Logo design, if done properly, is a very research intensive exercise. A well researched logo design project can be much more successful over a project that has not been researched well.
The art or creative factor in a logo is often weighed much more than the research. As a result the research part gets ignored or overlooked and often becomes the sole reason behind unsuccessful logo design projects.
So, what exactly is research in logo design and how does one go about it?
Taking a systematic approach, we have broken up logo design research in three steps.
A. Client Input Or Questions designers ask the client.
B. Competition research
C. Design research
STEP1: CLIENT INPUT OR QUESTIONS DESIGNERS ASK THE CLIENT
All logo design projects start with a designer asking questions from the client. Agencies have logo design questionnaires with tens of questions that clients are often overwhelmed with. To make the process a little simpler, we have identified the five most important questions a designer must ask before starting any logo design project.
What is the need for a new logo design?
A new logo design could be needed for a number of reasons. It could be for a new product or a service or It could be for a new company or a brand. At times, there is a change in the ownership of a company where a new group buys it out and they might need a new logo.
Sometimes, the top management feels that the existing logo is old and needs revision. There are also scenarios wherein a company intentionally reorganizes itself, changing its vision, process and want it all to be reflected in the logo.
Identifying the reason behind creating the logo or redesigning the existing logo will form the basis of what further questions are to be asked or what research is to be done?
What is the primary occupation of the company?
What products or services the company provides to solve customer’s problems? Here it is important to ascertain the customer’s state of mind / emotions when the company engages with him. Whenever a customer buys a product, there are some expectations from the purchase.
At the same time, there could be some doubts or worries in customers’ minds. Some purchases are done happily, some impulsively and some in distress. Knowing the customer’s state of mind will enable the designer to incorporate design elements complementing the customer’s state of mind.
Who is the ideal customer?
There are times when a client is able to point to a specific customer group. But most of the time, the target audience is a very wide group (or at least that is what the client thinks).
To properly shape up the brand identity, It is important to identify the qualities / traits of an ideal customer. It is important to know the ideal customer’s cultural, economic and behavioural patterns as a brand must appeal to all these factors.
What is the competitive landscape?
There must be a fair amount of competition information available to the designer before starting a logo design project. This is where the designer will take a deep dive.
If your client says they do not have a competition, ask them to think again. Competition research is a vast topic and therefore we have discussed it separately in the next section.
What is the company’s vision and long term goals?
Ideally a logo should be timeless and be able to reflect a company’s identity forever. Since a logo is the first touchpoint of a company’s brand, It needs to convey the same feelings and emotions, today, tomorrow and forever.
Knowing a company’s vision and long term goals helps the designer include small elements in the design to make it appear fresh and relevant even after many years.
This ends part-1 of your research which comprised of questions you asked your client.
Professional Design Services For All Business Needs
Our expert graphic designers can help you with social media, branding, website, Flyers, brochures, PPT & website design.
STEP 2: COMPETITION RESEARCH
The second part or the second stage in a logo design’s journey is the competition research. Competition research is important for coming up with the right brand positioning strategy. It helps differentiate your brand as the designer gets clarity on specific strengths and capabilities are to be highlighted.
Many clients believe that a creative, shiny and slick looking logo will help them stand out. But It may not always be so. It is important to mention that your logo design needs to be wise and reflect your brand the way it is. Just a good looking design may not be great branding.
Some of the biggest brands in the world have very simple logos, yet they are considered great brands.
So, how does one go about competition research?
Well, thankfully there is a well defined way to do it.
Start closer to home
Find out about the local competitors. While it is a great feeling to position your brand against the top market leaders, the truth remains that you are just starting up.
Your immediate competition will be your local competitors. You need to know their service offerings and benefits they offer to the customers. If they have a website, spend some time surfing it and make it a point to share their website details with your logo designer.
Research online competitors
All products and services are offered online today. It is important that you are well aware about the online players and their unique offerings. Do provide their information like website URL etc to your designer. It is ideal to make notes wherein you clearly highlight their positives and negatives and share it with your designer.
Many products and services have indirect competition. For example, if your client manufactures chocolates, his direct competition would be all the chocolate manufacturers in his category (say dark chocolates). Now, an indirect competition could be someone manufacturing alternate sweets made with jaggery that are good for diabetes as well as made with natural sugar. There is a high probability your client does not consider them a competitor but the jaggery sweet manufacturer could well be taking away your client’s chocolate business, becoming a strong indirect competitor.
Finally, it is the market leader your client always has his eyes on. Often these market leaders are big old companies with the advantage and sometimes burden of their heritage. In most cases, it is not ideal to think of them as your competitors. These are trusted brands with very loyal customers. Trying to break away their customers could be a herculean task you may not want to spend your money and energies on.
However, it is important to make a note of their specific offerings and emotional connect and share it with your designer.
This ends step-2 of your research where you’ve researched extensively about the competition.
Want to see a two-fold increase in your sales?
Our expert graphic designers can help yield more out of your marketing efforts.
STEP3: DESIGN RESEARCH
The third part in the journey of a logo design is researching the design elements of competitors’ logos.
Typography is the design element that could make two logos look “extremely different” as well as “almost similar”. Make sure the fonts you select are distinct from your competitors, at the same time bear the style element for your specific industry. For example, gaming logos are all distinct looking but bear a similarity of heaviness and quirkiness.
Logo design concept matters a lot when creating logos for generic industries, for example real estate. All clients would want to show some sort of house or building their logo.
In such a case, it is critical that you don’t end up using a concept someone has already used in the past. Since the choices are restricted to a house, the probability of a similar match is very high.
You need to be extra cautious in this one and definitely need to do more research than you would have done with any other logo.
Shape of the logo
Continuing with our example of a real estate logo, we can differentiate it by using a shape that has not been used earlier in similar real estate logos. But a house will look like a house – how do you change that?
Perhaps you can use an additional shape around the house or even something abstract? On the other hand, ignoring the shape element could result in your logo being lost in the crowd.
Every client has his own choice of colours and sometimes they also rely on the choice of the designer. Whatever the case be, the designer needs to ensure a unique colour palette is used for every new logo.
These colours are very important as they are eventually used in all the brand communication. Cultural and religious sentiments also play an important role in selection of the colour palette.
Finally, a note on logo design questionnaires
Most logo design agencies prefer to take all of the above information from its clients by providing them with a long questionnaire. Most of the clients do not have the patience to fill up such a long form.
The clients who’d fill up the entire thing, could also be way off in their assessment. Therefore, it is essential the designers do the entire exercise on their own. This will make them knowledgeable on the subject & help them come up with unique and interesting designs, often surprising and surpassing the client’s imagination.
When designing a logo, the aim is to make the brand stand apart from the competition and not replicate or modify a design that already exists. Research is the tool that can help you come up with a logo of unique design and character each time.
Recommended reading: Do the Colours Of Your Logo Really Affect Your Brand?
Recommended reading: How to build a scalable brand and watch it grow