Inside the Process of Professional Graphic Designers

Professionally designed logos are an essential part of brand identity. They convey a personality and style, which establish a purposeful visual meaning in viewers’ minds. While each designer has their own personal style and creative approach, most successful designers follow a systematic process when creating logos.

  1. Design Brief: This document provides a summary of the context and the purpose of the project. For this class, your Logo Assignment and your blog post included most of the information you would find in a design brief.
  2. Research & Visual Reference: Your “Required Reading” from the Logo Assignment provides many useful resources about effective logos and design. Professional designers typically reference dozens if not hundreds of sources as a foundation for their logo designs.
  3. Brainstorm & Conceptualization: As you’ll see in the examples, professional graphic designers often hand draw dozens of design ideas in a sketchbook before translating their ideas into a digital form.
  4. Draft Design Creation: For your Logo Assignment you are only required to develop a single draft of your logo. However, professional designers typically develop multiple iterations of each design concept and eventually present 3-6 draft designs to their client.
  5. Feedback: For your project, your peers and your TA provide feedback on your draft. Professionals typically go through multiple rounds of feedback with a client as they refine their design.
  6. Revision & Reflection: This is an important step, both in this class and professionally, especially after receiving feedback from multiple sources. For many designers, this is when they have an “a-ha” moment; perhaps when they make a simple change that dramatically improves their design or if they discover an entirely new visual direction.
  7. Final Design: A finished logo is typically a result of many hours of work, but if well designed can serve as a company’s visual identity for decades.

The video examples below demonstrate how professional designers apply this process to logo and graphic identity projects for their clients.

Aaron Draplin of Portland-based Draplin Design Co. is a prominent graphic designer and speaker who’s known for bold, industrial-influenced designs. He’s worked for brands like Target, Nike and Sub Pop, and created the Sasquatch music festival poster in 2013. Browse some of his work here.

In this video, he completes a logo design challenge and talks about finding inspiration in historic logos, being surprised by ideas and making simple ideas fresh.

Jessica Hische is a well-known San Francisco-based designer who specializes in lettering and illustration. She’s worked for brands such as Starbucks, Nieman Marcus, Penguin Books and Pinterest. View some of her work here.

See her studio and hear about her background in this video, then watch the following timelapse videos that show her design process.

In the first process video, she sketches in Photoshop by drawing with a stylus on a tablet made for freehand digital drawing. In the second video, she turns that sketch into a vector graphic in Illustrator so it can be infinitely scaled.

Here are several other timelapse videos showing the logo design process:

Here are several other articles that show the logo design process from beginning to end: