Logo design is one of the first services a new business or organization needs. As a professional designer, you certainly realize the competition is fierce when it comes to this very basic design service. Not only are you competing with a saturated market in your metropolitan area, but you also have to compete with the extremely inexpensive (and not even always “cheap” in quality) designers on sites like Fiverr. So how do you stand out? How do you make sure you get the client at this early stage of their business so that when they inevitably need design service in the future–think print work, web work, etc.–they don’t even consider working with anyone but you. The obvious first requirements are skill and cost. You aren’t going to win initial or repeat business if your work is less that stellar and if you’ve priced your work too high for your area. But beyond those two things, the entire design experience you offer to a client will be what wins them over.
One easy way to give your client’s an exceptionally professional experience is to offer initial questionnaires even before your first conceptual design meeting. This doesn’t have to be an over-the-top and extremely long-winded exam. It just needs to be a clear and concise list of questions that help your client get their vision written out before you sit down to talk. Over the course of years as a professional designer, this simple thing has helped immensely. You can create a simple questionnaire in google forms and then embed it into your website or, if you prefer, just send a link to your client via email.
So, what do you ask? Here are the 9 main questions you need answered before you can effectively design a logo for a client:
This one is a no-brainer. You’ll want your client to write out the exact name of the business or organization, complete with business type, like LLC, PLLC, or INC. It’s also imperative that you know the business slogan or tagline from the start of the design process. First, your client may want you to design a version of the logo that includes the tagline. Second, the slogan or tagline is often a hint toward the message or feeling you want your design to relay.
It’s important for a designer to understand the exact purpose of the business or organization so that design can be in-line with the appropriate industry.
This is a very important question, especially for particular clients who may be open to using the abbreviation AS the logo (think CVS, DKNY, KFC and so on). Other times, it may be appropriate to use the abbreviation as part of the logo.
This one is SO IMPORTANT. Understanding the target audience of a business or organization is crucial in creating a logo that is both appropriate and effective. Take for example two of 3V Design’s clients. Children With Hair Loss is an international non-profit organization that provides human hair replacements to children with medically related hair loss at no cost to the family. When first contracted for a logo redesign and partial rebranding in 2012, their logo was dated and one version actually used comic sans (rule #1 in all design: NEVER EVER USE COMIC SANS). 3V was tasked to create a logo that was more modern but still relayed the message that the organization was all about the children they help.
An example of previous branding:
The hearts in the original branding had already been updated, but the organization wanted something that spoke more to what they do and who they are. We determined the logo below offered more “personality” and we are able to adapt it to many themes (the clothes on the stick figure children change for different seasons and events such as Charity Ball, Golf Scramble, Halloween and Christmas)
Another example of a logo design directed towards an audience is the Bettie D. Gonzalez Foundation of Hope which helps motherless daughters with scholarships and mentors. The organization is faith based and wanted to incorporate a bible verse into their logo (keep in mind we also just use the “HOPE” portion of the logo in branding as well). This logo is a good example of branding that includes a tagline or slogan.
This is another no-brainer. Color is an extremely important factor in effective logo design. It often becomes, second only to imagery (including text in an abbreviation logo), the most recognizable part of a logo. If you think of extremely recognizable logos, most have coloring that is equally as recognizable as the imagery and text. Below are some examples of logos that have easily recognizable color in their branding and logo:
*Just a sidenote on colors (and it will be the topic of an upcoming post)…notice how most recognizable brands stick to under three colors. There are exceptions of course, like the NBC peacock and Google, but most brands keep it simple when it comes to colors. Aside from being less busy, this is ultimately a practical choice as promotional items–screen printing and embroidery for example–will often charge more for each color used. A professional designer will feel it important to relay this to their client. Some clients won’t care, and that’s just fine. But many will appreciate the heads up…not every business has the marketing budget of NBC! Just this little tip in helping them chose the colors of their branding will help set you apart from your competition.
Sometimes the answer to this question will be an easy one for the client (ex. A coffee shop may use a bean or cup while a landscaping company may use a tree). Other times they will have no idea and it will be your job as the designer to actually DESIGN the appropriate shape or image, assuming you’ve decided the logo should include a shape or image. To help the client, it may be best to explain this question. Add the description that this should be something representative of what they do.
More often than not, the answer will be no. Designers know and recognize fonts but generally speaking, the rest of the population does not. At least maybe not to the extent where they will be able to just toss out a font name they want to use. Typically, this can be helped by looking at some other logos they like…there will be some similarities that will help determine preference (at the very least serif vs. sans serif). Which leads to the next question…
This can be an extremely helpful insight into your client’s taste. It’s helpful to ask for all examples they like, even those outside their industry. The more examples they provide, the easier it will be to get a sense of common design elements the prefer. At your initial design meeting, using these examples can help facilitate productive conversation about overall look and feel of desired branding.
Understanding your client’s competitors can give a broad picture to the target audience and design elements that work for that audience. This is important even for non-profits that compete with other charities for funding. Getting a good feel for the arena in which your client competes inevitably helps in vision and ultimately, design.
Do you have specific questions about logo design? Feel free to contact us!