Why can't I generate more logo ideas even when I d

So I finished a logo design course and understood that the minimum requirement for a good logo design is 3 things-- research about the company, find out word pairings/keywords/qualities that can describe the company, and sketch. Mood boarding is optional, but a nice thing to do.

I’m doing all of that. I’m researching the company, its target audience, and its competitor, I’m finding adjectives and qualities that best describe the company and I’m gathering inspiration. But when I start to sketch, I don’t find any good ideas. All the qualities and keywords I generated don’t fall into the puzzle and give me a satisfying logo idea. I can generate some ideas, but it either:

  1. It doesn’t suit the business in terms of the brief or the research I found so far (for example, I might sketch a typographic logo with a curled Y in it, but the brief says no typographic logo, only iconography.)
  2. doesn’t give me satisfaction that yes, this is the idea further exploring in Illustrator.

And I generate really few, only a handful of ideas. But my qualities or word pairing notes have maybe 15-20 words in them.

What can I do to generate better ideas? Is there anything I’m missing? Is there anything I’m doing wrong? What’s your process? Let me know please, this has been going on for my past 5 projects.

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Usually the reason I find I struggle to know what a good solution will look like, is a result of not having a specific enough brief.

Apart from technicality of the process, the steps you are following, I think you need to develop your own methodology. What I assume is, you are following step A then B and C but in designing a logo sometimes you have to break the rules.

First of all disconnect from internet. Dive deep into the subject, sketch more and more, try to present one particular idea in different visual forms, if still stuck, take deep breath, and give some extra oxygen to your mind. Take a walk in a park or street. Look around yourself you will find so many inspiration.

Don’t ask yourself “what to do” instead ask yourself “how to do”

A natural creative force is always present in all of us. Which I call “Instinct”. When you start questioning “HOW”, it always shows you a way.


Firstly, I think your first mistake was doing an (I assume) online logo design course. I know that I may have said this a few times in the past, but logo design in isolation is fairly meaningless. To produce a good logo, you need to understand branding. To understand branding, you need to understand design as a whole.

This is why a number of us ‘seasoned’ pros keep banging on about getting a good degree education then doing five years’ work experience in a studio environment.

You learn about how to generate ideas, lateral thinking, critical thinking, typography and how to make type say what you want it to say – well at least, the basics. Another twenty years and you may just begin to understand type. This is the start, there are so many other things you need to learn

Sorry if this is sounding negative, but unfortunately you are one of thousands, who are promised ‘take this course and be a pro designer in just 10 weeks’. It’s not so easy, I’m afraid.

Coming up with ideas is something all of us struggled with. Your brain is hard-wired to follow linear routes, to find patterns. It’s a basic survival instinct response. You need to learn and exercise the higher parts of the brain. Eventually we find our own techniques on how to make our own brains do this.

I am afraid your question simply exposes the gaps in online courses. On the upside, at least you understand that you are supposed to be able to communicate a ‘tone of voice’ as well as practical information. A lot more that many hopefuls out there have.

The other thing about going through a traditional degree education is, it will put you through some sort of vetting process. I don’t mean this horribly, but how do you know you have a natural ability? Paying your money and taking a course does differentiate between good and bad, talented and mediocre. The university entrance process does this. If your are not talented, you won’t get a place. This is not elitist, it is a tough but necessary part of design. There’s no point spending loads of money and a few years of your life on something you may not be good at.

Even if you are, you need to be guided through how to think. You don’t come to the other end a pro designer, but you will be equipped to think in the right direction. The next few years experience, will then put that into context. After that, you should then be in a position to do what you are trying to do now and create logos (as part of a brand identity).

A single course in logo design is just a start (in the wrong direction, in my opinion). You need to learn so much more before you should be out there selling your services.

Part of the thing you have missed out on will be the critique process, so one thing you can do is post work here and ask for specific help.

Asking open-ended questions like ‘How do I come up with ideas?’ is like saying, ‘How do I become a cardio surgeon?’ They are both impossible to answer in a forum post. For the second one, there is only one answer, ‘Get yourself educated’. You’d have to, legally. There are no online courses in bypass surgery that allow you to practice as a doctor. You need to learn everything first, get experience, then specialise in cardio-vascular surgery and learn some more. Same. There are no legal requirements to do so, but the same response applies, ‘Get yourself educated’. Then get experience, then specialise.

Not what you want to hear, I’m sure, but I hope it help clarify your thoughts.


yeah i don’t think you’re saying anything wrong, it’s just impractical for me for so many reasons. First of all, where I live they don’t offer any good design courses in uni. Online is my only choice. Also, I’m taking design work as a way to support my family and if I spend all my times learning new theories that may take me 5-10 years to master, I will never be able to do that.

