Most designs are ephemeral. A new website design, a brochure design, a social media image—they’re obsolete within a few years, if not a few days.
Logo designs are different. A good logo can last for decades. The oldest logos still in use (Lacoste and Chanel, designed in 1927 and 1925, respectively) are approaching 100 years old.
"If you do it right, it will last forever." –Massimo Vignelli
Because of the timeless nature of the best logo designs, hiring a logo designer takes a carefully considered plan. It’s not a process to rush through if you expect to get the kind of long-lasting design results the best logos achieve.
What Is a Logo Designer?
In the simplest terms, professional logo designers create a mark, symbol, signature, and/or typographic design used to represent or identify a business. Logos are prominent in everyday life, appearing on everything from advertisements to websites to products.
- Discuss logo concepts with clients
- Research a business’s target audience to produce a logo that improves brand recognition
- Understand the motive behind the company logo
- Understand the company’s core values and brand
- Create sketches or mockups of ideas for new logo designs based on design needs
- Refine initial logo sketches into a finished design, based on client feedback
- Test logo design to ensure it achieves the brand’s needs
- Understand the variety of media a logo might be used for
- Produce final logo files as needed
Some logo designers focus solely on logo design. Others may create logos as a subset of other branding or graphic design services.
Graphic designers create designs for everything from logos to marketing materials to graphics for products (such as T-shirt designs). Graphic designers often create designs for both print and digital media (visual designers, sometimes confused with graphic designers, focus solely on digital media).
Branding designers create logos in addition to other brand marketing materials. They’re responsible for the overall look and feel of the entire brand, as opposed to the logo alone. In some cases, brand designers will design a logo in addition to other materials; in other cases, they’ll work with a logo designer to craft a logo that fits the overall branding.
Your Logo Design Project
It’s critical to define the scope of your logo design project before you hire a freelancer. Consider where and how the logo will be used. Will it be used only on company marketing materials (including things like business cards or letterhead), or will there also be products that feature the logo? Will it be used strictly digitally or will it also appear in print? Does there need to be a monochrome version or will it only be used in color? Those are important considerations to hammer out ahead of time.
It’s also prudent to consider what you like about your current logo. Are there things you want to keep? Are there certain recognizable characteristics (such as a mark or a color palette) that you want to keep to maintain brand recognition? Make note of such things and include it in your project brief.
Define what you want the new business logo to do for the brand identity. Logos are the face of a brand and a company, whether they’re multinational corporations or small businesses. They’re often the first impression a new customer gets of what the company stands for. They help to set one brand apart from others. A logo also conveys what the brand stands for and can convey its values as well.
Another important thing to note in the scope of the project is the phase that it’s in. Has market research been done? Has customer research or interviews been conducted? This is important because it impacts not only the cost of a project but also the timeline to complete it.
What to Look for in a Professional Logo Designer
Expert logo designers have a strong grasp of the principles of design. They’ve mastered concepts like balance, emphasis, proportion, and white space. Further, they know how to implement these principles effectively to create a company logo design that’s both visually appealing and conveys the brand’s message.
Professional logo designers also need a strong grasp of typography and color theory. Creating a wordmark logo is more than just picking a font. At the very least, designers generally adjust things like kerning in a wordmark. In many cases, though, they may create custom lettering, which requires a more in-depth understanding of typographic principles.
Understanding the impact of color on the impression a logo gives is also essential. Different shades of the same hue can have very different impressions—consider lime green vs. forest green, for example.
The best logo designers should also be experts at incorporating feedback from stakeholders, including marketing teams, other designers, and business owners. Since great logos are so important to a company’s image, they sometimes go through more rounds of feedback and revisions than other design projects. Designers who are resistant to feedback can slow down the process and generally make the project more difficult to complete.
The freelancer interview process is an important step in choosing the right logo designer. In addition to the answers to the questions, getting a feel for the designer’s personality and how they’ll fit in with the design team and stakeholders overall is important. A designer who’s a good fit for the company’s culture will have a better grasp of what the perfect logo will represent.
Beyond the interview, you should also review any potential designer’s portfolio of completed projects. Beware of candidates who only have conceptual designs in their portfolios and no business logo design projects that are in actual use. While this can be a good showcase of their grasp of design skills, conceptual projects don’t necessarily test a designer’s ability to successfully incorporate business needs.
Ask designers which tools they use. Companies should be flexible enough to allow their designers to use the tools they’re most comfortable with, but if there are certain programs they’ll need to use to work with others on the design team, it’s good to know up front if they’re proficient with those programs.
Before you hire a logo designer, you’ll need a few things in order. Proper planning will make the entire process smoother.
A project brief that includes the scope and deliverables required (such as specific file types or versions of the logo) as well as timelines, goals, and milestones, and any special requirements.
Legal documents should also be in order before you hire a logo designer. This would include contracts that spell out the work to be done as well as the payment terms. It may also include any non-disclosure agreements necessary before proprietary information can be shared with the designer.
How the Logo Design Process Works
Once a logo designer has been selected for the project, you’ll start with a work agreement that spells out the specifics of the project.
After that, the designer will participate in the research and discovery process to find out what customers think of the company, the existing logo, and the competition. They’ll also review research about the market, competitors, and industry trends.
