Creating A Logo: A Look Inside the Design Process
What is a logo and why is it important?
A logo is a visual representation of your company, product, or service. It should easily identify key information about your business. Within the Canadian Physiotherapy Association, there are a number of logos representing our different Divisions, Branches, and Assemblies.
If you are a physiotherapist managing your own practice, you have likely established a business name and a logo. As a physiotherapy student, you may be considering opening up your own practice after you graduate. You will need to think of a business name and get a logo designed to represent your clinic. Running your own business also means establishing brand recognition. This is important when you’re growing your business and establishing your reputation in your community. Your logo will be used on clinic business cards, signage, social media channels, and more.
At CPA, we go through the branding process for initiatives such as upcoming events (Congress, Forum), online learning platforms (PD Marketplace), and web resources (PhysioCanHelp.ca). (See links at the end of this article.) We’ve included our process in this article to help you gain a better understanding of logo design before you embark on your journey to create one of your own.
The design process:
The first priorities when creating a logo are understanding the organization, target audience, and goals. At CPA, we have a very diverse audience, and our target market varies by project. Here’s how we get to our end product.
1. Creative Brief
As CPA’s graphic designer, the first step is to receive a briefing from the project stakeholders and develop a creative brief. I’ll have several questions to ask about goals, target audience, and key messages. We also discuss specific deliverables and timelines.
Next, I start researching competitors. I generally assess logos to see what is/isn’t working with them. I also research colors specific to the health care industry: blue appears in nearly 85% of all health care logos. Health care logos should be associated with the common emotional attributes to blue such as trust, dependability, safety, and strength.
From my research, I start brainstorming by creating a mood board on mural.co. A mood board is a collection of images, iconography, words, colours that are relevant to the logo I’m creating. This tool allows the communications team to collaborate in real time.
At this point, I have a solid idea of the style I’d like to move forward with. I start with old-school pencil on grid paper and draw out 5-10 concepts.
5. Digital mock-ups
I’ll scan in my pencil drawings and trace out the logo concepts digitally. They will usually evolve a bit from the initial sketch. I experiment with fonts from the Adobe Typekit.
I’ll present 3-4 samples in black and white first to keep the design simple. I find at this stage discussing colour can distract from focusing on the logo design itself. We want to avoid major edits so early in the development. Because there are multiple stakeholders, we opt to talk through the different options and choose one together. Usually, we discuss improvements and next steps in terms of creating logo variations (English, French, bilingual, with and without the tagline, etc.).
I’ll go back to the digital version, refine it based on the feedback, and finally add colour based on my industry research. This Adobe colour wheel is a great tool for refining the colour scheme.
8. Final Presentation
The logo is finalized at this stage! I’ll present the final variations with a rationale and seek out feedback for improvements. Overall the length of the logo design process varies by project and can take between 10-30 hours. It all depends completely on the designer and the clients.
Here are a few recent CPA branding projects:
Christie Witt is a graduate of the Algonquin College Graphic Design Program and a Certified Registered Graphic Designer.
She has completed a portfolio review, and an online test to ensure her understanding of business best practices, accessible design principles, research methods, and ethical responsibilities, and the successful application of strategic design principles to different challenges.