Back to basics
Obvious I know, but you'd be surprised how many young designers neglect their sketchbook. Scribble, doodle and jot down the key ideas relating to the identity you want to create. Get those crap ideas out of the way on paper instead of delivering them to a client!
Work from the ground up
Make sure your logo works in flat black and white, then build on top of that with colourways and effects. Try to imagine it being seen on a postage stamp and a billboard - it needs to work in every possible situation.
First impressions count
Figure out your intended audience and the message you're trying to send out. Does it require a bold, easy-to-read type treatment or are you going for a long-term iconic symbol that will become synonymous with the brand? Research your angle and the sort of design that it will require.
Don't rush an identity. It's not always easy when it comes to deadlines being imposed, but schedule enough time to take it step by step and look at it with fresh eyes. You'll be staring at this relatively small but absolutely crucial piece of design an awful lot, and taking a break then going back to it a day later will fire up your enthusiasm for it again.
Stranger (no) danger
Work up a bunch of ideas and get feedback from the people who need to be involved in the logo's creation as well as a stranger to the project. Sometimes it takes a non-designer's untainted feedback to get you thinking in a different way.
Precision, precision, precision
It might look spot-on to your eye, but being millimetre-perfect ensures that when it's blown up to the size of a house, it won't be spoilt by wonky dimensions. Guides and rulers are your friends.
I've tasted it, it's the future
For me, vectors are the secret to a good logo being future- and format-proof. Being safe in the knowledge that it can be used and exported into pretty much any format, blown up to any size and still not grind your email to a halt is a good thing.
Clever use of effects
Now that print and web are very different from what they used to be - with colours, gradients and transparencies less restricted - try taking your basic idea and enhancing it with a gradient shine or a drop shadow. You might be happily surprised by your new direction.
Variations on a theme
Keep all the various stages of your identity. Duplicate and duplicate again, making your changes to a fresh copy of your logo. I like my documents to resemble an evolution, filled with every stage of design. I think it helps to see what works and what doesn't, and also helps you to justify yourself to clients when they suggest an idea you know doesn't quite work.
Some of the best logos I've created have been born out of mistakes, accidentally cropping an edge or taking away a part I didn't mean to. It might feel like cheating, knowing your brilliant design wasn't actually planned - but don't worry, it isn't. Consider it divine intervention - or just accept the compliments and tell yourself that you're great!
Gavin Strange, otherwise known as JamFactory, worked for himself for four years but is now the senior online designer at Bristol's Aardman Animations. He tries his hand at everything from graphic design to illustration, and is the founder of the Xynthetic arts collective and the Cookie Mob clothing brand, as well as the man behind the Droplet vinyl toy. He's also done lots of logo branding for a number of clients including Realmac Software, Go Go Plastic, The Boardroom Skatepark, 5280 Lasers, Rebelo and Designers Alliance. www.jam-factory.com