It’s music to a graphic designer’s ears when a client says, “You’re the expert, so do what you think is best. Have at it!” But, it requires a lot of trust to give a designer the freedom to unleash his or her creativity when designing something as essential as a company’s brand.
In a successful client-designer relationship, both parties listen to each other and believe they share the same goal: creating a remarkable brand that they love. The client needs to feel confident that the designer is advocating on the company’s behalf, giving the company what it needs and not what it wants, and is producing artwork that will become a showpiece in the designer’s portfolio.
So, before entrusting a designer with this valuable asset, companies should ask these five questions—and feel satisfied with the answers:
Who owns the rights to the completed work?
It is important to specify who will own the rights to the company logo upon its completion—the company or the artist. The company will want complete, direct access and free reign to use its logo, without needing to contact the designer to ask for permission or to request different file formats, sizes or versions.
What files are supplied when the job is complete?
Flexibility is key when it comes to using a new logo. Businesses should not be restricted by a small file size or one color option, or they may end up wishing that they had chosen another designer. Be sure to request that the designer offer a high-resolution image file of the logo that will be easy for any marketing professional to resize when using it in collateral. Graphics should include a full-color and black-and-white rendering, so the logo can be used in any future scenario that might arise, such as on a black t-shirt or in a black-and-white newspaper ad.
Is the artwork original or based upon clipart?
This is one of the most important questions to ask a designer. If the artwork included in the logo is not original, a business will not be able to trademark or copyright the design in the future. Trademarks or copyrights are pivotal as a small business grows into a bigger brand. This legal protection will prevent competitors from stealing elements of a logo design and using them to their own benefit. This protection keeps a company’s brand image unique and exclusive.
How many revisions can the client request?
During the production of its logo, a company may love the design, but hate the font. Or, the company may think that the illustration is perfect, but prefer a different color scheme. It’s important to know before the design process begins how many revisions a designer will allow until arriving at the “perfect” version. Otherwise, a designer might charge for the additional hours it takes them to implement changes.
What is the company’s financial obligation?
Logo design is an investment. A $99 logo is typically going to be worth the cost—not much. When executed properly, a powerful logo can yield a significant return.
That being said, before work begins, it is important to make a few things clear with the designer regarding billing . First of all, is the price a fixed dollar amount or an hourly rate? If it is an hourly rate, how does the designer go about tracking time?
Must the company pay the designer if it decides to kill the project mid-way? If so, what is the agency or designer’s “fail rate” (a term used to describe how many times they were unable to arrive at a concept that their client approved)? Make sure all financial obligations are spelled out very clearly before signing any contracts.
Generally speaking, the more communication a company has with its design team, the better. This is especially important at the beginning of the process, to ensure that the designer knows the relevant details about the business and market demographics.
Patience also is essential during this process. There won’t necessarily be a sketch or concept that hits the client like a ton of bricks—it’s usually easy to tell when designers feel they’ve nailed the final design by their enthusiasm. In a trusting relationship and after a thorough process, ideally, the company will agree.