A ServerWise five part Series

First You Must Design Your Brand Identity Plus The 3 Questions To Ask A Designer or Best Sites To DIY

Table of Contents

Your brand includes your logo, color palette, font face, etc. But you’ll want to start with your logo because you can usually use that to determine your brand color palette.

I’m not going to waste your time telling you what you already know. You already know what a graphic designer does and why you may, or may not, need one. Above all, let’s cover what really matters here – your budget.

You have three options based entirely and nearly exclusively on your budgetary restrictions. 

Hire A Local Graphic Designer

We all want to keep business local and therefore help out a small business if it’s within our budget. Of course, this is your most expensive option that will run you anywhere from $700 to $2,500. Consequently, you’ll get great service by a local whom you will get to know and may use again. All while contributing to your community.

Outsource Online

If you decide to outsource online, you’ll tap into a vast industry of professional and less expensive global talent. For an original logo design, you can spend as little as $50 up to $600.

Do It Yourself

This is your least expensive option, so if your budget is tight this is the way to go. In addition, you can do it yourself if you have a clear vision of what you, and your buyers, want. I’m going to introduce you to several strong services that I cover below, from cheap to free.

Hire A Local Graphic Designer or Firm

I’m not going to cover this option as much. Truthfully, if you have the budget to hire a local firm, you don’t need my help. I suggest you run a quick Google, Bing or LinkedIn search for local graphic designers. You’ll discover many options, and you can pour over reviews, websites and portfolios. This will give you a sense of their output and whether it matches your vision and requirements. And you should be able to read about their process.

You’ll select a few strong candidates and write up your specifications including your buyer persona and request an interview. During the interview, ask as many questions as you like, but remember to ask the three questions I’ve included below.

Question 1: Please tell me about your experience and your process?

You get what you pay for, so. Similarly, if you have the budget available and have decided to hire a professional to design your brand identity for you, let an expert take the helm.

Graphic and brand designers first starting out need to build their portfolios. In other words, it’s an opportunity for you to get discounted professional services. Most people would advise you to steer clear of a newbie in the industry, after all, a beginner can’t have the experience and expertise to guide you properly.

While that is sometimes accurate, such an individual is out to prove him or herself. That usually means you’ll get better service, greater communication and more revisions to ensure your satisfaction. Remember, a graphic designer needs a portfolio to build their own brand.

Ask about the designer’s experience and process. What does the professional need from you? If the expert doesn’t ask about your buyer persona (niche demographic and customer type) look elsewhere.

You’ll want to go over their online portfolio. If you have any reservations about the designer, look elsewhere.

Reverse Image Search Is Your Friend

I strongly suggest doing a Google reverse image search and verify the source of the logo. On more than one occasion, I’ve sourced the allegedly original logo to a known logo farm. The designer bought it for $7 and changed the colors and claimed it as original work.

You can go direct and buy the logo yourself from the source for a lot less. In this particular case, the logo template came from GraphicRiver.net.

So what’s the downside to paying $7 for a quick logo template? If your brand takes off, and you decide to trademark your logo, you can’t. That same logo is already used by possibly hundreds of others around the world.

Question 2: Have you done any similar projects recently, and will you be doing my project or do you outsource?

It’s important to remember that creativity and a strong portfolio doesn’t guarantee expertise in all related fields. As a quick example, not all residential interior designers can also successfully design commercial hotel interiors. You’ll want to focus on graphic designers that specialize in company branding. And you’ll want to make sure the individual doesn’t outsource their work to someone else. You’re the paying client, you have a right to know who is actually designing your project.

Question 3: Please describe your design process?

Many people when stepping into the hiring process decide this question isn’t important. After all why does the expert’s individual process matter to you? It does matter because it’s a loaded and guided question.

The designer’s answer to this question will give you some very valuable insights. You’re going to look for the following in his or her response:

  • Time frames and commitments such as estimated time to a first draft.
  • How many revisions you are allowed. Don’t choose a designer that says they allow unlimited revisions. That’s an amateur move right there. A professional can’t allow unlimited anything, would you?
  • When and how you may incur additional charges on the project.
  • What questions and timely answers (which you should already have done) will the designer ask you. Look for a designer who wants to know about your company, buyers and chosen demographic, etc.

You’ll need to make sure you know what formats your designs will be in once completed. Request all the source files so if you need changes made at a later date, you’re not dependent on that one designer to make them.

Be Upfront From The Start

It’s important that you’re upfront about the fact that you need the source files. Sometimes designers will charge an extra fee, just as photographers frequently do, so best to know in advance.

