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I am about to ask someone to create a website design for me but I am not sure if the website should drive the logo design or the logo drive the website design.

Should I have a logo design first or after?

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    The logo should help set the theme of the website, and any other branding. I would go for the logo first in any situation. – Lex May 4 '15 at 11:25
  • @Lex make that an answer and I'll upvote it! – Vincent May 4 '15 at 11:26
  • Hi Bomboca, welcome to GDSE and thanks for your question. If you want to know more about the site, please see the help center or ping one of us in Graphic Design Chat. Keep contributing and enjoy the site! – Vincent May 4 '15 at 11:27

10 Answers 10

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Should I have a logo design first or after?

Neither.

You should have some business strategy created first. In doing this, you will gain some insights as to what your full branding strategy needs to be. A branding strategy will include a wide range of elements depending on your business and strategy.

Ultimately, it will include both a logo and a web site and, since neither have been created yet, it'd make the most sense that they are created in unison along with the overall brand identity.

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    While i do agree with this, i think its a bit naive to think startups have the time, money and patience to do it thisway. Usually there are outside forces that make it impossible to do it thisway. Tough a web only company might have the possibility do just this +1 – joojaa May 4 '15 at 18:13
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    I'm not sure we're talking about startups specifically, but sure, not all business are started properly. Lots of business fail. I'm not saying this is a sign of failure, but in a lot of cases, a company not focusing on their brand strategy from the beginning can be a sign of some bigger failings in terms of overall business planning. – DA01 May 4 '15 at 19:01
  • This much more succinctly summarizes my answer, and I feel like it's a wise move overall - when possible. As mentioned, it's not always possible to make this decision when time and scheduling constraints are a concern, so you should always plan accordingly. – Zibbobz May 4 '15 at 20:45
  • @DA01 I agree with your answer most, wish it was always that well timed to have both cakes to devour at the same time! – dhaupin May 4 '15 at 22:52
  • Yes, but lots of successful companies have no brand strategy. There is a correlation, sure, but is it driving success or driven by success is a bit questionable. Most companies need to tweak their initial plans to match the market realities quite much. So plans need to be able to flex. – joojaa May 5 '15 at 3:15
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Logo first. Why? There are a few reasons:

  • Logo is the theme of your brand [identity/property] in many ways. If you don't know your theme how are you going to capture a thematic site?
  • Logo is your focal, you can't [accurately] build around a focal without a focal.
  • Logo sets the color palette and perhaps other things such as font-face, drop-shadow, text-highlight, padding, or other standards.
  • Logo sets the proportion, spacing schema, and font-feel which rubs off heavy on the rest of the theme flow and consistency.
  • Logo sets the font face which affects things like icon set, various radii, kerning (relates to repeated element spacing).
  • Your website themer/coder will def want to work from a logo first approach: he/she cannot guess, predict, or read the mind of your brand. Its your ship to steer, not his.
  • Logos are extremely simple to make when compared to an encompassing site theme[*]. It saves TONS of time if you have a logo first rather than deciding later that the theme needs tweaked to match a logo that didn't exist.

[*] Assumes equal knowledge of utilizing rich vector apps and building rich web apps.

  • While I don't disagree with many of these in general, I also don't think any of these are hard-and-fast rules. Yes, a logo is the centerpiece, but just as it can influence the rest of the branding, so too can the rest of the branding influence the logo. – DA01 May 4 '15 at 17:08
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    I do disagree with a few of these, though. A logo does not set the font face nor color palette. Type is part of branding, but not dictated by the logo. Same with color. They need to work together, of course. Web site coders don't work from logos. They should be part of the overall design process. Logos are also not extremely simple to make. – DA01 May 4 '15 at 17:08
  • @DA01 "Web site coders don't work from logos" (??) Generally a company gives me a brand identity primarily in the form of a logoset, then asks me to build out from that using similar schema, faces, repetition, and proportion. I then bubble out using the hard-and-fast 2D principals that we all agree upon. Of course, who am i to say this works, i only design websites for a living. But when was the last time you designed a responsive API driven web app/template/skin/plugin/layer? If your logos take longer than that, or are more complex, you're doing something very wrong/slow my friend :) – dhaupin May 4 '15 at 17:27
  • @dhaupin that's one way to do it but hardly the only or even preferred way. Typically the brand identity would already encompass things like print and web media. You rarely want to just take the logo and build the entire brand off that. The logo needs to stand on it's own and while be compatible with the overall brand identity, not be a clone of it, either. – DA01 May 4 '15 at 18:56
  • As for how long it takes to do something, you are basing that on your experience as a web designer. Branding is a huge endeavor as well. It's not about spending 2 hours drawing a picture. It's about hours and hours and hours of research, ideation, feedback, experimentation, etc, etc. Brushing aside the complexities of brand design is as silly as me brushing aside the complexities of web site development. – DA01 May 4 '15 at 18:58
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This depends on the company and design process and there is no hard rule.

The primary case when the initial design of a website should be made before the logo is when the purposes of the website are not clear. This is particularly true when it's a side project or a brainstorming phase. Often times I'll start working on a site and change the purposes or target audience when making it to fit something more appropriate. That's not to say you should design the entire website, just the basic form of it to get an understanding of what the purposes are.

