Logo or trademark
Started a new company or launched a new product and need a logo? I craft logos following a comprehensive design process. You are presented with the best ideas and advice on colours, making the decision easier for you. Is it time to invest in a professional identity?
Q: How long will it take to create my new logo?
A: Logos can take anywhere from one hour to hundreds of hours to create. To answer how long yours will take depends on the answer to some other questions that I might throw back at you. How professional does your logo need to be? Yes I could probably create you a logo in one hour but you need to really ask yourself if that approach will allow time to explore enough possibilities to come up with the best representation of your brand. Sometimes a quick and simple logo is all you need to get a small business up and started. Even then I would still recommend getting a designer to take a couple of hours to come up with something simple but flexible to hang your hat on. You can always start with a logotype and add a symbolic piece later on when you have more money for developing your growing brand. But do take into account that you’ll probably be spending some money on getting that logo printed onto all sorts of collateral like business cards, signage, website maybe even a vehicle or packaging and if so it’s better to put the investment into getting it right from the start rather than facing costly reprints down the road when you realise your brand is confusing or worse still illegible because you didn’t allow enough design time.
I don’t think it should ever take hundreds of hours to design a logo as is the case when you sometimes hear about these big government bodies paying so much for one little logo. You’ve got to wonder how many people got involved in the process and all had to have a say when that type of blowout happens. Personally I have had a client comment that I came closer to what she wanted after the first hour then what a previous designer on the task had taken months to not finalise. However it did take a few more hours of refining to polish the final look. Coming up with new ideas is relatively easy, well I find it so, but it’s the refinement process that makes sure your logo will work across a range of different applications that is where the experience of a designer really is worth it’s weight in gold. I would recommend allowing around 8 hours for a strong brand. However you can always let a designer know how much you have to spend up front and let them decide how to break that down into what they need to do to get you a finished piece. For example if you say you can only afford four hours then they know they can’t afford to explore so many ideas and have to start polishing the first few concepts earlier in the process.
Q: What do I need to provide the designer with?
A: A good idea of what your company is about. Remember you know your company inside out but the designer only knows what you tell them or what they can find on your website ( if you have one existing ). You should start with a one line sentence that sums up your company in a nutshell. This could be your tagline if you already have one and if you don’t you should think of one. Even if you don’t need to put a tagline on any stationary or packaging it’s important from a business mentality stance to know what your company boils down to and be able to state it succinctly. Don’t just give the designer the name and ask them to start brainstorming ideas as this may well be wasted time. You need to make sure they get what it is you do. Also don’t be overly idealistic about what it is you do in your description. If you sell widgets don’t tell your designer “We are in the business of making people happy through redistribution of widget based assets.” instead say “We sell widgets but by the way it’s really important to us that our customers are happy” or something like that. Point being if you confuse your message to your designer you confuse your message to your public thereafter through an inappropriate logo design. The single most important thing you can do to end up with a good logo is make sure your designer understands what it is that you do, to the point where I would even suggest inviting your designer to visit your business premises if possible before having them design something. In one of the design companies I previously worked in I worked with a sales representative who used to take me with him to client meetings at their premises and it was much easier to get my head around what the client actually did by seeing it in first person rather than through a game of second-hand whispers.
Q: What else should I provide?
A: Any existing or previous logos, preferences for colour and reasons behind them (e.g: I think green means fresh or lilac is the bosses wifes’ favourite colour.) Any fonts that are used in existing documentation particularly if it’s a rebrand and not a new design from scratch. Sometimes the logo can be outdated but the rests of the “look” can be salvageable and it’s good to keep some measure of consistency if you can.
Q: Anything else you need?
A: The more the merrier. The designer can always put aside anything that is irrelevant but it’s a problem if you neglect to tell them that the red you’ve asked for is a specific shade of red that needs to be matched with packaging. If you are giving a lot of information it’s helpful to prioritise it a bit and say “Here’s the most important message we want our brand to convey but here’s some other stuff about our company if you find a way to work it in, that’s great!”
Have a look at examples of logo work by me.