And the need for a great logo has only gotten more important in the past century. From apps to social media to online advertising, we encounter more logos today than ever before, which means a brand or company needs a logo that stands out and cuts through the noise.
So how do you commission the perfect logo for your brand? Working with a logo designer can be intimidating at first, but with just a little bit of knowledge and background you’ll be speaking their language and soon you’ll have your own, custom logo to bring your company to life.
LAYING THE GROUNDWORK
Before you can begin working with your designer, you need to ask yourself some existential questions about your business – who am I and what do I want? Use this brief to write a short, clear description of what your product or company does and then choose three words that you want customers to associate with your business. Are you traditional and trustworthy? Handmade and artisan? Modern and innovative? Think about why you started your company, what makes you unique, and how your company works to fully understand your brand and find the spark that leads to a great design. You may even be surprised by how much you learn about yourself during this process.
It’s also important to research the types of logos that already exist in your field. Your designer will do this as well, but you can do some of this research yourself so you already know what you do and don’t like about your competitors position their logo. This will help you make the final decision when it’s time to choose a final logo. Some designers will want to talk about their research, look at examples or a mood board, and make sure they really understand your business—so it’s best to be overprepared!
FINDING THE RIGHT DESIGNER
When you are choosing a designer online, you probably want to jump right into their portfolio, but first look at how they present and market themselves. You are trusting them with your brand, so how do they market their own brand? Based on their own logo and website, you’ll probably have a pretty good idea of their design aesthetic already.
Now, go ahead and jump into their portfolio. Logo designers live and die by their portfolios and their past work will likely be the single most important factor in your decision. While some designers are generalists who work in a wide variety of styles, many have a clear voice and style or even focus on a single industry. This part of the process is like using an online dating app – you are looking for designers who match your own style and needs before you have a more in-depth conversation. Then, when you have that conversation, feel free to ask them questions about their background, how they work, and particular logos in their portfolio. At the end of the day, ask yourself if you want to work with this person one-on-one over the next few weeks or months.
Before you decide on a designer, make certain you understand exactly what you are getting for your agreed-upon budget. And once you have chosen the perfect designer, keep the lines of communication open. Let them know how involved you want to be and set up regular check-ins and deadlines. Ultimately, every buyer, designer, and project is different and the key to making it all run smoothly is communication.
CHOOSING A DESIGN
In a few weeks, you should receive your first round of concepts. Some designers prefer to send a lot of rough sketches or drafts to help narrow down the process, but most will narrow it down to three or four core, polished concepts.
First, take note of your immediate reaction. Is it conveying what you want? What’s the first word that comes to mind? Does it look like it belongs to a company in your industry, yet with enough differentiation to stand out? Does it feel like your company?
Is it flexible? Consider not just how you’ll use the logo now, but how it can be adapted for all of the needs that may pop up in the future. Will it work whether it’s on a tiny business card or blown up on the side of a truck? Will it work on a horizontal sheet of paper, a vertical ad, and in black and white?
Throughout this process, keep in mind that the most successful and adaptable logos are often the simplest – an apple, a swoosh, the letter “M.” The MasterCard logo is nothing but two circles, while Mickey Mouse is only three. The number one mistake that buyers make during the design process is asking their designer to fit too much information into the logo or to combine many different designs into one, which only leads to overcomplicated, busy logos. Simple designs stand the test of time, which is important when you consider how quickly design trends evolve.
Of course, many of the most famous logos are deceptively simple, when in reality a lot of thought has gone into choosing the fonts and colors, placing elements so they feel balanced, and building a logical and pleasing structure; you might be surprised how a simple tweak or font change can suddenly make a logo feel off. Your designer should be able to explain the reasoning behind the decisions they made in a way that is easy to understand. Don’t let them overwhelm you with lots of jargon or shut down the conversation by making you feel like it’s a “designer thing” that you don’t understand.
Ask lots of questions: for example, why use red instead of orange? Why focus on triangles? You’ll have more information to make your final decision, feel more confident about your logo, and you may even learn a little something about your business and how to market it in the future.
Finally, give yourself a day or two to mull it over and then ask yourself if one of logos really sticks with you. If its memorable to you, it will likely be memorable to your audience.
REVISIONS & FINALIZING YOUR LOGO
If the discussion and research phase of the project went smoothly, the revision process should be quick, with only one or two minor revisions necessary. At the end of the day, however, it’s your logo and you’ll be seeing it a lot, so work with your designer to craft a final product that makes you happy.
Finally, after those few revisions, you will have your very own logo. Many business owners say that this is the first time their business feels truly “real” to them. It’s exciting!
But, in your excitement, don’t forget to get a wide range of file sizes and types of the final logo that are clearly labeled. You’ll want a folder with web-quality, high-quality (300 DPI), original vector files (.AI, .EPS, .SVG), and multiple sizes and color formats. As you use your logo in the future, printers and designers will constantly ask for particular types and you’ll be glad you took the time to get them all in one place (just ask any of the designers who had to recreate a logo from scratch because a company didn’t get a high-quality version initially).
One last thing: if you are happy with your final design, offer to write a review or reference. In a competitive industry where experience and reputation are key, it can make a world of difference for that designer’s future sales.