by Mark Scott

Estimated Reading Time: 5 minutes


Designing a logo can be a daunting task for a designer. When your client says “I want a logo and I want it to be clever…” or when you’re wrapping up your meeting and they say “So….erm….what do you think you’re going to do?” Some logo designs will come together quicker than others. Sometimes you’ll have an idea in your head as soon as you hear the name of the company or after they’ve explained a little about what they do and their organisations ethos. Sometimes you’ll search for days for an idea. That’s just how it goes and is something you can’t really explain. Sometimes it just happens. A strong logo takes thought, creativity and technical skills.

What is a Logo?

A logo is a visual element that helps customers remember your brand. A logo can be an icon, mark, symbol, logotype or a combination. A logo doesn’t always require a graphical element. It can just be a piece of beautifully crafted typography. As long as the type reflects the values of the brand, there is nothing wrong with a logo being simply type.

It is important to remember these five principles of logo design when taking on any new logo project.

Five Principles of Effective Logo Design

Research and Vision

It is important to understand your client, the values and beliefs of the brand and who the target audience is before putting pen to paper. If you are working in a larger team a detailed design brief will need to be written so that everyone is working towards the same goal. The good thing about working at Accent is we are a small creative team and you’re involved in every process of the project from initial client meetings to final artwork. It’s easier to bounce ideas around when you’re all working in the same room.

Start Designing

Once you’ve discussed the project with the client and you have a good understanding of their business and expectations for their brand in the marketplace it’s time to start drawing/sketching/scamping/visualising, whatever you want to call it. When people ask me what I do for a living and I say I’m a graphic designer they automatically say “Oh, so you’re really good at drawing then?”. They expect a flawless masterpiece to appear effortlessly when I make marks. Everyone thinks because you are a designer, you can draw well. This isn’t necessarily the case, not all designers consider drawing to be one of their strong points. This isn’t an issue though as initial concepts are usually very rough sketches and/or scribbles that are designed to get ideas from your head onto paper for further refinement at a later stage when sat at a computer.

During my initial interview for the job at Accent, I was asked to draw a dinosaur. It was probably the worst dinosaur I’ve ever seen and I kept doodling on it throughout the rest of my interview. It must’ve met the brief though as I’m still here!  I’ve always worked on paper or in a layout pad first rather than jumping straight on to my Mac. It helps you explore different options you wouldn’t have developed if you’d just opened illustrator straight away. And yes, you should use illustrator for creating logos because (rather crucially) vector-based artwork is infinitely scalable (but more on that another time).

The Logo: A Case Study

We were approached by the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital as they were amalgamating a couple of their teams into a new division and they needed an identity for this new team. Initially this proved to be quite a tough brief as they already had firm ideas for the branding.

I was given a wish list by the client including a desire for the font to be sans-serif, modern & smart, and capable of working with their existing systems. The logo itself had to be very simple, clear, memorable, strong, feature an attention to detail, represent the hospital and the values for which It stands. It also had to display the hospitals business acumen and creativity as well as physically representing the architecture and interior design of the actual buildings. Other parameters included no reds or pinks, not too bright and to stay away from the existing trust blue used on other logos. The imagery needed to be strong, move upwards & upwards, include shapes but no curves, and the client loved the golden ratio! They also provided me with half a dozen logos that they liked or featured aspects that they appreciated. So, as you can see, I had quite a starting point!

N&NUH Estate Development Team logo

The final logo hit all the requirements of the client and every member of their team loved the concept. I was delighted with the outcome for them. At first glance the logo resembles 3 buildings, but these shapes also show progression and resemble a bar chart for growth. They are also linked together to subtly form two interlocking Ns for Norfolk and Norwich. The main sans-serif font is clean, bold, solid and helps to anchor the buildings and provide an authoritative air complimenting the lighter, handwritten-style font, used for the strapline which adds a friendly, approachable feel to the whole logo.

Style Guidelines

Once the logo has been signed off (depending on who will be working with the logo) there may be a need to write a set of style guidelines. These guidelines will include rules such as minimum size usage, exclusion zones, colour, context of usage and typography. We always insist on creating a set of brand guidelines for our clients to keep consistency in their brand across both print and web.

If you have a similar project you would like us to work on, give us a call on 01603 766062 or fill in our online enquiry form.

Mark Scott

With over two decades experience in Graphic Design, Mark has tackled all manner of projects working for a variety of clients from small local ‘one-man bands’ to international corporations.

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