Asking a designer how they create a logo is a bit like asking a musician how they write a song or an author how they write a book. Every creative will have a different process and different amount of experience. Different things will inspire them and they will all work in different ways.
Why on earth did I ask that question then?
Well, ‘how do I design a great logo’ and ‘how do I build my brand’ are questions I get asked fairly regularly. I can understand why people want to know too. Hiring a designer isn’t always cheap and we all like to make sure our investments are worthwhile.
If you’ve not worked with a designer before, it can be daunting – we’re all nervous of things we don’t know. So where to begin?
A logo is not a brand
First things first. A logo is not a brand. A brand is not branding. Let me explain.
Branding or brand – what’s the difference?
A brand is out of your control. It is built from experiences that someone has with your organisation, product or service. It’s a lasting impression or customer experience. I can’t put it better than this (although I disagree with how Amazon operates)…
“A brand is what people say about your business when you’re not in the room.”Jeff Bezos, Amazon
Branding you can control. It is how you show yourself to your audience. It includes tone of voice, look and feel, ethics and values – everything your business does and everything it presents to the world – customers, suppliers, staff and anyone else that interacts with your business in some way.
I’ve written in more detail about what a brand is and why it’s important for voice artists to have one here.
What is a logo?
A logo is a visual marker for your brand. It forms part of your branding. And there are many more things that also create that brand.
Elements that make up a brand identity.
A logo is only a small part of your visual identity – shapes and colours that should be immediately recognisable. Logos can inspire trust, build loyalty, imply knowledge and expertise and show the personality of the business they represent.
There is a lot of pressure on that little logo – it needs to work. And it needs to work hard.
Where to get your logo
Buying a logo from Fiverr is very different to hiring someone (like me!) to create your brand. This is why…
Spec or design contests
I’m talking about sites like Fiverr and Upwork.
As much as voices are generally discouraged from providing services on these sites, I’d like to request that you don’t hire through these sites either. Why? For the same reasons. Most of these sites are based on the idea that the designer does the work, pitches against other designers and only the chosen work is paid for.
You would never go to a restaurant, ask several chefs to prepare and cook a meal for you. Then place those plates of food in front of you for you to choose one meal, only paying for the one dish you eat.
The equivalent happens all the time on these sites. People are expected to work with no guarantee of financial gain for their time. It’s wrong. It’s unethical. Please, do your bit and don’t hire this way.
That doesn’t mean to say I’m not expecting designers to prove they can do a job well. Absolutely they should – that’s what portfolios are for. But don’t ask someone to complete a job on the off chance you like it and might pay for it at some point.
Cheap logo design
Now I do appreciate that not everyone has the budget to invest in a bespoke logo, but there is a reason for the price difference between a logo and branding. If you get a logo from somewhere like Canva, Fiverr or Upwork what you’re getting is a mix-and-match design. Standard fonts, usually predictable and cliché images. You’ll get standard fonts and the design you buy could easily be used by other businesses too. You certainly won’t get anything unique.
Another issue you’ll likely face is you’ll only get one version of your logo in one file type, often in one colour. What you should get is several versions (also known as lockups) of your logo that work at various sizes, in more than one colour and in several file formats.
Why? Because you can’t use the same size or lockup logo on your website as you do in the browser tab icon, invoices or on merchandise. The file format needed for a logo on a website is different to that used in print or in PowerPoint. Some file formats have transparent backgrounds others don’t. Sometimes you’ll need a logo that works on a black or dark background, at other times it will need to work on a white or pale background. No single file can do all those things.
What you need is a selection of logos at different sizes, lockups, colours and file formats. If you want more details about what you should get when asking for a logo design – this handy guide explains just that and shows which file formats work best where.
Bespoke design services
A logo should represent you. Let’s think about the paragraph above that says logos should represent your business visually, inspiring trust, loyalty and personality. Logos give out an impression. If that impression is negative, that also reflects negatively on your business.
The only way that this can happen is if the designer gets to know you and your business.
