Many people are not aware of the amount of time and effort that goes into creating a strong brand identity – in other words, a logo.
It’s understandable. Many clients are stunned when they hear logo design prices from a professional designer. In fact, most professional designers agree: designing a logo takes a lot of time, thought, research, skill, and effort. All of this is implemented in the logo design’s process, which takes many hours – not minutes.
While every designer has a different process specific to their personality, it’s safe to say that, any professional designer, all follow a similar structure. The following is basic outline of the design process that we, specifically, go through.
Steps 1-3 are necessary business aspects; while this is not technically designing – the active artistic part, but the design process cannot begin if these steps are skipped. Key word: necessary.
Step 1: The Design Briefing – Client Intake
Before picking up a pencil or a mouse, the foremost important step of the process is to get a better understanding of our client. The need to pick their brain and find out everything possible about their business, their industry, their target market and audience, who is their competition, what are their goals, what do they like, and what do they NOT like – are necessary to formulate the right mindset to begin and provide the best design possible. During the intake process, we use a simple outline of these questions, and any more that pop up during conversation, to develop a concept and direction.
Time invested? About 1-1.5 hours.
Step 2: Project Proposal
Once a good understanding of what the client is expecting and needing is gathered, a proposal that covers, in detail, what the project will entail is assembled: cost, estimated timeline, what deliverables they can expect to receive, and what the terms of agreement are. While there is a general hourly rate for design, certain projects can be priced out by the job. Either way, the client needs to know what to expect.
Time invested? About 30-45 minutes.
Step 3: Proposal Approval & Deposit Received
Once the client agrees to the proposal agreement, they’re saying they’re ready for to begin and that they agree to pay for the work. A deposit is collected, which is standard business practice, and we go to work immediately.
Time invested? It depends! But usually about 5 minutes.
Step 4: Research
Anyone who picks up a pencil or clicks a mouse without doing some research into the client’s business and industry is not designing professionally. Research needs to be conducted into the client’s business, their industry, what type of work they do, what sets them apart from their competitors, and their target market segment to get a better understanding of what their audience is looking for. Researching the industry opens the doors to understand what symbols and color schemes speak which message; it also gives a really good look into what their competitors are doing in their branding, which trademark issues to consider – research is an absolute must. Not only that, but having clarification into their world allows us to do our job better and blow the client’s mind during the presentation!
Time invested? Anywhere from 2-4 hours!
Step 5: Inspiration & Brainstorming
This is where looking to professional design resources comes into play. Looking through numerous design books and websites, and gathering a collection of designs from similar industries, aids in the inspirational direction and helps to solidify the message and emotion the design needs to evoke. Taking time to write out word associations, sketch out concepts, and let creativity go wild! If when drawing out something, it looks horrible, that’s okay, it can always be edited or scrap it later. It’s good to unpack all ideas onto paper to get a “bigger picture” of where the design is heading.
Time invested? Anywhere from 2-4 hours.
Step 6: Step Back A Little
Sometimes digital illustration is started right away; if the design seems to be on the right path and a strong concept is present – get right to it! Other times, if nothing is jumping out, take a little time to step away from the desk and mull over different brainstorming activities. During this time, be watchful. Other projects may be present that need attention or appointments that need to be attended. Even though we’re not in front of the Mac or sketch pad, we’re always thinking about the design and attentive of surroundings for more inspiration. You never know when or where the right color, the right image, the right word or conversation will spark the best design idea you’ve ever had!
Time invested? It varies!
Step 7: Digital Illustration
Taking anywhere from 5 to 10 ideas or images that have developed through research, inspiration, and brainstorming and place them just to the side of the art board in Illustrator, the digital illustration process begins. The initial illustrations can sometimes be pretty rough; but we continue to refine them until there are 2 – 3 good design concepts to present to the client. Sometimes we get a little carried away – once we presented 9 different logo designs to a client! We don’t recommend that – it confuses the client and makes it difficult for them to decide which way to go. Three is the magic number.
Time invested? About 3-5 hours!
Step 8: Presentation
Initially email the designs to the client and follow up with a phone call to let them know they’re in their inbox for review. We schedule a follow up with them in a day or so to get their feedback. Don’t expect the client to have a response right away – they need time to look it over and formulate how they feel about the work complete so far. They don’t need anyone standing over their shoulder while doing it.
Time invested? About 10 minutes.
Step 9: Revisions
After the client has time to decide which concept they like best, we talk about how they want to proceed in refining the design. If one particular design doesn’t stand out, but they like elements from each one, we can combine them to make a completely different design – a fourth design – that incorporates the elements they like for an overall look. Sometimes the client has an idea and it just needs a little tweaking so that it works well with the concept; other times, they may not know exactly how to explain what they’re thinking but they know what they want the end result to accomplish and that’s when it’s up to us to implement something new into the design. Once a base concept is present to go on, it’s now time to develop several possible designs, with small variations, for them to review. Once the designs are edited, they are emailed again – and usually the client can decide fairly quickly which design they want to go with.
Time invested? About 3-5 hours!
Step 10: Final Presentation and Payment
Once the design is chosen and completed, the final work is presented to the client and final payment is collected. If they’re only hiring for design, the files for their logo are submitted in multiple formats, ai, eps, pdf, jpg, png, and anything else they need or requested, for them to use at their discretion. If, however, they’re hiring for multiple projects, such as printing business cards or designing a website, a logo file is still submitted but the total art files are retained to continue working with them until all of the client’s needs are fulfilled
Time invested? About 1 hour.
So… How long does it ACTUALLY take to design a logo?
This all sounds like a lot – especially for something so simple and small like a logo, right? However, as a professional, it’s important to understand that the logo is the first impression of a company’s brand and identity! When you understand the weight of what you’re creating and designing, it makes sense why so much time, energy, and effort is required.
The answer? Honestly, it all depends. A professional designer cannot pump out all these steps in just an hour or two. While our clients are invoiced only for actual digital design time, we never fail to give them our very best; and that includes all the above steps. In general, designing a logo can take anywhere from 10 to 30+ total hours, including all the preliminary steps to even get to the illustration stage. Most logos we design fall into the 15 to 20 hour range for actual time invested in the client’s project – not just illustration time, all of the time that is committed to giving the client the very best at a professional level.
So, now the true question is…. Do you want to hire a professional designer to do your logo and give you the best possible outcome? Or, are you looking for something from Fiverr in the $5 range? Our advice? You get what you pay for.