Last week we wrote about how to work with a logo designer to get the very best from them. If you read that, you might be asking, but how do I find a great graphic designer in the first place?
A quick search on Google for “graphic designer” or “logo design” doesn’t necessarily bring up a lot of exciting options. Instead, you’ll find a host of design contest sites, and logo companies that look like fronts for teams of inexperienced, overseas designers. There are some gems in there, but they might not be obvious at first glance.
So here’s our advice on how you can find a great logo designer.
Before we tell you where to look, keep these three things in mind…
First, know what you need.
Before you go looking for a designer, you need to know what exactly you are looking for. Do you need a simple logo design or a logo along with a website, business cards, or other materials? Be prepared to tell your designer exactly what you want and how you will be using your design. It also helps if you can share a brief description of your business and customers. This sets the direction for your project right up front.
Second, know your budget.
These days there are options for getting a logo designed for any budget, from as little as a few dollars to as much as tens of thousands of dollars. Some options are definitely better than others. How much money you have available to spend will help you determine which designers you should be contacting.
If you’re looking for a custom logo, designed just for you, plan on spending at least $300. For that price, there are plenty of designers who will give you a few ideas for your logo design. If you need more options, or something more than a simple logo, or want to work with a more experienced designer, plan on spending a bit more.
Note: Don’t have that kind of budget? We understand. We’ve talked with experts who say that more than 20% of all new businesses have less than $500 to spend on marketing for an entire year. With so little to spend, these entrepreneurs simply can’t afford to blow it all on a logo. If you are in this category, skip looking for a designer and try one of the do-it-yourself logo design apps found online (our favorite is Logomaker.com). This recommendation is only for those with a very limited budget. Everyone else will get better results from working closely with an actual designer.
So how much should you plan on spending? It’s hard to say that a logo should cost exactly X dollars, because the price depends on so many different variables. (For example, it takes more time and effort to provide addition concepts and revisions.) But you can find thousands of good designers who will work for $30-150 an hour. The more experience or education your designer has, the more you can expect to pay. Often this extra expense buys experience that is worth every penny. If you are uncomfortable with an open-ended budget for your project, talk with your designer and ask them to quote you a project rate—what you will pay for a finished logo design. Most designers will charge you somewhere in the $300-$1500 range for a completed logo. Remember, you generally get what you pay for.
Third, don’t use a design contest site for your logo.
We know it’s tempting. The prices are low and they offer lots of options. But the risks are simply too high. Plagiarized artwork sold as original. Inexperienced designers throwing out logos created without any thought about your business or customers. If you really want an original logo for your product or company, your best option is working directly with a real logo designer.
So having said all that, how do you find a great logo designer?
#1. Ask for Recommendations.
This is really the best place to start… Ask someone you know who has a logo that you like, where did they get it? In fact, ask more than one person. But don’t just ask them for their designer’s contact information, ask them about the entire experience. What were they looking for when they hired the designer? How long did the process take? How good was the designer at communicating throughout the project? What did they do to learn more about your business? How many concepts did they present? What was the revision process like? And of course, how much did the logo cost? The more people you ask, the better feel you’ll get for what it takes to work with a great logo designer.
However, be careful when you ask friends or family for a recommendation. You’re likely to hear something along the lines of, “My sister’s friend is a logo designer. She’s looking for work.” While she may be a good designer, be sure not to rush into hiring her. Check out her background, her design style, and experience (see more below). Your logo design project is not a favor for a friend—it is an important step to your business success. Don’t hire someone just because you know her (or know someone who knows her).
#2. Search Online.
Don’t know anyone who has been through the logo design process before? No problem, that’s what the search engines are for, right? Go ahead and search Google (or Bing or DuckDuckGo or your favorite search engine) for terms like “logo design,” “professional logo designer,” or “I need a logo.” What you’ll likely find is a bunch of companies that have more in common with sweat shops than design boutiques. Most are simply fronts for inexperienced designers offering logos at an unbelievably low price. So what to do?
Go deeper. Look past the “I’ll design your logo for $15” offers. Beyond the “unlimited revisions, guaranteed” packages. This will take a bit of effort, but don’t rush it. Remember you’re looking for a great logo designer to work with. Sadly, the best logo designers aren’t found on page one or even page two of the search engine results.
Keep in mind that a low ranking on Google or any other search engine isn’t a reflection of the quality of the designer. You may not start finding logo designers who meet your requirements until page 3 or page 7 or even deeper. Keep going…
#3. Skip Google and Search Where Logo Designers Hang Out.
You may not find great designer on the first few pages of Google, but that doesn’t mean the best logo designers aren’t online. You just need to know where to look.