There are lots of good brand designers out there. Part of the process of choosing a designer should always be about you getting along with that person. If you’re comfortable working with them, giving both positive and negative feedback, you are far more likely to get an end product that you love. So go out and research. Get personal recommendations from people. Read testimonials. Look at past work they’ve done. Talk to the designer. Not every designer will suit you. And that is just fine. Just ensure you pick well!
I mentioned above that every creative works differently, and while that is true, there are some fairly standard steps many designers follow. And there are common costs that we all must cover. Most branding design processes will include:
- The Brief – a questionnaire or interview with you so they can get to know you and your business.
- Competitor Research – it’s important to know what’s already out there. You don’t want to go though weeks of project to end up with something that looks similar to your biggest competitor!
- Client Research – as much as your branding is about selling you, it has to appeal to your potential clients. A brand (and a website) is not for you.
- Initial ideas and sketching – This stage you may never see. Often ideas are sketched, left for a few days to mature and then quite probably changed. They are developed over time and ideas need to be tested and refined.
- Concepts and Revisions – Be cautious of any designer that only presents one option at one size/lockup or doesn’t include revisions within their costs.
- Final files – Once you do choose a design, that design will then go through further refining processes. Multiple files will be created. Different lockups, colour combinations and file sizes.
- Brand guidelines – What is the point in getting your new logos and colours if you have no guide on how to use them? If there are no brand guidelines, how will a photographer know how to shoot photos to match your brand style? Guidelines are important.
- Time – This is the really big one. A custom branding and logo project takes time. As a business owner yourself, you’ll know that the time you actually work on a project isn’t straight forward. There is the time you actually work on a project. Creative thinking time. Admin. Marketing. The list goes on. And let’s not forget about the value of experience and training.
- Other costs – fonts, software, websites, accountants, bank fees – we all have them and they need to be covered.
An example of what you get at the end of a project
Here’s an example of just how many logo variants and files I give at the end of a branding project – this is usually a minimum:
- Logo lockups (main, stacked and icon) – that’s 3
- Each logo will be in multiple colours
- Black & white – 2 files
- Multiple colour – at least 1
- Each single brand colour – at least 5
- Each version of logo will be in 4 file formats
- Ai (the original artwork so you can adapt the logo at a later date should you need to)
- Jpg (used in apps like word or PowerPoint)
- Png (a transparent background so perfect for apps like Canva or your website)
- Svg (website specific)
3 lockups. Each in 8 colours. Each in 4 file formats.
That’s at least 96 individual logo files.
I also include a few logos specifically made for social media profiles and some custom drawn illustrations or patterns too. And the brand guidelines. It’s quite normal to get over 100 files in total from me.
How do you know if you’ve got a great logo?
You’ll love it.
You will be proud of what’s been created and you’ll want to shout about it to the world. A great logo and branding results in easier marketing simply because it will feel good talking about what you do. If you’re embarrassed by your logo or website, you’re unlikely to tell people about your business.
It will flex as your business grows.
No business stays still for very long. Services are developed, skills grow, opportunities come along and are taken. If you just voice audiobooks now and start live presenting in a few years – that same logo should work for all genres of voice work. A great logo and branding will flex as your business grows and changes.
It will last for a long time
Nobody should need to get a new logo sooner than 5 to 10 years. Look at the huge brands – those logos have (in some cases) been around for decades. They have been refined, but the basics are the same.
Things to consider before the project
Here are some questions to ask before you start working on your logo.
- Does the designer get me and my work?
- What will I get at the end of the project?
- Are there any hidden costs?
- Will I get something completely unique to me?
Most importantly – do your research
- Get costs from more than one designer – see what different packages include.
- Check out previous work – do you like the style (we’re all different).
- Look at reviews and testimonials.
- Chat to them before committing (any good designer will be happy to do this for free).
If you’re concerned about budget and don’t want to invest more than a few pounds in a logo, consider if that money would be better invested elsewhere. For voice artists especially – there are more important things for your business growth than a logo. You must have a good demo – preferably more than one. Voice coaching is extremely valuable (if not essential). If you’re working from your own studio – the sound needs to be top-notch.
If you’ve already got a broadcast quality studio, a range of top-notch demos and have honed your craft and vocal skills, then a great logo and brand could be that next step to boost your business.