Last week I launched into a – was it a rant? – about logo design and why the process of designing a logo or maybe a whole brand does not come cheap. Like all the good things in life, you get what you pay for.
If the brief or objective was clear and I’ve done my research properly and have actually put some real solid thought into my concepts, I should be in front of you presenting 2-4 black logo concepts and hopefully, after I’ve gone through them with you, you will say – “this is going to be a difficult choice”. And it so it may seem once you first see them, but once we talk them through a bit more, and get a chance to sleep on it – there tends to be a clear winner. One that really stands out to you.
My absolute worse case scenerio are the words “let me show this to my board.” Then I know I am in deep trouble. At the risk of going into a side rant about boards of directors, there is a reason why some of my colleagues offer discounts to their discounts to NOT involve your board. Simply, if you have a board of 3 people or more, that is 3 or more totally different needs, perspectives, bias’s, ideas, etc that are now going to weight in on these poor little logos – and they will not stand a chance. “Can we…?, Can you…? What if ‘we’…? Why don’t you…?” etc, etc. Bye bye all those hours of time, effort and money – welcome to Compromiseville, second stop, Dullsville… Ok, ok… maybe I’m being a little tough. Bottom line is – you know what they say about opinions – everyone has one and every one will be different.
So, hopefully we’ve declared a clear winner in our concepts! Hoorary!
The next challenge comes with some final art direction and looking at colour combinations.
Usually when developing concepts, I am just trying to get an idea to work. I’m not worrying about the spaces between the type, how the ascenders look, is the leading too tight. I just want the idea to come through. But now is the chance and time to art direct the logo to visual perfection.
Type is a funny thing. In the old days they used to use wood or metal type (some places still do!) and they could control the amount of space between the letters (kerning) or between the lines (leading). The type or fonts we use on our computer are set at a typeface default and a professional will take the type to correct these defaults to make sure each letter dances well with the letters next to it. This kind of teaking can make a massive difference in how the logo looks.
Once the type is cleaned up and looks just the way I want it, I might look at cleaning up any visual I might have used. I try to keep visuals very simple in their shapes and level of detail. Anything can look good when it blown up to fit on your monitor but how does it look when it is printed 0.5″ x 0.5″ in a local newspaper that is using a LPI (lines per inch) of 75? You need to remember that as you work through the logo. That skinny serif or gorgeously detailed illustration is NOT going to cut it and the print guys will want some blood – especially if you try to use it reversed out of a solid tone.
So the type is great, the visual is all cleaned up – it all works. Do a double check and print it off very tiny and very large. Put it up on the wall and look at it from 15 feet away. Turn it upside down and backwards – are there any spaces that don’t look right? Some part of the the type which just stands up like a piece of hair that won’t lay flat? Does it look like a black blob? Make sure it works. And if it does, then we can start to think about and work with – hoorary! – colour.
For charities, I present the final logo as a black only version. If this logo looks amazing in black – then adding colour will be like adding a piece of parsley to a plate. It’s a garnish. Important but not necessary.
I present a black version, a one colour version, a two colour version and a four colour version (a cmyk variation using the spot colours for reference). I also design some reversed out logos using the same spot colours.
I have mentioned this before. For your one colour and two colour versions, please make sure that the designer, or you- if you are the designer, have used a dominant spot colour. Because if I have to work with your gorgeously designed logo and you used PMS 1215 and 7486 – someone is going to pay. Use at least one dominant colour. Always and forever.
I present final logo ideas to the client and upon the approving nod of the head, send all versions that the client will ever need in a electronic file. As a client, you should be asking for your logo saved in a few formats and for both platforms. An Illustrator eps file with all type concerted to outlines – a black verison, one colour and two colour variations (and cmyk), as well as any reversed out options. You should be getting all of those versions saved a rgb jpgs and tifs as well. You should know the name of the font that was used and should get a final pdf of the final variations. I include my name, font and pms information on my illsutrator files so the next designer will not have to guess if the client does not know.
If you, the client has asked for it, I may even design you a styleguide that shows you all of the ways a designer can use your logo (and also the ways they cannot), but may design up some templates for you to use as reference for business cards, letterhead, envelopes, powerpoint presentations, advertisments, websites and so on.
I am hoping that if I’ve been hired to do this very important job with you, that we can discuss managing and designing the other sorts of brand support materials you will want and need.
I hope this explains why a logo (designed by any professional) will not cost you $50 or less. Our processes may differ, but most designers are following a similiar route to give you a clean, professional, creative and thoughful logo to represent your organization.
I know what you are thinking – ’so what does this cost’? And my first question for you is – what is your budget? I won’t speak for all designers, but please don’t call me if you answer is “$50!”.