Updated: Jun 5, 2020
The Design Process.
Is it time for a new logo? There are a lot of different directions you could go. Do you play it safe and try to look like your competition or do you take a chance and design something you know your customers will really love? How do you stand out in a crowd? A cartoon logo can do all those things and more. Ever wonder how to buy a cartoon logo? I design cartoon logos for lots of different companies large and small. Here’s an article I wrote to hopefully take a little of the mystery out of the design process.
Designing the logo – The BBQ Dawg
Bill knows BBQ! My old friend Bill called me the other day and asked if I could help design a new logo for him. Bill is a certified BBQ expert, I’m not just talking about Sunday afternoons with the wife and kids, Bill’s the real deal. He has a BBQ trailer and cooks for all kinds of people throughout the south and southeast. So when Bill called and asked if I would create a BBQ logo for him I couldn’t wait to get started. Here’s a look at the design process I use here at Bob Ostrom Studio logo Design World Wide Headquarters.
Step one - Need a Logo, Bob Ostrom Studio’s got you covered.
The first step in the process is mainly about gathering information. The more I know about your business, your demographic, how you plan to use your logo, and where you plan to use it the better job I can do designing something you and your costumers will both love. A lot of my clients are not quite sure what they want and that’s OK.
For those who are not sure, think of it this way… a logo should be more an just a pretty picture or something you drop at the top of your newsletter. Your logo should work for you. It greets your customers and helps build your brand identity. It is a visual representation of your company and helps your customers remember who you are. It also helps differentiate you from your competitors. A good logo goes a long way. Talking with Bill is always fun.
Bill is a great guy and even though it’s been a while it feels like just yesterday we were hanging out together playing football, flipping burgers, and being high school buds. I keep a shortlist of logo design questions handy when we talk so I don’t forget to ask all the important questions. Bill and I talk for a while and he tells me he would like to feature his best friend Charlie in the logo. I love the idea because aside from being Bill’s best friend Charlie is also Bill’s dog. As I hang up the phone it dawns on me that this is going to be a bit of a challenge. Bill’s dog is super cute and super cute is not the first thing that pops into my mind when considering Bill’s demographic, but that’s good. That means if we get this right Bill’s logo is going to grab a lot of attention. Now I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with a cartoon pig wearing a chef hat but if you hop over to Google and do a quick search for BBQ logos you’ll begin to understand what I’m getting at. The market is saturated with pig logos. Kind of tough to stand out when you look the same as everyone else. I congratulate Bill on not wanting to look like everyone else and get to work.
Sharing my work
At the beginning of each project, I start a shared folder on Dropbox with my client. I don’t know about you guys but I love Dropbox. I find it to be one of the most efficient ways to share files with my clients. I’m not affiliated with Dropbox in any way and they aren’t paying me to say this but, I just like sharing what works and Dropbox works for me.
Once I have a folder set up I send a link to my client, Bill, and I keep copies of all exchanged files there. Anytime my Bill wants to share with me all he needs to do is open the folder on his desktop and drop it in. A simple workflow means better communication and better communication means a better finished product.
Step two – Concept and development.
Rough concept sketches.
Each new project starts with me, a big pad of paper, and a sharpie marker. My first job is to throw down as many ideas as I can. I keep the drawing loose and simple. That keeps the ideas flowing and stops me from overworking things. These are concept drawings and the only thing I’m concerned about at this stage is getting my ideas on paper. I rarely share this initial stage of drawings with my clients (but since your reading this article I thought I’d share them with you). As you can see sketches are pretty rough and hard to follow but that’s OK because I plan on refining them before I share them with Bill.
After a while, I’ve exhausted all my ideas. Now it's time to step away for a bit. I know if I keep working any objectivity I might have about what is good and what is not, will go right out the window. I know when I come back later and review my work with a fresh set of eyes I can pick out my best ideas. Those ideas will then be refined and presented in a PDF file along with a few written notes and ideas we can explore as we move forward.
Step three – Tightening up
Bill picked his favorite from this batch upper left.
I make it a point to go over everything with my client on the phone or by Zoom so we can look at it together. This is especially important in the early stages. Nothing kills creativity like going back and forth on email. Talking live allows us to interact and trade ideas as we brainstorm. Without direct contact the majority of those thoughts and feelings are lost, leaving me to guess at which direction to take… plus, I always enjoy talking with Bill and catching up on old stories from our caveman days.
Once we have our concept nailed down I take all the input from our meeting and begin refining my sketches. This step is a much more polished presentation and is a lot closer to the finished product. This step is less about ideas and more about, what’s my finished logo going to look like? I resubmit and we go over things one more time.
Our ideas are set, now and it’s up to me to make sure they come to life. If I’ve done my job well there are very few surprises and the client is usually thrilled with my presentation. It’s important to note that occasionally there will be some refinements needed and this is the best stage to make them in. Making changes early in the design process is easy, cheap and quick. As we refine it becomes much more work. That’s why I require an approval sign off at this stage before moving on. That way there are no surprises and I know everyone is happy.
The finished BBQ Dawg logo on black background
Step four – Adding Color.
The next step usually involves a little bit of time and a lot more precision. I hate to rush this step because rushing means cutting corners. I prefer to take some time to make sure everything looks the best it possibly can. Occasionally a client needs their work yesterday and I understand that. Depending on how great the need I’m happy to make arrangements. There is, of course, an additional charge to put my other projects aside and focus 100% of my time on their project but Bill isn’t in a rush and he knows that by allowing me the time I need he will receive the best work I can possibly give him.
Once the final art is ready I send a quick snapshot to my client. This is what I like to refer to as the wow stage. It’s when the vision finally comes to life and becomes a reality. If I’ve done a good job my customer's response is usually…WOW!
I invoice my client and save the art to a shared folder on Dropbox. There might be a few minor tweaks to the colors but for the most part, we are done and all our hard work has paid off. I try my best to anticipate where the logo will be used and to provide all the proper formats. I am always happy to talk with vendors and make sure they have exactly what they need. I’ll keep this logo on file for the next couple of months and then eventually archive it in case my client mistakenly loses their copy. One thing I stress to all my clients is to make sure they save several copies of their new logo and archive them. That way no matter what happens they’ll always have a copy.
Step Five –Now what?
Now that your customers know your brand, it’s time to get your logo working for you. Designing a marketing campaign around your logo is a great way to stand out from your competition. If you’ve got a business like Bill’s your character can help you sell items on your menu and help get your customers excited about upcoming events. Need more ideas about how to get your cool new cartoon logo working for you, give me a call. Don’t have a cool cartoon logo? I’m happy to help you with that too.