Steps to a Good Logo Design: The IBCS Case Study, Part II

Steps to a Good Logo Design: The IBCS Case Study, Part II

In our last post, we began to outline my logo design process using the IBCS crest redesign as a case study and got through the first three steps. The big takeaway there was that the whole process began with an intentional attempt to listen to what IBCS had to say about who they are and what they’re trying to do, and what their goals were for the project—and then to deliver on that. Today we’ll present the conclusion of that process with this second and final post.

IBCS logo design process 2 sketches

Early sketches and initial digital versions of the redesigned IBCS crest.

Steps 4-5: Brainstorm Sketching & Finalizing

This is where the rubber really begins to meet the road in a logo design, where exploration finally begins to translate to execution. Project objectives, brand aesthetic, and visual particulars have all built a very clear fence and boundary beyond which I as the designer cannot go, but within which I am free (and obligated) to be as creative as I can possibly be. Informed and clear on the work, I can finally break out my old trusty friends, paper and pencil, and begin to sketch.

Through sketching, I was able to work out a general idea of what I was confident was the right solution for the new IBCS crest. From there I worked out a much cleaner hand-rendered version before bringing it into Adobe Illustrator where began creating vector versions of the final.

Step 6: Presenting and Explaining the Recommended Logo to the Client

My goal for the initial presentation to the client is two-fold.

First, I want to create multiple examples—branded with the newly-identified brand aesthetic—of the logo ‘at work’ in contexts in which it’s actually going to appear, and in pieces that the client would actually use in real life. The obvious point here, of course, is not simply to show the client what the logo looks like. Logos are never used all by themselves or without a context, so it just wouldn’t be sufficient (or appropriate) to present it that way. No, they’re always used in a context of some kind—a door sign, a business card, a website, a product package—and I want to give the client a really clear idea of how their new logo is going to work once they begin using it in the real world, because that’s the only place it’s ever going to appear.

Second, I want to explain every element of the new logo to the client so they can see that it is grounded directly and entirely in who they are and in what the project goals were.

  • IBCS logo design process 2 BC
  • IBCS logo design process 2 shirt
  • IBCS logo design process 2 catalog

A few pieces from the presentation to the client of the new IBCS crest.

“The point here is to give the client a really clear idea of how their new logo is going to work once they begin using it in the real world, because that’s the only place it’s ever going to appear.”

Side Note: Great Branding is the Key to a Memorable Logo

There are a number of reasons why this kind of logo presentation is so important. The first, however, is that it gives the client a view of the strength of the new design that they just wouldn’t have otherwise. And that is because—and this extremely important—the real issue when it comes to a forceful, memorable logo, is great branding.

Everyone wants their logo to be memorable and attractive. Everyone wants a logo that represents them with excellence and accuracy. Almost without exception, however, no matter how well a logo is planned or executed, if you don’t apply it consistently or maintain a standard of excellence when you do apply it, it simply is not going to look good. It’s going to repel rather than attract—which is the exact opposite of what you want it to do!

It’s almost never the logo itself that draws people in and makes an impression. There is almost no such thing as logo that “really pops” all by itself. The real impact of great logo comes from the context in which it appears. In other words, at the end of the day it’s not the logo that ultimately counts (though it does count and needs to count), it’s excellent and effective branding.

Step 7: Adjustments and the Final Version

Once IBCS had a chance to review the new crest design and read through my rational and recommendation for it, they returned to me with a few slight adjustments to some of the elements and a variation of the crest that they were interested in seeing.

It is important to point out that IBCS requested no major revisions to the new crest. The final accepted version is essentially what was presented to them in the beginning. Again, that’s not because the new logo design blew everyone away in attractiveness and visual appeal (though it certainly is attractive and appealing). It’s because it definitively delivered on every single one of the project objectives and on exactly what the client said.

After the adjustments were made, I worked together with IBCS to discuss those and decide what was best and why. After one more quick trip to the workbench to make some minor corrections, the final piece was presented to them. The conclusion: a successful new crest and an extremely satisfied client.

Closing Thoughts

At the end of a project like this, two things become clear.

First, listening is the key difference between a good logo design and a bad one. Bad logo designs, I am convinced, are always, always, always the designer’s fault and represent a failure to really listen to what the client needs and wants. That failure results in bad work that nobody’s happy with and frustration all around. A good logo, on the contrary, is ultimately the fruit of good listening. When that happens, the process is streamlined, efficient, enjoyable for both the client and the designer, and produces the perfect logo solution—and very often right out of the box without any major revisions at all.

Second, the logo design process isn’t about options and rounds of revisions—it’s about getting it right. Don’t misunderstand; I’m not trying to downplay the good and important place of options and revisions. Instead, the thing I’m trying to help the client see is that the supreme focus should be—and my focus is—to find out exactly what the new logo needs to be and then create that. To miss that is almost to doom the whole project to frustration and futility before the work ever begins.

Are you looking for a logo design, or maybe thinking about branding or rebranding? Get in touch today and let’s start working on the right solution for you.

By |November 1, 2016|