The best part of building your business is the sense of pride you get from it. No matter how large your company grows, there’s nothing like stepping back and realising all that you’ve achieved. So when it comes to picking your branding and logo, you should really think hard about what you want to do.
I often find that I am tagged in Facebook posts looking for a ‘cheap logo’ for a new business just launching. It makes perfect sense that if you’re just starting out you might not have the funds to commission a designer and you want to keep your initial layout as low as possible. A cheap logo from Fiverr or a pre-made design from Vista Print might be a good place to start, but here’s why I think it’s better to get something bespoke.
The joy of commissioning a designer is that you know you’ll love what they create because it’s a collaboration. Any designer worth their degree certificate knows that you work closely with the client on all design and branding projects and should completely focus on the client’s needs. You, the business owner, are the most important source of knowledge about your own business. When I design for my clients I ask a whole plethora of questions and I listen intently. My strength isn’t knowing all about a certain industry; my strengths lie in researching you, your clients, and your business, picking out these strengths and translating that visually into your brand and logo. I want to know as much detail about your business as I can, so that I can do an amazing job of showing you off – this is the bit you’re paying for. Cheap pre-designed logos simply offer an off-the-peg solution – they might look lovely, but they probably don’t say much about what makes your business so special.
If you’ve seen me in one of my Facebook Live shows or on video, you’ll know that my corny catch-phrase ‘Consistency is Key’ features a lot. But it’s not just talk. The strength of your brand can only be seen if you’re applying it across everything you do – but if you don’t know how (or worse, you don’t even like your branding) then how would you do that? Perhaps you’ve thought about re-branding and spending another £20 on a cheap logo, but how many times will you need to do that before you’re 100% happy with your new design?
When you commission a brand especially for your company you should be getting a branding document, or a style guide. This normally includes examples of how to use your logo, your colour breakdowns, your typographic choices and some examples of how it all works together. I sometimes include social media icons, brand photography and brand patterns. This means that in 2 years’ time, when a printer asks for a Pantone reference or a font choice, the business owner doesn’t need to get in contact with me – they have their own guide that they can refer to, speeding up the process. If you’re only getting a logo, you’ll probably struggle to find out these things.
You should also be getting a lot of different file types in your branding package. Print and digital design software and printing processes vary significantly, and you’ll need different file types to do different things. If you’ve just been supplied with a .jpg of your logo and nothing else, you can’t use it on many things. It’ll probably be ok for a Facebook profile picture, but if you want to create a massive banner (or a hot air balloon) that .jpg just won’t cut it. Your designer should be asking you what you are planning for your brand and supplying you with these sorts of files. Some come as standard in good branding package designs but don’t be afraid to ask – you’ll be thankful in the years to come.
Another secret to a good brand design is that it doesn’t date quickly. Designers are very good at spotting new trends (we adore trends!) and while we love incorporating the latest ideas into a design, we know that the value of a good brand lies in its longevity. You’ll be using your brand for a good few years, so we build that into our creative thinking.
Maybe you’re cutting out the middle man and buying a pre-made logo – you aren’t the only one in the same industry doing exactly the same. Imagine you’ve built your business over two years, you’ve put hours of work into it, you’re building your client base, and then one day at a local networking event you meet someone doing something similar, with exactly the same logo. How embarrassing! You just don’t get this when you’ve commissioned your own designer. Your designs will be bespoke and completely geared to you and your business.
The other avenue to steer clear of is stock imagery. While stock photography is great, icons from stock websites are often limited by licensing. Basically, you can’t create logos from them, and if you do you could face a heavy fine and having to remove everything that ‘your’ logo is on. An expensive way to save a few pounds. And if you’ve got your image from a Google search then I really shouldn’t need to tell you about the corporate licencing issues there! You can only be really sure that the icons in your design are bespoke if you’ve created them yourself or asked a designer to do the same.
Your brand is one of your most important assets in your company and it should be valued. Many of the sellers on cheap platforms might look professional, but can you really be sure? What qualifications do they have? Who have they worked for? Designers like to show off. For example, I have a degree from Bath Spa University in Design. I also have over 15 years’ experience within the industry, 6 of which I was working in-house for companies such as Disney, Marks & Spencer, Caroline Gardner, and Transport for London, and now I work with some of the most amazing businesses that are starting out. There’s no way that I would attempt a branding project if I didn’t have all of this experience and this is the reason that I only take on 10 of these projects a year. I want to apply quality time to it and to enjoy it. I love getting to know my clients and their business inside out, it’s what makes me a happy designer. You wouldn’t hand your accounts to someone you don’t know on a faceless website, nor would you ask a builder to create your dream home if you didn’t know if they possessed the right skills – so you probably shouldn’t be doing the same with your branding. Having a skilled designer is like having a good accountant, or builder, you respect their skills and value the input they can add to your company.
The best part of having a brand commissioned especially for your business is that you know what you get is 100% bespoke to you. When you commission a good designer, you will know exactly what you’re getting. They’ll be upfront about costs, the rounds of amends included and what files you’ll be getting at the end. It’ll be personal, creative, a really exciting way to develop your brand collaboratively. It really is worth every penny.