You get a new brief for a logo design and what happens? You get excited at the prospect of a new client, a new project and a chance to design something well, new!
A problem I’ve found though, is the logo design brief itself. It’s a huge contradiction.
It can be a valued tool if the client actually knows what they want but the truth is that clients rarely do. That can be a blessing in disguise leaving you with creative freedom to do what’s best for the clients business but clients don’t actually want your input they just want your trade skills.
Most clients want you to be a mind reading logo designing machine.
They can’t express what they want out of a logo design but they do want you to churn out a logo design that they do want although they don’t know what it is that they want. They don’t necessarily want you to churn out your vision of a logo design based on your expertise, just attempt to realise their unknown vision.
Was that a little cryptic? That’s exactly how it feels to be a logo designer.
On the flipside…
You can get a client that does know what they want which is great for productivity but most clients that know what they want, usually want the wrong thing which leaves us as designers to feel a little un-enthused because the end result may not be a logo design that we’re not proud of.
In any case clients tend to use a “process of elimination” to decide what the final logo design should be and not necessarily the design brief.
This means that the brief acts only as initial stepping stones and those stones could be leading you in the wrong direction so it’s up to you as a designer to be professional, generous and assertive and adapt to finalise the design according to the client (not you).
The creative brief may actually be the reason why designers are used for their skills rather than their minds and it’s probably the reason why some of my best work is never seen.
Speaking from experience
The client and I will end up collaborating towards a joint decision/vision for the identity design project and it will turn out good however there’s a few times when a client follows my direction completely and the identity project comes out great.
I can’t blame my clients though because maybe it’s my fault as a logo designer or maybe it’s the processes that we use as logo designers which cause some of our best work to go into the design dumpyard.
In an attempt to fix the logo design process or fix my process I’ve redesigned my logo design brief to provide a better design experience for both client and designer which should end in a better result all round.
My original logo design brief was based on a brief found on David Aireys website and over the years I’ve amended it here and there, removing bits and adding a new in order to get fuller, more detailed responses from clients and I have to say that the logo design brief I used was great. It questioned clients and made them re-think their whole business idea but nevertheless the brief itself would always create a problem in the end by either being too specific or not specific enough.
What I decided to do was re-design the logo design brief once again to become a better working tool for the designer. To do this I had to do the following 3 points:
1. Ask whats not wanted?
In my old brief I tried hard to wean any form of ideas out of the client from colours and visuals to type and style but their ideas could be the wrong ideas for their type of business. What’s more their ideas might not be what they actually want as a final logo design. Rather then focus on details of what the logo design should be, its handier to open the doors and ask the client what the logo design shouldn’t be!
If you ask a client what colour to use, they won’t know? Ask them what colours they don’t want to use and theres a better chance of a specific answer. This process aligns itself with the clients “process of elimination” and produces more creative freedom for the logo project.
2. Remove all visual design goals and introduce concepts
Then end visual goal can shift dramatically for both the client and designer during a logo design project because design briefs are forever changing so whats the point of having one. Why set in stone visual details which will likely change? To eradicate this but still keep the clients input we can ask for concepts as oppose to detailed ideas. Concepts have room to manoeuvre creating better stepping stones for the designer.
3. Personify the brief
To make the logo design brief a little more fun, I ask the client to use their creative skills not in a visual and productive way but an imaginative way none the less. I ask the client to personify their business as a celebrity. I read this tactic somewhere (sorry can’t remember where now) and thought to give it a go.
To make sense of it you need to see the whole logo design brief but the idea is to get as much written information about the client and project but not necessarily any solid design ideas. This leaves the creative and design process firmly in the designers hands to truly make an identity that they think is best based on the logo design brief.
Download a free copy of our design brief and feel free to amend, re-brand and customise as you wish.
If you find a new question or formula that work well for you then I’d love to hear it and maybe even share it here with your permission.