So You Need a New Logo

Cup of coffee and napkin with logo drawn on it.

Written by Amanda Wilson

You need a new look for your business. You could be a start-up, you could be an established company looking for a refresh. A friend of a friend says his friend is a graphic designer who works for cheap. You hand your friend a sketch of your idea on a napkin, and Bob’s your uncle!

Yes?

No!

Your visual brand is the first impression people have of your business. It must reflect your business personality and service with just the right tone and color. There’s so much more that we pick up with the subconscious mind than we do consciously and the message you send with your logo and your visual packaging is vital. So, don’t go for cheesy and cheap unless you want a cheesy and cheap result.

This means of course that you should hire an expert. How do you decide who to work with, and what do you expect when you do contract a graphic designer to create or refresh your brand?

We have all the answers. Or some of them.

1)      Do your research!

Look around you. See the local brands you like and ask around to see who’s doing great work in your community.  Get recommendations from business associates. Google is your friend when it comes to looking up local designers. Then, check their websites. Do you like how they represent themselves visually? Do they have a strong portfolio and do you like the work they did for their clients?

2)      Narrow your list

Create a list of prospective designers. Contact them to find out if they’re actively accepting new clients. Once you have a list of 3, meet with them in person. If none feel right, that’s okay! Start again.

3)      Make sure it's a fit

Meeting potential designers in person allows you to find out if your and their personalities jive. Do they get your vision? Do they understand your goals? Do they ask intelligent questions about your business? When you leave the meeting, do you feel excited about your brand? Then ask for references and make sure you check them.

4)      Know the difference

A graphic designer is not necessarily the same as a website developer, so make sure you know what the expert has to offer before you sign them on to the work. No question is stupid, and the more questions you ask, the more you will know.

5)      Get it in writing

Have your shortlisted designers provide you a quote for their services. You’ll probably find you’ll get a range of pricing, from inexpensive to higher end. I don’t automatically go with the lowest quote unless I feel like they are the best fit. I end up somewhere in the middle. This process, though, helps you understand what the going rate is for the work you want done.

6)      Help with the vision

It really helps the designer if you know what you’re looking for, both in a general and specific sense. So whatever you can do upfront to figure out what that is, please do, whether it’s an inspiration board on Pinterest or knowing what colours and style you like. Don’t be so vague that the designer can’t possibly please you.

7)      Respect the process

Remember, you hired an expert. So be open their suggestions and recommendations and listen to their concerns, if they have them, about the way you want to represent your brand. And, a great designer is also willing to hear and absorb what you don’t like about what how they represent your vision. It should be a respectful conversation.

8)      Enjoy the journey

Your designer loves working on your brand just as much as you loved creating it. So get excited about your new look because this is a creatively stimulating experience, and can help you focus on what you appreciate about what your business provides, as well as providing inspiration on getting better.

Here’s some great advice from some graphic designers I know:

Sarah MacNeill, Carte Studio: For me, design is a conduit for communication, and there are informed choices to make and problems to solve along the way to ensure the message(s) being communicated are effective and clear. This is half the fun! I want to be part of the initial idea phase because my specialty is to do the thinking and develop a creative concept, which helps to ensure a cohesive and comprehensive execution of the project. 

Brooke Semple, See-Saw DesignWhen you begin with research and define the goals of the project and uncover the message that needs to be communicated and to whom, it creates a container for the project. We no longer base things on guesses or personal taste but on strategic goals. 

All creative decisions from font choices, logo design and colour palette right the way through to the layout of the website or marketing campaign is all created to line up with those goals. When the client and the designer are on the same page and you communicate the rationale for your decision making, there tends not to be that much confusion or miscommunication. 

Brad Felt, Creative Juices:  A good designer should create confidence in their work, their professionalism, and their ability to hit deadlines. Discuss rates. Realistically, price does have to factor in for both parties, so it needs to be addressed as early as possible so as not to waste either side’s time.

Leia Vik, The Studio Design & Marketing: Asking a designer or firm for graphics help doesn’t need to be a scary thing. We are professionals in our field but at the end of the day the client needs to be happy with the vision and feel they had positive input to give.