It’s no small feat to capture the heart and soul of a brand in a single image, so when designing a logo for a company—be it your own or that of a client—you’ll want to go deep.
In this article, we’ll explore the 30 questions to ask when designing a logo. These questions will help you suss out what a company stands for, who it’s targeting and what makes it special before you so much as blink at the drawing board. Because a logo isn’t just a snazzy symbol, clever slogan or cute font. It’s a shining beacon of all that a business represents (and also because it’s a lot easier to tweak a promising concept than start over from scratch).
Why logos are important
Logos are important because they have the power to build brand awareness, captivate an audience and keep customers coming back for more. It’s a vital marketing tool, both in advocating for a company and differentiating it from the competition. For a business of any size, a logo can foster trust and a loyal fan base. Once a customer has formed a positive association with a brand, its logo will jump out at them from the shop shelf, Google results or social media feed. Pick me!
As the golden arches (McDonalds, bitten apple (Apple) and bold swoosh (Nike) have shown us, a logo is how the world will meet, and swiftly judge, its offering.
Design elements that make a great logo
Design elements such as the symbols, shapes, lines, typography and colors all work together to make a great logo. A great logo will be a winning combination of five core attributes. A great logo should be
It will look fabulous in black and white and at any size. It will be as striking on a business card as it is a billboard, and easily recognizable across print and digital platforms.
At its best, a great logo will trigger a mixture of emotional and physical reactions aligned with how a business is intended to make us feel. Colonel Sanders gets us salivating. The WWF panda makes us want to save the planet. We can almost smell the popcorn when the Netflix logo pops (or knocks) up.
When designing a logo, the challenge lies in evoking the desired reaction.
30 questions to ask when designing a logo
Whether you are a new start-up founder, a business owner keen to freshen up your current logo, or a graphic designer yourself wanting to create client-pleasing results, the key to designing a compelling logo is to do your research. Look to the relevant markets, look to the competition and ask lots of questions. Here are 30 to get you started:
The basics and backstory
- What is your company name?
- What industry sector is it in?
- How would you describe your company and the products and services you offer?
- In five words or less, can you summarize the feel of your company?
- What are the unique selling points, features and/or benefits of your products/service?
- Is there a story behind how your brand came about? Do tell…
As a general rule of thumb, simple logos go the distance. A template like the Blue Anchor Fashion Logo, Alwina Boutique or Cream Neat Restaurant Logo will get your brand noticed for all the right reasons.
Apple’s logo is synonyms with its products’ user-friendly simplicity. Eco-friendly beauty brand Sukin radiates nature by way of a leaf motif and earthy color palette.
- When people think of your brand, what words would you like them to attach to it? (Examples: innovation, sustainability, fun, professional, eco-friendly, cutting-edge).
- What are the values and/or mission statement of your company?
- Where do you see your brand in the future? Describe your company in five years’ time.
- What are some adjectives that describe how you’d like your logo to make people feel? (Examples: calm, excited, warm, comforted, emboldened, feminine/masculine, amused).
Environmentally conscious brands can go au naturale with the Orange Flower Icon Floral Logo template or Bright Yellow Tree Icon Landcaping Logo. For a sleek, tech vibe go the Grey Modern Simple Art Design Logo.
Target audience, marketing and competitors
Hendrick’s Gin knows how to get the attention of discerning, yesteryear-appreciating drinkers, while the logo for Summa Dayze music festival could not scream fun-loving any louder.
- Who are you looking to target with your product/service? (Consider gender, age, location, income etc).
- How do you plan to market your business? (Social channels, email newsletter, media outlets etc).
- What platforms will you be using to sell your product/service? (a website, social channels, brick-and-mortar store etc).
- How do most of your customers find out about your company?
- Are there any new markets you'd like to break into? If so, what are they and why?
- Who are your main competitors? How do they market themselves, and how are you going to differentiate your offering from theirs?
Hot tip: If your brand is in any way digital, get the edge on your competitors by setting your logo in motion. The Canva Pro Animator will get have your logo jumping, sliding and fading in a jiffy.
Instagram jumped on the sunset color gradient train with their 2016 logo redesign, while Mailchimp are know for their sunny yellow hue – tipped to be a logo color trend for 2020.
- What wording do you want used in your logo?
- Do you have a tagline to accompany the logo?
- Do you want to use existing brand colors or a particular range of colors, or are there any colors you don’t want to use?
- Is there a font you would like to use, or any you don’t want to use?
- Where will your logo be used? (Online, print etc).
- Is there anything that must be included, such as existing brand elements, words or icons?
- Do you want your logo to include text only (known as a ‘wordmark’ logo, like Google’s), text and an icon or graphic (a ‘combination mark’, like Burger King’s), or an icon or graphic only (an ‘abstract mark’, like Pepsi’s, or ‘pictorial mark’, like Apple’s)?
- What layout do you prefer? (Text-based or with a graphic incorporated into the text? A graphic separate from the text? Designed as a badge or emblem?)
If you want a wordmark logo, customize a template like the Peach and Black Bold Real Estate Logo by incorporating your brand’s color palette, graphics and fonts. The same goes for combination mark templates, like the Blue and White Circle Kommune Logo, and badge or emblem templates like the Blue and Yellow Stars General’s Cafe Logo.
Eco-conscious toilet paper company Who Gives A Crap and kids’ skin-care range Gro-To have logos that flaunt their cheeky brand personas through customized fonts and playful colors.
- What logos do you like and why?
- What brands do you look up to and why?
- What colors or color palettes do you like and why?
- What three attributes would you like your target audience to think of when they look at your logo? (Examples: honesty, intelligence, humour, candidness, strength)
- If you would like to use an icon, do you have any specific themes for the icon that you would like us to consider? Do you have any particular images or symbols you associate with your product or company?
- Which of these words is a better fit for your brand? Traditional or modern? Casual or corporate? Luxury or cost-effective? Consumer or trade?
Hot tip: Compile a mood board of logos and branded material you like on Pinterest. If you’re working for a client, advise them to get pinning and send you a link to their board.
Brands with a bit of moxie can make the White and Pink Strikeout Cosmetics Beauty Logo or Street Style Ebay Logo their own. Spruiking a more subdued, delicate offering? The Beige Floral Natural Makeup Beauty Logo is right up your street.
Questions to ask when designing a logo for a client
If you’re working with a client, you’ll also want to ask questions around budget, timeline and general expectations. It will make for a much smoother ride if you find out how they’d like to work with you. Do they want their hand held throughout the entire design process? Do they want to collaborate on each stage, or do they already have a crystal-clear vision for a logo that they’d like you to expertly execute?
However you’re coming at designing a logo, put the essence of its brand behind every decision you make. As Paul Rand, the graphic designer who created logos for IBM, Westinghouse and NeXT, wisely said: “A logo derives meaning from the quality of the thing it symbolizes, not the other way around.”