Let’s face it. If you are in business or work for a business – YOU NEED A LOGO. A real Bone Fide, 100%, Grade A, professional designed (your sisters son, whose in college doesn’t count) logo. Why? Because your logo is the single most important visual communication your company has. It is your face to the world when you aren’t there. When coupled with strong branding, it speaks for your business. A professionally designed logo is a must have for all businesses.
“Well, I have skills, I can whip something up myself.” Let me say this loud and clear, NO YOU CAN’T. Unless you have some serious art skills, understand visual communications, printing requirements, and web requirements, you can’t design your own logo (and neither can your sister’s son).
Here is what a QUALIFIED designer, studio or agency should bring to the table:
1. Experience. Experience in your industry and others. How many logos have the designed? What does their portfolio look like?
2. Consultation. This is the important part. Any designer worth their salt will spend time to get to know your business, the market you are in, your competition, their logos, and your business vision (notice I didn’t say your design vision, but your business vision).
3. Estimate. After your consultation they should provide you with a written estimate for services and agreements. Make sure you have the rights to your own logo. Make sure you understand what they want as their rights to your logo. Most importantly, make sure the estimate includes a disk (for back-up purposes) with your logo on it. That disk should contain various files for web and print. Make sure this is part of the estimate and agreement. DON’T LOOSE THIS DISK. Make copies. Too often, people don’t know where their logo files are. You’d be surprised but I come across this several times a month. (We will cover what to do if this happens in a later post – fear not there is a solution – but it will cost you). Make sure you know how many design concepts they will present you with and how many revisions you get to those concepts. What if you don’t like any? Will they go back to the drawing board for free or charge you? Some do, some don’t – find out.
4. Education – Not their education, yours. Your designer needs to educate you on the use of your logo. What files to send to the printer, the embroidery shop, the web guy. They all need different things. Make sure you understand this. Know you logo colors (PMS colors). Every printer in the world will need to know that tiny bit of information. What I do for my clients is provide them with a disk and a File Usage Guide. “What is a File Usage Guide?”, you say. Well, it is a document that tells you what files are included on your disk. Which files to use when, and what your PMS colors are. This is critical information. Get it.
The big question is – HOW MUCH SHOULD I PAY FOR MY LOGO?
The answer is simple, but frustrating. It depends. It depends on your budget. Like a good mattress, buy the best one you can afford. Use the guide above to help you select a designer. See if you click. If you get the feeling they might be “flighty or flaky” run away! They don’t return your call in a timely manner, run away. They think you ask too many questions, run away. When you find that person who listens, wants to understand your business, educates you in the process, has a portfolio you find interesting and inspiring, AND will ask you “what is your budget” then you have a qualified candidate to business with. Talk money right away. You don’t want to fall in love with a designer you can’t afford. I have seen logos sold on-lie for as little as $9.99 (you get what you pay for). Be prepared to spend $500 – $5,000+ on your logo. YUP, that is a big range. It breaks down like this, you will probably get the most bang for your buck working with a small studio or full-time (not part-time) freelancer. Bigger studios or advertising agencies will cost more. NEVER let a web company design your logo. Unless they have a full-time graphic designer on staff, no one there knows what an effective logo should look like. Just talk money first, then the rest and you should be okay. Never purchase services based on price alone. Just like that generic box of mac n’cheese, you won’t be happy.
Can you work out a deal? Sure, try. Let them know that you will need several items designed. See if they can discount the work based on the volume.
My final words on this for today is this: Develop a good relationship with your visual communication service provider (designer). This person will then become married to your business. They will know you and your business goals and they will be familiar with your likes and dislikes, so that 3 months down the road when you need a brochure whipped up for a trade show, they will have a better understanding of what to provide you. Over 80% of my clients have been with me from the beginning of their business. Why? Because I take the time to know them and their needs. I help them plan for the project we are working on right then, and the one coming up in a few months. We talk annual budgets, time-lines, marketing goals, and then execute the plan we create. We are a team. You want someone you can say, “Hey Joe, remember that ad we did back on ’06, well we want to revamp it and do something like that again.” So do your homework. It will pay off in the long run.