How to Write a Logo Rationale 80

Sep 15, 2009 / Erik Peterson


How to Write a Logo Rationale

When presenting logo concepts to a client it is often productive to have written rationales to accompany each concept. This can help you, the designer, clarify your thoughts before getting the concepts in front of your client. The rationales will help your client to better understand the concepts from your point of view (especially if you are not there in person to present the concepts to your client). In turn, this will help your client make an educated decision when picking their final logo. All that effort will also help you to better defend and explain concerns and questions that may arise during the logo revision process.

Here are some topics to consider covering when in your writing rationales. In going through this process you may even see some areas for improvement in your concepts. If possible, run your draft rationales by a non-designer and get their feedback.

  1. Symbolism: Clarify and identify the meanings behind the icons you chose to incorporate into the design. Go into as much detail as you feel necessary, the history, cultural relevance and so on.
  2. Style: Why did you choose this style for the logo? Did you give it a distressed look because the mark is for an outdoors company, or is the logo clean and orderly because it’s for a closet organization company, etc.
  3. Typography: Explain why you chose the typefaces used in the logo. How do they relate to the rest of the design and the company it represents?
  4. Relationship: How does the concept relate to the company’s personality, goals, vision and values? Hopefully you learned a lot about the company in your creative brief process. You can read more about creative briefs in the article “The Creative Brief: Questions to Ask Before Designing a Logo”.
  5. Color: Explain the color choices. Why did you choose them? What does the color represent? How does the color choice relate to the business? Sometimes color isn’t a part of the first round of concepts, so whenever color is does get introduced it’s important to add it to your rationale. You can read more about color psychology here in the article “Color Psychology in Logo Design”.

A written rationale is a good tool for communication but don’t forget to listen to your client. Make sure you hear their opinions and questions. You likely know a lot more about design than your client, but they know their target audience and company better than you. Translate those ideas into an understanding of what those people’s problems really are. In other words So when your client says “Can we add x to the logo?” take the time to understand what it is that they are trying to accomplish with their request.

Rationale Examples

I thought it would be useful to see show some examples of rationales I have written for various logo concepts I’ve have presented to clients.

The Media Backpack Logo Concept Rationale

The Media Backpack Logo Design Concept

The Media Backpack logo portrays the spirt of the outdoors through the mountain and hiker icons. The hiker is climbing and testing his/her skills to achieve a goal. Similarly, the readers/visitors to The Media Backpack will be educating and testing themselves in order to produce the various media required by their job. They may not have all the skills they need to reach their goal, but the media backpack will be there to help them along their arduous climb.

The clean, hard and angular lines of the ‘m’ icon and mountain compliment the typeface selection. The image of the hiker is a visual stand-in for each and every user of the site as they climb to the top of their virtual mountain.

D&D Studios Logo Concept Rationale

D&D Studios Logo Design Concept

Because D&D Studios is a professional quality recording studio in Nashville, TN primarily targeting churches, young bands/artists that are trying to develop a demo this logo needs to stand out from the competition.

This concept explores the concept of power and electronics and their association to the recording industry. The cord and plug icon is unique and memorable among the competition and creates a playful feel to the mark. The plug icon communicates the concepts of electric or unplugged which are common terms in the music industry. The end of the plug displays the D&D monogram which ties into the “D&D Studios” below. The typography has been selected to be simple and therefore not compete with the icon.

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We enjoy your comments

80 Comments so far. Keep 'em Coming.


By sry

09.16.2009 at 02:27 PM

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sorry, couldn’t resist


By xpez

09.17.2009 at 09:59 PM

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For all of you that don’t know any better.

Keep all discussions of style out of the conversation about your work.

Let the work be its own style- a visual manifestation of an idea.

Clients have been known to kill an idea just because they dislike a particular style. Typically, they are not sophisticated enough to parse a visual relationship between their logo and design history. They do have a pedestrian’s understanding of art history from the local poster shop that will work against you.

The only exception would be if the style was directly related to the subject of the logo. -like a Shakespeare Festival….

