Sunday, March 14, 2010

5 Questions To Ask When Buying a Logo Design

Many businesses are lured by advertisements for cheap logos; $299, $149 and even $99. Now, as much as I loathe beginning my first blog with a clichè; you get what you pay for. The unfortunate thing about clichès is, they are almost always true.

So, think you're getting a great deal on a logo? Promises of multiple designers and guarantees of satisfaction? Well, even the cheapest price is too much if all you're left with are lousy designs that you can't use. Take for example the following logo, purchased from a popular, mass-producing logo company (the name of the business has been changed to protect the client's privacy):

Setting aside the fact that the logo emplores the most generic design element known to man (the ridiculously over-used "Saturn Ring"), which offers almost no originality or any identity to the business itself, it is also a near carbon copy of a logo created over a decade ago:

Kobrick Logo design

This is one of the clear dangers of using mass-producing "Logo-Lofty" companies; they do virtually zero market or copyright research. The client must now pay for another logo, with no hope of recovering even a nickel from "".

Month after month we field calls from desperate business owners holding lousy logo designs, out hundreds of dollars, with no recourse. The only satisfaction guarantee from "Logo-NoGo" was they satisfied THEIR requirement of providing 5 designs.

To that end, we try to educate clients about the truth behind "" companies. Here are 5 questions you should ask before laying out your hard-earned cash:

1. Will market and copyright research be conducted?

This is one of the most important questions, as demonstrated above. You should never pay in advance, in full, for designs that you might not be able to use. Part of the benefit of using a qualified graphic design firm, besides the superior design service, is they are trained in the application and development of logo design. This means not only do you get a logo designed only for you, but you can feel safe in knowing the design is original and unique to your business.

2. Are the designs produced exclusively for my company?

This ties in to the first question. And, of course, we know the "Logo-NoGo" companies are not doing the research, so what is to say the designs are even unique to your company. The answer is, they are not. The trick for the mass-producing logo companies is, the designs are created well before they ever heard of your company. Lots of clones are in a room creating stock graphics to be later applied to a unique business name (yours!).

3. Will the logo work in black and white and reproduce well at small sizes?

"Ummmm.... Hello? Cat got your tongue?" Many firms cannot, or simply will not answer this question. Watch out here for vague, distracting answers. Why?

  • Because they have never considered it; they do not realize the importance
  • Because they rely on trendy computer effects; drop shadows, blends and color to "wow" you - all of which will not reproduce in a black and white ad, flyer, or fax.

In short, many designers today simply do not know the key to creating a successful logo, so they dazzle you with trendy effects that will soon be outdated. Put your logo to the test - Will it work across multiple platforms? Does it reproduce well in Black and white? Will it reproduce well at small and large sizes?

Consider some of the most recognizable logos: Coca Cola®, BMW®, Nike®, Microsoft®, GE®, CBS®, Time/Warner®, Apple®, McDonalds® and Ford® , just to name a few. All are as relevant today as the day they were created, which was well before the advent of computers! If you're logo does not work first in black and white, and at both very large and very small sizes, it most certainly will not be good for very long.

4. Do you have relevant examples?

When looking for a specific style or treatment for your logo be sure the design firm you are interviewing can provide samples of the look or style you are trying to achieve. If the design firm doesn't have an extensive portfolio (15 or more designs), they may be an inexperienced company that can not provide you with a wide array of options. A quick review of our portfolio will reveal an extensive range of styles and techniques, for instance.

5. Will you work until I am 100% satisfied, creating new designs when necessary?

This is difficult question for most design firms. Should a design firm be expected to create endless new designs at a fixed fee? In most cases the answer is no, unless that fixed fee is pretty substantial. But we do believe a design should never be "forced" upon a client. Which is why our policy is to collect only a 50% retainer to create logo designs and we do not charge another penny until the project is completed to our CLIENTS' satisfaction. Now, all businesses have different budgets, so how much INITIAL design and research work is done will vary, but will not vary is our clients' complete satisfaction. After initial designs are presented, the client chooses to either move forward or move on.

For more on logo design, here is an excellent article on design and branding


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  2. Logo Designs are the first coat of paint on a website/brand. I almost said the foundation but I think a content management system like Word Press is more of the foundation. We use logos as starting point of the sites we design.

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