A great source of referrals for me are signage companies. The reason: Clients are trying to put their logo on a sign and it doesn’t look good. 80% of the time those logos were created for free with a quick copy package of some sort, or by a person who didn’t understand logos and their many uses when they created it.
When establishing or working on your company image buy the best graphic design you can afford. Check out their portfolio and credentials, ask them if they do the creative.
If your budget is limited discuss it upfront. When faced with constraints designers can provide cost conscious options like choosing a wordmark (type only) and iconic logo, or opting for scanned hand drawn mockups in the design stage instead of computer drawn versions saving them time and you money. You can also both agree to a set limit of preliminary designs and number of revisions to keep costs down.
The point is free design doesn’t come to you without it’s pitfalls. Your company identity needs to be flexible in its applications as it grows. Invest what you can, your company is worth it.