The Tight Budget Series: The Logo

Clients are researching, pricing, and asking how they can keep their costs within a budget. Often it’s a tight budget. So, the following series of blogs are meant to help businesses understand the design process and find ways to stay within the mark.

This Week: Understanding the Logo

Logo: a distinctive symbol of a company, object, publication, person service, or idea. It’s a simple definition for something complex. This mark when, done right, should do the following:

  1. Position you with your target audience/industry/market.
  2. Convey your company personality and philosophy.
  3. Work as the foundation of your brand identity system. (colours, typography and graphics can be pulled from your logo to build a system for consistency in all your company materials, this is called an Identity.)
  4. Work in multiple media applications (business cards, wearables, signage, promotional products) as your company expands. This means it needs to work as a 1-colour design first since some things are printed in only 1 colour.
  5. Needs to last. Trends can be dangerous, if used in your logo they can date it within 5 years prompting you to need a refresher.

Finding the Right Designer

You can find a number of companies and designers who offer logo design services. The prices can vary widely, how do you know which is the right one for you and your company? Consider the following:

  • Know your budget and buy the best design you can afford. Whether small or large, this is the cardinal rule.
  • Were they recommended? Did the referrer work with the designer or service? Word of mouth is a powerful thing when trust is concerned. If you know someone who recently had a logo done ask them about it.
  • Look at their portfolios. Even if referred, these things can be subjective so ask to see samples. If they do good work they won’t mind showing it.
  • When looking at their logo work see how they expand it to the company’s other materials. A logo doesn’t work alone, see how it works and interacts with the other pieces.

Process and Pricing

As a graphic designer I go through the following process in all of my logo design work.

  1. Initial concept brainstorming in sketchbook (3 concepts, 5 concepts, or 10 concepts)
  2. Send ideas to the client, have a meeting. (depending on the budget these ideas can be pencil sketches that are scanned or full concepts done digitally.)
  3. Client chooses concept of choice. (in large budgets there is often 2 or 3 concepts chosen for development.)
  4. In small budgets, I do font research and develop digital versions. In large budgets I begin developing the system (# of concepts depends on budget)
  5. Client chooses favorite
  6. Final design is refined and final file set is created. (1-colour design, full colour design, and reversed provided)
  7. Guideline sheet: small clients get a single sheet that shows their logo samples, their colour formulas, and their typography. In larger companies a standard guidebook is created with all the collateral applications and printing specifications.

Here’s my rough time estimate:

  • 1-2 concepts: 10-15 hours
  • 2-3 concepts: 15-20 hours
  • 3-4 concepts: 20-30 hours
    Note: Rates vary from designer to designer, the range among design professionals however tends to be between $80.00 – 125.00/hr.

If your budget is very basic, and you feel you’d like to develop it on your own, I have a facebook group page that enables people to post pictures of what they’ve developed and request feedback. Here you can use the forum as a sounding board for ideas and feedback.

Ways to Save Money

  1. Be upfront with the designer at the beginning, tell them your budget.
    Together you can tailor a plan that meets your needs, you are then both responsible to follow it through.
  2. Keep your review team small .
    Many people like to show their budding logo designs to staff, friends and family for feedback, but the more people you involve the longer and more costly the process can be. I recommend choosing 2 people, each with a different view from your own. (ex: you are social, they are an introvert. risktaker vs. cautious) Make sure they understand your company message/promise and what you are trying to convey. Write down their feedback whether or not you agree. Later sit down and digest it before communicating it to the designer.
  3. When communicating changes to the designer, keep it simple and infrequent
    With tight budget clients the amount of changes tends to be very limited. Be sure you know your mind before you contact the designer. When you get the concepts take the time to simply sit and review them. Write down your first impressions on both a emotional level and a technical level, both good and bad. For example, you may not respond well or even like the logo, but you liked the font or colours. Do the same with the feedback you receive from others. Then after, and only after, call/email the designer with your combined feedback.
    I recommend this because, many make the mistake of calling in their changes first, then after others have given them feedback they change their minds again. This is very frustrating to the designer, logo design takes up a great deal of brain space, so changing tracks midway is a sure fire way to go over budget on time.

A logo project is an investment of time and money, by understanding the process in advance hopefully you can save more of the later.

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