If you’ve never worked with a logo & branding designer before, you might have a lot of questions about how it all works. Often I get asked, how do you pick fonts, what colors will be best, what happens after I book you or what type of files will I get?
I know everything can be overwhelming in this solopreneur world so I make my process as easy as fun as possible! I use a very similar process as to the one that I used while I was a designer manager at an in-house agency. I simplified and transformed it a bit to fit more of my clients’ needs.
Here is a behind the scenes look at my logo and branding design process that I guide all my clients through.
STEP 1: Initial Consult & booking
I spend time getting to know my clients from the beginning to make sure we are a great fit and I can get a vibe of their style. This makes the overall process more fun and smoother! After we are done chatting about business and mom life, it’s time to get down to business. I send them over my contract, initial invoice for the initial 50% of their project, and a welcome guide that walks them through the next steps.
STEP 2: Brand Discovery
I kick off all my clients with a little bit of homework. This isn’t like the algebra homework they did in high school – this one is fun! I provide them with a worksheet that discovers the foundation of their business. It provides us clarity on why they do what they do, what type of clients/customers they want to work with, and what kind of feeling they want their clients to have when they work with them. Almost all of my clients thank me afterwards because they had so many aha moments after filling out the homework!
In addition to their worksheet, I invite them to a secret shared Pinterest board. I ask them to pin fonts, colors, quotes and photos that they feel best reflect the overall vibe of their brand and ideal client.
STEP 3: Creating a Mood Board for Inspiration
Now it’s my time to start my own research! I start highlighting keywords from their brand discovery worksheet. I create a list of symbols, icons and ideas that best represent those keywords. Then I start searching on Pinterest with a combination of those keywords.
After I compiled enough keyword research, I hop over to google to discover their ideal client. I begin my ideal client research by visiting the websites of the stores their ideal client likes to shop at and the brands they follow on social media.
Once all of my research is complete, I create a collage of all of the research which is called a mood board. The mood board helps tell the overall vibe of the brand. I typically will create 2 versions and share these with my rationale to my client.
STEP 4: Design Logo Concepts
I like to begin the logo process with some good old fashioned pen and paper. I like to start sketching out as many ideas I have first. This allows me to be the most creative and start thinking about all the possibilities. I keep referencing the list of keywords as well as icons symbols that I wrote down in my research phase.
After I sketch out a page full of ideas, it usually becomes pretty clear which ones I want to build on. Then I open up my favorite design program, Adobe Illustrator where I translate my sketch ideas into digital black and white logo concepts. I experiment with typography and other elements in each of the concepts until I am happy with them.
Then I put them aside for the night. I like to come back to them the next morning with a pair of fresh eyes. Before I look at the concepts though, I review my client’s brand discovery worksheet and mood board to remind myself of their brand. Then, narrow down the options to 4-6 options to present to my client. I present my concepts to my client with an explanation and rationale behind each one. I want them to understand my intention behind each concept.
STEP 5: Logo refinement
I like to give my clients a couple of days to review the initial concepts. Their logo plays a big part in their branding and they should let the concepts marinate with them for a bit. Then they provide me feedback and I make any requested edits. My client and I continue to work together to refine the initial logo until it’s perfect. I include up to three rounds of revisions, but we normally land on the concept in the second round!
STEP 6: Color & logo variations
After the main logo is landed on, I start to play with color! I don’t start exploring color until this point because I want to make sure my clients have a rock solid logo that can live in all sorts of mediums. What if there comes a time where they want it printed on a t-shirt, a sign or in an ad that only allows for one color? No problem! Because we already made sure their logo would look amazing!
While I am exploring color, I am also providing them a couple of variations of their logo. I like to provide an alternative version of their logo that is either slightly simplified or in a different orientation, as well as a submark of their logo.
If you are unfamiliar with what an alternate logo or submark is, check out my blog post on “Why You Need More Than One Logo”.
STEP 7: Brand Assets
For my Luxe Cruiser clients, I provide much more than their logo design! I design elements and collateral that really allow their brand to start cruising. This consists of icons/graphic elements, patterns/textures, business cards and branded 8.5×11 template that is perfect for them to use for their letterhead, opt-in form, pricing menu, etc.
I start this phase by designing concepts of their business cards and an 8.5×11 template. I find it most helpful for my clients to see the whole picture rather than just seeing bits and pieces. Just like the logo development, I gather their feedback and refine the concepts until we land on a brand they are proud of!
STEP 8: File handoff & Launch
Once all designs are finalized, it’s time to start chilling the bubbles! This is when I send my client the final 50% invoice for their project. Once that’s paid, I package up all their logos to a shared dropbox folder. For their logos, I provide print & web friendly formats in full color, black, and white.
For my Luxe Cruiser clients (my logo & branding package), I also include their brand assets. This consists of:
- Their icons/graphic elements are saved in each of their brand colors. This way they can easily grab them and create a graphic, flier, or slide for their webinar with them.
- Their patterns are saved in files perfect for social graphics, print and their website.
- Their branded form template all ready to go in either Canva or Word. That way they are able to start creating their own marketing from day one.
- 50 business cards to help get them started as well as print-ready file in case they need to order more
To keep it all straight, I create brand guidelines for them. This isn’t like the weird how-to guide that comes with Ikea furniture! (why are those always confusing?!?) Instead, this is a how to guide of their colors, fonts, logos, and graphic elements to ensure they stay consistent with their brand. I also share along some helpful marketing ideas and tips. It’s my goal for my clients to be able to design their own marketing if they choose to. And I want them to look professional while doing it!
For the next 2 weeks, I periodically check in with them to make sure they don’t have any questions about their new brand or files. Then I like to surprise them with a little gift with their new branding because who doesn’t love getting something pretty in the mail!
From there, it’s time to pop the champagne because it’s launch time! I create a couple of social media graphics to share on Instagram and Pinterest to showcase my client and their new brand, as well as adding it to my portfolio page so it’s always up to date.
There you have it! There is the peek inside my logo and branding design process.
If this fun branding journey process sounds just like the steps you want to take to create a unique logo that attracts your ideal client, then let’s chat!