How I work creating a Logotype for any business & organization

My own logotyp, designed by myself Stefan Lindblad. The first draft in my sketchbook & business card

When I first made a logo, it was probably around 1997, it was for a at the time  typical dot com company, when Stockholm according to media such as CNN and Time magazine, was seen as the Internet’s capital. It was such a new founded start-up company that the founder rushed forward. No sooner had he come up with what it ”kind of” would do, as it should obviously have a logo. The company was bought up by shares only – as was the norm back then, no ready cash, just before the company entered the market. Crazy time and fun time. A time when Icon Medialab was a crazy high-valued company, compared to today, it mostly work as a name for within an entirely different company. To safe keep the name only it seems. Too bad because it’s a cool name.

”My own company logotype is a splash of paint”

So how do I create a logo? On the one hand, it works similarly every time a logo is created, while it may differ a great deal in the workflow from time to time, depending on the client. The first logo back in 1997, came about very quickly. The job description: ”Guerilla, an animal as a square plate, and make the logo quickly, I need to have it now, like yesterday.” That is neither a good or recommended job description, but rather ordinary. But I usually do not settle for such a description, whether I make an illustration, editorial to a magazine, book cover – or logotype design.

A logo is often a company’s first branding. The logo often sets the tone for how the company is seen and perceived for several years – decades even, in all their products, promotion & information materials. Or it´s design and branding becomes completely irrational and mixed both right and left without any thought behind. No history. There are some parameters that should be followed if a logo will survive, and the way the designer work to create logos, that last over time. A logo may be a name, and a font. Many small one-man companies start like that – a name and a font, in black at least if there was the very basic thought behind it. And as a bumper sticker on a car and a business card. Perhaps created by someone’s friend that never designed or drawn professionally before, but they have an illegal copy of Photoshop or CorelDRAW on his/her computer, and that should be enough – kind of…

”There are many logotypes and bumper stickers I would love to re-create from scratch. With a fresh new look on the work. Especially two one-man company cars in the elictricity & contractor business. They useally are parked around the corner on the street”

What works

I like logos that work 50 years ago, and still works today. One of my all time favorite logtypes, as well as its name, is Pan AM. Once the world’s largest airline company, with an iconic place on a skyscraper in New York City. And now gone – almost. One can almost say that it does not exist anymore. When the airline industry was hit in the late 90s and later in the 2000s, crashed it all – almost, to be sentimental. But the logo is still functioning, greatly.

What works overtime, which is important, is the one that has a story behind it.

My quick checklist

  • Company name, where it has its registered office, city and country.
  • What the company sell and manufactures.
  • Is there a family history behind that can give weight, tradition and provide inspiration.
  • What does the company stands for.
  • It is a brand new company with no traditions.
  • Is it good not to have any previous history.
  • Is there a philosophy behind the company or organization.
  • Is it something that the founders of the company, or those who today manages the company considers very important to have in mind.
  • Lowercase or Uppercase.
  • Color selection, but also serve as monochrome and grayscale.
  • Feel as big as its competitors, even though they are small, bordering tiny in comparison.
  • Perhaps a small business, but feel more sustainable, stable and old-fashioned.
  • Feel new, future


A real design projects, the logo for an organization

I got a request from Ken in Bradford, England. Ken is working among other things as a copywriter, but also work with an aid organization for homeless men in Bradford. I was asked to redesign their old logo. I said yes. I asked the questions I usually ask. Two things came up again and again; ”An up to date look and feel, contemporary, and an open door”. In other words, create a completely new logo from scratch. Modern and contemporary feel and an open door.

I asked, listened, took notes and made research, then started sketching with a pencil in my sketchpad, freely, openminded and fast to capture the first impression. I checked for other logos with an open door, and there are many who have it – an open door. Which sometimes becomes a bit problematic. This is a fairly common dilemma, logos so often reminiscent of other companies’ logos. I see this quite often with completely new firms, start-ups in Sweden. They choose generic, generic symbols fully aware or unaware that they remind too much about other companies. It is inevitable now that the logos these days are so similar. Simply because there are so many companies around. But not to think through ones logo, seek the help of a professional designer and illustrator to design their logo, that is to miss an opportunity to build something that works for decades.

I came up with a logo that the great people of Bradford Cyrenians really liked and feel happy to use. It was a really a fun project in several ways, and one in which the open door is included. Learn more about the project and see how the logo is used.

It’s all about how much you value your own brand, your own children in the form of your own company. Sure, anything can serve as a logo, and the company can be successful. Buying a ready-made logo for a few hundred or a few thousand. But if you want to take the chance to enjoy a personally designed logotype, then you have the possibility to feel proud of your logo, which has thought and work behind it. Think big and globally even if the company is small and unknown. Simply daring it. Even if the logo is just a black outline and nothing more, but it has at least been designed with thoughts and skills behind it. And that, ladies and gentlemen, that is what makes a logo often continue to work over decades. Like Pan Am and Coca-Cola. Regardless if you dare to fly or drink soda.

A logo can be long and wide, but often it may usually be just a symbol. Take Starbucks Coffee. It started out as a coffee shop, with a round logo symbol with text Designed by Terry Heckler in Seattle, United States. Today it is a symbolic sign that is so strong that it does not even need a name to be recognized. Everyone knows that is Starbucks anyway. And the logo has been changed and redesigned over time. Changed but refined. With an idea and thoughts behind it.

”What does it cost and what is included?” a common question. Depends on the designer and experience and service level. But you get consultation, many hours of work and thoughts and sketches made, all that I have already mentioned, and a professional, print-ready, vectorization of your logo. That last thing, lo and behold, vectorized print original, is not always a given when you work with a less experienced designer – or more often – by your friend with an illegal copy of Photoshop or CorelDRAW.

Stefan Lindblad
Illustrator, graphic designer

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