How many new clients can quickly and clearly tell you their positioning statement, their strengths and weaknesses, and the threats to their success in the marketplace? How many can articulate their vision in a unified statement across the entire management team? Can they tell you why their customers care about them without being vague? How many can do this at your initial meeting?
For those who can, how many can translate this into visual information that is functional, clear and appropriate? Can they translate this into visual information that will work for them in the future? How many truly understand what the purpose of a logo is at the outset of the project? How many think their brand is what is on the top of their letterhead? This covers just a fraction of the information explored and exposed in a structured creative process.
A well-designed logo is the prioritization and distillation of information regarding a specific set of behaviors, needs, and goals. A logo created without critical thought often rings untrue, does not provide value and can, in fact, do damage to a brand. A creative process ensures that clients have a substantial personal investment in their visual identity, as they should. A visual identity should be viewed as a long-term investment of time, capital, and resources. Guiding clients towards making that investment is one of the functions of the creative process. When clients are guided through a creative process they are investing in exploring key business decisions and exposing critical issues they may not have been aware of, or were choosing to ignore. They have to be able to answer the questions above for a designer to create an appropriate visual identity.
This is one good reason why hiring a designer, and investing in a creative process provides value to a client. There are many other reasons, including developing a relationship that can be leveraged in the future, the ability to meet goals and expectations through a proven method, and the expertise of someone trained and experienced in visualizing and simplifying concepts. I think the title “graphic designer” can sometimes deliver the wrong message to a client, focusing on the deliverable and not the project as a whole. The logo is a result of the process.
Steve Zelle is a logo designer and consultant with over twenty years’ experience working with clients. Based in Ottawa, Canada, he operates as idApostle and is the founder of Processed Identity. You can reach him through his website or on Twitter.