What makes a logo?

13th Feb 2017 by mark stenton

What makes a logo?

One of my main roles here at lazy grace is logo design - it’s not always an easy process and at times it can be quite a challenge especially when you consider that we always present at least three (sometimes four or five) totally unique options.

Just reading that back doesn’t sound like much work but a big part of the initial process involves generating multiple options that are worked up, tweaked, refined and discarded before they even get in-front of the client - we’re always 100% happy with every option that’s presented and never chuck in a filler to pad things out - sods law dictates that it would be that poor filler that the client chooses!

Its important to remember too that producing a logo is a collaborative process between the client and us - we’ll present our initial thoughts but there’s nothing set in stone at that stage and we’re more than happy to work with client feedback in order to reach a successful conclusion - what we deliver is a service rather than a product.

So what makes a logo? - well there are three main elements I consider when I sit down with a blank piece of paper and start the process - I've illustrated them here with a series of logos that we presented a little while ago.


With literally millions of typefaces to choose from you really need to have a clear idea of what fonts are going to be suitable for any particular client - what suits a baker will not be the same as an engineering company for instance.

Graphic Device

A clever graphic device really does help to make a good logo great - everybody knows about the ‘a to z’ in Amazon or the bear climbing up the Toblerone mountain but when you first realise that they are there you can’t believe that you missed them for as long as you did and once you have seen the hidden aspects they make the logos really memorable.

Of course you can’t always have a ‘secret’ message (sometimes they are a happy coincidence) and sometimes the font choice alone can create an interplay with the letters or words that may mean you don’t need a device at all - like the hidden arrow in the Fed Ex logo. So don’t despair - a simple clean straight to the point logo can be just as effective if executed well.

One thing to avoid though is trying to say everything your company stands for in your logo - yes you have a lovely cottage next to a stream with rolling hills in the background, grazing cattle, geese, a tree shaped like Mickey Mouse but putting them all in one device would be impossible! - remember that your logo is only part of your brand - you have plenty of opportunity to illustrate these things on stationery, flyers and of course your website.

Colour Palette

This is the last step I normally take - if the logo works in black & white it’ll work in colour - but its something that really breathes life into a logo.

There’s no particular methodology that I follow and more often than not I’ll have a picture in my mind of at least a starting point - this would more than likely have developed at our initial meeting with the client - you kind of pick up on their personality a little, either through what they are wearing (you can get an idea of a colour palette there) or just the way that they come across in that environment - relaxed or more professional.

Sometimes a client will say that they like an existing logo, which will give me a direction to head into, and other times they just say ‘whatever you think’ - which is a little more challenging!

But I will ALWAYS start with a pencil and paper - maybe its an age thing, maybe I’m just old-school - but this way I can envisage what typeface I need and doodles often lead to devices. Once I have a selection of usable ideas sketched out the next step is to jump into Illustrator to flesh them out and possibly Photoshop to polish them up.

So that’s it - simple really!

Here’s a few of my favourite creations - some with hidden meanings too - let me know if you can spot them.

If you need a fab new logo pop along for a chat and a coffee and let’s get cracking - contact Mark or Ian.

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