The art direction phase of the logo design process often overlaps with the ideation and sketching phase, with initial concepts for the logo created and submitted to stakeholders for feedback. Those stakeholders will likely have feedback on the designs submitted. Major feedback may result in another round of ideas and sketches.
If the feedback is minor, the designer may move directly into the next phase of refining the design and creating digital proofs for approval.
Once the proofs are approved, the logo designer will create final design files for delivery according to the specifications in the project brief or work agreement. Once the files are delivered, payment for the project will be made.
Tips for Working with Remote Logo Designers
Clear lines of communication are important on any professional design project, and logo designs are no exception. Setting up expectations about how much and what kind of communication is required as the project moves forward is key to preventing misunderstandings.
If you want daily or weekly progress reports on the project, define that expectation at the beginning of the project. If you’d rather just have updates on major milestones, that’s fine, too. Just let your designer know that. Also, make sure that they know who their point of contact should be on the project and if they should communicate with just one contact person or multiple stakeholders.
You should also make it clear that if there are any roadblocks or delays in the project, you want to know as soon as possible, and how the designer should best relay that information. The same goes for any roadblocks or delays on your end; be transparent with your designer if there are likely to be delays in things like reviewing their work.
Set deadlines for the major milestones or phases within the logo design project. These should be spelled out in the contract so that everyone is on the same page at the start of the project.
If there are unforeseen delays on your end in reviewing work or providing information, don’t expect the designer to stick to the original schedule. Make adjustments for the delays so that the design process doesn’t end up rushed (resulting in lower-quality work).
Make clear when updates on the project are expected and keep your designer in the loop about progress made on your end regarding providing information vital to the project or reviewing the work they’ve submitted.
Regular updates build a sense of teamwork and make sure that everyone involved in a logo design project is kept up to date and involved.
Providing feedback should be done at each step of the project. Ideally, feedback should be provided in a set format and from one point person to prevent miscommunication or conflicting feedback.
If the feedback comes from multiple people who aren’t reviewing what every other person is thinking about the project, the results can be conflicting. One person involved might love the color palette being used, while another might hate it. If both send feedback individually to the logo designer, that creates a bottleneck in the process while they figure out whose feedback they should rely on. By appointing one person to collect and sort through feedback from the entire team before passing it on to the designer, you can prevent that kind of conflict and the inevitable delays it will cause on a project.
In the case of conflicting feedback from multiple stakeholders, there are a few ways to handle it. One of the best ways is to ask for the designer’s input directly. After all, they’re the expert at logo design and their experience can be invaluable in figuring out which approach is best (or coming up with some kind of compromise).
Scope creep—expansion of the original project plan—is sometimes inevitable but can also cause major delays to any logo design project. It’s best to avoid it whenever possible. Minor scope creep (such as needing additional file formats of the finished logo) may not cause much of a delay.
More substantial scope creep (such as needing additional versions of the logo), however, can not only mean delays in the project timeline but may also result in additional costs. Don’t expect a designer to do substantially more work than the original contract called for without also receiving higher compensation. It’s best to ask the designer what additional scope requirements will cost—in terms of both time and money—prior to expecting them to be added to the project.
Maintaining the Relationship
If you find a logo designer you enjoy working with, it’s a good idea to maintain that relationship going forward in case you have future projects you’d like to work on with them.
Make sure to thank the designer when the project is finished. Let them know that you appreciate the work they did and that you’ll keep them in mind for projects in the future. You could also inquire about the other types of design projects the designer handles, in case any of those come up before another logo project does.
Logo Designer Interview Questions
Can you tell us more about your design background?
Finding out more about the designer’s background, based on his or her general introduction, can provide relevant information about the design school the candidate attended, past/current work positions, design experience, problems and projects that s/he found along the way, and how this translates to his/her current logo design career and future aspirations.
What is your design approach?
The design process is essential to how logo design candidates develop and create a logo. Insight into the way they work can distinguish their quality. As the design process becomes more thorough, the results become more elaborate and detailed.
Also, the design process is often limited by budget and time, and a useful insight would be how s/he and the design teams that s/he has worked with in the past handled various situations and briefs.
What do you think of (x) logo?
Suggest a few logos, or ask a designer to select a logo and then dissect it. The candidate should be able to pick it apart.
Listen for answers that explain context, goals, references, influences, and pure aesthetics, as well as identifying weaknesses, strengths, and the outcome of the chosen direction. If the candidate can elaborate with quick solutions to a set of specific weaknesses, that’s even better.
How would you describe your work and your influences?
Look for elaborate and interesting stories, search for passion for design and design thinking. References to history, design history, art, culture, music, and architecture are useful when describing choices, intentions, and solutions.
What is the meaning of color and color theory in logo design?
Color plays a major part in the consideration of visual communication and particularly in logo design.
Big brands tell their stories through color. They connect with their consumers and the public with consistent use of color, color palettes, and color systems. Color is a powerful tool that enables distinction and differentiation between brands. A brand that changes color with a new identity sometimes has dangerous results. A good logo designer recognizes this and knows how to address it.
Tell us how successful brands communicate through color theory in their branding and the meaning of color in logo design.
Portfolio critique: Please explain the three best projects from your portfolio.
The candidate needs to explain the entire logo design process, from the decisions, ideation, context, why’s, do’s and don’ts, through describing the production and execution of a specific logo.
Question the designer’s decisions to discover details of projects and the reasoning behind these decisions. Ask how the designer would have made those projects even better.