Artistic Expression: Logo Design from Start to Finish

Logo design in today’s world is totally underrated. People don’t understand how important a good logo is and how valuable it is to their business. Let me guide you through the basics of what makes a good logo, while also walking you through the process of creating the identity and logo design for one of my recent clients, Vero, a limited liability company based in Miami, Florida. Hopefully, this will give you an understanding of what actually goes on behind the scenes while creating a professionally designed logo.

What is a logo?

To understand what a logo is meant to do, we should first know just what a logo is: It’s one aspect of a company’s commercial brand or economic entity, and a logo’s shapes, colors, fonts, and images usually are different from others in a similar market. Logos are also used to identify organizations and other noncommercial entities. A logo’s design should make us immediately recognize the company—it should inspire trust, admiration, loyalty, and an implied superiority.

What makes a good logo?

A good logo is distinctive, appropriate, practical, graphic, simple in form, and should convey one message. An effective logo usually has a concept, or meaning behind the logo, that allows it to communicate the intended message. It should be printable at any size and be effective without color.

With these things in mind, it would be safe to say that a great logo usually comes down two things: a great concept and great execution.

The design process

When creating a logo, follow a logo design process that ensures the final design suits the client’s needs (not their wants). Here’s a list of what’s essential to the logo design process:

• Design brief: Start with a questionnaire or interview with the client to get the design brief.
• Research: Conduct research focusing on the industry, its history, and its competitors.
• Reference: Look at logo designs that have been successful and current styles/trends that may be related to the design brief; however, don’t follow trends just for the sake of it. Longevity in logo design is key.
• Sketching and conceptualizing: Develop the logo design concept(s) around the above-referenced brief and research.
• Reflection: Take breaks throughout the design process to allow your ideas to mature. This also helps to renew your enthusiasm and get feedback.
• Positioning: Position yourself as a contractor or build a long-lasting relationship with the client; for example, the client tells you what to do or you guide the client to the best solution. The latter is usually best.
• Presentation: Present only your best logo designs to your client. PDF format usually works best. You may also wish to show the logo in context to help the client visualize the identity.
• Celebration: Drink beer, eat chocolate, sleep, then start on your next project.

Getting the job

Now that you have an insight into the logo process, let’s go through it in more depth, using a recent job as an example. When the CEO of Vero contacted me late last year (he found me through my blog), the company was looking for a complete branding package for a new business they were launching. Not only did they want a logo and identity design, they also required the design of the actual product.

After going through the Vero business plan, numerous emails, and having them fill out a questionnaire (it’s available on my website), I had a good idea of what the whole project entailed. So, I did the math, sent them a proposal and agreement (never call it a contract!), and received a 50% deposit.

The brief

Before walking through the design process, here’s some background information on the project along with the design brief.

Sparked by environmental concerns, many hotels and restaurants have recently stopped selling bottled water and, instead, they’re serving either plain or filtered tap water. Vero offers restaurants, cafes, and hotels an eco-friendly bottled water alternative. The company uses the latest in microprocessor-controlled, water-purification technology to purify, chill, and carbonate (if needed) tap water at the point of use.

Without going into too much detail, the brief was to design a “South Beach chic” glass bottle that made people “feel cool drinking it.” The bottle should scream “practicality,” “environmentally conscious,” and should be something that “a celebrity would be pictured drinking.” The target market would be high-end hotels and restaurants—places where people would expect to pay $7 for a bottle of imported water.

In its purest form, the brief was to create a logo that could be placed on a glass water bottle and portray all of these things.

Research and reference

After the brief was clarified, the deposit received, and the agreement signed, the research began. This included researching Vero’s competitors, the industry, target market, location, other logos, and so on. Only after you’ve carried out a thorough research should you move on to the design development.

Sketching, reflecting, and developing

After the client signed off on the bottle shape and tag line (“Earth’s Purest Drinking Water”), the project’s next phase was to develop the logo. And this is where creativity comes into play. Based on the design brief and research conducted, this is where I let my ideas run wild.

I started by brainstorming and sketching my ideas and then experimented with them on the computer. A crucial part of this process is that I took breaks between these sessions to reflect on the designs and get a fresh perspective on the job at hand. The challenge that I had when creating the Vero logo was trying to incorporate “chic,” “practicality,” and “environmentally conscious” into one logo, while also making the logo look like it was for a high-end market.

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Brainstorming ideas on paper

Here’s a page of my original sketches. I know I’m no Picasso but it’s the end result that counts. Remember: There are no bad ideas, just bad decisions.

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Original sketches

Computer generation: As you can see, I had the idea of creating a “V” from two “leaves” of water. With a general idea in mind, I experimented with the concept in Adobe Illustrator, creating some rough, vectorized logos.

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Experimentation results in Illustrator

Tip: This is a good time to advise that you should always design a logo in vector format to ensure that it can be scaled to any size. And you’ll note that I haven’t yet added any color. That’s because it’s best to focus on the shape and concept of the logo at the start of the process and then add color toward the end.

The concept for my final logo was based around two leaves forming the letter V, not just once, but twice. The middle V in the negative space suggests the shape of a leaf in a creative and clever manner, making it a memorable and identifiable mark. I left the bottom of the letter V open to suggest that the source was renewable—as if the leaves were coming out of the earth.

Typeface: After experimenting with a variety of logos, I then tried out typefaces. Keeping in mind the considerations stated in the design brief, I chose Bauhaus Light for its geometric, clean lines—these type characteristics will give Vero the look of a modern, fresh, and sustainable company. Bauhaus Light is also a very pretty typeface, which makes it great for display purposes and it looks great in both horizontal and vertical formats. The added spacing between each letter gives it a touch of class and luxury.

