LOGO DESIGN FAQ | A work in progress. Please don't take it so seriously.
This page has gotten old, and my outlook has since changed - but I have left it up as it has been widely circulating around the net for 5 years and there has been a tremendous response from visitors to the page. This page now ranks as the number one result for Logo Design FAQ on google. It has even spawned copycats. If you would rather see my work, check out my logo design portfolio
Hello, my name is Raja Sandhu and I am a graphic designer. I am writing this FAQ in the best interest of my clients, myself, and hopefully other designers. After 4 years and 1000 logos (let's make that 10 years and a lot more logos later), I have come to the point where questions and answers are too repetitive and time consuming for both client and designer. Rather than answering 50 emails a day individually, I think it will now be easier to address those frequently asked questions with this page, my tongue-in-cheek Logo Design FAQ. This list will be growing and I encourage feedback from visitors to this page.
1. "How much for a logo?"
By far, the most common question. By far, the question most dreaded. But it is the most expected and sincere question as well. I have asked it myself.
I often try to draw analogies to other industries in hopes for some compassion from the prospecting client towards the difficulty in answering this question. It's like walking into a giant car dealership and asking the desk clerk "how much for a car?". Sounds pretty silly doesn't it. There are far too many factors involved in the process. I don't have a back room where I go and 'find your size' then place a nice little logo in a nice little white bag, along with receipt and give you a big smile and say "here you go". I wish it were that easy. On the other hand, if that's what you want, then I suggest you try the dime-a-dozen logo factories online that can produce you a 'super brand' plus 3 revisions and deliver your face to the world in GIF format, 60 minutes later. If so, here you go.
(removed links refrencing spec-work, crowdsourcing, and bad results for clients)
Better yet, how NOT to design a logo
On the other hand, here are some of the factors involved in my process..
Learning about your business–
idea is to capture the essence. Talking with the client on what's
best for their business is the most important thing for me. Learning
about the market, the demographic, the competitor and some other
words I don't remember from marketing class right now.
I find that I spend more time talking to the client than actually designing a logo. It used to be the other way around but I have learned what works better now. Work smarter.
The questions can be endless, I need to do my research in order to know what's up and create a logo that works. This takes time, and the client rarely supplies this information apart from a few web site links and a 2 sentence mission statement. “We have a revolutionary product. We want to conquer the world”. Thanks.
Learning about my business-
From my experience, I would guess that 80 percent of my clients didn't know anything about the logo design process. They are mainly composed of start-ups, small business owners or individuals. I spend a lot of time explaining this process to them. Everything from conceptualization to the file format of the deliverables. I have heard far too many times clients asking "how will you drop the logo off?" When in actuality, I simply email the vector source files. I have worked with medium to large scale businesses as well, usually under Non Disclosure Agreements. It's not any easier. There is always that hot-shot 'marketing-guy' that feels he needs to tell me that "a good logo should be easily etched in sand using your big toe" or using red 'invokes rage'. OK, buddy. Nonetheless, dealing with larger clients is always a fun and a learning experience. I was asked by an 'executive' the other day if I use an Etch A Sketch to design logos.
2. "What's your process?"
This is the phase (after the above) where I bounce ideas back and forth with, firstly my right and left brains, then with the client. This is to to develop some sort of direction. At this point, we usually determine if we want an illustrative logo, a simple mark, customized lettering, ornate decals, a mascot, or simply a word mark.
With all the above info in hand, I have enough ammo to hit the sketch pad. I will do this in the oddest places and at the oddest times. I once immediately got off the highway while driving, to draw a logo concept that came to me, that I just had to get on paper. I draw with shapes and letters until I create something that I think could work as a business identity. I then decide it should be moved over to the digital stage where I open up Adobe Illustrator and begin perfecting my conceptual doodles. Sometimes I will sit there just scratching my head for an hour. Sometimes I will have a eureka moment and with divine intervention a great idea strikes and we have a winning logo. But most of the time I am suffering from ADD. Seriously though, this is the time-frame that is the most difficult to quantify. Sure, I can slap a swoosh and ball next to your company name and make you think I work super-fast just to buy more time, but I don't do that.
