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Why Does a Logo Take So Damn Long?by Cristian Pacheco, on Dec 1, 2020 / Perspective
Yes, we’ve heard it all:
“Why does a logo take so damn long when my cousin can get it done in an hour?”
“Why does a logo take so damn long when WIX, Fiver, Upwork, and other websites say I can do it myself or they can do it in a matter of hours?”
“Why does a logo take so damn long when you’re a professional creative? You should know what I want and what will work for me.”
These are questions that designers hear very often during the initial talks of a logo project. No matter how much it’s asked, many designers take this topic personally as it questions the process and quality of the work. Instead of feeling this way, our team sees this as an opportunity to help that person or business understand the time, effort, and strategy that goes into creating brand identities that work. When you slow down and think about it, it’s almost a silly decision to rush the image of your brand considering the amount of work that goes into producing, launching, and maintaining your business.
So…Where did it get cloudy?
To most business owners, a logo is simply a graphic symbol or lettering that represents their company that then gets placed on everything the brand produces and distributes. When you think of a logo in this way, it becomes easy to confuse strategy for transaction. This is also why some people get stunned with the prices and timelines of branding projects. It doesn’t help that there’s propaganda shoved by websites, like WIX and Fiver, that devalues the branding process that agencies and creators take to ensure we create branding that works. Don’t get me wrong, I love them for providing resources and tools to help people launch their brands, but they also like to paint creative agencies and freelancers as if we purposely take longer than needed and outprice you for what you’re getting. What they don’t advertise to you is that they sell you the same exact design framework they just sold hundreds of other business owners…so, good luck with being unique, but let’s leave this topic for another day.
Truth be told, we can deliver a logo in an hour just like WIX and Fiver! But that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll like the design or that it will represent you well enough for you to grow with the logo. When we create logos, we don’t think about just the now, we think about the next 5,10, 20 years! Creating branding that works takes time to build and it starts before the launch.
To understand the process and time it takes to create logos, you must first understand the importance of brand identity and how every brand must make strategic branding decisions. We wrote another article that walks you through what good brand identity should look like and how to evaluate your current branding situation.
Whether you’re a business owner, manager, or creative reading this right now, understand that logo is a strategic process! Below are 10 general steps we take at LuccaAM to ensure that we create brand identities that work.
- Project Proposal
- Computer Renditions
- Presenting Drafts
- Client Review and Feedback
- Revisions to Design
- Production and File Preparation
- Brand Identity Rollout
To start the project, we like to schedule a call to get to know your needs for the project and to see if we’re a good fit to help you with your branding needs. We use this time to hear you out, whether it’s a brand new company that’s about to launch or if you’re looking to rebrand. Here’s where you get to find out the following things: how much the project will cost, what the timeline and deadlines will be, what deliverables you can expect, and any other agreements that need to be made to kick start the project.
The terms and our process are also discussed in detail to ensure we’re 100% transparent with the way we do things. We send you a project proposal where it itemizes everything you’ll be receiving and what goes into each item, from the proposal you can accept and make the deposit to start the logo process.
Time invested: 45min-1hr
Before we start talking about concepts and ideas, it’s important to us that we get to know everything we can about your business. This allows us to create a great client-to-designer partnership, this synergy is key throughout the project’s journey to ensure we’re all on the same page and our goals are all aligned. There’s a lot of questions we ask to get to understand your business, product/service, goals, and any other details that will help create a thorough project brief.
The discovery phase is our opportunity to discuss your interests and how that can play into your branding strategy. We get to know what you offer, how you offer it, who your target market is, where you want your business to be in 5/10/15 years, and other soul searching questions. This process starts after approving the proposal, we schedule a second call with your team’s key members for the project and our assigned creative team to go over the discovery questions. We usually spend an hour picking your team’s brain with in-depth questions that help us learn what makes the brand unique and what solutions your new logo needs to provide for your business. Once we feel confident we have enough details, we use the meeting notes and recordings to create a detailed brief. From this moment forward, the brief becomes the project’s bible that we use to stay on the same page. This helps avoid any roadblocks that could derail and prolong the project.
