The “BRA” logo is one of my favourites!
  • Avoid Logo Design Problems. Five of the 10 Questions to Ask a Graphic Designer Before You Hire Them.

    November 08, 2013

    Avoid logo design problems. Five of the 10 questions to ask a graphic designer before you hire them.

    “BRA” program logo designed for the Princess Margaret Hospital Foundation

    By Maureen McCabe

    Everyone makes mistakes, but it‘s the lessons learned that makes us smarter. By reading this blog and Part 2 you will be smarter when communicating your requirements for your logo.

    My first video was created in 2010 and as a good marketer, I wanted to brand it with my logo. The idea was to have a watermark in the lower right hand corner. Simply put this was not viable because it was ‘blurry’. For those in the know, the term is pixelated. I then had to invest in a new one.

    Visual Identity

    Let’s skip the graphic designers’ jargon of corporate or visual identity, and call it what we know it as – a logo.

    The talented team at Overdrive who designed my logo (website and a bunch of other stuff too) cringes every time I say the word logo. Although I know the lingo when communicating with 99% of my clients and prospective clients, I use the word logo. To quote my most-read blog: “Speak in the words of your prospective customers or you won’t reach them.”

    Logo education

    Before you engage a graphic designer – you need to know what to ask for.

    • Wordmark – letters designed creatively. FedEx is an example. My logo is a wordmark, although not world renown – yet!
    • Wordmark with hook – letters with something eye catching that hooks you to continue to look at the logo. Perhaps a letter is highlighted such as Accenture.
    • Logo with graphic – text and image. The “BRA” logo is an example. (I volunteered for the fundraising campaign as did one of my graphic designers, Gustavo Cadar who designed the logo.)

    Question 1: Work samples

    Please request to see their complete portfolio. If you are hiring a graphic designer to create a logo, you will likely engage them to work on other projects which may include business cards, stationery, brochures, banners for social media, print ads, online ads etc. etc. etc.

    NOTE: They may not have a website or one that is current. Some designers use social media such as Facebook or Pinterest profile. At a minimum, request that they consolidate their work into a PDF.

    Question 2: References

    You may wish to ask for and check the references of the graphic designer you wish to engage. Or you are comfortable with recommendations online and you are the type of person who trusts their natural instincts.

    Question 3: Accessibility

    Is the person working on your project a full-time graphic designer or part-time freelancer? There are some great freelancers that I have worked with over the years. If they have a day-job, understand when you can speak or meet with them. If it’s only in the evening or on weekends, does that suit your schedule?

    Question 4: Industry experience

    For some small business owners they only want to work with a designer who has worked in their industry. If this is critical, you will likely have to go to a larger agency or a boutique graphic designer. Expect your search to be prolonged as you seek the right fit.

    Question 5: What is their design process?

    If they are truly designing something original for you, there is a process. However, based on your budget the following may be significantly compressed:

    Discovery (research, competitors)

    Exploration (main logo and sub-brands if required)
    Step 1 – Pencil sketching and free associations. They are looking for the ‘nugget’ and all would likely be shared with you.

    Design (detailing and final design) and Revisions (usually many)
    Step 2 – Black and white logo design on a computer. This is the longest stage. You should be presented with a minimum for 3-4 options (although sometimes it is 10 or more!)
    Step 3 – Once the option is chosen, the designer would create the logo in colour, and provide final detailing.

    Output (prepping final files for their various on/off-line use)

    Read Part 2 to learn the other five questions you should ask.

    6. Samples and revisions
    7. File formats
    8. Social media
    9. Style guidelines
    10. Cost

    If you have a question or comment, or just can’t wait until I post the next blog, please contact me.

    Check out my other blogs about branding strategies:

    What type of website is the best option for your business?
    What is “marketing branding” for your small business?
    Avoid Logo Design Problems, Part 2

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  1. Claire Rafferty03:10pm,

    Wow! Thanks for all the great tips. I’m meeting with my ‘logo’ designer next week and would have forgotten to ask some of these very important questions. Much appreciated!

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