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Insider Logo Design Tips: Mike Erickson (Logomotive)

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Insider Logo Design Tips: Mike Erickson (Logomotive)


So, who is Mike Erickson?

I’m 40 year old father of four, professional logo designer ,typographer and illustrator, AKA Logomotive. I have been designing professionally online since 1998 under the name Logo Motive Designs. I would consider myself pretty good at designing strong marks with complimenting type. I have done half a dozen professional typefaces on the market for Letterheadfonts. I am very passionate about my work and enjoy doing my own thing. My beginning work started out to be more illustrative, but found through my experience that I really enjoy designing strong memorable marks and custom type. Most of my newer work can be seen here at Logopond, where I am a featured artist.

Ken Luallen Photography

Logo name: Kenluallen Client: Ken Luallen

What makes a good logo in your opinion?

I think a good logo design is one that WORKS for the company. A good logo design should be:

1. Good concept. You don’t always have to be overly clever, but make sure the concept has solid meaning and makes sense. Nothing better than a rock solid concept.

2. Distinctive and Memorable. A good logo can easily be understood and explained to others in a few words.

3. Adaptable. I think many designers forget the importance of Adaptability in their design work. Make sure the design can work in different environments such as horizontal and vertical layouts and be able to be reversed out. The logo should be able to work in print, digital, embroidery and signage. Consider the design being used in the largest and smallest of sizes.

4. It $ells. If the logo does not sell to the target audience, then I guess it can be considered as a fail.

Prepare for these these things and I think you will have a GREAT logo.

Thrive DC Logo

Logo name: Thrive DC Agency: Logo Motive Designs Designer: Mike Erickson Client: Thrive DC

What makes a good logo designer?

One that can Adapt, Adjust and Overcome whatever project is thrown at them. I think a good logo designer has to be a good listener and visual interpreter. Your the creative one and the client is coming to you for your creativity and skills and knowledge. I mean who really wants to be just a “button pusher”. Be creative and sell your idea. A good logo designer feels pressure, pressure to perform and satisfy the client. A good logo designer is one who follows the guidelines to question number 2.

There is so much more involved in being a good logo designer .. I think skill, knowledge in the field and a good eye are equally important.

What are your main methods of finding new clients and which of those methods work best?

Interesting and most appropriate question considering I have done very little marketing in the past oh.. 10 years or so. Most of my client base is repeat clients or referrals from my clients, however I do see a stronger need for personal promotion these days. I do receive some inquiries through my online portfolios from logo sites such as logopond, Logofaves, Logomooose, Logofi and of course Letterheadfonts. So with that said, I think building a good solid client base is priceless, however people come and go so marketing is equally as important. Blogging seems a good way to go these days. =) I’ve gotta get on that.

City Direct

Logo name: City Direct Client: Conceptual

What is your typical design process when designing a logo for a new client?

Contact. I have found over the past few years that if you do not make contact with someone as soon as possible they look elsewhere or move on. I make my best effort to make immediate contact to let them know how interested and enthused I am.

Questions. I go over many questions with my clients picking their brain about their business and asking many questions like how they started? Who is their competition? How is the logo going to be used? Where they intend to go? What they want to convey? Who is their target audience? ( key question in logo design).

Brainstorming. I start brainstorming ideas with my clients and many times they are excited to hear my initial ideas even before they are put to paper. I write down things relevant to the business to get the creative juices going. Many ideas have come from the initial contact with the client just doodling and sketching while talking to them over the phone. Creativity to me is like adrenaline, when it’s flowing you don’t want to stop.

Sketching. I STRONGLY BELIEVE IN THIS. Brainstorming and sketching kind of go hand in hand. I get so much creative juice out of the pencil, however sometimes it leads me into other brilliant ideas =) I highly recommend sketching ideas out, many of them. ” The pencil is mightier than the mouse.” ME

Presenting. Once I have sketched out some good solid concepts and ideas, I will clean up, vectorize and present to the client a couple good ones. I have found that clients tend to look at the imperfect detail in sketches and it’s sometimes too hard to explain how it will be cleaned up. However I do have some clients that I can present rough sketches to, I appreciate those clients.

Final and Prep. The best part right? Not always. I actually enjoy the design part but this is the part that gives you the remaining balance and makes your clients return. Take care of this part. Even though it’s the most tedious part, it’s the most important part. Prep good clean files and only enough to get the job done right. Supplying too many file types will overwhelm the client and cause confusion down the road. I also offer my opinion and eye for clients prior to running prints or publishing work.

EyeHelp Logo

Logo name: eyehelp.org Client: Cosgrove Technology Group.

How do you present your concepts to your clients and how many do you usually provide? What final files do you deliver to your client?