Of course, rules can be broken, but for people just starting out, relying on historical references to define your work is a crutch and usually results in uninspiring work.

Stick to the ideas of the logo wherever that may lead you.


By Most Interesting Ideas

09.18.2009 at 01:17 PM

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Very functional topic. Thanks a lot!


By Sandra Vanhooser

09.18.2009 at 05:26 PM

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This is incredibly helpful when trying to win a client.  This type of treatment makes you look professional and knowledgeable.  Thank you for the example Rationales.  They are incredibly helpful to designers.


By Bebop Designer

09.18.2009 at 11:33 PM

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What a brilliant and useful post. Thanks for sharing.


By Attitude Design | Graphic Design Portfolio

09.21.2009 at 11:51 AM

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Thanks for a great post - some really useful advice.


By Jacob Cass

09.22.2009 at 12:27 AM

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An interesting and original article that hasn’t really been touched on. I would also add “show the logo in context” - it’s a lot easier to show how the logo will work in relation with the whole identity.

This quote from Paul Rand comes to mind:
Canned presentations have the ring of emptiness. The meaningful presentation is custom designedfor a particular purpose, for a particular person. How to present a new idea is, perhaps, one of the designers most difficult tasks. This how is not only a design problem, it also pleads for something novel.”


By Ebi Atawodi

09.22.2009 at 08:11 AM

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Very great advice.

@Jacob: Presentation and context are definitely king. I was just scrolling through comments to leave some Paul Rand inspiration.

Paul Rand has some great Logo Rationale inspiration on his website here - if you look at the NeXT Logo Presentation or The Limited - thats a great resource for inspiration!


By Johnson Koh

09.23.2009 at 03:27 AM

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Good article. Learnt alot from the points mentioned. Thanks smile


By Detroit Web Design

09.23.2009 at 12:57 PM

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Another reason to provide a written overview of the logo is because they will invariably show it to other people (hopefully only a few. Do tell them to limit that audience to people who are intimately familiar with the logo OBJECTIVES.)

When you leave the logo for client review, if possible, add the description under the logo in an unobtrusive manner. This way, when those other people see the logo they’ll also see the description and can give a relevant opinion.


By imac

10.03.2009 at 04:27 AM

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Great article. Thanks!


By Bruce Colthart (@bccreative)

10.15.2009 at 06:53 PM

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A good reminder that subjectivity and an “artsy” attitude will translate as naivete to a savvy client. Objective articulation, on the other hand, of any presentation (not just logos) is a must! Even if your rationale will only be shared verbally, it helps to brainstorm, *write* out your thoughts, and PRACTICE your pitch (which should, of couse, take into account your client’s mission, concerns and desires).

Great advice too by Jacob and by Detroit Web Design in comments!

I just submitted a logo proposal yesterday for a client whom I’ve done other work for, and in my proposed schedule I made clear that concept presentations *must* have final decision makers present (to reduce my risk of being reinterpreted). But of course I have no definite control over that Authority sharing my ideas with friends or colleagues.

I think I should assume that my presentation will travel without me, so perhaps packaging it with supporting text and visuals would be prudent from now on.


By Yaritsa

10.28.2009 at 12:21 PM

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This is a very helpful post. Sometimes we focus on making things “pretty” and forget that a client will not only be looking at aesthetics, but also marketing, and rationale. Good to remember!


By Vector Man

11.02.2009 at 11:13 AM

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Thanks for interesting and useful post! I have had a similar task recently. Very important show how the logo will work in real conditions.


By Shabbir Hussain

11.22.2009 at 10:40 AM

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Thanks for posting about something we designer fail to take note of. A challenging project had a pessimist client. Design Rationale played a major role in the client selecting a design without any unnecessary comments.


By logotyp

12.27.2009 at 02:08 PM

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very useful, thanks


By Melody

04.27.2010 at 11:23 PM

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Hi thanks for sharing your knowledge and experience with those of us following in the designer footsteps…. I actually have a starting point for my current assessment. I found this information interesting, easy to understand and concise.

