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Design Successful Logos with Research

An interview with
Jenn & Ken Visocky O’Grady


If you want to design logos and identities that succeed in the real world you must truly understand the business, competition and target audience. To understand that you need to make research part of your design process. The information you gather will ensure you have a thorough understanding of the problem you need to solve, so design decisions can be made with intent. Not only will your designs perform well but you’ll also get faster approvals and a greater level of trust from your clients too.

To discuss the value of design research and the methods used, Ian interviews Jenn and Ken Viscoky O’Grady, the authors of the book A Designers Research Manual. Jenn is a Professor at Cleveland State University, and Ken is Professor and Graduate Coordinator at Kent State University.

Jenn & Ken Visocky O’Grady Interview Transcription

Ian Paget: Research is one of those topics I’ve always had a lot of interest in as a graphic designer. There is a lot of information out there that you can find that goes into different processes and so on but I recently picked up a copy of your book, A Designer’s Research Manual. And it runs through so many different processes and techniques and there’s a lot of things in there that I wasn’t aware of and I thought it was an absolutely fantastic book. Because the audience are graphic designers I thought it would be a really good topic to dive into. Would you be able to tell us a little bit more about the book?

Ken: Yeah. So the book that’s out currently is the second edition of A Designer’s Research Manual. Jenn and I were asked to write the original edition in around 2005, I think. And then there’d been so much that had changed in the research space in design, that we worked with our publisher to update the book and do a second edition. In that second edition I feel like we really changed the structure of the content. We added a lot more new content, updated a lot of the case studies that were in the book previously. And what we’re always trying to do is create something that an everyday design practitioner can integrate into their practice. We try to make the concepts as approachable and as scalable as possible.

Jenn: And to give a little bit of history on the first edition, when the book came out, there weren’t a lot of practical quick application for professional conversations in design research as a space, a lot of real academic conversations. And what we found is that we were running a small design studio and we had our own version of research practices at the time, but everyone we knew had a small studio or worked in a larger agency or in-house and they all had their own methods, and their methods were really pretty overlapping. There was a commonality to all of it, but a lot of people weren’t comfortable talking to us because they felt like they were proprietary processes.