I usually present my initial concepts via PDF . I usually show the logos in black and white with a couple layout options. I say 3 concepts or within a certain allowed timeframe figured into the design contract. I try to give them really good solid and conceptual designs so I put a lot of sweat and effort into my initial designs. This can be a little draining if I do not succeed on the first attempts. The final files delivered are Vectors and high resolution bitmaps and any other relevant file needed for the project.

Has there ever been a case when the client was not fully satisfied with the suggested logo designs? If yes, how did you handle that? Did you charge extra for the additional designs? How often does this happen?

OF course! I would not be human if this has not happened to me. I get told all the time. “I like it, but it is not the same as the ones in your portfolio.” Or “I want it to say WOW like your other stuff”. Building or showcasing a good strong portfolio can increase your clients but on the same token it often puts more pressure on you to WOW your audience. Everyone wants the next WOW factor logo , but sometimes it is just impossible. I just try to work through and deliver a logo that works for the client and one they can be proud of. Most of the time the client understands where I am coming from and understands that perhaps they did not choose or have the best name or business to work with… to have that mind blowing logo. My clients tend to respect my creativity, skills, work and my time so we usually will work things out. I have refunded in the past though.

Flipside Logo

Logo name: FlipSide Client: Flipside Entertainment

How long do you spend on average creating a logo? What are the factors that contribute to how long you spend creating a logo?

On average, I have spent anywhere from 2 hrs. to 1 year. Now how does that average out? Humm.. I have some designs that I have been put on hold for months and had some designs that I have nailed down within minutes. I actually had one logo design that took about 1 1/2 hours from contact to delivery. It is was my Knotheads logo. Client contacted me told me about his business, I had a bandanna around so I tied it it in a knot, sketched it out, vectorized and colored it and sent to him. Within an hour He said “I love it, do no more”. He paid up and I delivered. I don’t think there is a set time on how long it takes, however I respect and do my best to deliver if I have a deadline. I usually quote from 1 to 3 weeks for the average project. Bottom line I just think you design until you get it right, but make sure your being compensated for your valuable time.

How do you choose the right colour and font for each logo design project? Do you have any favourite or most used fonts that you use in your projects? Why?

I really think choosing the right color is pretty self explanatory, yet so difficult to do. I mean your not going to paint a sky red unless your designing Doomsday or RedDawn. Color has always been a challenge for me explaining to my clients a little color theory. If they like blue and hate red perhaps they’ll take purple? Color is so influential. I honestly think that color is one of the toughest parts of logo design (as this is this is where most of my revisions come from). I have had clients not like a logo just because they did not like a certain color. So I always show them in black first. I have found that I’m pretty safe with blues =) Color? Maybe design it in Rainbow colors and your safe?? I ‘m still working on the whole color solution.

Being a typographer I don’t tend to have a favorite font as most of my work is custom type or type treatment. But I would say that in most cases I have used a sans serif font as my base. It all depends on the mark or logotype to me, that is how I determine what typeface to use.

Elefont Logo

Logo name: elefont Client: TBD

Do you have any main influences that affect your work?

I’m influenced by positives and negatives.

What is the most challenging part about logo design and how do you deal with it?

I find one of the most difficult parts in logo design is explaining to the client the integrity of the design as it was designed. I have clients who want me to move things around, change the typeface, color, layout and in the end it would be a complete different design. “We love it but we don’t like the color, font, layout and concept?”

Huh? ok let me explain……..

OK the most difficult part is those head scratching requests.

General Oil Gas Logo

Logo name: General Oil and Gas Client: Mark Bogani

What are your most favorite design resources? ie. What gives you inspiration and where can we find it? How do you deal with creative blocks?

This probably my favorite question you have asked. I find a lot of inspiration from my fellow colleagues such as Von and Steven whom were two of this first that kept my inspiration up and live since I began online.

I also find much inspiration from Gerard and Holly these are just a few of the old schoolers I have been inspired from, but I’m finding new inspiration from all my new friends at Logopond and now of course Twitter.

I actually do not do much online surfing for inspiration, I seem to find it from everything else around me. I try to avoid looking around to get ideas> Look around it’s everywhere and not just there.

If your having a creative block, take a break, take a walk, watch a movie. Don’t force it and waste your time, come back later.

Railroad Days Logo

Logo name: RailRoad Days Client: Selma, North Carolina

What are your plans for the near future and where do you see yourself in 10 years time?

Well hopefully in ten years I will still be a designer. I would like to offer more to the design community and expand my skills. I plan to have more typefaces on the market and pondering the idea of an identity consulting business. I’m always open to new ideas and adventures though.

Lastly, what advice would you give to an aspiring logo designer? And any last words?

Yes, find your own style and do your own thing. Don’t be afraid to step out of the circle and try new things and experiment. Listen to what your elders have said though. They have been there before you and design is ART and SCIENCE and SOME rules should not be changed but don’t be afraid to try and invent new rules. Be a trend setter not a trend follower. Enjoy what you do but grow thick skin.

MANY thanks to Jacob and his awesome, inspiring blog!

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