Hello, creativepreneurs! Welcome to Branding 101! In this bi-monthly series, I’ll be answering common design-related questions like, “What is a vector?” and “What’s the difference between ‘web-safe’ and ‘non-web-safe’ fonts?” I’ll also dive into color theory, font selection, style guides, file types, branded photography, flat lay tips, and all of the components that go into building a powerful, one-of-a-kind brand.
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If you’ve quit your 9-5 to run a small business, you’re probably feeling a bit overwhelmed by the relentless roller coaster of excitement and energy followed by anxiety and fear. To help smooth things out, I’d like to offer some free advice based on 10 years of experience as a graphic designer/business owner. I want to teach you how to find the RIGHT designer to brand your business. (And no, it may not be me!)
Ok. You know that branding is crucial to attracting the right customers and selling your product or service, but right now, all you want to ask is, “How much $$$?” “How much does a logo cost? How and where do I even begin?” Well, as far as cost is concerned, it depends. You see, every business has different needs, and every business owner has his/her own vision. Some know exactly what they need, and others want a pro to help them figure that out. A logo can cost anywhere from $5 to $15,000,000, so the questions you should be asking are, “What is the value of your service?,” “How will you help me stand out from others in my industry?” and “What do I get for x amount of dollars?”
Hiring someone to design a logo is like hiring an artist to paint you The Perfect Portrait (albeit a simplified one). Imagine requesting this commission :: “I‘d like a painting that will tell my story for years and years to come. It should not only be beautiful, timeless, and honest, but it should also communicate who I am, what I do, and how I do it. Lastly, it should look great scaled up, scaled down, in a variety of environments, and in multiple mediums. Please provide at least 3 options, then allow me to make changes to my favorite one.”
Now, wouldn’t you want to do some research to find the right artist for the job?
First, of course, you’ll want to find some designers you love. Search Google, Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook, ask friends, and even reach out to your favorite small brands and ask who is responsible for their branding. Now, take note of which designers stand out to you. Who do YOU think has the style and talent to bring your unique vision to life? Next, review websites and social media channels to determine who is still working and accepting new clients. (Read reviews, too, if they’re available.)
Once you have a handful of designers in mind, try to find some answers to the questions below. REMEMBER :: It’s all about finding the best possible match!
10 QUESTIONS TO ASK DESIGNERS BEFORE HIRING THEM
Will I be given full rights to the final design(s)?
If you’re serious about starting a business, make sure you will be the SOLE owner of the logo design and that you’re not purchasing “stock” art that can be sold (or licensed) to other people. By owning the rights to an original design, you’ll be able to trademark your logo and make sure that no one else in your space uses it. You’ll also have the freedom to use it wherever, whenever, and however you like.
Licensing a design will allow you (and others) to use it, but only under certain conditions for a specific amount of time. If this is an option, it can save you quite a bit of money.
Ownership is more expensive, but it gives you exclusivity and complete control.
Do you provide source files for all approved designs?
A source file is the original, editable design file. If you need to make changes to your design in the future, this is the file you’ll need. Usually, ownership comes with source files. I highly recommend purchasing the source file if it isn’t already included in the price of your branding package.
What is the standard, estimated turnaround for a project like this?
If you want to save money, your best bet will be to plan ahead. Quick turnarounds usually come at a premium (read: higher cost), and most designers won’t be able to accept your project if you need it done immediately.
The wall sticker below by my friend Mr Cup sums this up. :)
How many revisions are included, and what counts as a revision?
After you’re presented with preliminary designs, you’ll typically be given a certain number of hours for revisions (or a number of revisions, period). Be sure to know how much time you’ll have for this BEFORE starting your project. This will give you an idea of how “picky” you can be…and believe me, you’ll be a little pickier than you imagined (as well you should be…after all, your business is your baby).
If you want to save money, plan, plan, plan and research, research, research! Collect inspiration, jot down ideas, and sketch! The more you can share with your designer upfront, the less time it will take to digitize your dreams.
Here’s an example :: as of today, our Mini Branding Package costs $750. Our Basic Branding Package (the next one up) is more than twice that price. Both come with professional design, but we have a LOT more time to research, explore, and refine with the latter. (It also comes with more branding elements, like business card design.)
Will you be available in the future if I need help with something else? If yes, what is your hourly rate?
Personally, my goal is to be the go-to Design Person for all of my clients. I want to have a relationship with them and see their businesses grow. While I try to equip them to be as independent as possible, I take on a limited number of projects each quarter to reserve time for on-going work. This means past branding clients can come to me with small requests and they don’t have to “wait in line,” so to speak. I fit them in where I can, rather than assign them start dates like I do for new projects.
Most designers offer hourly work, but some don’t. Just be sure to ask before booking! It’s much easier to work with the same person—assuming you like them—rather than re-introduce your brand to someone new.
How is your approach to the design process unique?
Oooooh, yeah! Give ‘em the tough questions. Ask designers how their services differ from others. This will allow you to gauge their various levels of experience, as well as give you insight into their personalities.
Do you have experience in my industry?
If you have a unique business, you may come across a designer that has little to no experience in your industry. Try to gauge from their other work whether or not they would be a good fit. If you’re unsure, ask this question. I know for a fact that I do my best work when I’m excited about the brand…so if they sound joyful and interested about the opportunity, that’s a good sign. If they seem confused or are slow to respond, move on!
Do you charge for phone/email communication throughout the process?
This is an important, often overlooked question. Communication will make or break a design project; without it, we designers would have no idea what you’re thinking or how you want to proceed. For us, communication is a GOOD thing. Tell us what you like, what you don’t like, and everything in between. Just know if and when you’re “on the clock” because you may be paying for those long chats!
Ok, now that I understand what comes with your services, how much will this cost?
Ahhh, THE question is finally here. Honestly, I don’t expect you to get through 8 interview questions BEFORE asking about price, but I do want you to consider asking at least 2 of them first. Why? Because you are sizing them up just as they are sizing you up. By asking a few educated questions, I guarantee they will take your inquiry seriously. I, for one, will be sure to personally respond to anyone who takes an interest in what I do. When someone looks at my work and asks great questions, I will do everything I can to help them - even if it means giving them a referral if I’m not the right fit.
If anything, what can I do to keep costs down?
A few key questions, if posed properly, could mean the difference between coming off as “cheap” versus “genuinely interested but with a smaller budget.” If anyone will understand a small business budget, it’s another small business owner! Ask if the pricing is set in stone, or if there’s anything YOU could do to save money. The answer might be no, but I’m confident the designer will appreciate that you’re willing to do more on your end to save money (rather than ask for a flat-out discount).
If you’ve made it this far, you now know that the cost for branding will depend on a variety of factors, including (but not limited to):
Rights (ownership vs. licensing)
Files (the number and types of files you’ll receive)
Turnaround (how quickly you’ll see designs)
Revisions (how much time you’ll have to explore, tweak, and refine)
Extras (what is included beyond the logo design: meetings, calls, other design elements, etc.)
Experience (experienced designers will charge more per hour, but work faster and more efficiently)
Availability (highly sought-after designers have to increase prices due to the law of supply and demand)
Phew! In closing, the point of my long-winded list is to help you compare apples to apples. A logo package from one studio could mean something else entirely at another studio, so I encourage you to take the time to do your homework. I hope this article empowers you to choose the right designer for YOUR amazing brand!
If you have any questions or feedback about this topic, I am all ears! Feel free to post below.
Best of luck to you!
- XO -
The interview questions in this article were taken from our Branding Workbook, a 40-page interactive booklet that walks you through the creative process to help you plan, get organized, and save money on your branding project.