New startups are usually moving very fast, and have many different things to worry about like whether to form an LLC or an S-Corp, or renting out office space, or staying in the basement or garage and saving money, and what to do about office equipment – “should we lease, or buy?” Of course money is always a big concern, as startups try to make every dollar count. Sometimes the last thing needed before the mad rush to market, is a brand new logo for the new company. It may be an afterthought, but many startups turn to the internet to look for logo designers, and find there are more companies out there designing logos than there are stars in the sky. And their rates range from $5 logo design at sites like fiverr.com, to high priced Madison Ave. branding agencies costing tens of thousands of dollars. How does a startup know where to turn and how much to spend? Here are our top 7 tips to get the most out of your logo design project, if you are forming a new business, or organization. And a few suggestions on how to make your logo design dollar go even further.
1. Look at the logo designer’s portfolio for examples of their work.
That may seem obvious, but take a good long look at what they’ve created for other logo design customers. Do they create high quality work that looks unique and sets their customers apart from the crowd? Or do they do work that looks unremarkable and blends in with the market? Sometimes it’s very important to create a unique mark that sets you apart from the competition. Do they offer that competitive advantage. Good logo design and effective branding is a business strategy. Are the logo examples in their portfolio great examples of good design? Does it peak your interest about the companies the logos represent?
2. Do they create work that shows they have experience in your market?
Although not always necessary, does the logo design company have examples of work in their portfolio, that reflect an understanding of business or organizations similar to your own? If you are an educational institution looking for a new logo for a school, or a school mascot, does the designer show previous experience in your category? If you are a non-profit organization needing branding, does the design company or marketing firm understand the not-for-profit environment? If they do not have samples related to your business, will they meet with you to get to know about your business and market? Another aspect of this question, is how much experience do they have in general. Some agencies with more experience, may provide you with faster results, that are right for your market, and right for your business without a lot of back and forth. Time is money.
3. Ask the logo design firm what file type deliverables are included in your project.
You’d be surprised how many people think that logo design projects automatically include creating all the necessary file types needed for printing business cards, creating signs and banners, and even creating website logo graphics files. A good design firm will at the very least offer the following in their logo design project deliverables:
- A vector logo file (this is either an EPS or Adobe Illustrator AI file, that is scalable for any size need). If all they are providing is a “raster” file – that means it is not infinitely scalable, and may have problems during reproduction at various larger sizes (looking like a pixellated mess). It’s also important that the fonts in the logo be “outlined” so if you have to send it to a vendor, it can be reproduced without needing the font.
- Color specifications, in the file that explain color used in the logo and what colors should be used. This can be Pantone Color specifications, CMYK for printing, RGB for screen only, and even web safe colors – hexadecimal colors for website and mobile application screen use.
- Typography – font specification so you know what font is matched for the logo. This does not mean they are including the font, but that you have the name of the font, so you can create business correspondence to match the logo, or at least compliment it (and not clash). See previous mention of outlining fonts above.
Some design firms also will supply all the different logo files that are used for each color need like: Pantone, CMYK, RGB, Web Hex. These logo packages should cover all the different needs you may have for the logo to include in collateral materials like business cards, wearables, signs, vehicle wraps, advertisements and more. If you need business cards and letterhead designed as well, it’s a good idea to get that done at this same time. While the new logo is freshly being created, the designer can think ahead to how the other business components should look, based on your input and feedback. Other deliverables sometimes include a full specifications sheet for typography and colors, or a branding guideline document or book (usually at additional costs), that show proper logo use for vendors and partners. Not all clients need these things, but you should know what your options are, and be prepared to ask for more, if you need more.
4. How many logos are included in the design? And how many revisions are included? What’s the process?
Sometimes, you want a lot of choice, because you are not sure about what you want in your new logo. Be sure at the start how many options you will get to see for the first review, and how many times you can have something revised, before incurring additional charges. Many design firms will say that there is a danger in showing too many options, as it confuses a customer. We feel a minimum of 5 unique options is a good start. And up to 3 rounds of included revisions is quite standard. Different clients may want more, so be sure to ask for it, when talking with the logo design firm to begin with, before making any commitments. Beware of logo design websites offering unlimited revisions. In many cases, they are trying to wear you down, to get you to agree to a “good enough” design. Cheap design that looks cheap, is not going to do your new business much good. What is the firm’s process? Do they meet with you and look at things together? Do they sketch first using pencil and paper? Are you included in the process, and will you have input opportunities and feedback sessions? A good firm already has a strong process in place and can explain it to you.
5. Will you be directly communicating with the creative designer working on your logo?
Will you have the opportunity to communicate directly, face-to-face or via phone, or even by email with the designer directly or is there a separation of a salesperson, or other intermediary coming between you and your designer? Or is it a website where you and the designer are anonymous to each other, and you must fill out a form to communicate on the project with them? Is the designer a principal of the company or someone just getting started in the business? We believe that the best logo and branding projects come from clear communications with our clients, and that having a direct line of contact with our clients produces better results. Our logo design clients’ happiness, not only with the end product of their logo, but with the experience of working with us, is our ultimate goal.
6. What if you are not happy with the final logo design?
Ask the logo designer what happens if you are not satisfied with the logo at the end? What are your options, if at the end of the process you do not like what has been designed. Some firms may offer a guarantee, and some may offer a termination fee usually based on work done to date. Hypno’s policy is that making our clients happy is our top priority, and because of this we are happy to say that no client has ever walked away unhappy from a design project with us in our entire 22 years in business.
7. What other services does the logo design firm offer?
Once you have your exciting new logo, you’re going to soon realize that there are a few other things you may need. A new website? Graphics for Social Media? Email marketing design and campaigns? A sign for your building? Vehicle graphics? A mobile application? Video production and animation? While it’s not written anywhere that a logo design firm needs to also provide these services, after experiencing working with good people, you may feel inclined to want to work with them again, on other marketing and branding needs. Can your logo designer take you where you want to go, and more importantly, do they understand your brand, and market to help you get there?
8. Bonus Tip! Know your budget
Small startups can expect to spend between anywhere between $1,000, to $12,000 for a new logo design that includes proper investigation and communication, thoughtfulness, and care. Be prepared ahead of time understanding what you will spend. The saying “you get what you put into it” has never been more appropriate. Crowd-sourcing sites (usually the $100 or less logo websites), will show a lot of lackluster design work, that is the result of underpaid “designers” with computers toiling away overseas, to chug out design after thoughtless design. A few gems may sparkle here and there, but it’s a rare find, and no guarantee that person will be working on your project. Discuss your budget ahead of time with your designer, and arrive at a happy place with your new logo that you can be proud of. After all, it will represent your new business, and will reflect on you, for the rest of time, as the choice you made for it to be the front facing expression of your company. You should try to get it right the first time.