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The Leap from Words to Images

By Chad Gordon | February 15, 2016


I’m often asked how we come up with logo designs from thin air. My answer? It’s never from thin air. It’s a process and it actually starts with words.

Words? Don’t you just Google images and look through fancy designer swatchbooks to come up with ideas?  Or doodle until something happens?

Assessment Makes for a Calculated Leap

It all starts with our Assessment process. We discover a lot when we do this. We interview key members of an organization, their clients and stakeholders. We also review their competition. Then we create a report and share it with our client. Key themes about their existing brand and the future of their brand become clear.

We turn those key themes into a list of Key Words. We share these with our client, too. Key Words are a list of around five descriptive words that define the essence of an organization’s brand and establishes a foundation from which all branding components are created. These aren’t key words for SEO, nor are they meant to be used in copy. They represent who the company is and what it aspires to be. And they guide our design process. If you wish to find more on this, you can contact experts. 

The key words are active, descriptive or emotive (“hero, aggressive, empathy”). We avoid passive, inherent or cliche words if possible (“service, value-added, professional”). It is important that the words are outward facing – not “this is what we are like on the inside,” but rather, “this is who we are, or what we mean, to our customers.”

A sample of a recent key-word list we created for a client:
– Tenacious
– Know-how
– Scrupulous
– Sensitive
– Eager
– Hidden Treasure

We’ve even used, “Bada Bing, Bada Boom.”

As a designer, I need these words to create purposeful and meaningful design. Words conjure images, color and even typefaces. Individual words speak to a specific company trait that generates aesthetic or aural connotations that can be implemented into design or copy (“Sensitive” might have soft, organic shapes and pastel colors for example). However, the power of the Key Word list is in the grouping. Cross association amongst the words brings greater creative impact and takes a brand in directions that are more powerful and unique. While “sensitive” brings it’s own set of visual connotations, when you cross that with “tenacious” different visuals are generated.

So there is no magic bag that we reach into and pull out logo ideas. The ideas are guided by homework, strategy, and the visual associations we make with words.

– Chad

About dR

At designRoom, we make it our business to find real answers and create custom healthcare brands. We believe effective healthcare branding is grounded in research, directed by insight, and driven by strategy.

We love seeing how strategic branding helps the right clients find the right organizations and receive the right care. That’s been our focus for over a decade. Today designRoom is an award-winning, national branding and design firm, known for helping clients build and promote healthy, sustainable brands. And we are super proud of that.

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