Creative blocks. They happen to everyone. So how can you overcome the barriers to inspiration when designing a new logo for a brand? Some will advise doing more research or finding more creative inputs. Others focus on learning from what’s working for other people.
Our top designers have all tried these methods in the past, but the most tried-and-true way for them to find inspiration for new logo designs is to keep their head down and design their way to inspiration. While this method may not sound too inspiring, it’s really quite simple and involves a pretty basic process that any designer can follow. Here are the three things you should be doing to channel your logo design inspiration:
Look Inside Your Industry First
Start by looking at your client’s competitors. This does not mean looking at the entire landscape of similar providers. Focus only on the brands that your client regularly competes with for business. Map them out if possible. Take a survey of these brands. What trends and patterns do you see?
- What colors appear regularly? What colors do not appear at all?
- What shapes appear regularly? What shapes do not appear at all?
- What kind of typefaces do brands in this industry like to use? Why?
Once you’ve surveyed your primary competitors, you should have a basic idea of what others in the industry are doing and, more importantly, you should have a solid idea of what they’re not doing. This leads us to our next step...
Focus On What’s Missing, Not What’s There
Don’t get too caught up in worrying about what your competition is doing. You should focus instead on what they’re not doing. What gaps exist in the marketplace? Are most competitors using similar colors? If so, how can you leverage a more diverse color palette to differentiate yourself? Is there a certain shape or type of logo mark that shows up over and over again within the industry? What shapes, patterns, and designs are not commonly used?
Once you’ve analyzed these factors, it’s important to make a short list of elements that you want to incorporate into the new logo based on your findings. These include:
- Colors that aren’t used often in your industry.
- Shapes, icons, and design elements that aren’t used often in your industry.
- Typefaces that aren’t commonly used by competitors.
- Shapes, icons, and other design elements that you want to incorporate because they’ll be able to uniquely express what the brand represents.
Once you have these elements defined and documented, step away from the research. It’s important not to pigeonhole yourself by looking too much at what other people are doing. Truly great design inspiration comes from within, not from what your competition is doing.
Sketching Your Way To Logo Design Inspiration
Now that you have a rough idea of what types of elements you want to incorporate into your logo design, start in your sketchbook. By sketching dozens (or even hundreds) of rough designs, you can get an idea of what elements have the potential to work and what elements don’t. If you get stuck at all, don’t look at others for inspiration. This is a slippery slope that can lead to many of your designs looking derivative or repetitive. Instead, continue to sketch and design your way out of your rut. If you’re unsure of what to do next, take your list of design elements that you compiled in step #2 and start to sketch out various permutations of these elements. Try to incorporate different shapes, patterns, and letter forms into marks until something resonates with you.