Sometimes I get asked to consult on logo design work. I used to do this for free, but now charge for time and experience. Here are a few pointers.
Usually the scenario is that a client has a range of logos to work from and requires some advice on what version to go for with advice on any tweaks/changes etc. How they got to this situation is unknown, there could be a number of reasons why they can't go back to the original designer.
One reason to watch out for is this. It's been known for a client to pitch a logo job with 99Designs. Once the contest is over and they have a handful of designs, then approach a more 'seasoned' logo designer to work the magic. If you feel this could be the case, you must be honest with the client and say you are not prepared to do this, turn it away. These other designs were created by other designers, the ensuing fallout if this is found out by the original designer can be pretty nasty. Regardless of your position on Spec-Work, this situation is nasty and best avoided.
Back to point. The client may then hire me to make any changes or tweaks I feel necessary to bring it up to scratch. However, this seemingly innocent suggestion is loaded with pitfalls, so here are a few things to consider.
I tend to have a mostly stock answer, then tailor to the client, so this is not a one size fits all reply, but it's good enough for you to pick up on the obvious points then re work as you feel necessary. I have mostly omitted pleasantries, so just take this as a rough template.
Refining/tweaking a logo can be done much more quickly than developing a new logo but this depends on the client being able to provide solid feedback rather than just wanting to see this and that variation, which can then add lots more time. What should of been a relatively quick refine can end up being a logo design in it's own right. This has to be avoided, a strict time frame and revision counter has to be set.
If I believe I can help with the refining I need you to understand that this ideally comes down to my opinions and experience, what version best represents your company, then what tweaks can be made, if any, to bring it up to speed.
I may see a version of the logo you have and consider this 97% ready to roll. In this case I will tell you. I won't play with a logo just for the sake of playing.
If I feel less than inspired with all of the logo ideas, more from a technically and aesthetic perspective, then I will mention this to you. Choosing one to refine from this scenario is more like designing from afresh and its not always possible to tweak an existing inappropriate design, in fact I discourage it.
So this is what I usually propose.
Show me the logos, with a brief etc. I will give you my initial thoughts. A flat fee of just £_(insert your fee) will cover this initial consultation, my time and experience. If there are one or two that I feel we can easily work with in term of tweaking and minor adjustments I will explain my reasoning. From here we can arrange further fee's for work that needs to be carried out.
A tweak of the existing logomark is NOT finding a new idea, that's the distinction here. It's the ideas that initially take the time and the significant research required.
Tweaks that I would be happy to do would be thus : spacing, sizing, maybe just re-art-working the idea, refreshing etc. Font choice is a little tricky. If I feel a new font is the better option then there are potential licensing issues you need to be aware of. I can provide further details on this if required. To purchase a new font can cost anything from $40 to $100's depending on how many styles in the family you need.
Some ground rules on what your budget can include is important before we start.
If I genuinely feel that none of the logos are up to standard : that they may fall down in uniqueness, interpretation of your brief, basic ideas execution, in total execution, in relevancy, in appropriateness then I will explain my reasoning to you. Then it's up to you what to do from that point.
Chances are I would be reluctant to rework a logo that fails at every level. It's not that easy to work with something that has little there to start with.
This leaves designing a new logo from afresh, but obviously this depends on time and your budget.
Some things for you to consider
Do any of the designs stand out to you now? If not then we may be at the 2nd option. At this point is it important you are honest with yourselves. You need to try and forget about any money you may have already spent, as this is an irrelevant distraction when trying to gauge the suitably of a logo design for your new company/business.
If none of the designs speak to you now, then there is little chance a few tweaks here and there will help create a logo that you like and is appropriate. A fresh approach will likely be the best course of action.
If you still want to re-work an existing idea after I have advised against it then I will not be able to help you out any further. I am not happy to work on a design that basically does not do your company or business justice without a significant overhaul. I will only take on work that I know I can freely work with, rather than having such constraints.
Who was responsible for designing the selection of logos you have now? If it was an outside designer, not employed by yourself, have you sought permission to use and change their base ideas? This is a potential minefield and you can't just reuse or change another designers logo if you have not paid them, secured transfer of rights etc. Please ensure you have discussed this with your designer before proceeding.
To finish off
There are a few things for you to think about. At least you get an initial view from me without any serious financial commitment. After seeing the ideas you have had designed hopefully we can find one that works without any or much tweaking.
If you do choose to take my initial advice and hire me to do any further work, then the consultation fee will be deducted from final invoice.
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Graham Smith: 10 Badgers Copse, Seaford, England
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