I’m currently helping out a small group of Digital Storytellers in the process of designing and launching a new community website. We put the project out as a Request for Proposals (RFP) and are now working with a webdeveloper. As a webdeveloper myself, I’ve learned a lot about the process from the other side.

For all of my development projects I’ve worked with people I know or on projects in which I have some stake or significant interest. Because of this, my process has usually been us all sitting around the kitchen table drawing pen and paper workflows and mockups till the wee hours. I’ve never formally responded to an RFP and usually invest myself in mapping out the who, what and whys before even getting into the hows.

With that said, I was surprised to see that so many of the development proposals included a logo design process, usually as the first milestone. We are an ad-hoc group across several organizations without an existing identity, so I understand the need for a logo. Of course, most groups may already have an identity so the logo design itself may not be needed, but the thought and process that goes into it is.

Without getting into why logos are important

I tried to condense what we are getting out of the process :

  • A better definition of the project: For an iconic logo (as we’re receiving) it should somehow reflect a meaning or message about the project. An outside developer may not have a complete picture of what the client hopes to achieve. The client may not have fully defined the audience or objectives, even to themselves.
  • Discovering if the developer and client’s design tastes match: It’s always good to know that people are on the same page, especially for a relatively simple thing like a logo. If the developer is returning vogue and the client is looking for something more timeless, it’s good to determine and remedy this early.
  • Testing the decision making process: If decisions are made by more than one person (as they usually are), knowing from the beginning how the group will interact is important. Will decisions be made by consensus or will one person ultimately have executive power? Who is participating and giving feedback and who needs a little nudge?

A good developer should drop a finished design in your lap without input along the way. But concentrating on something simple like a logo (or color-scheme or stylesheet) as an early step can help better define the project and how participants interact around it.