There are several places built specifically to help designers showcase their work. Logodesign.com is one of them. Check out the logo samples featured on the home page. See any you like? Click them to read more about the designer who created them. Or check out the featured designers a little lower on the page. Or take a deeper look by searching through our design profiles by clicking the Find a Designer link at the top of the page. When you find a designer you like, click through to their personal website for more information on how to contact them.
Of course, Logodesign.com isn’t the only place to look (and because we’re so new, we don’t yet have the critical mass that some other sites have). You can also look for designers at Behance, Flickr, and Dribble. Searching for “logo design” on Pinterest may be another good option.
Skipping the search engines and going directly the places where designers post their work for other designers to see is a great way to find a designer who’s work you admire.
#4. Look at Portfolios. Lots of Portfolios.
The key to finding a great designer is looking at their work. And that means taking time to look through as many portfolios as possible. Make notes of the designers who’s work you admire most. Also notice the design styles that most appeal to you (or more importantly, will appeal to your customers). If you find a designer who has several logos that you admire, reach out to them about possibly working on your project.
What you’re looking for is a talented designer with several designs that make you think “Wow, I’d love a logo like that for my business.” If you go through several pages of their portfolio without seeing something that you love, pass and move on to the next designer.
If the designers you admire are out of your budget or not available for your project, make a note of the work that you like. You can show it to the designer you end up working with as an example of what you are looking for—which will help them determine which ideas to explore first as they work on your project.
We mentioned the best logo design portfolio sites in Step #3, but just in case you’re skimming, we recommend Logodesign.com (obviously), Behance, Flickr, and Dribble.
#5. Make Sure the Designer has Done Similar Work to Your Project.
Once you find a designer that you like, make sure they’ve done projects (type and scope) like yours. You may like the work of a designer who is fresh out of school and is willing to work within your budget. Great! But make sure they have done this kind of work before. It’s one thing to design a logo, quite another to design an entire identity package. If you need a dynamic website, make sure they’ve got some website development experience first. The same is true for brochures or package design. These different projects required somewhat different knowledge and skills. Make sure the designer you choose has done the kind of work you need.
#6. Visit Their Website.
Once you’ve chosen a designer you like (but before you contact them), check out their website—not just their portfolio but everything else too. Read their blog and check out their Twitter and Facebook feeds. Are they proud of the work they create? Do they praise previous clients? Do they praise other designers? Do they talk about the fonts they love or other logos they wish they had created? Do they write about (and obviously love) logo design? If so, chances are you will have a good experience working with this designer.
On the other hand, do they complain about their clients? Do they make fun of design work they didn’t create? Are they rude or inappropriate? These are signs that this is a designer you might not want to work with.
#7. Check Your Designer’s References.
This advice is particularly important if you find your designer online (rather than through a referral from a friend). Before you hire your designer, ask them for the phone numbers or email addresses of several of their previous clients. Then contact these clients and ask about working with the designer. What was the process like? How are their communication skills? What was the revision process like? And so on.
Don’t be surprised when the references are all positive. No designer is going to willingly connect you with a client who had a bad experience. The key question to ask is “Did the designer deliver what they promised on time and in budget?” And if you hear over-the-top praise, consider that a good sign.
If you are working with a designer you do not know—do not skip this step.
#8. Avoid Designers Who Use Incorrect Grammar.
We’ve seen more than one design web site that claims to be based in Wyoming or Nevada (at least that’s what the contact us page says), but things just don’t feel right. There are just too many misspelled words, or the syntax of the sentences doesn’t sound quite right. Before working with this designer, contact them directly. Ask to speak with them on the phone. If that’s not possible (another red flag) ask them several pointed questions in an email. If the response comes back with more syntax and spelling errors, you may be working with someone using translating software to create their website or email responses.
While there is nothing wrong with choosing a designer from outside your home country (and it may be a good way to save a little money), be aware that designers from other cultures may not have the experience to create a design that will appeal to your customers. They may not be aware of color differences and design conventions. Be sure you know what you are getting into before you make this choice.
#9. Find a Designer You “Click” With.
After searching through all those design portfolios, and reaching out to a few of the designers you admire most, the real decision should come when you find a designer with whom you just click. Things feel right. They’ve done work similar to yours. You like their design style. They seem to understand what you are looking for and what you want your logo to do.
Once you find someone you really click with, hire them, (then read this about how to work with a graphic designer). A good working relationship with your designer will help you get a great logo.
Whatever you do, don’t rush your search for a great designer. If you take your time to do the search right, what you’ll end up with is a designer who will help your business grow. You might only need a logo today, but they’ll be there when you need a brochure, a website, or a presentation design.
Getting this right will pay dividends for years to come.
Great logo designers are everywhere, if you know where to look.