The old saying goes 'If you don't ask, you don't get'.
That's true in more ways than one. When designing a logo, if you don't ask your customer the right questions, then chances are you won't get the best information to work with.
What actually makes a successful logo?
For me, a successful logo should the the simplest visual representation of what the company is about.
You need to get to the heart of what the company stands for and find an angle, a story or an idea that can be iconified to represent the brand.
Sometimes, this can be easy, other times it's a struggle. But over the years I've found that by asking the right questions you can make this process run far more smoothly.
So, these are the questions I use on nearly every consultation call I have. I tend not to do the traditional 'design brief' approach.. I prefer a proper conversation where we can dig deep to discover what the brand is about.
1. What are you trying to achieve?
This one seems really simple... But, very often the client has a goal or agenda that they may think is irrelevant but could actually be vital to the success of the project.
If their plan is to take the brand in a certain direction 3 years down the line, then we need to know this.
We need to agree what a successful outcome for the project will be so use this information to measure how suitable our proposed designs are.
2. Why now?
This one is vital.
Timing in business is everything, so this question rarely gets a short answer.
As designers, what we're trying to find out is if this has been a problem for a long time. If there's an immediate opportunity they are reacting to, or potentially a million other variables.
A good tip here too is to ask 'why?' a few extra times. Really push the client so they have to understand exactly what is driving them to push forward with the project.
3. How do you want your customers to feel when they see the logo?
I often use this one as a follow up once I've established exactly WHO they consider their target market to be.
This is usually the trickiest part of the puzzle to solve, which is why I suspect many companies end up making logos that try to appeal to everyone, but in fact please nobody.
This question is very powerful, because it attempts to take your clients' personal tastes out of the equation.
What we want to achieve here is to set a series of criteria that the logo must meet, so when we present the work, we can simply answer each one and explain why we believe our ideas solve the problem.
I find this can dramatically decrease the odds of the client not 'getting' what we've done, which is frustrating for everyone involved.
Remember, there's rarely a case of bad clients... We must lead the process, we do this every day, so the emphasis is on us as designers to guide our clients to the best solution.
This should be fun for them (and for us)... And by starting the relationship with a well planned and thought out conversation it increases the likelihood of us producing work that will delight the client and in turn, probably win us even more work.
You may have spotted the theme here... It isn't rocket science.
You should always keep your questions 'open' so that you don't lead the client in a certain direction.
By using 'how, what, and why' questions you are ensuring that your client has to explain what they are thinking at each stage.
And never be afraid to ask 'why' again... Even a couple of times.
If you're doing this right you should find that your client is doing the majority of the talking. If you are dominating the conversation, then that's a warning sign that something is wrong.
This is their project, they hold the keys.
We are simply the conduit that the successful solution flows through.
And always prepare in advance for your call. Write these questions down beforehand as relying on memory will mean you risk forgetting something or sounding flustered and unprofessional... Neither of these is great.
Of course, you need to ask a lot more questions than these. I tend to find these calls last anywhere between 30 minutes and an hour. It's a verbal brainstorming session where you can use your expertise to gain the clients confidence and trust.
You'll be able to tell when they are buying into the process as they'll begin to sound excited about where the conversation is going.
All that's left after this is to produce a kickass logo to show them... And that's the fun bit!