Your first time with a designer

Published on Business stage: Starting


Local Growth Hub advisor Lyndsey Yates of Nine Dots Creative

Are you currently starting a new business? There’s a lot to think about, isn’t there? From tax returns to market research, anyone setting up on their own has a lot of ‘firsts’ to face. I know this, because I’m currently living it. It’s exhilarating and exhausting all at the same time.

There are some extremely common questions I get asked in my role. 

How much will a logo cost me? 

There’s a common saying in design. You don’t need a logo, you need a brand. Thinking about brand at such an early stage can be daunting. But, with just a few small considerations you can save yourself a lot of work further down the road. You may only have the funds (more on that further down) for a logo design & nothing more. That’s fine, but get a few things done first:

  • Your market research
  • Your values
  • Your vision

With just these three things you will be better equipped to write a design brief. A better brief will mean a better outcome. It will let the designers know who your target audience is, how you want your business portrayed, and what kind of personality your business has. The more information you can give them, the more they will have to work from, and the better chance you have of getting a decent logo. Provide your brief along with your request for a price.

Now, I’m assuming you have a budget in mind for your logo. Here’s my advice. If your budget is somewhere between £0 and £400, you’re going to limit yourself to the lower end of the market. I wouldn’t recommend to any experienced, professional & capable freelance designer to do a logo for anything less than £400. Why? Because it’s actually quite a lot of work. A logo should be two days work as absolute minimum. This should result in (usually) 3 options presented, with small changes to the chosen design if required. That’s assuming the brief was well written, and communication is good between designer and client. Here is an example of a set of 4 options I have provided to a client:

So if your budget is sub £400, where will you go? Sites like Freelancer and Fiverr. I’m going to get yelled at for saying that by every graphic designer I know; but in some cases, unless a graphic designer is feeling charitable or wants to design your logo for free because they’re passionate about your business succeeding (and having it in their portfolio!), then this is actually the best for all parties concerned.

There are a few points to consider when using sites like this:
There are people on Fiverr, Freelancer, People per Hour etc. who display a vast portfolio of fantastic logos, but haven’t actually done them. They’re just using the portfolio as a way of drawing you in. They’re stock images. You’ll end up with either an awful design, or a design 100’s of other businesses around the world have.

Give a good brief. “I need a logo for my garage” is not enough. Be specific about your requirements, give as many details about your business as possible.

Make sure you will be provided with the logo as a vector file. There is nothing worse than a logo designed at one size, provided as a jpeg or a png, that can never scale above it’s original dimensions. I’ve seen it, I’ve had to fix it.

Think you can manage more than £400? A lot more options are open to you. If you can stretch to £1000+ then you might be looking at a full brand package rather than just a logo. Awesome! Armed with your budget, what do you do next?!

How do I find the right designer for me?
Recommendations are great. Do you know any business owners, managers or marketing people who may have worked with a designer? Ask around, see if anyone you know might be able to point you in the right direction. When you’ve got a name or two, do some research. Check out their online portfolio, see what other work they have done. Like what you see? Try and arrange to meet up with them for a coffee. You may like their work, but you also need to get on with the person.

Don’t have any recommendations? Start doing some local research. Start online. Find designers who have done work for companies in a similar sector to yours. You don’t have to go with a local designer, but I would always recommend trying to. It means you can actually have a face to face chat with them and actually build a nice little relationship.
You could look on sites such as Behance, using the filters to find someone who does branding based in Liverpool, for example. Again, if you find someone whose work you like, try and get a meeting with them.

Once you’ve found your designer, make sure that brief is written. If there’s a chance you might be doing a full branding exercise rather than just a logo design, you may need a more in depth brief. I have a client questionnaire I send to anyone who either doesn’t have a pre-written brief, or whose brief does not tell me enough. This is actually a really good resource for anyone who hasn’t worked with a designer before to see what kind of things we need to know, so I’ve decided to share it with you!

You can see an example if you click here.

So, do I need a logo, or do I need a brand?!
You may be happy with just a logo. You may plan to do further branding, or a complete re-brand, when you have a more established business and the funds to do so. That’s fine for some businesses, but for others a proper branding exercise from the outset is required.

Ask yourself: what will the cost of getting it wrong be? If you’re opening a restaurant and that branding needs to go on shop signage, menus, staff uniforms etc. and you then find out a year down the line that actually potential customers are walking by because it doesn’t look like ‘their kind of place’, what will you do? What if your personality on social media doesn’t get the kind of reaction you were hoping for and your reputation suffers?

If you see your design and branding as an investment you won’t go far wrong. Yes, as a startup budget is a massive consideration, but when you’re competing with a sea of other businesses, all shouting for the attention of the same customer, you need to stand out.

For more help and advice on design and brand use the Local Growth Hub search

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