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Erin Ferree
Erin Ferree
Small Business Brand Designer
San Luis Obispo, California

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How To Get The Logo You Want

Are you having a hard time getting the logo you want from your designer? If you're working with a designer, looking for 'just the right' logo, and the sketches you’re getting are causing nothing but frustration, don’t despair.
Written Mar 16, 2009, read 615 times since then.



Your logo is more than just an important part of a small business’s marketing materials – it forms the face of your business. The logo gives your clients a visual reference to pair with your business name, which increases the memorability of your brand.

But, when a client comes to me asking for a logo, I often get the same few comments when beginning the project: “I know what I want, but I don’t know how to explain it.”, “I know what my logo looks like, but I’m not an artist. I can’t draw it. So I want you to keep drawing until you get it right.”, or, the even more vague, “I’ll know my logo when I see it.”

Many of these statements come from clients who have worked with other designers in the past, and who haven’t been walked through a successful design process. They seem to depend on my mind-reading capabilities, which, admittedly, aren’t the sharpest. I’m a logo designer, not a clairvoyant! There are logical ways to approach the logo design process to make sure that you develop a logo that’s truly and uniquely yours.

Are you having a hard time getting the logo you want from your designer?

If you're working with a designer, looking for "just the right" logo, and the sketches you’re getting are causing nothing but frustration, don’t despair. I’ve worked with many clients on difficult projects, trying to get as close as possible to reading their minds without having ESP. Here are some tips to help you get your logo done right:

1. Make sure you're working with a designer who can work in a style you like. Check out their portfolio and make sure that they've done work that inspires you. And, if you're having trouble creating results with your designer, reconfirm that they have done the work in their portfolio - that those samples haven't been done by subcontractors or other employees in their firm.

Also, let them know which specific samples you like out of their past work. A designer will probably have several different styles and approaches in their portfolio, so weeding out the logos that you like – plus detailing what you like about each one – can really help to get the project started out on the right foot.

2. Gather other examples of the logos that you like. This way, they'll be able to get a sense of your visual taste, instead of having to guess at your preferences. The logos don’t have to be from your competitors, or in your industry – again, these are to gauge your level of visual taste. Choose any logos visually appeal to you, for any companies or products.

It's important that you send your designer logos, not photos or paintings. Photos and paintings are graphically very different from a logo – and they don’t often translate well from one style to another. And, if there is one particular part or thing about the logo that you love specifically - the font, color palette, something about the icon - then tell your designer what it is.

3. Define your business. Too often, a client will give their designer just the bare bits of information about their business - the business name, and the services or products they provide - and then expect the designer to read their mind and perform a miracle. With so little information, how can a designer be expected to really "get" what you're all about, and to translate your personality and individuality into a unique logo?

Tell them about your business's mission, what excites you about it, how you'd like your clients to see your personality. Tell them about your clients - who they are, what they need, what their problems are. With this information, your designer will be much more able to make a logo that will communicate the story of your business to your clients.

4. Give detailed feedback. Instead of saying "I don't like them" when your designer presents the logos to you, and then ending the conversation there, get into a dialog with your designer about the options they've offered. Don't just dismiss everything because it's not perfect in the first round - getting anything just right can take a couple of tries.

Focus on the positive aspects of the concepts that you’ve been given instead of the negatives. See if there's anything in any of the logos that appeals to you - or any rough direction that interests you.

5. Break the design process down. Or, look at the elements of the logo separately. Sometimes, a logo won't seem right because it's in the wrong color palette, or matched with the wrong font. Focus first on the logo icon, and then look at the font. Apply color last so that the color doesn't distract you from the merits of the design.


If these steps fail, then perhaps the best logo for you isn't one that you personally love - but your business may be better served by creating a logo that appeals to your clients.

6. Keep in mind that the logo's job is to appeal to your best clients - not to just make you happy. Instead of just thinking about whether you personally like the logo, show it to some of your best clients and get their opinions on it. It's actually better to have a logo that your clients like than to like it yourself in some cases - because the logo's job is to help them see your personality and to remember your business, not to just make you proud. 

Ask your clients about their thoughts on the logo. Do keep in mind that each client will have a different level of personal taste that they will bring to the table. Put the most weight on the feedback from clients who are the best match for your ideal client profile. And, be sure that you respect their personal taste – if your main focus group target drives a beater car, or dress questionably, and you’re creating a luxury brand for your business, then you might consider finding a more high-end client to run the logo by.

7. Ask your designer what to do in cases like this. The advice above is just my procedure to get past the ESP phase of the project and into the client’s head. If you’re working with another designer, they may have a totally different way to get out of a rut in the process and to get your logo looking just as you envisioned. Just have them walk you through the process.

These steps should help you to get closer to having a logo that will work for your business - instead of going around in circles with a designer, coming up with nothing but frustration. Even if your designer can’t read your mind immediately, it’s worth going through the process to get the best logo to work for your business.



Learn more about the author, Erin Ferree.

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Article tags

  • logo design
  • graphic design
  • designer
  • logos
  • marketing
  • small business
  • brand
  • branding

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