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Bauhaus Light works very well for both vertical and horizontal versions of the logo

Presentation and color

Now that the typeface and logo concept were finalized (though this is never set in stone), I sent through one concept to the client. Why only one? It’s important to show only your best logo design concepts, not a large array of options. You’re the designer and should know best. You’re not there to say, “Here are 20 concepts, pick one.” This may just confuse the client.

The logo was approved straight away and we moved onto color choices. I experimented with a large variety of colors, keeping in mind how the logo would look on the bottle design and what each color would portray (your knowledge of color theory is vital here).

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Experimenting with colors

After coming down to a few select colors that reflected the values stated in the design brief, I sent through these options and we agreed that the blue/light-blue variation was the best color for Vero.

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The final approved logo

Time to celebrate

The client agreed to the final colors, logo, and tagline and sent the final 50% payment. I then completed a mock-up of the bottle design in MAXON CINEMA 4D. The horizontal version of the logo is featured on the back of the bottle. (As this article is being published, the bottle is being manufactured in China and a website will follow soon thereafter.)

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Mock-up of bottle

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  1. Og (Reply) on Monday October 26, 2009

    Great tutorial and nice logo too. I made the mistake of sending loads of options off to the client. I ended up sending over 30 different variations and it just made it more difficult for me. Great advice in the article. Thanks!

  2. jp (Reply) on Monday October 26, 2009

    Awesome article man.

  3. JS (Reply) on Monday October 26, 2009

    Great high level walkthrough…

  4. DAY (Reply) on Monday October 26, 2009

    Jacob, I actually follow your process very much the same way, especially, with working in B&W initially. My problem, like, Og mentioned, is I tend to give my client too many options. The variety usually gives the client the feeling that there can always be another solution. And they always tend to pick one that isn’t my first choice. But I feel like if I’m taking a significant amount of time before presenting a concept, showing only one logo might come off as me not being able to generate enough ideas. It also makes it a pass or fail decision. Maybe that’s a good thing! Great article – great logo! Thanks for sharing!

  5. david praznik (Reply) on Monday October 26, 2009

    useful guide, tnx!

  6. Shai Quest (Reply) on Monday October 26, 2009

    Very impressive work and nice article. I guess everyone has an interesting way to come up with nice design. At iQuest Web Design we use very similar method as yours.

  7. [...] Artistic Expression: Logo Design From Start To Finish [...]

  8. Jacob Cass (Reply) on Monday October 26, 2009

    Everyone will figure out what works best for them but personally I usually send one or two concepts at first and then work from there. It depends on the client’s budget also but have a go showing less next time around for a bit of trial and error.

  9. techxinsider (Reply) on Monday October 26, 2009

    Thanks so much for this article. I’ve been trying to figure out how to explain to my logo designers what I wanted, but this article made me realized that some of the logo designers I’ve been working with haven’t really asked me the right questions nor, does it seem that they go through the real process of designing a logo properly.

  10. Zack (Reply) on Monday October 26, 2009

    It’s true, now we find that logos produced loosely translated as, and sometimes do not match the image that should be highlighted. Only beautiful and interesting but not sufficient to meet the needs of business, memorable and easily recognizable. Logo is not easy to produce. Normally I would start with a review in terms of needs, characteristics and the target audience. Then develop ideas with the thumbnail sketching. Choose three logos for review by the client. Usually they will choose one only and if necessary to modify the final artwork.
    Thanks Jacob for detail explaination about logo.

  11. Leonardo Lobato (Reply) on Monday October 26, 2009

    Nice Art !!

  12. zeb (Reply) on Monday October 26, 2009

    Well explained, i am going to try this in my new project…

  13. Youssef Rhanem (Reply) on Monday October 26, 2009

    Nice job ! Thanks for sharing man :)

  14. [...] Artistic Expression: Logo Design from Start to Finish [...]

  15. Alex (Reply) on Monday October 26, 2009

    Very good article, man

  16. lzkim (Reply) on Monday October 26, 2009

    This is a great set of information, and everything is laid out quite nicely. Excellent… Good Job.. :-)

  17. [...] Vero Logo Design Process from Start To Finish in Layers Magazine [...]

  18. Logo Design NZ (Reply) on Monday October 26, 2009

    Great article, there is so much work that goes into creating a nice logo and branding a clients business!

  19. huntington beach vacation rentals (Reply) on Monday October 26, 2009

    Thanks for the tip. Sounds great. I read somewhere that this spot has $22 fish sandwiches! Prices aside, Im sure the view is lovely and fish is fresh. Will check it out!

  20. Tayyab (Reply) on Monday October 26, 2009

    WOW…superb logo design..beautifully simple, yet it delivers the message!!! looks cool on the bottle too..great work buddy ;)

  21. Kristen (Reply) on Monday October 26, 2009

    This is an awesome tutorial, thank you so much for taking the time to explain the creative process. It really is a difficult job to do… I find it hard to simplify :) As a graphic design student this definitely helps. I’m bookmarking this post for future reference. Thanks again!

  22. Pradeep (Reply) on Monday October 26, 2009

    Thanks..Jacob for sharing y

  23. Agung (Reply) on Monday October 26, 2009

    where is the Graphic Standart Manual? Give me that.thanks.

  24. Alexandra de León (Reply) on Monday October 26, 2009

    Great and useful article Jacob!

  25. Aravind (Reply) on Monday October 26, 2009

    Thanks for sharing your experience…Nice stuff

  26. Pvoknnvg (Reply) on Monday October 26, 2009

    fairy line art,

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