In this article we discuss a question that gets asked quite frequently in the logo design industry: “Where do you find logo design inspiration”
I should imagine that all creative at some point get asked “where do you find logo design inspiration as a designer?” or “where did that idea come from for that logo?”
I must say I get asked the question “Where do you find logo design inspiration?” at least once a week and there is honestly no right or wrong answer to this question. Each designer has their own process and ways of gaining inspiration
As individual creative professionals, we as designers need to find our processes and ways of gaining inspiration as everyone is different in their approach when commissioned for a design project they then need to find inspiration for.
In this community-based article, we discuss where to find logo design inspiration, with insights from designers we have interviewed, and other designers from the design community who answer the question Where do you find logo design inspiration?
I personally have a set process when designing that I trust and follow, but I don’t have a set routine to find inspiration this varies from project to project. It can be a quick or really slow process and I think most designers will agree.
I try not to force ideas they come to me once I have done the research stage and I’m fully aware of the client and scope of work, their competitors and the goals the company is aiming to achieve and the problems they are facing.
One of my biggest inspirations to me is my dad and his approach to life, he loved it and he lived it and let nothing stand in his way. He was a thinker and a doer he had a strategic and creative mindset, and planned everything before taking action. He was logical in his approach. He wasn’t afraid to fail and focused to achieve his goal no matter what!.
I’m a firm believer in trusting your process as inspiration is in the process and inspiration can come to you at any point during the process, often at times unexpected.
The simplest solutions are never the easiest to develop by trying to take the most relevant and simplest elements of a brand and communicating it in the simplest visual form is always challenging. All logo designers should be aiming to create meaning in its simplest form that communicates visually to the brand’s audience.
In a recent designer interview, we did with Lance Wyman a legend in logo design most well known for creating the Mexico 68 logo for the 1968 Olympic games in Mexico city.
“What is your favourite style of logo design? And why?”
“I seem to migrate to simple with meaning”
in another question about what his advice would be for new logo designers, he went on to say:
“Make an effort to really understand what you are out to represent” “See clearly as you can what you are dealing with”
When it came to gaining inspiration in another designer interview, we asked Stefan Sagmeister another legend in the design world.
“What is your daily inspiration when you design?”
“One of my most frequent sources of inspiration is a newly occupied hotel room. I find it easy to work in a place far away from the studio, where thoughts about the implementation of an idea don’t come to mind immediately but I can dream a bit more freely.
Ideas can’t be forced they come at any time and more than normally a time that’s is not appropriate. I had some really strange timings like one time I was driving down the motorway on the way to a client meeting and suddenly an idea came into my head for another identity I was working on for another client I pulled into the next service station whipped out my notebook and pencil and started sketching away.
I also like to go to the coast a lot as I love the sea air and walking on the beach. I have had times where ideas have come to me while taking a walk on the beach and drawn the idea in the sand then took a pic on my phone for later.
Ideas come to us when we allow our minds to empty and we forget and stop forcing the focus on the ideation stage of a project. It’s like Jacob Boghosian says in his designer interview
“Inspiration happens around us so I try to keep myself open to ideas wherever I go.”
and Mark Richardson in his designer interview mentions
“Anything can be inspiring and ideas usually evolve when my mind is elsewhere.”
What other designers in the community are saying
I recently reached out to some other creative and logo designers to ask them the question “Where do you find logo design inspiration?” and here’s what they said.
“I’m sure for a lot of logo designers out there this is quite an easy question to answer. People have set routines and procedures in place to help. Whether it’s creating a mood board, brainstorming or simply browsing logo galleries, there is a “go-to” that helps them get their creative juices flowing.
I don’t really do any of the above, not for inspiration anyway. For me, I’ve always just allowed ideas and concepts to just pop into my head out of nowhere. Sitting with the specific task of coming up with ideas just don’t work for me. I ended up just sitting wasting time.
My method of finding logo inspiration is to distract myself. If I let myself almost forget about the logo project at hand, it’s almost guaranteed that at some point an idea will randomly come to mind when I’m doing something else.
