Ask the Expert: Designing a Logo with David Airey


Ask the Expert is a weekly series here on Design Informer. Designing a logo is the theme for this week. David Airey is this week’s expert.

David Airey is a brand identity designer and consultant. He creates visual identities for companies of all sizes, from Yellow Pages to one-person start-ups. He has helped clients in Japan, Nigeria, South Africa, Canada, England, the United States, and many other locations across the globe.

Designing a Logo

Jad: Can you give us a brief walk-through of your logo design process?

Certainly. You’ll find my logo design process here1.

Jad: What are some of the things that you research when creating a logo?

My client’s history, the future he/she aspires towards, the customers he/she has (and those he/she wants to have), the role of company employees, and client competition.

Jad: What software do you use to design your logos?

Adobe Illustrator.

Jad: In order to be a great logo designer, do you think that one needs to learn how to draw?

I think it’s more important to express your thoughts on paper than to learn how to draw. You learn by doing, so picking up a pencil and jotting your thoughts as you go is a good start. The quality of your work will not be judged on the finesse of your sketches.
It’s a means to an end.

Jad: Do you have a set price for a logo design or do you charge hourly?

I always offer a set price. Charging by the hour is bad practice for a number of reasons, and I go into much more depth
in my Logo Design Love book2.

Jad: Name three important characteristics that make a logo great?

A great logo needs to have these characteristics:

  1. It must be distinctive.
  2. It must be original.
  3. It must be appropriate for the business it identities.

Jad: What do you think of the new logo design trends, such as gradients, bevels, shadows, all of which came along with web 2.0?

Trends come and go. If you base your work on the latest fad, your client will be forced into a redesign or refinement sooner than he should be. By all means look at what others are doing, but use their work to guide your originality. Not as a way to conform.

Jad: Where do you get inspiration when designing logos?

I don’t believe inspiration is necessary for the job of a designer. But motivation, on the other hand, can sometimes wane, and I find myself motivated by a strong desire to provide for a future family (if I’m fortunate enough to have one).

Jad: How important is color in logo design?

It depends on the client. Some will want use of colour. Some won’t. Sometimes you will deem it a positive addition. Other times it’s unnecessary.

Jad: If you can give just one advice to those who are aspiring to be great at making logos, what would you tell them?

Design because you’re passionate. Not because you want to make money, or because you want to gain recognition. Have passion for what you do, because you will spend many years working.

If it’s not enjoyable, find what it is that makes you happy and do that instead.

David Airey’s works:

Davidson Locksmith



Henri Ehrhart


Tudor Bourn

Komplett Fitness


Fidelity Hearing Center

Tammy Lenski


Thank you David for a great interview! Designing logos can be quite a hard and difficult task, but following David’s advice can greatly aid you in your next logo design project. You can go to David’s personal website, DavidAirey.com3 to learn more about him and to read more of his thoughts, and you can also visit Logo Design Love4, a website created by David Airey that is devoted to logos.

Get updates about the latest Ask the Expert post by following me on Twitter5 and subscribing to the RSS feed here6.


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Former editor in chief of Designinformer.

  1. 1

    Good point about designing because you’re passionate and thanks for another valuable insight. Also just finished reading an interview with Stefan Sagmeister and he outlines some other very valid points for aspiring designers. Definitely worth a read. Thanks again.
    .-= Jacob Cass´s latest Blog Entry – Recently Completed Work =-.

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    Some of Stefan’s talks are great. I particularly like his idea of bringing his retirement into his working life—a yearly sabbatical every seven years. Great stuff.
    .-= David Airey´s latest Blog Entry – Ask Tom Geismar =-.

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    I love the way you treat trends and that you emphasized the fact that a good designer design with passion. Nice interview.

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    @Jacob – Thanks for that link to the interview with Stefan Sagmeister. It was a good read.

    @David – Thanks again for doing this interview.

    @Adrian – Definitely some great advice from David.

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    My favorite part of the entire interview:

    “I don’t believe inspiration is necessary for the job of a designer.”

    At first, this sounded to me like a pretty bold statement, but I think in a lot of ways it’s true. Your job is to present your client’s message – personality and all – and if you really have to go hunting for further inspiration, you probably don’t understand your client as well as you should. Ideally your client will know enough about themselves to present you with all you need, and if they don’t, a good designer will be able to tease that information out of the client. Any “inspiration” beyond that is just icing on the cake.

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    Though am not much of a designer but this has been really useful to me :) You mentioned that “If it’s not enjoyable, find what it is that makes you happy and do that instead.. “. I love to code and thats what I enjoy the most. But sometimes I do have to take up designing stuffs and thats where suggestive and valuable posts from professionals like yourself help people like me a lot :)

    ~ Thanks David.
    .-= Sumeet Chawla´s latest Blog Entry – Spice Up Your Twitter Feed Display Box Using CSS =-.

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    @Sumeet – It’s always good to know that the article has been helpful to somebody. Keep on coding! :)

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    Adrian, Kevin, Sumeet, I’m glad you picked up something of use from my chat. Thanks for reading, and for leaving me a comment, too.
    .-= David Airey´s latest Blog Entry – Logo design from The Chase =-.


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