Unless you are a graphic designer or have deep pockets, creating an effective logo for your small business is a bit of a challenge. It can be pricey, and just as one has to kiss a lot of toads to find the right prince, you may have to see a lot of samples to find the right logo.
Often designers will agree to a price to create a set number of potential logos, for instance, three potential logos for $250, or five for $400, for your approval. Your logo is not something you want to change at a later date. It is the “signature” of your company, so you don’t want to settle. Here are some tips to help you hone the process and protect your financial interests:
- Provide your mission statement: If you don’t already have one, write a short mission statement about your company. This will help the designer better understand the nature of your business. Indeed, a seasoned designer will ask you for one and quiz you about your company, style, and audience.
- Ask for a portfolio: Before engaging a designer, review his or her portfolio. It is better if the logos represent a wide array of companies; then you will know the designer can interpret many types of business. Also make sure each logo is “fresh,” not just variations of a theme.
- Work with an independent designer: Designers who work on their own, as opposed to an agency, are going to be in a better position to negotiate a fee.
- Be creative in your negotiation: The economic downturn has an upside. Start low: Suggest a lower base and then add a bonus fee if the designer nails the concept. If the designer fails on the first round but you feel he or she is close to the mark, offer $50 or $75 per logo for a few more tries. He or she will learn from your feedback, so it might be worth the extra money as opposed to starting from scratch with a new designer. And incorporate a kill fee upfront, so that if you do not like any of the designs you can pay a certain amount of the agreed upon fee and walk away. For instance, if you are paying $300 for four potential logos, suggest a kill fee of $100 to $150.
- Make sure you own your logo: In your negotiation make sure that you own the logo with no strings attached. Get this on paper and put it with your corporate files. Even if the designer is a friend who created it for free, get the paperwork. If you plan to sell your company one day, you will want to be able to show the buyer that you have the rights to the logo.
- Consider working with students: For every logo waiting to be born, there is a young design student looking for a class project. Check out the graphics departments at your local colleges to find students who might be interested in creating your logo for free to bolster his or her portfolio. Maybe a teacher will take on your company’s message and marketing needs as a class project and develop an entire “look and feel” and corresponding collateral. Offer a gift certificate for the winning look.
- Try logotournament.com: A relatively new alternative to the logo dilemma is logotournament.com. The site has a cadre of designers as members from all over the world. The company in need of a logo fills out a questionnaire about the concept and how the logo will be used, then posts a cash prize and pays it upfront (the minimum bid allowed is $250). The competition begins. The company requesting the logo ranks the entries over a two-week period and then selects the winner. The average number of entries for a $250 prize is more than 100. The top number of entries ever was 2,036 for a $1,000 award.