The Difference Between Art and Design
Today, anybody can create an image that looks good and call it a logo. However, there is something fundamentally different between art and design. Both are creative in nature, but design is goal oriented. Design is about creating in a way that achieves goals.
Although a good-looking logo can still be created by intuition and artistic expression. The problem is intuition and art are subjective, meaning that different people will experience the logo differently. Design is objective, meaning that the creative decisions are all made in order to achieve a specific goal for a specific set of people. Design is about removing personal attachment as the designer to focus on what will achieve the goals and achieve the best results. This is why it is important to have preliminary goals discussions before your start a logo project.
Taking You Behind the Scenes
I’m starting off the new year with a really exciting logo design project with a long-time friend. He’s a photographer looking to establish a personal brand identity for his freelance photography business. I thought I’d take you behind the scenes and share the process of how I actually design a logo with intentionality. Through these four weeks, I’ll go through my process and each step to help you achieve better results with your logos.
Uncovering Your Client’s Needs
Your client may come to you telling that they want a logo. While this may be true, the purpose of the preliminary discussions is to figure out what your client really needs, rather than what they say they want.
By asking the right questions, you can uncover if what your client wants is actually what they really need. In the case of the branding project I’m working on, the preliminary discussions revealed that the client’s needs were much different than what they said they wanted.
The client came to me asking for a simple logo under a brand name. After considering the future goals of his freelancing, we agreed that a personal brand approach, under his own name, was what he really needed. On top of that, a complete brand identity was actually what was needed instead of the single logo he initially proposed.
As you can see, this process helps clarify your client’s needs and helps you uncover what you need to accomplish. So, here are a few questions you can ask your client to help uncover their goals:
- Who is your target audience?
- What needs does your target audience have?
- What do you want your new logo to accomplish?
- What does your organization do and why does it matter?
- Who are your competitors and how do you differ from them?
- Where do you see your business one year from now, three years from now, and 10 years from now?
- Where will the logo be used?
- How do people learn about your organization?
- What does success look like for this project?
- What does failure look like for this project?
In the next three posts in this series, I’ll be referencing some of my preliminary discoveries and how they affect the design decisions of the logo.
Tips for Successful Preliminary Discussions
1. Meet in Person if Possible
This is arguably the most important interaction you will have with your client in the whole process. You want to gain all the information you can, but you also need the context of that information. Much of the context is harder to gather over written word and emails. It really helps if you can set up a meeting face-to-face so you can see their body language and tone-of-voice in the conversation. You’ll see which parts they might be confident, excited, or hesitant about.
If you can’t meet in person, have a video call, or a phone call at least. The preliminary discussions are the basis for the design decisions of the whole project. You may be able to get the gist of things over email, but you want to leave as little room for miscommunication as possible.
2. Listen More Than You Talk
Don’t try to lead the conversation in any certain direction. Let the client speak freely, because what they talk about most is an indication of what they are most interested in or concerned about. This is valuable to know, and you should be listening to understand how they view that situation so you can design for those aspects.
3. Focus On Making Them More Successful
This often gets overlooked in the design process. As designers, we can get wrapped up in the excitement of getting a client and forget about truly serving them to the best of our abilities. Your goal should be seeing what you can do to make the client more successful. An example of this could be expanding a logo project into a complete brand identity because it will create a better brand experience for their customers. This leads the client trusting you more because you have their best interest in mind. Also, the more success your client ends up having, the better it looks on you, since you designed their logo. When you give more of yourself, everybody wins.
4. Dig Deeper
Always try to dig deeper. The first answer you receive is often a fabricated response that the client has come up with after a lot of thinking. However, it’s important to get to the root of that thinking to provide your unique perspective. By asking multiple questions about my client’s future goals and why he wanted a brand name, I was able to get to the root of his thinking. After, we arrived at the root of both answers, I was able to provide my fresh perspective on why a personal brand aligned better with his goals. He was only able to see this once I spent the time get to the root of things and present things clearly.
5. Take Notes
You must absolutely take notes during these discussions. You should try to write down what your client says shortly after they say it. By taking notes you are showing that you respect their time and what they have to say.
This also serves as a direct account of everything they’ve told you that you can look back on and reference, which is very important when making your design decisions. You shouldn’t rely on your memory to recall exactly what was said, because you’ll likely misremember it.
The Benefit of Gathering Information
It’s always good to gather as much information that you can in the beginning. Even if you don’t know what to do with that information in the beginning, as you work through the design problems, they will present themselves when the time is right. They will often be the deciding the factor for many of the small decisions in your logo later on.
Plus, you don’t want to go back and ask your client more questions during the design process. This is unprofessional and causes your client to be interrupted, work more, and feel unease. You want to get all of that out in the beginning so you have all the information and resources you need to do a great job.
Thanks for reading! Next week, I will be sharing how the preliminary discussions and goals lead into the brainstorming and concepting phases. Be sure to subscribe to the newsletter to receive the rest of this series, as well as these weekly posts on lettering, design, and creativity delivered straight to your inbox! :)