Logo Design vs. Logo Concept Design

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Too often designers are stifled on jobs for clients because they are asked to provide a design concept for a logo but they bill for a logo design.  This does not work out well for the designer since they end up putting in many more hours than anticipated and feel very unsatisfied.  This is a real problem because it usually results in some bad feelings between the designer and the client or ends up turning into a rush job and the client doesn’t get the best work out of the designer.  This can be avoided by getting to know what exactly the client is looking for up front by asking questions.

Most clients do not know the difference between a logo concept and a logo design.  You might not know either and that is ok.  The difference between a concept design and a logo design is actually pretty clear.  In a logo design a client might come to you and give you some specific details on elements they want the logo to have.  They might say, “Through our research we have decided that the logo needs to have an elephant with the sun setting behind it.”  This offers a clear idea of what they want the end logo to be.  They just need you to articulate some variations of this idea into an iconic logo for their company.  A concept design offers very little in the way of direction for the designer.  A lot of times we have customers say to us, “I need you to come up with a logo for my new business.”  This should send up a red flag, to the designer, that you will need to get more information from the client.  It is always the designer’s responsibility to get specifics from the client as you are the professional and they, 9 times out of 10, are unaware of what you need to do your job.  Some other things they could say that would indicate a concept design might be, “I don’t know what I want but I’ll know it when I see it” or “Just create a few logos and I’ll tell you what I think.”

You should be able to see the obvious difference between these two scenarios.  In one you are being asked to design a finished product that will be the “set in stone” identity for the company.  In the other one you are being asked to come up with some ideas that will help the client “flesh out” some possible design solutions for a logo.  One is a very clear cut idea with a direction and some forethought.  And the other is asking the designer to do the research on behalf of the company and then take that research and develop several logo concepts that position the client properly in the market place.  Both of these scenarios can be done by the designer but it is good to know up front what you are getting into so expectations are met properly.   Failure to establish this up front between a designer and client can end very badly for both parties.

Very few small companies can afford to hire a designer just for concept design.  The reason being is that, being a young business, they need to keep marketing costs under control and, with a concept design, hours can add up quickly.  We recommend to our clients that, if they don’t have a large marketing budget, to do some research on their own instead hiring a designer to do it.  Get a good look at your competition and browse the internet for some ideas.  Find out what appeals to your customers.  What is your competition doing?  How can you stand out from them in a positive way?  What colors, fonts or imagery do you like?  Taking the time to explain these steps to a client will always save both of you a lot of time and money.  And in the end will help to establish a strong designer client relationship.  They will usually appreciate the fact that you are helping to point them in the right direction without hitting their wallet for every hour you spend researching their industry.  Clients are always happy to find a way that they can save time and money.  This end result will get the job done smoother, faster and more accurately.  Above all it is important for the designer to act professionally and that includes looking out for the clients best interests.

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