Personally, I don’t have the ability to sit and force my creative juices to flow. It’s just going to spontaneously happen, and when it does that’s the time to sit down and focus. Obviously, the main downside to this is when you’re out and about with friends and family, and all of a sudden you’re scribbling a design down on a bar menu to make sure you don’t forget it!”
Mark Sims – The Logo Mark
“When looking for design inspiration, I always tend to search for photos first. I search for photo’s that fits the target audience but also the feeling I want to express in my design. In this stage I don’t look for logo designs or branding projects. I use photos a lot because they help me to set the mood/feeling for the project. Using photos in this first stage often lets me really connect with the audience.
After receiving the client brief I started to search the internet for photos and create some kind of mood board with al the photo’s I have collected. In my first sketching face I just use my mood board and start sketching. I try to find some usable shapes in the photos. It can be the shape of a building, a flower, a shoe, a person, or just a face or arm. After creating this ‘mood board’ It’s time to search for logos and symbols that fit my mood board. Most of my inspiration I get from the internet. I spend a lot of time on sites like Behance and Dribble, twitter and Pinterest for logo designs. But I also still use my design books.
Why don’t I start with searching for logo designs?
When I start with searching for logo designs it kind of feels like I limit myself and only focus on the symbol and not on the target audience or the feeling I want to express. When I do start with logo designs I often pick out designs that I like, but this does not always fit the brand I’m designing for. So I personally need a visual image of the brand and its target audience to come up with a logo design that fits.”
I find photos on different sites like:
Some examples of the mood boards I have done:
Kevin van Eijk – dipx Design
“My way of work is quite simple. I collect information about the company, it’s products, the history and philosophy. Anything that helps you find a concept.
I never try to be overly innovative and keep my designs as minimal as possible. I will reach out to create a memorable design and keep it very minimal. The downside of this approach is the time I invest.
It can take weeks to find “that one” design. But if someone is willing to wait, the reward is much greater.”
Alen Pajazetovic Helvetiphant™
“I largely use the usual tools for inspiration such as feature sites, Google and Pinterest. In doing this, I look for both other people’s work and general images that give me the right vibe for a certain project. However, when I am really stuck for what to do, I most often let the inspiration come to me rather than the other way around. I find that personally when I try to force ideas they rarely end up in a quality design.
For this reason, I’ll do the usual routine of research, exploring, mind maps, mood boards and initial sketches to make sure that the overall feel of the project is clear in my mind and that the vision is solid. Then I simply leave the project for 2 days, try to work in a different place, go for a walk and tackle other things.
I was a scientist before I was a designer so I am a bit of nerd when it comes to how the brain works and how we can get the most out of it. I like to have a change of environment or go for a stroll because everything we see is made up of shapes and patterns and all of them are subconsciously stored in our brains. When we then relax, our brain is able to make connections between the things we’ve seen and the problems we need to solve.
Thomas Edison came up with the concept of the light bulb just as he was drifting off to sleep rather than whilst researching and pouring over literature and blueprints. I therefore like to tackle creative block with a few days of focusing on other things, after which I’ll usually have a list of ideas to explore that have come to me without forcing them.
In the past I’ve found inspiration for a logo in the negative space of some flowery curtains or the shapes made up on some frosted glass. I don’t see these as random sparks of inspiration but rather associations my brain has made between a creative problem I have been storing and a solution it’s seen.”
Aimee Castle – Clarity Zest Creative
Experience as a designer
There really is no magic process or way of finding inspiration, it comes with experience. As designers we all learn from past experiences and the things we learn are normally things that cannot be taught and we self-develop over time we change our style, our process and way of thinking, we are always improving our mindset to work on bigger and more demanding projects over time.
I myself have been designing logos for 20 years and learn a new thing with each project I work on which has given me the experience to develop simple and meaningful logos that are fit for purpose and effectiveness of the clients brand.