A million thanks Melody


By Free Design Logo

05.23.2010 at 07:01 AM

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I wish I could put a rationale on each of free logo design. This will help my followers to choose which logo they download. Nice post!


By Nissan Frontier Superchager

08.29.2010 at 05:48 AM

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The cord and plug icon is unique and memorable among the competition and creates a playful feel to the mark. The plug icon communicates the concepts of electric or unplugged which are common terms in the music industry.


By thomas sabo

12.08.2010 at 03:32 AM

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The cord and plug icon is unique and memorable among the competition and creates a playful feel to the mark. The plug icon communicates the concepts of electric or unplugged which are common terms in the music industry. fsf


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By Shruti Rawal

02.02.2011 at 07:06 AM

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Thanks for posting this. It is very useful.


By latobak creative company

03.31.2011 at 04:44 PM

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Thanks a billion on this great article. It has shed more light on ways logo presentation should be done professionally especially with the rationale. I have added more things to my intellectual archive which will go a long way in my job.

Thank you.


By Iflexion company

04.08.2011 at 09:11 AM

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As for me I like simple logos. So I’d like to add
6. simplicity


By Tapish Jain

04.13.2011 at 05:34 AM

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Some really useful tips. I would go for these tips while designing a logo for my new company.


By canndy girl

04.15.2011 at 07:47 AM

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Very useful post, thank you!


By elias wa mum

06.07.2011 at 08:41 AM

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Really useful!


By denisy fernendes

10.01.2011 at 03:24 AM

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Hey.nice post


By Kim Phillips

01.17.2012 at 10:37 PM

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There’s a missing piece here: a creative strategy against which to judge the design against. If the designer chooses a certain color or font, how does that support the creative strategy that any design process should begin with? There is no rationale that makes any sense otherwise.


By vishal

04.04.2012 at 05:58 PM

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great and evergreen article all webmasters should bookmark this.


By nichole turner

04.05.2012 at 11:06 AM

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wonderful post. I was looking for a such kind of blog to read. Thanks for sharing this with us.


By Techweda

04.16.2012 at 03:16 PM

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That rationale inspiration is really good and need to bookmark your website so that I can access it lates to check the latest updates. smile


By jecksteve

04.25.2012 at 08:49 AM

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This is very important site. It is very useful for me. Fantastic article! I thoroughly enjoyed your content very effectively written.


By AngelP

05.04.2012 at 08:51 PM

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Amazing post! I think this is a very critical part of the sales process. Most clients are looking for a “pretty” logo but what matters most is how that logo represents their business. After all, it is their first impression!


By izyan mahmod

05.08.2012 at 07:04 AM

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very helpfull


By Best Web Development

07.22.2012 at 08:54 AM

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Cool Article, which would be helpful in the logo preferences and computation.
Further to that it also not add great ideas to logo designer and clients


By mafulul praise

08.03.2012 at 09:15 AM

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it is good to be very cretive


By mim

02.22.2013 at 09:18 AM

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Thank you,I needed this


By LogoDesign

03.31.2013 at 11:43 PM

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Great post. We also have many useful tips on logo design on our site, so feel free to look around.


By Camla

09.28.2013 at 01:18 AM

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I’m studying Graphic Design and this is invaluable information, thankyou.

Sharing with my classmates.


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11.05.2013 at 07:55 PM

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11.07.2013 at 03:18 PM

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It was helpful. Keep on posting!


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02.09.2014 at 02:14 AM

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08.25.2014 at 03:23 AM

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By Empire Media Group

01.20.2015 at 01:43 PM

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Great article. I will keep this in mind the next time I design a logo for a client. Maybe a good description will keep them from picking the first draft…


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08.13.2015 at 12:56 PM

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09.03.2015 at 10:09 AM

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By Amanda Wall

01.22.2016 at 11:10 PM

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I needed a fresh perspective on how others were writing their rationales. This article really helped me refresh for my latest proposal.

- Amanda Wall,


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09.30.2016 at 01:02 AM

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Thank you!


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12.29.2016 at 11:35 PM

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03.21.2017 at 03:15 AM

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