Graphic Design Podcast :: The Deeply Graphic DesignCast

The Clever Logo Conundrum

The Clever Logo Conundrum

We recently had an episode dedicated to a design dilemma Mikelle was facing with a client. So we decided to make this into a series all about one big problem each of us is facing in our business. In this episode, it’s Wes’ turn.

We always advocate asking clients for samples of designs they like, so you can properly gauge their taste, and what they will respond to. However, Wes recently began seeing a trend emerge with his logo design clients: they were always picking out “clever,” literal logos for inspiration, even when their company name or industry did not lend itself to that sort of treatment.

Rather than dwelling on the problem, the gang talks about how to better arm yourself against this sort of thing, so that you and your clients can get started on the right track, instead of chasing false leads. You will learn how to properly ask for example logos, and we also discuss the possibility of not asking for examples at all. There are multiple opinions voiced in this episode, so you can listen and see what makes the most sense for you.

After that, we answer two new listener questions about taking days off, and whether or not After Effects is worth learning.

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(3) responses


October 19, 2013

Another good episode all. I do recognize and understand that clients can at times steer their own project off into waters they are best not entering visually. I’ve also learned and believe that gathering a client’s broad taste for logos is important, even if (and often recommended that) they bring back logos they love from other industries. I think it encourages us as designers to think and study outside the box.

Yes, once all the information and reference material is gathered, it is our job as design experts to see what elements from outside the box can be gleaned and applied to their brand and their own specific industry “visual rules”.

One thing I misunderstood, it seemed there was much talk about reference logos being brought to the table that were layered on images/photographs, mock-up style, found by the client via pinterest or other internet searching… I got the impression the table felt this was a bad practice? I think revealing the logo to the client in the standard black/white background and also layered on top of various images is a good practice.

It’s a great conversation you had on the show today. One that I believe will spark strong opinions among designers. Keep up the great work.


    Wes McDowell

    October 19, 2013

    Hey Simeon, thanks for the support! As far as layering alogo on top of a background goes, I actually don’t think it’s bad practice (you will see that I do it on a lot of my logos right here on my portfolio site.) In some cases, it can really make the logo pop that much more, and when trying to entice future clients, you definitely want your work to pop.

    The only problem is when clients point to those as examples of logos they really like, not always understanding that the background is not actually a part of the logo itself. When I show logo concepts to my clients, I always present them on a pure white background, because I do believe that ultimately, a logo has to be able to stand on its own. If you or your client then choose to “dress it up” further by adding a background image to it, then that could work as well, depending on how appropriate it is.



October 19, 2013

The challenge it is not what you like or they like it’s what conveys the message that they want to convey to their target audience.


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