Initial Logo Drafts –
Here’s the only moment the client really cares about. All that mumble-jumble above, face it, no one cares. Nothing is more critical than a cool looking logo. I create a project page (private URL) for the client where they can monitor the progress and status of the project. All concepts are presented here along with all revisions and modifications. This is where knowledge comes to fruition. This is where I get the clients feedback. Probably the second most important part of the entire logo design process.This is the stage where I will hear things like “I love this logo, but can we see a different symbol and can you try a different font?” Gee, thanks. They basically said it sucks in a polite way. In seriousness though, this is where we make tweaks to my original concept. Common requests range from, “can I see that in orange”, “how would it look if you put the lettering below the icon”, “needs more lens flare”, to "Do you have a refund policy?" :(
Revising and Modifying –
I don’t really know the difference between those two words but let’s just carry on. It makes it look like double the work when I mention them to the client. After making the changes (which sometimes I am totally against – but, hey, the client is always right) I present the newly revised logos. This stage, again, like the sketching stage, is often difficult to quantify since it is a back and forth process and the progress depends on both parties.
Revising and Modifying –
Once a logo has been chosen, I request the rest of the payment, before handing over the source files. Once the deliverables are in the clients hand, I also walk the through the printing process, plus inform them of the several different file formats and where and how they should be used.
So yeah, there are many factors involved in giving a quote. Here is some criteria for good logo designs, as said by the genius, John Langdon
* Appropriate - They must embody and convey a
feeling that represents the nature of the industry at large. Logos
for a ballet company, a bank, and a produce distributor should look
The most important thing I can say here is that the end result will be only as good as the clients input. It's a team effort.
Logo Design Evolution
3. "What’s the turn around time?"
Hopefully you have read #1 and 2. That should let you know that this is not an instant process nor should it be. I am not saying that it can’t be though. Anything is possible when creativity is involved. I generally give 1-2 weeks to show some initial logo concepts. Another 1-2 weeks to revise and modify. 1 week to finalize. That is the general safe window I give to clients. Some projects are completed in a week others take months. What I let the client know first hand is that I am usually working on 10-15 projects at a time and I spend a few hours a day per project. Rushing never creates a good corporate identity.
4. "I know exactly what I want, but I don’t have Photoshop, can you make it for me?
My job is not to be someone’s ‘Photoshop’ puppet. Just kidding. If you know exactly what you want, then I am really not your guy to be honest, it wouldn't be your best value. Use the money I’d charge you and …. Get Photoshop :D
5. "Can you make me a swoosh like Nike’s but just put my name underneath?
I wish you the best of luck in your future plans, brother.
Honestly I place more credibilty on business owners and/or young entrepreneurs to know the basics of copyright law.
6. "xxxxWorx.com charges less than what you quoted, can you beat that price?
I am not here to compete, I choose my projects and I value my work. However, I don’t have a staff of 10 artsy people and a 2 story studio loft, fully equipped with a basketball net and lounge chairs, so I can pass those savings on to you.
xxxxWorx.com price would be based on their understanding of your requirement, my experience in this field is extensive and my pricing is based on providing the most original concept suitable to your business and industry. I have many satisfied client's (email me for testimonials) who can attest to having received the very best value for money and the highest level of creativity. Budgets are important, I pay special attention to detail before submitting a quotation.. Try contacting a design firm with the same requirements and see what they quote you.
7. "Can you make me one of those web 2.0 logos?
You mean one of these? (I don't know where the credit goes for that logo compilation) Sure, my pleasure, I love using gradients and the gel effect. And I wont forget to put it on a shiny glass table! Oh, and you'll probably be back for a new logo in 2 years, so yeah. Infact, you don't need me at all - web 2.0 logo generator. There goes my career.
8. "Thanks for the logo, Raja, but it doesn't look like something from your portfolio"
I always love this one. It’s like asking Janet Jackson to create a hit song every time she goes to write. She can’t, some will be hits some will not. Your company is called Bob’s Dart World and you told me I have to use red green and black in the logo, you said it also must contain a dartboard and a flying dart. Those aren’t exactly the elements I work best with. The results will indicate that. So, your logo may not always be considered my best work (that which I include in my portfolio)
9. "This logo doesn't show people we make toilet seats"
Are you suggesting I draw a toilet? You shouldn't always try to say it all with your logo. It is your identifier and should not do the job a of an illustration or storyboard. There is so much other material to relay your message, that is what developing your brand is about. I always say that the busier your logo looks the smaller you are. The biggest companies out there have the simplest looking logos. There are some good points brought up by Mark Bixby in his article Your Logo Doesn't Matter (check out the rest of his site too)
10. "We will know it when we see it"
This is not really a question but I thought I would include it anyway as it is a frequently made statement. I think Seth Godin's comments are the most fitting - Marketing pothole (#1 of 3): I'll know it when I see it
11. "Did you create all the logos on your site?
