How to develop a logo your clients won't hate

It all begins with their customer. Next,ask questions that will help your clients describe what they are looking for. Use their description to develop a moodboard/stylescape. Combine elements of the brand in similar ways to what you see on the moodboard.

Akwuiwu Mel

4/19/20235 min read

I had a lot of questions when I designed my first logo. I didn't know if the client would like it, I didn't know if I was designing something that fits their description, What's a moodboard/stylescape, how do I come up with one and how do i turn it into a logo? I had so many questions and I hope i am able to do justice to these questions and more. I'll be making use of moodboard and stylescape interchangeably as well as font and typeface or type for short however, there's a difference.

The confusion

The first thing you need to do when you want to design a logo for a client is to make them understand that they need to show their customer some empathy by designing something their customer would like. They should be willing to accept the logo if their customers like it. The reason for this is very simple. Without customers, no business can thrive so they need to make them the focus of every decision they take.

It all begins with their customer

This is the stage where you ask questions that will help your clients describe what they are looking for. Make sure everyone that has a say is present. Here are the main things you should be asking;

  1. Who's their target audience? (Location, age, marital status, gender, where they like to spend their time, what brands they use, etc).

  2. What look and feel are they going for? (Playful? Serious? Natural? something else?).

  3. What makes them unique?

  4. What type of logo are they looking for?

  5. What are their business goals?

  6. Who's the competition(so that you can do something different)?

You need to ask open-ended questions and you need to Listen more. Doing these two things will help you extract more information.


Time for some moodboards/stylescape

Stylescape for a marketing agencyStylescape for a marketing agency

By the time you are done with discovery, you should have a user persona and a bunch of keywords.

You will use these keywords to develop a moodboard/stylescape. This will set the direction for the logos you will make. How do you do it? You need to ask yourself, can the keywords be expressed as a logo, colour, image, or type? Let's use the keywords calming, natural and playful as an example.

Now, let's pick the keyword natural. Type "natural logo pinterest/dribble/behance", "Natural images", type in "natural fonts" on google as well. You will begin to see different results. Now, you need to identify the different directions you can take. You will notice that there are two directions we can show. The first is that you can use elements from the environment like plants, trees, the sun, the sky. The second is that you can use animals.

Natural looking logoNatural looking logo

Image credits: Jared Jacob, Michael Penda, Tamara Radke

Let's do the same thing for type. For type, you can see that there are 3 directions we can take. Handwritten, textured and script.

Now for colours. The colours were colour-picked from the sky, grass and the sun.

Natural colour pallete
Natural colour pallete

Now for images

You will do this for the other keywords as well. At the end, you should have at least two moodboards

This is the fun part. Now, you need to take a look at the moodboard and begin to combine elements of the brand in similar ways to what you see on the moodboard. How do you find these elements? you find them on the moodboard, remember the keywords informed the choices you made. Let's use what we have from the keyword natural to make a logo. From the images above, some elements we can identify are leaves, water, animals(assuming the client wants to use an animal, i'll be using a fish), the sun, clouds, trees, and mountains. It's a good idea to design in black and white first. If your logo looks good in black and white then it will look good in colour. At this point, it's important to note why and how you came up with the logos. One trick i use when i try to combine different elements to form a logo is to split them into parts and then replace a part of one element with a part from another element. I also like to play with negative space.

Make some logos

Natural looking logos in black and white
Natural looking logos in black and white
Natural looking logos or nature logos
Natural looking logos or nature logos

Pair the logo symbol with the type the client chooses from the moodboard or use something similar.

Nature or Natural looking logo made up of a fish, mountain and water
Nature or Natural looking logo made up of a fish, mountain and water

Font used: Qwigley. Download here

Now it's time to show it to the client and ask them what they think, I mean your work will speak for itself. Right? (I'm definitely not laughing at you right now). You need to sell it to them. How do you do this? Remind them about their target audience and how they should put them first, remind them of the keywords you identified together, Let them know how you came up with it then ask them if you missed anything. Not if they like it. I repeat, do not ask the client if they like it. Oh, don't forget to use beautiful mockups!

Sell it!

If the client is not feeling it, review the moodboard with them again and come up with more concepts. If they still reject them then get on a call with them, share your screen, show them everything you have come up with so far, and make adjustments on the call (they will most likely see something they like and offer suggestions on how you should tweak them).

Mayday mayday, logos rejected

Now it's time to send the logo you designed to your clients. you need to send an editable source file, png, jpeg, eps and pdf formats. You should also send a pdf explaining what they should be used for. You can also add a logo usage guide to avoid things like adding drop shadow and squishing the logo.

Send everything

I hope you found this helpful. You can reach out to me via twitter or Instagram if you have any questions

That's it!