Time invested: 1 hour
Brand and Industry Research
The discovery call allows us to get to know your brand, however, that’s the story we hear is coming from you and/or your team. To truly understand the full picture, we do our own research on your brand by looking at your website, products, reviews, blog content, social media accounts, and other brand items we come across. In addition to studying your brand, we look at your industry to become familiar with your field, identify trends, understand the audiences, and establish the competition you’re dealing with.
Time invested: 1-2 hours
The research doesn’t end there! Studying the competitive landscape is key to making your new logo stand out, especially among local competitors. For this part of the research, we tend to mainly focus on local and nearby competition. This is a great way for us to think of ideas that will make your logo the best in the area. Interestingly enough, we find that most local competitors are not aesthetically pleasing or have weak visual identities. There’s a lot of opportunity to gain a competitive advantage just by having a proper brand image. Even if your competitors have good branding, it allows us to see where we can be different and where they could improve. When we analyze your competitors, we’re looking for ways to give you the visual edge.
Time invested: 1-2 hours
This is where our design team finally gets into the kitchen and starts cooking! The designers are presented with the project brief, which is detailed with the company’s background, branding goals, industry research, brand research, and competitor analysis. After discussing the brief and ensuring everyone is on the same page, the designers are then tasked to find visual inspirations that fit the brief and client’s goals. The idea is to find potential styles, color schemes, typography options, and other visual elements that begin to form stylescapes. We use stylescapes to visually present our ideas and directions to the client so they get a better understanding of our ideas.
The stylescapes can be a compilation of logo samples from other brands, advertisement pieces, photographs, and other visual graphics that help inspire the proper branding solution. By taking the time to do this, we are able to visually show the directions we think are the best branding solutions. This then allows the client to provide feedback to the directions and to provide their own inspiration for us to use. We have found this part of the process to be crucial as it provides the space for honesty and understanding. When you’re able to define directions before starting drafts, it makes for a smoother process and less rounds of revisions. Our teachers were right, if we do our homework early we don’t have to work as hard later.
Time invested: 1.5-2 hours
Total research time invested: 5-6 hours
At this point in the process, our design team has all the ammunition they need to be successful with their first set of drafts. Before any computer is turned on and before any Adobe program is loaded, we like to brainstorm and sketch first! This is where we allow the designer to be themselves in how they find their ideas. The task is to give them two hours to brainstorm ideas using word maps, sketching, and other ways of collecting thoughts. The goal is to quickly produce rough ideas and sketches that can potentially lead to a final concept.
After each designer completes their two hours of sketching and brainstorming, our design team meets once again to talk about the results. During this process, we select the best concepts to render on the computer. Filtering the sketch process makes sure we present our best ideas and allows us to move quicker when creating the concepts in Adobe Illustrator.
Time invested: 2 hours
Each designer at this point looks at the sketches that were selected to further develop. The designers take the time to bring their sketches to life. They’re usually in a black and white format as the goal here is to start to see how the rough sketches will look in a final digital format. We usually start to get a strong idea on which concepts are standing out and what ideas will work the best. From here, we go through another filtering process and select the best three directions to focus on. These then become the drafts that get presented to the client. As you can see, before ANY designs are presented to the client, we spend HOURS of preliminary research, sketching, and building various concepts.
Time invested: 6 hours
To prepare the logos for client review, we take the three finalized concepts and start to create the presentation for the client. We create quality and relevant mock-ups so that the client can review the logos in real-life scenarios and begin to envision their future brand. When the client gets to see the logo drafts, we want to make sure they like the design and how it performs once applied. As soon as the presentation is ready, we schedule a meeting with the client to review the concepts. We like to make this a conversation so we can openly discuss the strategy behind the concepts, take in feedback, and work out the solutions needed in case revisions need to be made.
