Your logo needs to be more than just stunning and unique. It’s your business conceptualized by design. From the first time a customer sees your logo, they need to automatically understand your values and mission. And most importantly be drawn to it! Although it may seem like a daunting task, The Keller Creative has a painless, streamlined process to understand the underlying character of your business and create a logo that is a reflection of just that. In this post we will be taking you through our logo design process step by step. I hope it will give you insight into the care and attention we put into every design.
Step 1: Consultation and Strategy Session
Before any design work starts, we sit down with our clients to understand their business and purpose. Most companies understand their differentiator, but miss the emotional motivators that drive their customers. For example, you’re not selling grass seed, you’re selling a greener lawn; pride of ownership; sense of accomplishment; admiration of the neighbours.
We recently had the privilege of developing a logo for the Icelandic based tour company Nordic Trails. During our strategy session, we were able to uncover some of their customer’s motivators. They want to feel like modern day explorers, visiting foreign lands and connecting with local communities. The fortunate thing is, Iceland offers much of this through its awe inspiring landscapes and welcoming people. Our job now is to conceptualize that sense of adventure and represent Iceland at the same time.
Step 2: Research and Inspiration
It’s important to know your target audience and how to design for them. So in this step we spend time researching that audience and their preference in design. There is no benefit in creating a logo that appeals only to 20 somethings if our target audience is senior citizens. In addition, understanding what is going on in the client’s specific industry is crucial. You may want to follow suit or break the mold, but you need to know what the mold is before doing so.
In the case of Nordic Trails, their audience’s age group is wide ranging; they come from all different parts of the world, and are individuals that have the means to travel for leisure. The Icelandic tourism industry seems to trend towards a clean, conservative look. We found a lot of competitors using the Icelandic flag and outlines of the country. This means we will need to create a design that is both appealing to most AND simultaneously find a way to stand out among industry rivals.
Step 3: Sketching
As graphic designers spend more and more time on the computer, we feel this step is essential. Sketching with pen and paper allows for a certain amount of freedom that is vital to creativity. We consider sketching a type of brain dump. Get everything out even if you know it’s unusable or cliché. Many of the times a “bad” idea may be the stepping stone to something great. We tend to sketch very quickly and loose. Instead of ending up with 10 refined sketches we’ll shoot for 100 loose concepts.
Step 4: Digital Refinement
Once we feel we’ve exhausted all possible ideas we go back through the sketches and pick a handful to bring into the computer. The process of doing this evolves the designs even further. It’s seldom that the final digital logo looks exactly like the sketch. We also add colour during this step after we’re satisfied with a black and white version first.
Step 5: Creative Presentation
We always prefer to present the final logos in person. It gives us the opportunity to explain our creative reasoning and allows the client to give an honest first impression. We then let the client take the designs with them to review on their own and consolidate any feedback they may have.
Logo concepts and creative reasoning presented to Nordic Trails:
The compass has helped guide explorers and adventures for centuries. This concept incorporates the circular shape of the compass with its directional indicators. The initials of the company have been woven through the shape as if creating a path or trail. Slight rounding of the letters and shape gives this logo a softer human feeling.
An icy blue colour has been chosen to represent the north and its expansive skies and landscapes.
Quite literally inspired by photos taken on Nordic Trail’s tours, this concept is based on the incredible aurora borealis that is visible from Iceland and other Northern countries.
The staggered lines create movement and together form a trail. A wonderful metaphor of travel and community.
One of my favourite aspects of this logo is how it can be used on a light and dark background. It reminds us of the long days and nights celebrated by the North.
With the landscape of Iceland and its seemingly endless amount of waterfalls in mind, this logo was created in a minimalist geometric style. This type of clean iconic design is hugely popular throughout Scandinavia and appreciated the world over.
The timeless colours compliment the design, giving it an intentionally retro feel.
Sharp angles on the mark and type give off a crisp, professional sentiment.
Step 6: Logo Tweaks
The selected logo may require some final tweaks based on the client’s feedback. We find it important to keep the original strategy in mind during this step. If we decide to change the colour or typeface, we need to insure it’s still appealing to the target audience and inline with the look we were going for.
After much consideration, Nordic Trails decided to move forward with Concept 3 with a rounded type treatment. Their only concern was that it may not immediately convey “tour guides”. To remedy this, we added the tagline “Personalized Guided Tours” to the bottom of the logo.
Step 7: Documentation and Files
Once the logo has been approved, we then create a package that includes the logo in various file types. We also include documentation around the logo colours and typeface for future reference. While this is a more condensed and concise package than your typical set of branding guildelines, we find this is a good option for new companies and startups. It keeps the costs low and gives the client what they need to start developing other marketing material.
There you have it!
Seeing a logo and brand come to life is one of the most rewarding feelings as a designer. Special thanks to Kent Lárus Björnsson at Nordic Trails for letting us share the journey.