Hiring A Logo Designer

How to find & hire the best designer for your new logo project

Running a search on Google or any of the search engines for logo design or similar keywords will produce 100,000s of companies and individuals who claim to be “logo designers” (that’s probably how you found our site in the first place.) Other than obvious standouts, the logo portfolios presented look fairly similar. When it comes to the bottom line, pricing is all over the place – there’s even places where you can have a logo designed for five bucks (but even the most price conscious client will know there’s a very large catch there) – and it all may get terribly confusing before long. While we would be more than happy to work on your new logo design project (and the purpose of this website is to convince you of that,) we also realize that there are other very capable design firms, studios and freelancers out there that are more than capable of handling your design job. We also realize that you may well hire one of our competitors who will create a perfectly serviceable design that you’re happy with. However, as with most of our logo design articles, we’ve donned our ‘Industry Watchdog’ cap and believe, at the end of the day, that an educated client is a happy client. As such, we offer some suggestions for finding, and hiring the designer or firm that will create your new brand identity.

Experience is crucial.

Does the would-be candidate have a gallery of logo design examples? Brand development is a developed skill, and requires both technical and artistic prowess. Look for REAL logos – examples of actual design projects. Anyone can claim to be a logo designer, create a nice icon and reverse engineer it into a company that would be appropriate, if such a company existed. It is, for example, easy to create a nice ‘swooshy’ design and show it as an tutorial example of what might work as a ‘high-tech’ company. Or come up with homesy graphics and use that as an example of a ‘quaint little bread & breakfast.’ It’s an entirely different ball game to create an actual design that pleases the client, addresses their marketplace, and the designer feels is portfolio worthy. Watch out for designers that feel it’s necessary to tell you why a logo is fantastic. If a logo needs a paragraph to explain what this color means, and what this shape represents, then ask yourself – “is this is a really effective design?” Keep in mind that you will never have the luxury of explaining the wonderful abstract meanings of your logo to anybody else. It has to stand on its own and communicate your brand message in a nano-second. Hire a designer or firm that are able to display this experience and design savvy visually.

Bargain basement pricing – bargain basement design?

Multinational companies pay tens of thousands of dollars for their brand material. That’s how important this process is. That’s not to say you have to do the same in order to achieve a similar effect to Fortune 500 guys. You don’t. However, if someone is emphasizing bargain prices rather than skill, service and technical knowledge, warning lights should go off. Quality design takes time, design experts, and the latest software, hardware and knowledge of the current graphic industry standards. These all cost money. Logo design is like any other commodity – you get what you pay for. Prices range from a few bucks to thousands. The price you will pay for your logo should NOT be the only factor in deciding who to go with. Would you visit a dentist simply because he was giving away free mugs and a 20% discount? Or use an accountant that promised a free T-shirt if you spent $X on their services? Probably not. As your company logo is perhaps one of the most important investments you’ll ever make, it’s in your best interest to follow the same ideology with the creation of same.

Effective design takes time – faster is not necessarily better.

Logo design shops that crank out a logo in a day or two as a standard service are doing just that – cranking ‘em out. Or presenting rejected or unused work that was created for a previous, similarly themed project to yours. Quality design takes time. It really is that simple. Designers need to research your company, your market, and your needs. And they need to create original work (that can be trademarked and/or copyrighted) otherwise you may print your logo on everything only to find out that the icon that took two days to create came off an obscure clip art CD, and is, in fact being used by dozens of other companies. Or a ubiquitous mark that’s been used, abused and overdone to death. Or, worst case scenario, something they’ve nicked off Google image search. Keep in mind – the less distinctive your logo is, the more difficult it is to trademark or copyright. Three multicolored brush strokes may be wonderful and all, but the trademark office will be less than enthused. Watch out for quickies. Reputable design firms usually charge very large premiums for rush design work – a team of designers has to drop all other projects and concentrate all their energy, time and equipment to your project and this requires overtime salaries, etc., to be paid. This translates into a larger bill for you, not less.

Communication is paramount.

Can you reach your designer by e-mail and/or phone, or with local designers visit their studio? The more professional designers are like any other business; they have studios, offices and customer service staff. Graphic design is their business, not a part-time sideline. Communication is the name of the game. More importantly, can you communicate DIRECTLY with your designer. If you can’t (i.e.: “we’ll pass the message on”, or “we only communicate via e-mail”) usually indicates you’re working with a house that employs freelancers. Not that this is a major issue in itself, unless you want more work created at a later date. The designer may no longer be available, and your ‘look and feel’ may be at the mercy of someone who’s not familiar with your work, or worse, someone who’s style you detest.

Look at the firm’s own identity. It’ll never be better than that.

Would you hire an accountant who was always under audit? A mechanic whose car never worked? A dentist with lousy teeth? The same should apply to your potential logo designer. Look at their identity. Their look-and-feel. Their stuff will NEVER get any better than this – this is, after all, their advertising, to the world, of what they are capable of. They’ve put a lot of effort into that and tf you don’t like the way their company is presented, what is the likelihood of them creating an effective design for you?

Beware of cookie-cutter, shake-and-bake logos.

By default, a logo is a search for originality. So why then, would anybody resort to using “Pre-Made,” “Ready-Made,” stock or logo templates (simply clip art by another name.) In order to save a few dollars at the onset, you’re going to end up with a logo that is weak, unoriginal, and potentially infringing upon somebody else. Sure, you’ll save a few hundred dollars now, but you’re going to spend thousands (perhaps tens of thousands) in reproducing that logo on marketing and advertising material. You’re probably going to have to live with your mark for years (changing your logo later is often a daunting experience.) Don’t risk it all by dealing with an untested or anonymous vendor simply to save a few dollars during the birth of your new company logo.

Multiple domain disorder.

Watch out for multiple domain disorder – a favorite of IT companies from South East Asia who like the idea of being logo designers. In order to perform well in search engines, it’s a common practice for online companies to have multiple web addresses (domains) – all with different names, and oddly, different prices – in order to eventually snag your business. The search engines are peppered with such sites, some of them vaguely identified offshore design houses. But you have to ask yourself – if a logo designer or corporate identity company can’t create, and believe in their own logo, corporate identity and name, or they resort to logo raiding (displaying, without authorization other designers’ work,) how can they possibly create an original logo that will work for you?

The McLogo Effect.

As competition for design business has heated up – especially on the web – so have the promises and sales pitches of design companies. Some are perfectly legit. Others, not so much. It’s often quite difficult to decipher the come-hither pitches and blinking starbursts you’ll find on many logo design websites. A little knowledge goes a long way, so we’ve taken a look at some of these pitches in an upcoming article called (please don’t sue us) McLogo. It’s a little on the snarky side, but probably worth a read before you plunk down your credit card number on any website. That’s not to say that every site you’ll run into on the web is promising you the moon, but if our experience in the logo wars is any indication, it’s quite a few that you’ll find using the keywords “logo design” in a search engine toolbar.

Because just like our mothers always tell us – it’s jungle out there.

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