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A lot of local media and designers have been having a field day with the City of Vancouver’s new logo. While designers are focusing on the lack of inspiration, many in the media are focusing on the $8,000 they spent on it. In this age of Fivr and 99 Designs, why would it cost $8,000 to design a logo? Well, let me try and explain.

The logo that you see is the end of a process likely involving close to a dozen people or more. It was not the only option presented and the designers favourite might have been abandoned in the early iterations. In the end, it is the choice of the client. “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink”

First we have to understand the company or organization.  This is harder than you think because many organizations don't even understand themselves.

  • What is its business?
  • What are its goals?
  • Who is the competition?
  • What is its history?
  • How does it see itself? (boardroom & front line staff)
  • How do their customers see it?
  • What makes it different?

This is discovered with a workshop with  key decision makers and stakeholders. This can take place in one workshop or in several.

After the client meeting the design team has to document and process all of the information and make sense of often conflicting information. What themes came up most frequently? What got people excited either positively or negatively?

This is generally followed by another meeting with the client where the designers share the conclusions of the first meetings and hopefully get the team to agree to the findings. Everyone will have their own memories of the meeting and apply their own filters to the experience and it is important to ensure that the team is all heading in the same direction. This document guides the development and at each step we can refer back to it to make sure we are still on track.

The next step is research and design brainstorming. With a sketchpad close at hand the designer will search for inspiration. Sometimes it comes quickly, sometimes it doesn’t. Generally we narrow the collection down to 3 ideas. They might be variations on one theme or they might all address different key elements uncovered in our initial discussion. Sometimes these are presented with colour treatments, sometimes they are presented in black and white.

Logo idea 1

Logo idea 2

Logo idea 3

After presenting the concepts, we usually proceed to refine a couple of the ideas experimenting with colour and positioning. We usually hope to just refine one, but in most cases there are feelings for more than one option and it is worth the effort. At this stage we experiment with different treatments and sizes. How will it look as an icon? How will it look in black and white? How will it look shrunk down? What about font?

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After reviewing worked up versions with the customer, we choose the final candidate for refinement and documentation.

step 5.png

By the time we get to a finished logo design that the decision makers agree on, we have usually had at least 4 client meetings, produced multiple reports, and spent dozens of hours behind the computers. It is our goal to make the end result look effortless and natural but a lot of talent, experience, discussion, and thought goes into that.  Each process is different because every company is different but they all follow the same basic process of discussion and iteration.   Yes, you can get a pretty picture paired with a font for less, but is it better?  

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