Every good logo designer has a process that usually involves some kind of questionnaire or assessment form which serves to accomplish the due diligence required to best serve their client. It’s the tool I use not only to assess the clients needs but also to assess what the client knows about logo design. For established businesses that have been through the branding process it’s usually not an issue but for a new business that has no real experience with branding their lack of experience can complicate the process.
The challenge that I commonly run into with first time entrepreneurs is that they often don’t understand the true purpose of a logo and how it will serve their needs. Not knowing the fundamental purpose of a logo leads to expectations that sometimes need to be reigned in so that the client doesn’t end up with a logo that is trying to do more than it’s meant to.
A problem I run into is a client that thinks their logo needs to explain their business or advertise what the business does, e.g. the contractor that wants a hammer, the heart surgeon that wants an actual image of a heart, or the pizzeria that wants a slice of pizza incorporated into their logo design. It’s not that this is always a terrible idea and in some instances a competent designer can figure out tasteful ways to accomplish these things but a logo isn’t an explanation of what a business does. A logo is an identifier, it’s purpose is to be recognized and remembered and project the right vibe for the business it represents.
Another challenge that comes up is a client that sees their logo as an extension of who they are, and a statement about their personal tastes. I always want the client to be happy with the design I do for them but I try not to pander to their whims and create a logo that is going to get in the way of itself. A logo is not a tattoo and it’s not a picture to hang on your wall, it’s a marketing device and it needs to approach that job as simply as possible. When a logo is designed to convey something outside of what it needs to and becomes overly artistic it complicates things for the viewer, it becomes harder to understand and it loses its immediacy, and both of those things can do lasting and continuous damage to a businesses ability to brand itself.
These challenges consistently reappear with inexperienced clients, so often in fact that I eventually adopted a second needs assessment to help my clients in evaluating the logo design I create for them. The questions it asks are designed to help my clients evaluate how a particular design is going to work for their business, for example:
- Is the design unique compared to your competitors?
- Is it memorable?
- Is it understandable?
- If you saw it for only 2-3 seconds would it still be understandable?
- Is it inviting?
- Will it work as a sign?
- Will it work on a business card?
- Is it readable from a distance?
And the assessment also instructs them to get feedback from friends, family, and strangers alike. It also tells them to sleep on it and not go with their immediate gut response to it. The goal of all of this is to get the client to move out of their singular viewpoint of the design and try and see it through someone else’s eyes, the eyes of their potential clients.