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Who should I choose to design my logo?

Mark Tomkins - Creative Director at Aubergine
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In our previous post, we answered one of the most common questions we hear, namely “How much does a logo cost?” This time we’re going to explain how to find the right graphic designer and what you can expect when you decide to get a logo designed.

We’ll be covering the following topics:

  1. Who is going to design the logo for you?
  2. Choosing the right graphic designer
  3. The process of logo design
  4. Things to avoid

Who is going to design the logo for you?

The answer to this depends on a few things that include your availability and budget, but fundamentally you need a graphic designer or design agency to do the work for you. Not a printer. Printers do often employ designers or artworkers, but their skills are usually focused on preparing files for printing rather than creativity – and therefore they’re not the right people to ask when you need a new logo.

If you google ‘graphic designer + [your town or city]’, you’ll see a selection of freelancers and agencies near you. It’s a good idea to speak to two or three and look at their portfolio to give you confidence they have the skills.

However, it’s a mistake to ask to see examples of a logo or design for your particular sector. Often we’re asked ‘can I see other logos or websites you’ve designed for my sort of business?’. The truth is that the business type is irrelevant. What counts is the research the designer undertakes and their raw talent. The culmination of those two elements will deliver you the design solution.

Talk to the designer – you have to get on with them as it’s likely you are starting a partnership because they will support you with other creativity in the future.

Choosing the right designer

It’s tempting to go for the cheapest designer you can find – a logo is a logo, right? No. There are many cheap online services that will give you a logo for as little as £5, but dig deeper and you’ll find that this logo has been sold many times over and although the name under it may change, the icon is already out there being used by many others. You won’t ever be able to trademark it and there’s a real danger its similarity to other businesses will create confusion among your customers.

You may also think you need to go to a large, famous creative agency, such as (but not limited to) Saatchi & Saatchi. This, too, isn’t going to be right for most people. The cost of their services and their experience of smaller, more local markets will mean they’re not the right choice for you. The larger agencies are often used for global brand creation as they have the resources to deploy to a worldwide research programme before starting – a freelance designer cannot do this.

Choosing a freelance designer can be a good option because they will bring creativity, individualism and flexibility. The cost will also be affordable. The downside is that, as it is just one person, you may not always be able to get what you need when you need it if they are working on other projects. They might also not have the longevity of a larger business.

A smaller/medium sized creative agency is often the choice of most businesses and organisations. They have the resources to undertake the right amount of research, will often have a small team of designers to provide a range of styles, will offer support, and also have processes in place to ensure your needs are undertaken in a timely way.

The process of logo design

Whether large or small, there are essentially 4 stages to commissioning a well-designed logo & brand image:

  • Questions from the designer – who are you and what do you want to say? Who is the audience? How do you want the branding to be perceived? These are just a few of the initial questions to get things started. It’s worth saying that if you (the client) cannot answer them before seeing a designer, you are not ready enough to commission your logo yet.
  • Discovery & strategy – during this stage, your designer should discover all the important aspects of what you want your brand’s image to project and how it should be pitched.
  • Concepts – the designer will produce a series of different styles and design ideas – from which, the design can then be refined. A good designer will visualise the logo concepts on a few example items – for example, a web page, some stationery, clothing – so you can see how it might look in real life. Looking at a logo on a white page can give an unrealistic view – colours may look great on white, but as soon as it’s applied to your black van or stitched onto some blue workwear items, it might look terrible.
  • Finalising the design & its use in the future – the logo is not the only element of your brand image. Typefaces, colour palettes, photography style, icons – all these visual elements form part of the identity. With that in mind, you may wish to consider also commissioning brand identity guidelines that help your brand to be used consistently in the future, both by you and anyone else.
  • Output of the initial logo files – Your new logo will need to be supplied in multiple formats. At a minimum, they need to be: EPS, JPG (high & low resolution) and PNG. The logo should also be supplied in two versions: the coloured design and also in a white-out version so that it can be used in a mono environment or reversed out of an image. Many designers forget this very important part when designing a new logo. The designer should supply these to you once you have approved the final design.Expect the final invoice to be paid before receiving them – once passed to you, unless the designer stipulates otherwise, they are passing ownership of that creative and associated rights over to you – and by paying them you complete that contract.

Things to avoid

Beware of cheap, online services that claim to give you a logo for £5 – it won’t be yours, it will have been used by others already, there will be no market research and you won’t ever be able to trademark or legally protect the identity.

Another thing to watch out for is a designer that gives you a choice of a couple of designs with no alterations, ie. “choose A or B”, or if they charge for each and every change. That approach shows inflexibility and means they’re not really someone you should consider partnering with as you seek to create your new identity.

Finally, don’t even think about copying other people’s logos. You’ll seriously risk getting sued by those whom you copy, you’ll never be able to trademark the logo and it should ring alarm bells about the designer’s scruples and ability! What you can do, however, is to say to the designer why you like another logo design and if they are competent, they will be able to use those elements in a new and unique idea.

We’ve got experience of logo design for a wide variety of clients – here are just a few of the ones we have done. We’re also happy to discuss any further aspects of the process you might be interested in, just get in touch!

 

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