How do logos get designed? It's not magic. And it's definitely not any kind of immaculate conception. Logos are the result of a lot of sketching and revising and communication with the client.
The consultation at the beginning is one of the most important components to a great outcome. I always ask a lot of questions about the business, the reason behind the name choice, any important elements they feel are important to convey, and what they dislike as well as love. You don't want to just leap into designing anything without gathering a lot of information about your client.
Everyone creates their own way, but I always start with a sketch. Sitting at a computer and staring at a blank screen is really intimidating. I like getting out my notebook, a napkin, whatever, to get my juices going. First get that knee-jerk drawing out of the way. You won't be satisfied until you do and sometimes it really is the best idea you'll have. However, once you get going some techniques I like to use are word association and mind-mapping to get me more creative. I also like to check on current trends as well as review the logos that have withstood the test of time for ideas.
After I have a fistfull of designs I try to organize them and clean them up a little. I keep them pretty loose for the first round of feedback so the client can get a feel for how mutable they are at this stage. After they pick a direction - because I might have several different ideas on how the logo could go - I refine the logo further, trying to find different ways to present the idea. Here's an example of refining the sketch from above:
At this stage, I ask my client to pick one of the 3 different ways I've presented the idea. In this case, my client chose concept 11. From there I put it into illustrator and create the digital version in black and white. From one of my earlier blogs, I noted that logos should always be created in black and white first.
Picking Colors and Finalizing
At this point, I review the concept with my client and give my color suggestions. This logo is for BrightPoint Realty Group, who wanted a logo symbolic of intelligence, care, forward thinking, but conservative estimates. I gave them several different color choices with explanations on why I chose the colors I chose and also told them which one I preferred. In this case, it was the blue/gray concept.
Sometimes a client will insist upon using their university's school colors - which usually isn't a great idea - but it's my job to show them why. I argued against using USC's maroon and gold and using blue and gray instead since those colors are symbolic of intelligence, level-headed decision making, and conservative judgement. In the end, my client agreed with me and I delivered this to them.
Communicating with my clients is so important. It reduces confusion and keeps them in the creative process, which a lot of them appreciate.
I always give a style guide on how to use their logo to them as part of the investment they've made by choosing me. It is a valuable thing to have because it standardizes the way the logo gets used and what not to do with it. Branding depends on consistency!