Designing a logo from scratch part 1: Creative Brainstorming

designing_from_scratchThis is the beginning of a new blog series I’m started based on doing brand identity design / a website from start to finish. Stay tuned for additions!

Brainstorming! I’m going to introduce a two-step process for generating ideas effectively to further your skills in creating a brand. Given that you are working for a client or a business needs a new logo, you will already have the name of the business, so you can skip step 1 as it pertains to those exclusively seeking to improve their skills completely apart from work.

Method 1: Put some words together

Brion Gysin was infamous for developing the “cut-up” method, a literary technique involving cutting out words from articles, papers, magazines, and books and pulling words at random to formulate poetry and prose. Taking cut up articles and organizing them may not be the best way to develop a brand name*, but for allowing your mind to expand to creative regions, it works beautifully. Pull two or three cut-up words out of a hat, or flip through a dictionary until you come across two words that can potentially work with each other, but keep it to adjectives, verbs, adverbs, and nouns.

Adjective: A word that describes a noun. eg. (blue, soft, lucky, unhealthy)
Verb: An action word. eg (run, burst, find, sleep)
Adverb: A word that describes an action (swiftly, happily, grossly)
Nouns: A person, place, or thing (stop sign, velcro, apple)

*Random can often yield great results, but unless the article is themed toward what the business does, it likely won’t turn out too well
This method is excellent for creative brainstorming since you don’t know what you’re going to get, and you have to work out how you will incorporate the words you chose to relate with each other into a unified logo.

Method 2: Create thought webs

Another effective way for thinking of a brand name is by making an idea web. This is a network of associated words, and with you choosing them, it’s 100% original material straight from your head.

  1. Choose a word. It can be at random or targeted to the goal of your project (don’t start with ‘kitchen’ if you plan to brand a pharmaceutical company).
  2. Write the word nice and large in the center of the page / document
  3. Think of associated words. They can be adjectives, nouns, adverbs, and verbs.
  4. Write these words in smaller or lighter around the first word.
  5. Think of similar words to these words, and write those in even smaller
  6. You can continue this for as long as you like, the possibilities are endless
  7. Associate two or three words together, ones of your choice from the thought web until you think of something that ‘works’. Adjectives and nouns work beautifully together for branding!
An interconnection of associated ideas

An interconnection of associated ideas

Thanks for reading, that pretty much wraps up part 1.

Read Part 2: Drawing and Illustrating to continue.

Related posts:

  1. Designing a logo from scratch part 2: drawing and illustrating
  2. Ocular Harmony has a new design
  3. What do you do when you’re not designing?
  4. 25 Best Examples of Negative Space Typography in Web Design
  5. 20 of the Most Iconic Logos

Robin Bastien
Howdy! I'd the head of Ocular Harmony. I spend most of my time designing, reading beatnick literature, and pounding sound waves of experimental pulsation into my brain's frontal lobes. Contact me if you have any questions!

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  1. Hans says:

    April 25, 2009

    Yes, cool ! Or do it like this:

    Hans’s last blog post..A faked "Horse Thief" and a real T-Shirt

  2. Designing a logo from scratch: Creative Brainstorming | Web … | GraphicsnLogos.Com says:

    April 25, 2009

    [...] Read the rest here: Designing a logo from scratch: Creative Brainstorming | Web … [...]

  3. Tiph says:

    April 26, 2009

    Awesome ideas; great presentation.
    But, like you said in your previous post, content should be your baby: you misspelled “too” as “to” in your asterisk note.

    I am definitely RSSing your blog for the great articles!

    Tiph’s last blog post..the eggs have eyes

  4. Robin says:

    April 26, 2009

    Thanks for the comment and RSS subscription Tiph! I have subscribed to your blog as well :). I really should have read it over a 3rd time to catch the spelling, you can never be too careful

  5. Folk Art says:

    April 27, 2009

    Methodology in designing a logo is a very important thing if you wish to succeed. The examples of logos from the post are great. I like such graphic simplicity and clear message.
    Thank you!

  6. JessicaSict says:

    May 10, 2009

    Your site displays incorrectly in Firefox, but content excellent! Thank you for your wise words:)

  7. Decorative Pillows says:

    August 4, 2009

    Wow, this was a great post. I have always been awed by graphic designers who can do logo design because I thought it was just pure creativity – like the logo just “came to them”. As a more analytical than creative type, you’ve given me confidence to try designing a logo myself. Thanks!

  8. Smashing Photos says:

    April 1, 2010

    Nice logo examples. I think that nowadays the importance of logo is devalutating.. how do you think?

  9. Matthieu Desjardins says:

    May 21, 2010

    Great inspiring article. Specially like the Method 2 approach. Can’t wait to try this.