There’s something magical about transmogrifying (for the Bill Watterson fans out there) a pile of flour into cookies, or muffins, or pizza dough. Making is ingrained in us. Creating something from nothing is fulfilling, thrilling, and sometimes involves chilling.
Of course, baking often isn’t quite magical. In fact, there are some very specific things you need to do at certain times in certain orders. We can’t just stick a bowl of flour, milk, and eggs in the oven and wait for a chocolate cake to come out.
Design is not so different. After all, baking and making do rhyme.
Usually when you bake, you bake for someone or someones. Maybe that someone is you (sometimes that someone is definitely me), or maybe it’s for someone special, or maybe you own a bakery. The point is, there is a lot to consider about the person you are baking for.
Just like design, the first step is research. Who are you baking for? Are they gluten free, vegan, or allergic to nuts? There is a lot to consider if you want to spare them massive bloating or a hit from an epi-pen.
Beyond that you obviously want to bake with their favourite flavours. It’d be especially helpful to know they like fruity more than they do chocolatey or crunchy vs gooey. With logo design, we call this knowing your target audience.
The concept is exactly the same. Get to know who you are making for. What will they respond to?
The next step is gathering up your dry ingredients. You now know that you're baking for a vegan, so you grab some all purpose flour, sugar, and flax (for the egg). You’ll probably need some baking powder and/or baking soda. They love chocolate so you’d certainly need some cocoa powder too.
In logo design, the dry ingredients are research. We might know who this logo needs to reach, but we also need to figure out which ingredients are going to be the ones that do it. What are the raw materials that speak to them? What active ingredients like baking soda insight action from our target audience?
The dry ingredients give design its structure. It’s a time consuming process of research and demographics, but that’s what makes it so dry.
Once you’ve got dry stuff mixed up separately, baking usually involves the wet ingredients. This is the sloppy, messy material that is less predictable. You’ve got almond milk, water, a splash of vanilla, and the oil of your choice.
In design, these are your colours, shapes, and visuals. Think of a bulletin board pinned with all of the random imagery that speaks to your audiences interests. You know, some sort of interest pinning situation.
These things are fluid and may not always mix with each other just like oil and water. But these ingredients are important because they bind all those dry research ingredients. If any magic is going to happen, it's when you add the wet ingredients to the dry.
Wet ingredients are the fun stuff.
But none of this makes sense without a recipe. Proportions are everything. Too much of the wet ingredients and you’ve got a hot mess on your hands. Recipes take us from ingredients to baked goods. Creating a recipe from scratch, now that’s a challenge.
Just like recipes are imperative to a successful batch of cookies or a perfectly fluffy cake, logo design needs a concept. The concept is the idea that tells us how much wet and how much dry we need.
If you’ve ever created your own recipe before, you know that this is not always a straightforward process. Just because we know how we want something to turn out, we don’t always know that that’s how it will turn out—we also need to be open to the happy accidents that occur.
So if you’ve got the perfect logo concept that will make passerby a patron, you’re first attempt may not rise the way you think it will.
This is all in the execution. Once you’ve mixed your ingredients based on your concept or recipe, the last thing to do is bake it (or let it rise first, anyway, it all ends up in the oven sometime). This process of mixing and baking is one of the final steps in the design process.
It’s getting your hands dirty and creating graphics based on the research and imagery that was discovered. Like creating a concept that guides the direction of the logo, the last step is following our own directions to the perfect cookie for our audience. But as I said, sometimes these things fall flat.
When you’re creating a recipe you continually need to go back and revise proportions and steps. When executing a logo you’ll continually need to go back and revisit the concept.
As long as the recipe uses all the right ingredients eventually you’ll end up with a perfect batch. Don’t expect the first logo design to win any bake offs. Revision is the name of the game.