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4 Red Flags To Watch Out For When Hiring A Logo Designer

Learn how to spot a professional

Some of the logos I've designed for my clients over the years

So you’ve decided to hire a logo designer. Great! Your logo is an important and highly visible component of your visual identity. But that means it’s extra important to get it right. How do you know if the designer you’re thinking of hiring is going to produce something that will successfully embody the entirety of your brand? That’s tricky business—but you’ve come to the right place.

Here are four red flags you should look out for when hiring a logo designer:

Red Flag #1: The price tag is less than $330.80.

Most designers price logo projects using a flat fee, so let’s calculate a reasonable baseline estimate. According to MIT, as of March 2020, the living wage in the U.S. is $16.54 per hour. And in my experience, the process for creating a professional logo design from start to finish takes 20 hours at an absolute bare minimum. $16.54 x 20 = $330.80.

So if you can find a designer with less than a year of experience who also works at light speed and doesn’t live in an expensive city, $330.80 might be a reasonable estimate for what they charge. Anything less than that means one of four things:

  1. they’re not putting in sufficient time and effort;

  2. they won’t be giving you different design options so you’ll be stuck with whatever they decide for you;

  3. they’re going to upcharge you for what should be standard design revisions or file types; or

  4. the worst case scenario—they’re stealing someone else’s design.

So let’s talk realistically: you should expect to spend between $500 and $1,500 for a professional logo (I charge $1000 as of 2021). Agencies may charge upwards of $2,000.

Red Flag #2: They can’t explain their design process.

If your logo designer doesn’t walk you through a process they will be using to design your logo, it probably means they don’t have one. You really don’t want someone to wing it when it comes to the central pillar of your brand’s visual identity. There is an industry standard when it comes to logo design, and that’s what a professional will use. They should be explaining what to expect over the course of the project before you ever agree to hire them—that’s what I do.

Red Flag #3: You realize that you’re going to be the project manager.

Are you having to email your designer multiple times to get a price, a description of their process, a contract, work samples, an invoice, etc.? This is a sign that they are not going to be working in a timely and professional manner, and that you might end up having to manage the project. The logo design process isn’t rocket science, but you, as the client, are not the logo expert, so you should not have to be in charge of running the show. Your designer should be laying out a timeline, explaining what they will need from you, asking for your feedback, and driving the process forward. If your designer is putting project management responsibilities on you, seek out a professional instead.

Red Flag #4: They don’t send you a creative brief.

Speaking of responsibility, it’s always on the designer to obtain information from you that they will need to design an effective logo (or any other project for that matter). Who is your audience? What is your mission? How do you accomplish it? These are some of the questions that professional designers will ask in order to design an effective logo, and the creative brief is the tool they use to get answers from you.

One of the questions in my brief and my client's answer

The creative brief is also a place for them to get information about your needs and preferences—my briefs have some fun questions that really give me insight into your style. If your designer doesn’t ask you lots of questions about your brand before they start working on the design, run in the opposite direction! Professionals will always be sure to get this information from you, because they can’t create a suitable logo for you if they’re completely in the dark about who you are. Feel free to ask for a creative brief before sending payment!

If you watch out for these warning signs, you can be reasonably confident when hiring a professional designer for your logo project. Good luck!


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