Hi there, my name is Rob Jelinski! I’m an Art Director, Graphic Designer, Branding Strategist, Published Illustrator and the proud Founder of a thriving, multi-specialty design studio called Rob Jelinski Studios! Today I’d like to speak from experience (I have 15+ years of them in the industry) and share 5 ways to make logos that can stand the test of time (10 to 20 years or longer) which is a rarity in our current age of stock logos and design apps.
Why am I sharing these tips with you today? I hear way too many stories from designers reminiscing of logos they created beautifully that got massacred after client approval or even worse, never made it to approval. I want to help because here at RJS, we design logos all the time (it is one of the services we are known for) and 99.5% of the logo projects we’ve started over the past (almost) 10 years of business are still in use today!
1. Study the Mission
When approaching logo design, study the mission of the new company or the purpose that is driving the venture to exploration. A great logo holds meaning, symbolism and alludes to the mission or purpose of the company by curating or creating the perfect typeface, choosing a pleasing color palette (Always start with Pantones), and drafting an illustration/icon or creating custom design details that help viewers to get the point quickly.
2. Collaborate with the client
Understanding that you and the client are a team is sometimes half the battle in this journey of designing a logo. Try to understand each client individually and the way they do (or don’t) communicate. A few ways to kick things off on the right track:
Ask For Company Details – Name of the brand or company, tagline, mission statement, unique selling points.
Request Inspiration Images – Samples of their preferred design style or trend, typography, colors and imagery they are looking to establish for their branding.
Have A Conversation To Talk Through Details And Your Ideas – Ask additional questions about their company or concept and try to explain to them your art direction before you start designing. As Paula Scher says, many good designs are lost because the client doesn’t understand why they are good.
Build Trust And Community With The Client – Let them know that you are excited to work with them and assure them that your goal is to accurately translate their vision into a logo they love.
3. Design a logo library
In years past, designers just used to design a logo in full color, spot color, and grayscale. But with the rise of branding and social media, a lot more ‘logos’ are needed now to establish a client for longevity. Now it is essential for all logos to be designed in both horizontal (wide) and vertical (fitted within a square or circle) formats in vector, png, and other industry-standard formats.
Here are a few options we highly recommend:
Variation Logos – Initials, Monogram, Illustration or Icon only, marks noting established dates, etc.
Multiple Colorways – Three to six various color combinations to give the owner or in-house designer options without re-inventing the wheel which they may not be qualified for.
4. Review the logo designs with the client (Try to explain your thinking)
This step may seem like overkill or extra you don’t get paid for (try to include it in your price) but it is needed! Also, this step will look different for each designer as you may be working from a distance.
The goal is that you try to explain your thinking and how the information they gave you, in the beginning, relates to the logo designs currently in front of them. A sit down meeting or conference call is preferred, but if these options are not possible, try to explain your art direction in the email when sending off proofs and don't forget to highlight a few beautiful design details as well! Welcome them to provide honest feedback (they should still be professional - not just say I hate these lol) and try to walk them through the process to a logo they love.
If the client honestly doesn’t like parts of what you came up with it is in everyone’s best interest to change them now. And hopefully, at the end of it all, you will also love the final design too!!
5. Establish identity standards or branding guidelines
Once the logo is approved. Please, please create some identity standards, a style guide or brand book!
This document clearly calls out primary (1st choice of logos), secondary, and variation marks for the company. It also catalogs the exact colors (Pantone, CMYK, RGB, and Hex color numbers) and typography used, so streamlining in print and around the web is quick and painless! It also educates the client on what the clear space and minimum size should be for all marks and most importantly, the misuse of the logos. (how many times have clients stretched logos to weird proportions just because they wanted it to 'pop' more).
These standards will be essential for each client to properly monitor the handling of visuals and to maintain the quality and integrity of the marks.
I hope many designers out there find some insights in these 5 Ways To Make Logos That Last and that they help you navigate through the logo process with more of your beautiful logos in circulation and tons of happy clients that can’t stop referring new work to you!
You can find samples of our work at RobJelinskiStudios.com or schedule some branding coaching if you want to dive more into our process or let us help you create some of your own. And if you have a success story of how this how-to has helped you, we would love to hear it!! Simply share it on Instagram or Twitter with the link and tag @RobJelinski@MAKEITSeries #MakeLogosThatLast so we see it!!