There's a reason Shakespeare didn't rhetorically ask "what's in a logo?". And it's definitely not because Romeo and Juliet had bigger problems than graphic design.
Turns out, there's a lot riding on a smart, thoughtfully created logo. It can strengthen brand identity, communicate brand values, and cultivate brand trust.
A study of 597 logos by Harvard Business Review found that descriptive logos — ones that use graphic design elements to communicate the product or service being sold — have several advantages over nondescriptive logos.
These include making the brand appear more authentic and increasing customers’ willingness to buy — resulting in more net sales.
(That doesn’t mean nondescriptive logos don’t work, though — just in the right context.)
On the other hand, a dodgy, confusing, or misleading logo can misrepresent your brand or message — a problem known as brand distortion. A poorly designed logo can confuse people and leaves room for them to project their assumptions onto your brand.
The starting point in the logo design process is a solid logo design brief. This is a document that outlines the objectives and requirements for a logo design project. It guides the designer through the logo design process to ensure the final design aligns with the client’s expectations.
This article will cover the importance of logo design briefs, elements to include, and a logo design brief template for you to download and use.
Why a logo design brief matters
A solid logo design brief will benefit both the designer and the client, facilitate clear communication, and minimize the number of revisions required.
The logo design brief helps the designer clearly understand the project goals and the client’s vision. It can help them stay on track and avoid going down creative rabbit holes that may not align with the project objectives.
For clients, starting with an approved logo design brief helps them ensure the logo represents their brand and appeals to the target audience. It’s also a convenient way for the client to communicate their vision and requirements to the designer, which can help prevent misunderstandings and delays during the design process.
Ready to start creating logo design briefs that rock? Here’s what you need to include.
5 things to include in a logo design brief
1. The purpose of the logo
The first question to ask yourself is: what message should the logo convey? This step requires conveying the purpose and goals of your brand, since the message of the logo will vary across businesses and industries.
For example, a bank logo will want to transmit trustworthiness, whereas an adventure travel company for singles under 35 will want a logo that channels a sense of fun and adventure. Other common messages brands might want to get across include professionalism, innovation, and luxury.
To get this step right, you’ll need a clear understanding of who your target audience is — in other words, the people you're trying to reach with your message.
For example, if you're a high-end luggage company, you will have a very different target audience than if you're a company that sells backpacks. The logo design for your brand will reflect your target audience’s preferences and aspirations.
Consider how diferently Globe Trotter and Tortuga Backpacks market themselves. One evokes reliability while the other leans on the concept of a turtle carrying its home on its back:
You’ll also need to think about the primary purpose of the logo and where it will be used. You'll probably need different versions of the same logo adapted for social media, websites, physical signs, and promotional materials such as ads.
Finally, it's important to clarify to the designer whether yours is a brand-new business or a rebrand of an existing one. If it’s a new business, you might be able to give the designer more creative freedom, whereas in the context of a rebrand, you may want to retain some existing design assets and incorporate them into the new logo.
2. Research and inspiration
The design brief for a good logo should also include a few sources of inspiration from industry competitors. This is important for informing the logo design and ensuring it aligns with and is appropriate for the target audience.
Say you’re an education platform aimed at teenagers. In this case, you'll want to steer clear of using “ABC” in the logo, as that would be more suitable for younger children. Instead, you’ll need something more dynamic that will be attractive to teenagers — like the logo of Almost Fun, a platform that aims to make math concepts more accessible and less boring:
Provide examples of logos that you like or dislike — this can give the designer a better understanding of your design preferences and help guide the design process.
Feel free to look outside your specific industry and provide examples of design elements you like and would like to see emulated or incorporated into the finished logo. These nuggets of inspiration can help the designer spark new ideas and ensure that the final design is unique and memorable.
3. The desired design style
Think back to the purpose of your logo design — the message you want to convey will inform the overall look and feel of your logo. Do you want to be modern and edgy or timeless and classic? The answers to these questions will feed into the colors and typography you use in the logo.
Color psychology plays a fundamental role in logo design. For example, blue is considered a calming and reassuring color, which is why many banks and financial institutions use it. On the other hand, red is associated with passion, energy, and dominance, which is why it’s a favorite of many sports team logos, like this one from Liverpool FC:
Have a think about your color palette to ensure it evokes the desired emotions and response from the target audience.
4. Specific design guidelines
This section is where you can get more specific about the deliverables and exactly what you expect from the designer. Make sure to add any particular design elements that must be included or excluded, and clearly communicate this to the designer.
The client may already have some design assets that need to be incorporated, especially in the case of a rebrand. Make sure you provide the designer with all of these elements, ideally in editable vector format, and make them easy to organize and access — for example, by placing them all together in a Playbook board.
Finally, you must specify the required file formats and sizes for the logo, which will depend on how it will be used. For example, you may need to create different versions of the logo in black and white or transparent for use on marketing materials or pitch decks, as well as the full-color version. Including these details will help ensure the final product is suitable for the intended use.
5. A timeline and budget
Help your designer plan their work by setting a timeline and budget. This is especially important if you’re working with freelancers, who usually juggle multiple design projects at a time.
Setting a timeline for the design process can help ensure that the project stays on track and is completed in a timely manner while informing them of the budget can also help prevent scope creep and any unpleasant surprises for either party.
It’s a good idea to discuss the budget with the designer and identify any limitations upfront to ensure the design process stays on track and within budget.
Skipping over the logo design brief stage is a mistake you can’t afford to make. Use these tips to create a logo design brief that conveys your purpose and needs to the designer while minimizing misunderstandings and possible delays caused by multiple rounds of feedback.
Alternatively, download our free logo design brief template and get started right away.
If you’re looking for more tips on creating graphic design briefs that get the job done more efficiently, check out our article on “How to write a good creative brief for designers.”