Logo design is an essential element of effective branding and marketing. A company’s logo is often the very first thing that potential customers see when they first encounter a brand. If the logo doesn’t do a good job of conveying the brand’s industry, message, and personality, customers may move on to a competitor and never give the first brand a second look.
For that reason, choosing the right designer for your logo is an absolute must. Many companies don’t give the process sufficient thought – and as a result, they end up with ineffective logos that don’t do what they need to do.
Why Picking the Right Designer Matters
Let’s start by talking about why picking the right designer matters. After all, there are thousands of graphic designer and logo designers available for hire. Won’t any one of them do?
The answer shouldn’t surprise you. Of course you can’t hire a designer without putting some thought into it, any more than you would hire somebody for any other position of responsibility within your company. If you end up with the wrong logo – one that fails to represent your company or connect with your target audience – your marketing efforts may end up being in vain. It won’t matter if you do a good job with content if your logo turns people away.
A skilled logo designer must be:
1. Compatible with you and your team. Logo design has to be a collaborative effort to be successful. Nobody knows your company better than you do, so you have to work with a designer who is able to listen to you needs and then combine them with their own experience and knowledge to create the perfect logo for you.
2. Understanding of your needs and desires. A good logo designer knows that what you want has to come first, and will always put your needs first in the design process.
The care and attention you give to choosing the best possible designer for your logo will pay off in terms of brand recognition, brand loyalty, and sales. The logo you choose will impact your company and your brand for years to come.
Qualities of a Good Logo Designer
At this point, it may be helpful to look at the qualities of a good logo designer. While each designer will have his own particular style and method of conceptualizing a logo, all good designer do share some common traits.
Design skill is a must in any logo designer. A good designer does not necessarily have to be formally trained, but they should have a solid grasp of things like forms, shapes, colors, and fonts. Art training of some kind is often a prerequisite for design firms who seek to hire logo designers, but self-taught designers can often be just as effective as those who have years of training.
1) Creativity is the next necessary skill, and it might seem like an obvious one. However, it’s important to mention because sometimes companies – particularly those in conservative industries – overlook the importance of creativity when it comes to logo design. Creativity is the difference between a logo that looks just like those of your competitors and one that stands out while still representing your industry and the work you do. A creative logo designer can take industry standard imagery and find a way to make it feel fresh and new.
2) On a related note, knowledge of your particular industry is also extremely important. The logo design imperatives for a florist will necessarily be very different than the design concerns for an insurance company. If you choose a designer who doesn’t have the necessary knowledge about your industry or niche, you may very well end up with a logo that is ineffective at best and inappropriate at worst. The best case scenario will always be working with a designer who has years of experience designing logos for companies in your industry and can bring that experience to bear in the design of your new logo.
3) Creative people can certainly take pride in their work, but a lack of ego is an essential characteristic of a logo designer. Because the process is, as mentioned previously, highly collaborative, you can’t afford to hire a designer who will let their ego get in the way of designing an effective logo. Designers have to have a thick skin and the ability to let go of a design when it doesn’t work for their client. There’s an old saying about creative work that says in order to achieve true greatness, you have to be prepared to “kill your darlings.” That’s just as true of logo design as it is of any other creative endeavor.
A designer who has these four qualities will be in a very good position to evaluate your needs, listen to your concerns, and then come up with one or more designs to represent you and your company.
Tips for Evaluating Designers
It may be helpful to know the qualities of a good logo designer, but some of these qualities may be difficult to discern without research. With that in mind, here are some tips to help you evaluate potential designers and choose the one who’s the best fit for you.
The first step of the evaluation process is the interview, although it may be interchangeable with the second step depending upon how you first come into contact with a designer.
The interview should really be looked at as a test. Does the designer show up on time (or call you on time if it’s a phone interview)? Do they listen to what you say and show signs that they understand you.
A designer who interrupts you, talks over you, or seems prepared to steamroll you with ideas is probably not going to be a good fit. The interview is your chance to figure out whether you’ll be able to work with a designer. If they don’t respect you or they seem incapable of listening, you should probably move on.
Even a phone interview (or a Skype interview) can be helpful, although an in-person encounter is probably best. Be prepared to spend at least 20 minutes with each designer and trust your instincts. It doesn’t matter how good someone’s portfolio is. You have to be able to work harmoniously together.
The next step is to look at an artist’s portfolio to get an idea of their design aesthetic and previous work. (As stated previously, this step may occur prior to the interview depending upon your screening process.)
A designer’s portfolio is a glimpse into their creative process. Any designer worth their salt should have a substantial portfolio to show you, one that includes logos for various companies. It is especially important to look for logos in your industry or in related industries.
As you review the portfolio, look up some of the companies in question and see if they are still using the designer’s logo. That can be a good way to tell if the designer filled the company’s needs or failed to do so. Of course, nobody gets it right all the time – but the majority of companies should be satisfied with the designers work.
Experience and References
The final step in the evaluation process should be checking the designer’s work history and experience. It may be difficult to verify work experience, particularly if the designer you are hiring is working on a freelance basis. However, things like education should be easy to confirm – and you should take the time to do so.
Checking references is an absolute must before you hire a logo designer. Here, you should ask the designer for at least three references, preferably all in your industry. If they do not have three references in your industry, then try to find people in similar industries. For example, if you’re in a conservative industry like insurance, you might ask for references in accounting, banking, or finance. The idea is to get an overview of how they worked with people like you.
When you call references, make sure to ask whether they were satisfied with the designer’s work and if they would recommend them. It’s also a good idea to ask pointed questions about the collaboration process to get an idea of what it might be like to work with them.
Don’t skip this step. References are often the best way to determine whether a designer is a good fit for you and your needs.
The process of hiring a logo designer can be a challenge, but it’s important to take the steps recommended here to ensure that you end up with someone who can deliver a logo that’s effective and memorable. At The Logo Company, we assign five designers to each client so you’ll always have a choice of designs. We pride ourselves on doing good work for our clients, and we look forward to working with you.