Yes. I have been very busy! So busy that I can't manage to create a web site for myself. Client work is more important to me.
12. "Are they all real companies?
Yes. Just because they don’t show up in a google search result does not mean they don’t exist. I work with local clientele that don’t use or need the web as much as someone else may. As I mentioned earlier, I work with a lot of start-ups. Some of them fail, unfortunately, so that’s why you might come across an inactive URL. Others get auctioned off on ebay. And others, like, the the start up that I belong to, are alive and kicking. I should take this time to note that the logos on my portfolio were not necessarily chosen by the client, rather they are what I feel are indicators of my best work. Any other logos, such as fun and experimental, are noted as such. So, if you see something you like, it just might be available. On the other hand, I do have 'forcasted brands for sale'.
13. "Leonard at AutoTek said you only charged him 50 bucks for a logo?
Good for Leonard. You are not Leonard. I may have charged him that, 4 years ago when I first started but 4 years ago I did not know what I know now. He also fixed my brakes. In fact, I did not know what I was doing at all! (sorry, Leonard, I hope you don't say the same)
14. "Where did you study?
At the book store mostly. I have no formal training in design, but I was a doodler all my life and always had a fascination with logos, brands, big business, psychology, illusions…that type of stuff. My school notebooks were covered with drawings, inside, they were empty. I am completely self taught when it comes to design and I think I am at step 1 of 1000. However, I did study marketing in college, and did miserably at writing ;)
15. "I need a killer logo yesterday, our site is going live in 2 hrs."
I know this situation as I have been pressed for time myself, I can empathize with you. Here’s what I can suggest http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?articleID=0004226A-F77D-1D4A-90FB809EC5880000
16. "I just want something that looks good but for cheap”
You, and every other person in the world.
17. "I can only afford $50 right now, but when my web application becomes the next big craze and I get Dugg I can pay ‘the rest’ ”
If I had a dollar for every time I lost out on a deal like that, I could retire.
18. "I am a programmer but I can't design for $h!+, could I offer my services in exchange for yours?
For sure. I am always open to offers. Recently I had a client provide his programming services in exchange for my design services. It worked out wonderfully. Right now, I got my eyes on a new laptop ;)
19. "Now that I have this cool logo, can you also make my web site?
Yes I can, although my site sucks, please request by email to email@example.com to see samples.
20. "Can you make me a logo for free?.. then I can credit you in the footer of my web site.
(Link contains adult language)
21. "It couldn't have taken you more than 5 minutes to make that, are you gonna charge us full price?
Legend has it that Pablo Picasso was sketching in the park when a bold woman approached him.
“It’s you — Picasso, the great artist! Oh, you must sketch my portrait! I insist.”
So Picasso agreed to sketch her. After studying her for a moment, he used a single pencil stroke to create her portrait. He handed the women his work of art.
“It’s perfect!” she gushed. “You managed to capture my essence with one stroke, in one moment. Thank you! How much do I owe you?”
“Five thousand dollars,” the artist replied.
“B-b-but, what?” the woman sputtered. “How could you want so much money for this picture? It only took you a second to draw it!”
To which Picasso responded, “Madame, it took me my entire life.”
22. "We have been using the new logo, but still don't see no jump in sales."
OK, some people are much better at answering these. One such person being Andy Rutledge...
"I believe that the logo is the most abused, misapplied, misconceived, wrongfully distracting element of design and business today. I encounter too many people in business who believe that their logo should define them. The reality is that they should define their logo. For some reason it seems that this business fundamental is lost on most business owners." (more)
23. "I want something Good, Fast, and Cheap"
No problem! pick two.
24. "Is your work published in any design books?
Yes, you can see some of my work in several books and publications including LogoLounge3: 2,000 International Identities by Leading Designers. (I lied, no one ever asks that, shameless self promo!)
More FAQ's to come soon, I hope I did not offend anyone, I am a nice guy, I swear.
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