's literature and website and then dive straight into Photoshop. You actually have to do some proper research and have some serious discussions with your client in order to get to grips with what ideas, philosophy and business model your logo should be conveying to its prospective audience.

So before you start playing around with gradients, typography and colour, here are five fundamental questions you need to ask... Don't start designing before you get answers to them!

01. What does the brand stand for?

Wikipedia's logo reflects its mission to bring the world's knowledge together in one place

What is the brand all about? Big savings for frugal shoppers? Providing a superior quality product? Listening to customers? Helping to heal the environment? Promoting personal health and beauty?

The company's mission, believe it or not, needs to be on full display within the design of your logo. If there isn't an official mission statement, there'll still be an unofficial, possibly unspoken one - you just need to find out what it is.

02. Why was the name chosen?

Steve Jobs came up with the name for Apple while on a fruitarian kick and after visiting a farming commune; he thought the name sounded "fun, spirited and not intimidating"

When you're working to build a logotype for your brand, it’s important that you understands the reason why the company chose the name it did. If the name has any special meaning or significance to them, this is something the designer needs to know. It cannot come through in image unless you convey the thought.

03. What's the business story?

Colonel Harland David Sanders, the restaurateur who founded the Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) restaurant chain in 1930, remains central to its logo to this day

Logo designers are artists who can help tell a business story through the design. To achieve this, you need to know all the ins and outs of that story. Ask your client to provide a detailed account of the products and/or services they provide. Suggest they pitch their business to you as if you were a client of theirs.

World-renowned British fashion, sportswear and apparel brand Fred Perry was established by the eponymous tennis champion in the 1940s - a fact not lost in the design of the logo

04. What's specific about this business?

The deeply-rooted Irishness of Guinness and its distinctive black and white colour are two central facets to the drink's appeal - and thus its logo

With so much competition out there on the market today, what is it about this product that people should choose over its rivals? That might be a unique quality to the product, the company's approach to customer service, or a thousand other things. Whatever it is, that unique factor (or factors) should shine through the design of your logo,

05. What's the brand’s personality?

Like the car itself, the Jaguar logo is full of personality

Yes, a brand has a personality. And if it doesn’t, you better develop one quick. A customer should be able to describe the business using five adjectives - what are they? Only one you figure that out can you decide whether they're conveyed by your logo design.

Words: Martin Nilsson

Martin Nilsson is the business developer of Logosack - a logo design company in Sweden specializing in business logos for small businesses.

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