As a designer, the case above is less common but still possible. It happens when a client comes to you and they don't know what their true purposes, branding, or end goal are. If this is the case, you need to talk to them in depth and work out what those purposes and branding are before you do anything. If you can't determine what it is by talking with them, it may be good to do some initial design planning - looking up examples of different types of websites and seeing which type is the one they're needing and wanting. This is essentially the same as the initial stages of designing a website, without coding anything but is necessary to determine their brand and purposes. Once that is determined, setting the tone and brand of the website should be done first, which includes creating a logo for it.

To summarize, make sure you know the purposes and end goal then design the aspects that are necessary to meet that purpose or goal first, which includes a logo. Then finish any remaining design work, which may include a full website.

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Both should ideally be designed at the same time, along with your entire brand identity. But your logo should come first.

You're falling into a common folly that each design aspect has to be formed in its own world - but since you have the luxury to design both the logo and the website, you should design them both to compliment each other.

But this goes beyond just the logo and the website - the logo is something that will be designed into every aspect of your company's image, and as such you should be able to incorporate it into everything that represents your company - from your website to your brochures to the complimentary pens you give out at the front desk. And vice-versa: Each of your company's identifying brand items should compliment your logo.

As such, your logo should be able to adapt to a wide variety of conceivable mediums, including your website. You may only have a logo and a website in mind right now, but as a new business, you may wind up putting the logo you make now not a lot more than just your website.

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Usually, the website should follow the logo. Unless the primary object of the company is it's website (if it's a webservice for example). I suppose in that case designing the website first can/should be considered.

  • Hi Kevin, welcome to GDSE and thanks for your answer. If you have any questions, please see the help center or ping one of us in Graphic Design Chat. Keep contributing and enjoy the site! – Vincent May 4 '15 at 11:28
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To have a business running you first need the client to trust you. Then you can deliver goods. The client needs to focus the trust somewhere, your company, your person or references most likely. This is where identity kicks in, identity is what helps people to understand what entity they are dealing with. Developing a identity is called branding. I assume design of webpage page refers to graphics design. Obviously the preliminary plan for your business logic has to come first.

There is no rule that says what the order has to be. Usually logos exist, being most common branding tools, before pages are built. This is especially true if you build on existing trust. There is therefore no reason why they can not be done in parallel if you do not have an existing logo.

Just that designing a good logo is quite involved. Ideally the logo would work also in other contexts than webpages. So a good logo works on business cards, print publications and lightboards. Designing a logo solely on web can make it harder to leverage on brand in the future. For this reason I would design logo first, at least slightly before final webpage.

In any case it strongly depends on what your goals are. But if you need a hard fast rule of thumb design logo first. But no reason why one could not iterate the design of logo and webpage a bit.

  • @JohnB TY for the edit, much appreciated. – joojaa May 4 '15 at 18:08
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You don't need a website to have a logo, you could be a small independent shop that only sells things from a van, if you're branding is on point, you've set yourself up well.

The website is an extension of the brand almost, it's a hub where information, data, functions are kept. If you're selling things, this is where that'll take place, the whole website doesn't need any branding, but a successful website does.

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A logo should be the first consideration when establishing a brand identity. The logo design process should include a tagline, which will help to refine the company's message and support future design decisions. The company's online presence (website, social media, etc) as well as its print collateral (business card, letterhead, brochures, etc), are an extension of the brand and should be designed subsequent to the logo design.

1

Should I have a logo design first or after?

Neither.

You should have some business strategy created first. In doing this, you will gain some insights as to what your full branding strategy needs to be. A branding strategy will include a wide range of elements depending on your business and strategy.

Ultimately, it will include both a logo and a web site and, since neither have been created yet, it'd make the most sense that they are created in unison along with the overall brand identity.

I agree with DA01. It is more expensive to build something without a business strategy then to build one with one. Also, the golden rule in design is that form always follows function. The function of the business is, ultimately, to be profitable and self-sustaining. If a start-up doesn't have the patience to figure out if it will be profitable, kill it now and save a lot of money.

While i do agree with this, i think its a bit naive to think startups have the time, money and patience to do it this way. Usually there are outside forces that make it impossible to do it this way.

That's actually what makes a business strategy even more important. As a start-up, you can't afford to fail. 9/10 start-ups fail. Market validation is a way to spend 5% of your budget up front figuring out what your product is instead of blowing 50% plus of it on logos, design, lawyers, office space, marketing.

I'm a graphic designer with an MBA working on a start-up and felt compelled to help point people in the right direction. I can't comment because I just signed up to StackExchange to help on this one. please see Market Validation: Why Ready, Aim, Fire Beats Ready, Fire, Fire, Fire, Aim for an eloquent argument.

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I've read the comments and agree that the logo should be designed first... ideally! In the case that both are designed/developed at the same time, I would say that the important thing is that the website is properly made (css/html) so once you have the final colours, font, styles established for the logo the change will not be as dramatic and can just be handled through css changes.

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