I have always had a talent for coming up with ideas right from being at school studying A Level Art and Graphic Design through to my university years when studying for my design diplomas at first yes I admit it was more challenging for me to develop simple and effective concepts but as the years have passed I have gained more experience running my design studio and working with clients internationally that it does come more natural to me now but it has taken years of study and research and practice and the overall commitment to doing what I love tot do has allowed me to train my brain to work the way it does and visualise this concepts how I do.
Research is key
A lot of designers overlook research and think they can just jump in and start designing and maybe you do but you need to ask yourself is this the right way to go about doing this? Your client is expecting you to solve a problem, not just design a logo.
In order to solve a problem, you need to determine how this will be achieved. Knowledge of the client and the brand is crucial there are other key aspects also such as the target market and business competitors and how my client wants their brand to be positioned into the market so it’s not just about designing a logo for the client but designing a logo for the consumer and this takes thorough research which is a very time-consuming process but a very effective stage that is vital when designing a logo and without research an effective solution is not possible to achieve.
The solution is unique to every client
We have all heard the common, cliché phrase “there is no one size fits all approach” when designing a logo and brand identity. When conducting this vital research stage in the process, the findings will prove that there is no fit for any instance magic solution as every client and their brand is unique and with unique comes a bespoke solution that’s going to be appropriate and fit for purpose for the brand. It will solve a problem and communicate the brand to the consumer, it will gain trust in an instance and be a unique visual identifier for the brand.
Think simple, not complex, try to take the most basic elements that will communicate to the consumer, be clever and think differently but above all else know what you are dealing with and solve the problem. It’s not about style or trends, it’s about communicating visually and solving the problem.
In another recent interview, we had with Brand Strategist and author of Creative Strategy and Business of Design Douglas Davis when asked
“What makes a great logo? and an excellent identity system?”
Douglas sums it up quite simply with his answer
“Clients approach us with various forms of the exact same request: Increase my sales, reposition my brand, expand my customer base. It’s all the same ask: Solve my problem. An excellent identity system or great logo does that.”
Another example is from Alina Wheeler who we recently interviewed and when we asked her.
“What is your favourite style of logo design? And why?”
“I have no favourite style. I like what solves the problem best and fills the need across communications channels. I like logos that give the client latitude to grow, are dramatically differentiated within their sector, and work well across touchpoints—from an app icon to a digital billboard on Times Square.”
When your next commissioned to design a logo or full brand identity system remember this is not a fashion contest about who can design the fanciest logo with all the latest trends remember the saying “KISS” Keep it simple stupid! Our job as designers is to solve problems and communicate visually. So do the research, know what you’re dealing with think like the consumer, think – Simple that’s fit for purpose, adaptable, memorable, communicate visually and gain trust across all brand touch points.
Don’t try to force inspiration, it’s all around us sometimes we need to open our eyes and look around once in a while, trust your process as the inspiration is in the process!
Be sure to check out our Designer Interview section for some great interviews full of inspiration and designer insights. Below are some other links to various sources that you can find some inspiration from to get the creative juices flowing.
Places on the internet to find creative inspiration
- Dribbble — Is a well-known creative social network in the creative community. Dribbble is a site where creative professionals can post their work known as “shots”, comment on other creatives work and find paid projects. A site I recommend that every creative to your bookmark list.
- Behance — A similar concept to Dribbble but owned by Adobe. Behance is another great place to find inspiration and recent work from designers around the world. This website is more for viewing and adding full projects with descriptions and the creative process as opposed to dribbble which are single image shots. Behance is a great place to find designers you like and follow them so you can follow their work over time and stay inspired.
- Twitter — the creative community are incredibly active on Twitter so it’s the perfect place to find inspiration. Do searches for “graphic design” “logo design” etc (or any other discipline) and filter by designers, you can even create lists and add your favorite creative agencies or designers to keep an up to date news feed or follow them with check to be notified whenever they tweet so you’re alerted instantly. It’s also a great place to engage and interact with fellow designers.
- Instagram —The place to be for visually creative people around the world to start browsing by hashtags like #graphicdesign, #logodesign, #monogram, #iconography, typography I could go on for ages, but I will leave it there just to search and find super talented designers to follow on Instagram.
