How to Choose a Logo Designer – A Definitive Guide
For anyone outside of the design industry, finding a good logo designer can be a really frustrating experience. While there is a mountain of choice when it comes to hiring a designer, finding a quality designer can be a real challenge, especially if you don’t know what to look out for.
The intent of this article is to help guide individuals and businesses navigate the potential minefield of hiring a professional logo designer. For fellow designers wanting to identify how to better market their skills to clients, this post should provide some useful tips.
So you want to hire a professional logo designer for your next project? Here is some advice to get you along your way.
1. Creative Process
The difference between good and bad designers usually comes down to their process. All good identity designers worth their weight use a deliberate and well-thought out design process when undertaking client projects. A typical process for most professional designers will include phases such as; questionnaire –> research –> sketching –> design –> presentation –>review.
The entre point of the process is to ensure that all creative avenues have been explored and tested, which will ultimately help to ensure the best outcome for you as a client. The price you are paying for a logo/identity design is usually commensurate with the the scope of your project and the time and effort the designer will dedicate to the creative process.
The more extensive the creative process is, the more likely the project will be successful. Some designers include examples of their design process on their websites. Here is a brief example of the process we used for a recent rebranding project.
Tip: Make sure your designer clearly explains upfront the process they will be using for your project.
The best way to assess the quality of a designer is obviously looking at examples of their previous work. Do you see care and attention to detail in their portfolio? If not, it is probably best to go elsewhere.
It is important to recognise many logo designers have unique styles and strengths. For example, some designers are more illustrative, while are others may have minimalist tendencies. Often by looking at a designers portfolio you can get an idea of the style of logo they will design for you.
Tip: If you have a certain style in mind for your logo, find a designer who matches that style. Doing so will ensure that you are much more likely to be satisfied with the end result.
3. Communication Skills
Communication plays such an important role in ensuring a successful project, that its importance cannot be overlooked. For any logo design project it is vital that you and the designer are on the same wavelength from the outset. Most experienced designers have worked on a vast range of different projects and are able to adapt their communication level in accordance to their clients requirements.
You can normally get a good sense of the character of a designer by looking at their website. Look at their about page or blog. Does their communication style seem personal or impersonal? Email communication is also a good way to judge how a designer communicates. Are their emails personalised or simply just cut and paste templates?
Ultimately the best way to asses a designers communication skills is by talking to them directly on the telephone or even via Skype video conferencing. You want to make sure that the designer is accessible to speak via telephone throughout the duration of a project. Your designer should be able to discuss the vision for your project in a clear, articulate and professional manner.
Personally, I provide all my clients with my direct mobile phone and can be contacted directly if the need arises. With that said however, I usually prefer email as the primary method of contact as it makes it easier to track project changes.
Tip: If a designer is reluctant to provide you with their direct telephone number, don’t work with them.
4. Problem Solving and Strategic Thinking Skills
The ability to solve problems and think strategically is the hallmark of any good logo designer. Logo design is not simply about drawing pretty pictures. A good logo designer will take the time to understand the strategic goals of your business and use their problem solving skills to develop the most effective identity. This is the primary reason why logo warehouses and crowdsourcing is the lowest common denominator when it comes to design.
For a client it is quite tricky to identity how good a designer’s problem solving and strategic thinking skills are. Usually (but not always) experience is a factor. In the end however, it usually comes back to their creative process.
If your designer is committed to conducting thorough research and brainstorming for your project that is a good sign. Quality designers use techniques such a mind mapping and sketching to help generate the most effecting design ideas.
Tip: Ask you designer how much time is going to be spent on research and idea generation for your project. This is usually dependant on your budget. To my next point.
Good design costs money. While there are literally hundreds of websites online where you can buy a $99 logo, there is a reason for that. There will have been absolutely no creative process (despite what you are promised) involved in your project. $99 will buy you a pretty picture, not an effective identity.
That does not mean that good design should cost you an arm and a leg. However, if you understand the strategic value of good design you will need to allocate a healthy budget to having a new identity developed for your business.
