How I Approach Logo Design – A Checklist

checklistI recently had a client who wanted a logo designed for a line of diet bars. While I was interviewing him before starting my designs, one of my questions sparked an interesting answer from him.

He said he was afraid of his diet products appearing “too diet”. He wanted something more “frivolous and comfortable” which is something I never would have guessed or designed for. How much time would he and I have spent if I hadn’t known this?

Because he had no problem with full disclosure, he and I had a great working relationship. After the initial logo was done, he hired me on to do six others for some other health products.

So, the obvious rule that needs no stating:

You never know what the client wants unless you ask.

Though I regrettably haven’t always done this, nowadays I check all of the following with my clients before I so much as put pencil to a stray napkin. This not only ensures the work goes faster, but that the client will ultimately get what he asked for. That alone will keep you in business as a designer for a long long time.

Here’s my checklist for logo design. Feel free to use any, all or none of it as you wish.

Logo Design Checklist

  1. Is the logo for the company or a product?
  2. What is the overall mood of the company?
    • Playful?
    • Serious?
    • Ultra-professional?
  3. Should the logo reflect the mood of the company or is it stand-alone?
  4. Do you envision something techy or more organic?
  5. Any colors you have in mind?
  6. What is the primary product of the company?
  7. What are the demographics of your customers?
  8. Who is your competition?
  9. Where will the logo appear on a product?
    • Letterhead?
    • Business cards?
    • Television?
    • All of the above?
  10. What is the purpose of the logo?

I know that last question is a little weird. You may even get some blank stares when you ask a client what the purpose of a logo is. After all, every client knows the purpose of a logo is to be as famous as McDonalds! But get it answered anyway.

And if your client doesn’t know how to answer one of these questions, make sure you spend even more time clarifying milestones and the end-product. Any project that’s even slightly nebulous at project outset has a tendency to grow horns and cloven hooves before it’s done.


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Charlie Pabst is a guitar-wielding designer, a sharp-shooting writer, and a tell-it-like-it-is ever-kid. He is also not afraid of hyphens.

He is the founder of Charfish Design and Ignite Living.

You can read more about him here. And you should definitely follow him on Twitter.

38 Responses to “How I Approach Logo Design – A Checklist”

  1. Great series of questions. I always like to ask people about the tone/mood of the logo (or other design for that matter) and it always gets funny looks. In the end, more questions just means better understanding and fewer revisions, it’s a win-win.

  2. Your list and mine are nearly identical. I also give the client as assignment before our initial meeting: round up some examples of other logos, both ones you like and ones you don’t. That helps to make this abstract process a bit more concrete, both in terms of design and color palette. Sometimes the client needs to be reassured that we’re not going to copy or steal a design idea. I explain that it’s like cutting out pictures of great kitchens before starting on our own kitchen redesign. They understand that.

  3. Don’t forget signs. If you get a customer opening a retail businesses the logo almost always has to work as a sign. If that’s the case you’ll need to take in to consideration the sign criteria set down by their landlord and possibly that of a community sign review board. Signs are a game changer that open a whole new series of questions that need to be answered.

  4. Bidget should also go in there somewhere, very comprehensive questions these 🙂

  5. Wonderful post!!!!!!

    Pls explain and give examples for following point.

    What is the overall mood of the company?
    * Playful?
    * Serious?
    * Ultra-professional?


  6. its fantastic article i m pretty sure this article will be helpful for a designer and marketing executive also..

  7. Yes, helpful questions. I agree, I start a logo development only after working out a Requirements Specification with my client for this logo, this is a rule. It’s very important what your Customer really needs and likes!

  8. List like this are so incredibly helpful. Especially for students like me who need all the direction we can get. Thanks!

  9. Logo Design

    Thanks for sharing such a great stuff, i was just passing by to this post. This blog is really great, i love it.

  10. Ashley Ob

    Very cognitive post. I think you should do more posts like this.

  11. Great list! I’m a “young” designer and I always fumble with proper steps for beginning-finishing a logo smoothly. This list will help me SO MUCH! Thank You !!

  12. @Shelly –

    That’s awesome! Thanks a million for the link on Delicious! That was super kind of you and I really appreciate that.



  13. Hey Charlie whats up ? i read your post some days ago and i find it informative and i use your Logo Design Checklist for one of my job and it works perfect.Thanks man much appreciated 🙂

  14. Very good information! This makes our businesses so much more professional. Thanks!


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