- Pinterest — Possibly even more search-friendly than Instagram. Pinterest is an incredible place to look for inspiration in all forms. It’s also handy to use to gather your inspiration findings, you can create a private board or share with your client and pin your findings to create somewhat of a mood board.
Finding Logo, Branding, and Identity Design Inspiration
- Brand New — Resource for Creative in the branding + identity design industry. They aggregate collections of corporate branding work, the only downside to brand new and I’m not bashing anything here but this is why I’m not a personal reader or fan of the site is I’m dead against the rating system, in my opinion, this is not fair, I totally respect the work that goes into the articles thumbs up here! and I respect that everyone has an opinion but this just turns into a bashing system when something kicks off and this encourages others to just follow suit and the comments can be quite nasty at times. It would be great without ratings and comments when it’s other people’s work that’s centre stage.
- Identity Designed — This site by David Airey who does a deeper dive into specific branding work for individual brands. Rather than just showing the logo design, they show the entire branding process with a description and lots of photos. Even though the site is not updated much possibly once a month as opposed to brandnew which seems to aim for quantity, identity design aims for quality over quantity and all the posts are worth checking out for inspiration.
- Inspiration Grid — Fantastic site for all areas of design inspiration, but they do a particularly great job organising branding and logo design inspiration.
- The Logo Creative – Designer Spotlight – We share out identity design projects on Twitter under the #hashtag #designerspotlight with every post we spotlight the designer and company and also credit the work by providing a link to the projects page.
Finding Lettering & Typography Inspiration
Inspiration grid mentioned above has a nice section for typography that is organised and nicely laid out like the branding and logo sections.
Typo / graphic posters are a platform for inspiration and promotion of good design through the poster culture.
They focus exclusively on typographical and graphical posters, the once that challenge type, colours and shapes to express a message.
It is a curated gallery with a graphic design point of view. each poster is reviewed to meet a standard in visual quality and functional effort.
Behance is a great place for designers to display their work and gain client projects. It’s also a fantastic inspiration resource at your fingertips.
It’s a great site for searching for typography inspiration for your logo design projects. You can search certain typefaces by name, the format such as books or packaging and the industry such as technology or education and you can really narrow down your search to the type of projects you’re gaining inspiration for. As you can see from the example pic above i was searching by industry for education for an educational project i am currently working on.
Started as a personal archive for designer Jonathan Lawrence as a source of inspiration for himself and is an ongoing archive of found typography photographed and curated by Jonathan himself.
Was set up to be a good resource for choosing fonts for design projects and focused on highlighting what’s trending and popular in type.
Creative Education for Inspiration
If your getting started or perhaps your already a logo designer you will find this course very handy and useful, a very cost effective online course that will teach you about efficiently using Adobe Illustrator to design visual identities and implementing design strategy. Through each lesson, you will be taught a specific design theory, provide interactive assignments for practice, and then let you tackle realistic client projects to improve your visual problem-solving. Highly recommended by us here at The Logo Creative
Probably the best known creative education site out there today, Skillshare paved the way for incredibly high-quality creative classes from well-known and accomplished professionals. It’s well worth £10 a month same as a Netflix subscription plus you get 2 months free of charge you have nothing to lose and everything to gain!
1,500+ Life changing classes. 650+ industry-leading experts. 10+ million students. A host of creative classes full of inspiration and tips to grow as a professional creative. It also includes classes from the likes of Debbie Millman who has also taken part in out designer interviews.
Below is a very interesting video presented by Ivan Chermayeff, Tom Geismar & Sagi Haviv who give insights into the process and design thinking that went into some of the worlds famous and timeless logos they have created.
Hope this article will be of value to you and hope it will help you move forward in your career as a designer, if you have anything to add then please feel free to drop a comment in the comments section below.
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Find more logo design inspiration on medium.com/theymakedesign/logo-design-inspiration-d6c0199dd2f9.
Also published on Medium.