Your logo is more than just an important part of your marketing materials. It is the face of your business. Your logo gives clients and prospects a visual reference to pair with your business name, which increases the memorability of your brand.

When a client comes to me asking for a logo, I often get the same few comments when beginning the project: “I know what I want, but I don’t know how to explain it.” “I know what my logo looks like, but I’m not an artist. I can’t draw it. So I want you to keep drawing until you get it right.” Or even more vague, “I’ll know my logo when I see it.”

Many of these statements come from clients who have worked with other designers and haven’t been walked through a successful design process. They seem to depend on my mind-reading capabilities, which, admittedly, aren’t the sharpest. I’m a logo designer, not a clairvoyant! There are, however, logical ways to approach the design process to make sure you end up with a logo that’s truly and uniquely yours.


Are you having a hard time getting the logo you want?


If you’re working with a designer and looking for “just the right” logo but getting sketches that cause nothing but frustration, don’t despair. I’ve worked with many clients on difficult projects and come reasonably close to reading their minds without having ESP. Here are some tips to help you get your logo done right:


1. Make sure you’re working with a designer who can work in a style you like.Check out their portfolio and make sure they’ve done work that inspires you. If you’re having trouble getting good results from your designer, reconfirm that they have done the work in their portfolio—that those samples weren’t done by subcontractors or employees in their firm.


Also, let them know which specific samples you like. A designer will probably have several different styles and approaches in their portfolio, so zeroing in on the logos you like—plus detailing what you like about each one—can help get your project started out on the right foot.


2. Gather other examples of logos you like. This way, your designer will be able to get a sense of your taste, instead of having to guess at your preferences. Example logos don’t have to come from your competitors or your industry. They are to help your designer gauge your level of visual taste. Choose logos that visually appeal to you regardless of the company or product.


It’s important that you send your designer logos, not photos or paintings. Photos and paintings are graphically very different from a logo, and they don’t often translate well from one medium to another. And if there is one particular element of a logo that you love specifically—the font, color palette, or something about the icon—then tell your designer what it is.


3. Define your business. Too often, clients give designers the bare minimum of information, for example, business name and products or services. Then they expect designers to read their minds and perform a miracle. If you provide so little information, how can your designer be expected to “get” what you’re all about and to translate your personality and individuality into a unique logo?


Tell your designer about your business’s mission, what excites you about it, and how you’d like your clients to see your personality. Tell them about your clients—who they are, what they need, and what their problems are. With this information, your designer will be much more able to create a logo that truly communicates the essence of your business to clients and prospects.


4. Give detailed feedback. Instead of saying “I don’t like them” when your designer presents logos to you and ending the conversation there, engage in a dialog about the options offered. Don’t just dismiss everything because it’s not perfect the first time around. Getting anything just right can take a couple of tries.


Focus on the positive aspects of the concepts you’ve been given instead of the negatives. See if there’s anything in any of the logos that appeals to you—or a direction that interests you.


5. Break the design process down. Look at the elements of the logo separately. Sometimes a logo won’t seem right because it’s in the wrong color palette or matched with the wrong font. Focus first on the logo icon and then look at the font. Apply color last so that it doesn’t distract you from the merits of the design.


If these steps fail, perhaps the best logo isn’t the one you personally love. Instead, your business may be better served by creating a logo that appeals to your clients.


6. Keep in mind that your logo’s job is to appeal to your best clients, not just to make you happy. Instead of focusing on whether or not you like your logo, show it to some of your best clients and get their opinions. Sometimes, it’s better to have a logo your clients like than to like it yourself, because the logo’s job is to help them see your personality and remember your business, not make you proud.


Ask your clients what they think about your logo. Do keep in mind that each client brings different personal taste to the table. Put the most weight on feedback from clients who best match your ideal client profile. And be sure that you respect their taste. If your main focus group target drives beater cars or dresses questionably, and you’re creating a luxury brand, consider finding a more high-
end client to run the logo by.


7. Ask your designer what to do in cases like this. This advice is my procedure for getting past the ESP phase of the project and into my clients’ heads. Another designer may have a totally different way of getting around a hitch in the process and creating a logo that looks as you envisioned it. Just ask your designer to walk you through their process.


These steps should help you get closer to a logo that works for your business and avoid going around in circles and getting frustrated. Even if your designer can’t read your mind immediately, it’s worth going through the process to get the best logo possible for your business.