You shouldn’t be afraid to ask questions. Make sure to do your due diligence; research the service provider and the service itself. Most importantly, write down your expectations and requirements and share that with the designer. Don’t expect even the best designer to have a better understanding of your buyers than you do. This is your brand and your company, after all.

6 Sources for Outsourced Professional Logo Design on A Budget

You’ve decided to take the middle road – you don’t want to do it yourself, but you don’t want to spend $700+ on a local designer. This is the road I took as well, and I’m very satisfied with the finished product. I was also extremely happy with the price.

Below are my top recommendations.

1

This service is owned by VistaPrint and lets you create a design competition. Think of it as crowdsourcing for logo designs. You’ll list your requirements and goals including your buyer personas and receive 30 unique logo concepts. The service is priced at $299 which makes it a strong affordable option.

2

If you’d rather have fewer designers and a more streamlined experience, this service is a better match. For $195 you’ll get two top-tier graphic designers working tirelessly on your logo. In total, you’ll receive four different concepts.

If you want more choices, you can opt to upgrade for $395. That will include 6 design concepts as well as business cards, envelopes and stationary designs.

3

This service is a similar experience to 99Designs. DesignHill lets you create a design competition for your logo (starting at $120) or your entire brand identity (starting at $600). It’s a great and popular crowdsourcing platform for professional designers.

4

Unlike the previous options I mentioned, this platform is a crowded source of nearly every type of outsourced provider. That means you’ll be wadding through thousands of graphic designers to find your fit. 

But creating an account is free and allows you to browse all of their capable graphic designers. You can submit a logo design or brand identity project for as low as $50.

My only point of caution when working on a platform such as Freelancer is to trust but verify. Look over online portfolios, do a reverse image search on every one and verify their originality before making a decision.

5

Here’s a straightforward marketplace concept. DesignCrowd is easy to use and  allows you to create your design project and determine your budget. You can post a worthwhile logo design project for as little as $110.

6

The Logo Company is a professional branding and design studio based in New York that is surprisingly affordable. For just $199 you’ll get five logo designers that will design five unique concepts with unlimited conceptual revisions.

Please keep in mind that the unlimited revisions apply only to one of the design concepts. Essentially, you choose one concept out of the five, and you can have it altered as much as you want. That doesn’t mean you can have a designer create a brand-new design.

6 DIY Tools To Build A Beautiful Brand

Perhaps you already know exactly what you want. You may have a clear vision in your mind and just need to make it a reality. Thankfully, these days, there are many do-it-yourself design tools online that you can use to build your brand palette. Once determined, you can automatically use the palette for all brand facets. I’m talking everything from social media posts, email communications and even e-books or other lead magnets you create (or outsource).

1
Canva

I have a Canva account. You can try Canva out for free while you’re building your brand and take advantage of their tools, including the Canva Logo Builder. I highly recommend taking a bit of time and going through the Canva’s Design & Branding video series – 30 minutes that I wished I saw when I started.

2
GraphicRiver.net

Jump onto graphicriver.net and look over the thousands of Logo Templates. Pricing starts at only $5 each. If you find something that fits with your vision, you can buy it and alter it yourself via Pixlr Editor (free online tool) or outsource some very basic alterations such as colors and sizing to a professional on Fiverr or Freelancer.com.

3
Adobe Spark

Adobe got into the DIY logo creation game a few years ago and has helped thousands of budding entrepreneurs create some unique and recognizable designs. You can start for free for 14 days, which is more than enough to build your logo. If you keep your Adobe Spark account, it’s only $10 a month.

4
LogoMakr.com

A popular free online logo maker with over 1 million graphics you can preload to start your logo design process.

I personally haven’t used this service, but it’s worth considering if your budget borders on non-existent.

5
Deluxe Logo Creator

Deluxe.com is an online design firm with professional custom creations starting at $195. BUT the firm has a do-it-yourself service at deluxelogocreator.com, where you can use their software to create your own brand identity for as low as $39.

6
DesignHill Logo Maker

DesignHill uses AI software to create your logo for you based on your needs and goals for as low as $65.

In conclusion, I’m not much for long paragraphs to wrap up the content you’ve already read and hopefully found useful. Head over to my next article in this series to learn more about branding your business.

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Charles Wilson
Charles Wilson
Charlie is a classic coder from the Northwest who loves all things retro, vintage and vinyl and has spent the last 15 years at a data security firm. After retiring, Charles fell into a second career helping his wife start her niche membership site that now boasts over 12,000 monthly members.