Designing a logo is something that's always talked about in the design community as either a slow death, or an exciting journey. Logos are difficult just because of knowing how to approach it effectively and sometimes also knowing how much to charge for them, or even knowing how many revisions around you should do.
The basics of logo design is really knowing your client, knowing who's asking for it, knowing what exactly they're looking for, and getting them to provide you with examples so that you know exactly in what type of style they may want it in. So there's different types of logos. There's just typography logos in which it is just the word, such as 'Howcast'. There's also just the symbol, where it's just apple, you recognize them just by their symbol. And then there's a mixture of both, and within that there's a minimalistic logo. There's also a web 2.0, like a glossy logo.
There's many different types of logos that you can do. The best thing is to always ask for a brief and brief tells you exactly what the client's needs are; what they want, what they don't want, what colors can be included or not. Usually two to three is a good area to work with when it comes to designing because it not only helps with the printing and cuts down on the printing costs, but then it also makes for a simple mark that can be reduced down to a small size and you still recognize it or a large size and it still looks good.
There's also different ways in knowing if a logo is doing its job or purpose by testing it out. And you can even use normal, every day tools to do that, whether it's Facebook and getting a poll, or using a mobile app, one is called 'Thumb' in which you can poll the audience and see, like 'Hey, how does this logo look? What do you see when you see this logo?'
When I first started out with doing logos, I went to this site called '99 Designs' and they have different contests that people pop up there to get different things done. So one of them was create a logo for a business and they'll show you a brief and they'll tell you what it is that they want. In which case, the one that I'm looking at now, they'll tell you what name to incorporate in it, if there's a slogan, what industry, the preferred logo types, whether it's the image, different sample logos, if they want it to be more feminine, more masculine, young, loud, quiet, simple, complex, color preferences, and also what there logo is going to be used on.
These are all important questions to ask to know exactly how to effectively design a brand for a company. While there are so many different components of a logo, it's really just isolating it down to research, knowing your target audience, knowing the company, knowing what style or what it is that they're looking for, and then making sure that you said up-front how many different design rounds you're going to do, how many different logos and things that you're going to show them.
Personally, I only like to show one or two of those. Showing a client too many can actually be a bad thing because it gets them confused, and gets you confused and then you end up doing 17 different revisions on 50 different logos. So it's always best to keep it simple. Even if you think that they might like something else, it's good to save that for later.