But I do find it reasonable that I have to learn design basics and branding and I have to do logo design as a part of that.

I’ll try to get into a design studio as an intern sometime soon and I’ll try to learn from the best. Thanks so much!

That’s true! that is very true! But I’m working on this project to enrich my portfolio and I found the brief on designcrowd (one of the contest holder website) . They never give enough brief and there’s no way to ask the contest holder to give additional info, so I gotta work with what I have.

What can I do in this scenario?

Sorry if this is going to come across as a bit ‘judging’. It is not meant to be. I understand that we all need to support our families, but by doing a job you are not necessarily qualified to do, may not be the right way to go, in terms of building a long-term, sustainable career.

I really want to be a doctor / architect / lawyer, but I don’t have the 7-10 years it will take to be one, so I can just do a course and then open a clinic because I need to support my family. You have to know what you are doing. Of course, I don’t know your situation, but I have been doing this long enough to have seen those who are successful progress and those who aren’t left bottom-feeding, looking for scarce, low-paying work.

Of course, if you can’t be somewhere near an actual bricks-and-mortar uni, then, as you say, online is the only way, but if you are going to do it, go to a reputable one, rather than taking one of the thousands of private courses. I don’t know where you are based, but here in the UK, there are a few good ones. One of the better ones with a good reputation is Falmouth. They have always had a good reputation for arts degrees. It is never going to be the same as attending a university, but at least, if you have the same lecturers setting the syllabus and advising you, you are a lot closer to being where I imagine you would like to be and you will have a degree that may just be worth something.

You can then come to places like this for professional critiques to help you grow. You have to have a thick skin though. There are many here (and I am one of them, as you might have guessed) who don’t sugar coat things, as is doesn’t do you any favours in the long run.

Of course it is going to be difficult, but what else do you know that is worth having isn’t difficult and time-consuming.

I am not saying you can’t do it without a degree, if you are good enough, but you will have to read the right books and learn from the right places. In there end, it will probably take the same amount of time to get to the same place, as doing a degree and getting a few years’ experience.

Hope this isn’t too disheartening, but I can only advise based on my experience.

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  1. Big brands.
  2. (contest site automatically removed) Discover.
  3. Your own brand story.
  4. Your competitors.
  5. Social media.
  6. Behance.
  7. Image searches.
  8. Wandering around stores.

I wandered around liquor stores, but that didn’t make me a better designer. Made me a happier designer, though.


Maybe I’m misreading the situation, but I get the feeling that you’ve tinkered around a bit, maybe watched some YouTube videos, and figured being a logo designer would be a great way to make a living. It can take years to master the craft of logo design. Complaining that you can’t come up with ideas after watching an online video is a bit insulting to those that have made a career in the field.

A wise man once said, “Design is so simple, that’s why it is so complicated.”


It has also been said that “Design is far too important to be left to designers”.

Graphic design is hard.
That’s why I do print production LOL!
Even after 4 years of design school.
And the work is steady as there is no end to the supply of designers that can’t build a printable file to save their lives.

I have design clients that don’t touch branding/logos with a 10-foot pole. It’s fraught with pitfalls.

IMO “logo” designers should have to get malpractice insurance. Someone else’s life and livelihood depends on the success of the branding.

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My first job after graduating from university was at a design studio. I landed in a team working on a rebranding effort for a local television network affiliate. The project involved everything from a logo to on-air graphics to their vehicles, news helicopter, and set designs. There were months of research, meetings, and focus groups. It was a great first experience.

After this big project, the studio needed to slim down. As the last person hired, I was laid off. During a recession, there weren’t many open jobs, so I began freelancing to make ends meet. Fresh off the television branding project, I started looking for clients needing branding work.

One of the clients I found was a reasonably successful realtor. At our initial meeting, she told me she wanted a new logo — a shopping cart full of houses. She also wanted her poodle standing on its hind legs pushing the shopping cart. She refused to budge, so I haughtily told her I couldn’t help.

Over the ensuing years, I’ve run across far more poodle projects than big-budget television branding campaigns. I still turn down the poodle jobs, but in one form or another, the number of these ill-conceived, low-budget jobs for naive clients greatly exceeds the jobs where everything is done a bit more wisely and methodically.

For every 5-star restaurant, there are thousands of fast-food joints. Sometimes, I think that we (me included) come across as the chefs in the kitchen of an expensive restaurant complaining about the McDonald’s and Burger King down the road.

Some of us set our sites on whatever it takes to launch successful and lucrative careers as chefs. Other people are searching for lower-wage, temporary or part-time jobs flipping burgers to help make ends meet.

