Create Clever Logos with This Secret Weapon

Learn how to create clever logo designs with this secret weapon!

Last week I wrapped up the first phase of my logo design process. In that phase I worked with my client to clarify their design vision and make a plan for their brand. Now that my client and I are on the same page, I get to do what I do best: design! The first step for me is to brainstorm different logo concepts and this is where I apply my ultimate secret weapon...

The Idea Grid

Now that we have a good idea of what kind of logo is needed, we can create what I call an “Idea Grid” to brainstorm ideas. This idea grid is my secret weapon for creating logo design concepts. It is a powerful way to organize your thoughts and merge them together to create clever designs.


As you can see the idea grid has two sections: components and solutions. For my Hibou Bijou Fine Jewelry design, my components were: the business name "Hibou Bijou" (which is French for Jeweled Owl), "jewelry", and "owls." Think of the components as different categories related to the business. Anything related to the business is fair game, and don't feel like you need to be extremely literal. 


Once I started sketching, I realized that the most distinguishing feature of an owl is its eyes. From there I noticed that the beak and "ears" looked like a necklace and the rest was history. Since the Idea Grid is such a powerful concept it took me very little time to come up with the final design:

To show you how versatile this technique is, I found several logos and created hypothetical idea grids for them.

Example: Magic Coffee

The Magic Coffee logo is interesting because the designer brought together a cup of coffee and a magicians hat. Many people would look at this design and wonder how the designer came up with this concept, but when you look at its idea grid the concept seems so straightforward. The designers idea grid could have looked like this:


For their components they used "coffee" and "magic" from the businesses name. When drawing out different sketches related to each of those categories they probably noticed that a straight-sided coffee cup looked like a magicians top hat. Then they combined those two images to create the final design. They also could have done something with the coffee stain and the magic rings as an alternate design option.

Example: Music Poet

Similarly, the Music Poet idea grid could have looked like this:


Just like with the Magic Coffee idea grid, the components are derived from the business name; "music" and "writing." When sketching out different ideas for each category the designer probably saw that they could make the pen nib slit and breather hole out of a music note.

The beauty of the Idea Grid is that it allows you to synthesize different symbols that each represent your clients brand, but that you may not have thought to connect in the first place. Many designers may not have thought to create an owl head out of jewelry, but it is a concept that flows naturally out of my Idea Grid.


Download your idea grid template!

What clever designs will you come up with? Download the Idea Grid template and then send me an email with what you come up with!