Professional Logo Design: What to Look For

…And Why You Shouldn’t Skimp on Logo Design

As a start-up business or nonprofit organization, you, understandably, may have limited funds and feel that logo design is an area in which you should skimp. But there are instances where you get what you pay for, and logo design often falls into that category. Opting for a cheap logo design can have several pitfalls, which may end up costing you much more later on. A logo is not just a design; it’s an investment in your future. The development of a logo is the strategic foundation of your identity and how your clients or customers will perceive you. What value does that hold to you?

Size matters. Quite frequently, we hear from clients who have already paid a logo company a cheap price to create a logo for them. Everything seemed great until they needed to send high-res files to a printer, at which time the printer informed them their files were not the proper type or of high enough resolution. Why should you care? Well, if you don’t have a high-res file, your logo will not print well (and that will reflect poorly on the designer and you), and if you don’t have a vector EPS/Illustrator file, then you are not able to reproduce the logo at any size needed. There are a lot of Photoshop-created logos with “cool special effects” that cannot be scaled and are therefore useless when printed above the size at which they are created. (There are other issues with these types of logos too; just keep reading.) On the flip side, even though a file can be made smaller without sacrificing resolution, it doesn’t mean the logo will be legible.

Transparency is key. The other reason a logo should be created in a vector art program—and not Photoshop—is so that it will have a transparent background. How many times have you seen a logo with a square white background slapped onto the colored background of a website or brochure? Designers see it even more often than you do, as we sometimes painstakingly remove the background of a logo that’s been provided to us.

Time is money. We’ve also heard stories from frustrated clients who’ve paid for a logo design, struggled to get what they wanted, gave up and hired us. They don’t necessarily know why the design isn’t quite right, and the designer didn’t get it, didn’t get them or didn’t ask enough questions. They come to us to get what they want. At this point, they’ve spent more money than they had expected, having to hire a second company to create a logo design. It’s cost them time as well, and time is money.

Legally speaking. There are also legal concerns with logo design. I’ve heard horror stories where some logo “farms” give you a logo design that they had created for someone else, with the only difference being the name, or perhaps—unbeknownst to you—they (un)intentionally used a stock image illegally. Why should you be concerned, especially if you are a solopreneur or small company or organization? Because one day, you may get a cease-and-desist letter from the attorney of the company with that similar logo, or—even worse—you could be sued for copyright infringement by that company or the stock image company, causing you to incur not only more fees but the cost of a new logo design. While you could pay an attorney to do an extensive search to greatly decrease the chances of your logo design infringing on the intellectual property rights of someone else, this is extremely costly. Instead, you could ask a logo designer you’re considering working with if they perform some due diligence and research the logos of several of your competitors and if they make a good-faith effort to create something one-of-a-kind.

Be informed and get it right the first time. Work with a professional designer/firm who:

  • Asks lots of questions and gathers information from you about your target audience and how you want to be perceived, does some research and their due diligence, and creates new concepts based on this information.
  • Presents the initial logo designs to you as black only. This not only keeps your eye from being swayed by color when choosing a design but it ensures the logo works in flat black and white (no bevels, glows, shadows, etc). Trust me: you will use your logo on a fax, a sign or a shirt at some point even if you don’t think so now, and this will ensure it works in those and any possible scenario.
  • Gives you the final selected design as a vector EPS file created in Illustrator with spot (Pantone) colors, as well as a four-color process high-/medium-resolution TIFF and JPEG, and a low-resolution GIF or JPEG for the web. Unless you have Adobe Illustrator (and you likely don’t), you won’t be able to open the EPS file. That’s fine. You should simply have it on hand to send to a printer or designer and in case any changes are ever needed to the existing logo, as this is the scalable, editable source file from which all the other files are created.
  • Gives you copyrights to the logo after you’ve paid for it (this may be included in the contract terms or it may be provided in written form at the completion of the job).

We do this but go one step further: we also send you a PDF guide explaining all the file types and where to use them (you shouldn’t have to scramble to figure out which files you can use in Word or PowerPoint), your logo colors and the names of the fonts.

If you cannot find it in your budget to spend upwards of a thousand or more dollars for a professional logo design, then contact a professional designer you already work with and see what they could do for you until you have the budget for a logo design, ask a design student about a reduced rate or look for grants that could help you fund a logo design. It’s in your best interest to take your time planning for the process and budget, as it’s a vital step in the development of your brand.

See also our blog post about what to look for when hiring a designer or firm in general.

Check out our logo designs


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