I don’t have any good suggestions on how self-taught amateurs can create logos for unsavvy clients. I deliberately avoid that end of the business; it’s too frustrating and doesn’t pay enough. The few times I’ve dipped my toe into the water, I’ve quickly changed my mind after being inundated with poodle projects and complaints that the french fries weren’t salty enough.

I have no suggestions for those needing tips on working the grill and deep fryers because it’s never been my niche. However, I’m full of opinions for students in a university design program or recent graduates looking for advice.

I’m unsure how realistic it is to suggest those looking for work at McDonald’s are doing things incorrectly. Fast food is a different market segment with different demands that don’t require an extensive culinary education. Nor would their customers appreciate it if they did have one. For that matter, it might even be disadvantageous.

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You still need to know enough not to give people salmonella. MacDonalds give you training, in the same way studio experience gives young graduates on the job training.

Amateur designers hawking their wares on a freelance basis is closer to someone just buying a burger van, not knowing what they are doing, but still flipping burgers. That’s a recipe for making lots of people sick.

True. Here, a 90-minute, evening class taught by the local health department is required to get a food-handler’s permit. My wife needed to get one to be a waitress back when I was in school. And of course, at a restaurant, a newbie starts out learning from those with more experience.

The original post mentioned having taken a logo design course, which might be roughly analogous to a week-long McDonald’s training course. Then again, analogies always break down because things are never completely analogous.

Even though online design crowdsourcing contest are a scourge on our profession, whether we like it or not, there is a demand for what they offer — cheap, fast solutions (of a sort) for people who are satisfied with that or who can’t afford more.

For someone wanting to build a career in graphic design, I’d certainly recommend starting out with a relevant university degree and accompanied by some good internships.

Y’all gotta stop seeing crowdcrap as a scourge on the profession.
All those thousands of design students gotta do something in their spare time between odd jobs. And they get to compete with the hobbyists too. Maybe a bit more research into their professional career should have been in order. These days, any High School guidance department who lets a kid go into the design field with their eyes closed should also have malpractice insurance…

It’s hard though - cos any of the ones I’ve looked at and I find the logo elements used in various stock sites, or blatantly stolen from other logos.
In this way it waters down the industry and dilutes it - as you have these ‘penny design’ shops possibly with child labour churning out design competitions for a penny compensation while the owner of the sweatshop takes 99.9% of the profit.

Hate to say it - but it happens.

There are genuine people out there with genuine talent and cut off from mainstream revenue streets - so I get its tough.

There’s a few crowdsource sites I’d absolutely steer clear of.

I just wish there were more legit sites and more barriers to entry.

But there’s not - so all we can do is throw out the usual caveats.

Maybe contact the authors of the several books/blogs out there on ‘starting your own business’ and suggest they include a chapter on proper branding. :slight_smile:

I forget, what was this thread about?
Generating logo ideas? That comes with a lot of practice, and yes some creative thought processes, not only to come up with the obvious, but maybe even the not so obvious. No filters on ideas as being dumb or cliche or whatever. Regurgitate everything then pick and choose what you may want to work on further. Clears the mind of a lot of “what ifs” later.

Legitimate freelance sites, such as Freelance(dot)com and Upwork are OK, even though almost all the clients are individuals looking for inexpensive work for their underfunded private projects. Despite that, those sites insist on portfolio reviews and negotiated contracts between clients and freelancers before any work begins. The jobs there don’t typically pay well, which has a detrimental knock-on effect for the entire profession, but at least payment is guaranteed.

The contest sites, on the other hand, are the scourge. They favor so-called freelancers who can crank out as much crap as possible by any means possible, which includes setting up sweatshops, stealing, cheating, scamming, etc.

Yeah, there are places in the world where a few dollars a day puts food on the table and creates an opportunity to make a modest living that might not otherwise exist. They don’t have access to university design programs, but they might have some artistic talent that lends itself to certain situations. However, even these people end up losing out to systematic scammers on the contest sites.

I have a brother-in-law who is a partner in a law firm. He says the same thing is happening in the legal profession. The tedious and routine bread-and-butter work from clients that has typically been assigned to paralegals and interns at law firms is increasingly being crowdsourced to southern Asia. Instead of paying the law firm a few hundred dollars per hour for that kind of thing, clients try to get it done overseas for a fraction of the cost. How that works, I’m not quite sure, but my brother-in-law’s comments pretty much mirrored what we keep debating here.

There aren’t shortcuts. The more you practice it, the better you’ll become. How many hours have you spent developing your skills? 10,000 hours is a pretty good benchmark. That’s the equivalent of working a full time job, 40 hours a week, 50 weeks a year, for 5 years. Put in that much time and it gets easier and you’ll work faster.