Time invested: 3 hours
Client Review and Feedback
After we present, we will get the client’s initial thoughts on the directions they saw. As mentioned previously, we like to make this a conversation so that the client feels comfortable and in control of their brand. We make sure to let them know that this initial feedback will not be the only feedback we take into consideration so they feel less pressure. We encourage them to sleep on it and review it with a fresh perspective. It’s key we provide clients the time and space to reflect and collect final thoughts before making the final decisions. Again, nothing about a logo should be rushed.
To start heading towards the final product, we ask clients to select one direction from the drafts. The goal is to narrow down the direction so we can stay focused on the brief. We have also found that doing this helps the client hone in on a concept and think of ways to align it to their vision and goals. We look for actionable feedback we can take to make the proper revisions as efficient as possible.
Time invested: 30-45min
Revisions to Design
Once we get into revisions, we have the client select a single direction to further develop. Depending on the situation, the client may want to see specific changes with colors, fonts, layouts, and other design elements. On other occasions, we know we’re in the ballpark but now we need to come up with new solutions for the direction selected.
Our team designs with purpose so we provide two revisions to the client; this allows them to consider the direction they like best and try out different ideas. As we make revisions, we email the concepts to the client to review and decide which logo to move forward with.
After reviewing the revisions, we ask the client to select the logo of their choice or further revisit the brief to see what’s not aligned and how we can get it done. We found this to be a healthy way of allowing for changes but without spiraling into rounds and rounds of changes.
Time invested: 4-8 hours
Production and File Preparation
The finish line is in sight now! We review the selected concept one last time to make sure everything looks perfect before preparing the client’s files. We like to visually proof everything to ensure there aren’t any oddities. We list out what the logo system will look like for the client so we know what to prep and package. In other words, how many different variations of the logo will the client need. The variations can be like color, orientations, inverted design options, individual elements, and other details that will be important to note before preparing the files.
Once we know what we need to prepare, we spend the time in Adobe creating every single file type you’ll need to use your logo successfully. We provide the main Adobe Illustrator files, EPS, SVG, PDF, PNG, and JPEG file types. All of this gets organized into folders so it’s easy for the client to find files by variation and file type. This is one of the most underestimated parts of the process. Yes, even after being done we’re still not done!
To give you an idea, we’ve created logo systems for brands that have had over 150 individual files. We then have to review the files to make sure it all looks good so when they’re delivered we avoid issues! We zip everything up and email it to the client so they can start to use their new branding.
Time invested: 2 hours
Brand Identity Rollout
Depending on the client’s budget, the logo can only be the start of the project. We encourage all of our logo clients to consider a branding package. It’s important to create the brand’s logo to create the company’s image. However, to really start to develop your brand’s identity you’ll need to create collateral pieces that extend the image. This can be done through stationery sets (business cards, letterheads, envelops, etc.), print and digital ads, website updates, and other areas that provide an opportunity to showcase your new brand. The more you do this the more recognizable your company will be to potential customers.
Before we start the logo, we usually have a good idea if the client will be investing in further branding beyond the logo. We deliver the logo so that the client can start to use it, but we also take the time to create the rest of the brand’s designs. It starts with the brand guide so that the client has a clear understanding on how to keep the brand consistent. It makes the most sense to have a new logo and new publications/visuals that use the new branding. People need to be aware of the new launch or the new rebrand.
Think about the impact of your brand’s launch. You only get to do this once.
Time invested: Varies based on project.
Total Project Time: 35+ hours
* average project time.
We hope this helps you understand.
As the ecommerce world grows, branding is becoming even more important to a successful marketing strategy. With so much noise out there, how are you making sure your voice is the one customers are listening to? Branding is a great strategy to make your company unique so it stands out among your competitors. In 2021, there will be more than 2.14 billion online buyers worldwide, where in 2016 it was 1.66 billion online customers (Statista). The online market is going to keep expanding and so will the competition! Make sure you truly understand branding now or you’ll be playing catch-up later.
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