To give a personal example, a logo design project for a small business will typically take me anywhere between 30-35 hours to complete, spaced over a number of weeks. At the top end of my time estimate, if I were to charge $500 for the logo it would mean I would be making $14.29 per hour.
I am probably not going to win any friends for saying this, however if a designer is quoting you much less than $1000 for a logo, something is being compromised. To pay less than that you need to be willing to accept that shortcuts will be taken somewhere along the line. Can you imagine the shortcuts that are being taken for a $99 logo? I wouldn’t want to be getting paid $3 per hour.
In the end it is your choice. Be open about your budget with your designer, just understand that with design you get what you pay for.
Tip: Provide as much detail as possible about your project to your designer upfront. This will help them provide you with an accurate quote, and help avoid any nasty surprises down the track.
The creative process takes time and as such it is best not to rush an identity design project. The amount of time required for the designer to complete an identity design project will depend on a number of factors, such as their own availability and the complexity of the project. As I mentioned above, good logo design takes time. It is not something that can be done within 48 hours nor rarely less than 1 week.
Plan ahead. Most good designers have a busy schedule, which often means that it could be a number of weeks before they are available to start your project. Turnaround times can typically be anywhere between 2 weeks to a few months. While such circumstances sometimes cannot be avoided, it is best not to rush something as important as a logo design. Identity design is seldom good when rushed.
Most of my projects typically take 4-6 weeks to complete, but this can vary.
Tip: Be wary of anyone who promises you a few days turnaround or less on a logo. If the designer is exceptionally talented and works around the clock they may be able to pull it off, however that is the exception, not the rule.
Positive testimonials can be a good indicator of past client satisfaction. Fake testimonials are very common online so be sure to check that any testimonials are also backed up with a website link.
Tip: If in doubt, contact the past client by phone or email to verify the testimonial.
The unfortunate truth is that most (that’s right most) companies selling logo design services online are in it for a quick buck and couldn’t care less about your business. When hiring a logo designer (especially online), you really need to know who you are hiring. What you want is full transparency as to who the designer is and what they do. Indicators of good transparency include the following;
- A personal photo openly displayed on their website and social profiles.
- An established blog where they write articles related to their expertise.
- Social media profiles such as Twitter and Facebook.
If a designer’s blog and social media profiles have a large following, that is usually a good sign. Check what other designers are saying about their work.
Tip: Only work with someone who is completely open about who they are and what they can do for you.
Not all awards have criteria that effectively indicate that their success will carry over to client work, however it is still something to keep in mind when hiring a designer. A list of achievements, awards, or published work can be a good indicator of a designers ability.
Tip: Make sure any awards claimed by a designer are backed up with a link to the source website to prove it.
If there is one trait that I believe separates a mediocre logo designer from an exceptional one, it is their passion for what they do. Someone who is passionate will be completely invested into your project and will go the extra mile to ensure a wining outcome. For a dedicated logo designer, design is not just a job, it is a lifestyle. They will practically eat, breathe and live logos. They are constantly on a quest to improve their own skills as a designer and aspire for perfectionism in their designs.
Passion is the real X-factor when it comes to logo design.
Tip: If you find someone who fits your criteria and clearly has a passion for what they do, hire them.
A Final Word
Just a quick word of warning before we wrap it up. When looking for a logo designer online, treat Google search results with great scepticism.
Although I’m as much of a fan of Google as anyone, I don’t recommend relying solely on the top Google search results to find a quality designer. The cold hard reality is that most sites that rank well in Google for terms such as “logo design” and “logo designer” are not considered professional designers by most in the industry and should be avoided. I have covered this before in my post (rant) – Google Doesn’t Understand Professional Logo Design.
If you you look hard enough, there are many great designers out there. I recommend that you take some time to carefully research your options before making any commitments.
If you have any comments or if there is something you would like to add, please leave a comment below.
Image courtesy of Môsieur J.