Branding advice | Branding for start-ups | Small business branding advice
Logo design is one of the most challenging business assets to buy. Because it is rarely bought, there are many horror stories, wasted budgets and stressful experiences due to countless misunderstandings around buying a logo.
This is more evident with small businesses and start-ups. Typically, there are two starting points:-
You have a name and you need a logo, or you have a name and a logo idea that you want to be done correctly.
Because logo design is so subjective and there are many unqualified practitioners, very often this process can end up very expensive and always stressful.
Below, I’ve outlined some key issues to be aware of when briefing a logo designer. This should ensure that you get what you need, on time and in budget.
If you are a start-up
Finding the right logo/branding designer for you.
Try to avoid jargon-filled sales rhetoric and promises that they will transform your business overnight. It doesn’t happen. Often the more inexperienced a designer, the more you will be spun cliché ridden nonsense.
There is also a whole industry of logo designers who tend to design for other designers and peer praise. There is little consideration for the clients’ needs and requirements. Find someone who has your best interests at heart and understands what you need to do.
Preparing your brief and requirements.
As with most purchases of value, always make sure you ask for or read the designer’s terms and conditions. Most professional designers will have them, if not, make it very clear what it is you want to be created and delivered. Many legal problems have arisen from casually briefing designers and something goes wrong.
There are several necessary ‘must include’ elements to a brief that are essential. You must ensure that the budget is fixed and there are no surprises at the end. Inevitably, there will be amendments and developments. Some designers factor this in, with a certain amount of revisions, some will charge extra. The key is to get your brief as exact and concise as possible to avoid countless redesigns. You also need to make it very clear when you require the finished work.
It is also worth noting that part of the brief should include precisely what you want to say in the logo. Have a look at How should you construct your logo? This article might help you when creating your brief. You should also ask for all copyrights to be reassigned to you on completion before initial payment. Reassignment does not happen automatically and there should be no charge for this. See Who owns your logo?
Below is a briefing sheet for start-ups outlining the basic things you should provide any designer when briefing them. This serves two purposes.
Firstly it provides all the necessary information any decent logo designer would need to know to produce the right solution. And secondly, it will alleviate any ambiguity or misunderstandings regarding the expected outcomes.
Timescales and touchpoints
After you have found a designer and established a budget, the next thing to do is confirm timings. Do you have an imminent launch event date? Are you attending an important meeting or presentation in the near future? Even if you do not have an impending need, it is always wise to work to a timescale.
If you are not working to your timescales, most designers will give you a timeframe of all critical stages to the project. If they do not offer this, insist on one. This avoids your project unnecessarily dragging on, at the convenience of the designer. My logo brief sheet above will give you a rough outline of key stages that you should expect and demand.
What should you expect back?
This will, of course, vary from designer to designer. It is also dependant on your requirements. For this guide, I have assumed that the need is for a logo on its own. For positioning or branding programmes, the stages are a little different.
For a logo identity design, there is an industry-accepted process and delivery. In principle you should expect:-
Based on your brief, the initial presentation should include 3-4 different routes or themes. These themes could be:-
• Quirky, eg.
Each route or theme should include different colourways and approaches. It takes seconds to change a colour in a design programme and most credible designers will explore different colour combinations at the initial stage.
After you have seen the initial ideas in Stage 1 and have given your feedback, you should then expect to see developments of your chosen routes and themes presented back at this stage. This could include:-
• Typeface variants
• Chosen colourways
• Spacing, sizing and layout
• Logo content finalisation
At this stage, your logo should be near to the final version.
For Stage 3, you should be getting back a refined logo, with all developments decided from Stage 2 and ready for sign off from you. You should also receive different variants of the finished logo for various usage. This should include:-
• Full colour
• Single colour
• Reversed out
• Small usage
• Transparent background etc.
At this stage, you should sign off all deliverables of the logo versions.
Finally, you will receive the finished logo and variants in all file formats required. This should include:-
and a native file, probably .ai (Adobe illustrator)
You should also request a copyright reassignment notice from the designer on final delivery. This can be an email or dated letter. Who owns your logo?
This process shouldn’t vary too much whatever the budget is.
If you are an established small business
Briefing a logo designer is slightly more complicated if you are an established organisation. There are more things to consider. You will be more aware of your positioning, strengths and weaknesses. Established businesses need more experienced branding input.
The typical Common branding Pain Points for established small business are:-
1 “We want to create a strong, forward-thinking, brand identity that helps our business stand out from the crowd.”
2 “We need to re-brand our business because our identity is tired and no longer communicates what we’re about.”
3 “We want to work with a design agency that we can talk to like normal people and communicate with easily.”
For established businesses, one of the first things to consider is why do you need to re-brand? The reason for re-branding is crucial information to include within the brief for a designer.
It is also worth researching and pinpointing where improvements can be made from your existing logo. Has your positioning changed? Are your services or products different now? Are your standards and quality of servicing better now? All these things should be within the brief so a designer can understand exactly where the company has been and what you what to achieve in the future.
Below is a briefing sheet for established small businesses outlining the basic things you should provide any designer when briefing them.
And finally, remember, the more you put into your brief, the better the logo you get back.
See related article:- How long should a business logo last?
If you have any questions or queries about this article please get in touch.
© 2019 c eye (Gary)