On designing logos

I’ve designed a ton of fonts. I’ve designed a ton of icons. I’ve designed only a few logos.

I always lump logos into the other categories, because I take the same approach to their crafting: get to the core of the symbol/s’ purpose and express it basicly, purely, and fundamentally. Then build on that solid core into something that resonates, based on feedback and outcomes.

The problem with logos is that, unlike those other categories, they demand an immediate connection to an extremely specific audience: namely, the client.

Who is the client? Good question. The client is not an anonymous user of creative output. The client is not a disconnected associate with little to go on when evaluating your work. The client is a stakeholder in your value as a professional creator. The client needs your work to “work,” because if it doesn’t, the client has problems that you’re responsible for.

And the client is always right. Which means you can’t expect them to see things the way you do. They’re paying money.

The client anticipates glitz and glamour out of the gate. They immediately compare raw sketches to a fully armoured cavalier, repleat with plate armor set in golden trim smelted with golden trim acquired from valorous raids. They want it to look Las Vegas.

This is how it goes whenever I take on a new logo project, which is why I get so stressed out whenever one lands on my doorstep. On the one hand, nothing makes me more satisfied as a graphic designer than to see my designs “in the wild;” i.e., actually used by the client and viewed by people I have never met. I see that as an enormous responsibility, that if fulfilled, validates my self confidence as a bonifide designer.

On the other hand, there have been so many cases where I’ve poured my heart and soul into something I know is perfect, only to find out that the client hates it, or worse, doesn’t even notice it before it’s even left the gate.

I guess all I can do is to try different approaches. I look at work done by insanely talented people and wonder how they evaded these trysts. I can only conclude that they didn’t evade them, but instead learned from them and evolved into producers of content that appeals to the public they’re trying to reach. That’s what I’m trying to do.