Tagged: design

How much to charge for design work

The never-ending, no right-or-wrong answer, how do I figure this out question that every new freelancer has. Design: Talkboard has an article that covers some of the things you should consider when trying to come up with your hourly rate. In addition, you may wish to take a look at some links I wrote about in the past that may help you figure out your hourly design rates. You can read them here, and here.

9 rules to creating a logo you can live with and still get paid

Logo design is one of the most difficult aspects of design. It’s one of those things you have a hard time separating personal taste from good communication and branding. Here are a few rules I have come up with for myself over the years when I work on a new logo.

Do NOT show a client any logo design that you don’t really love.

This is the most important rule. Many years ago I had this stupid idea that I would “show the cool logo” along with “two crappy logos to make the one I like look even better.” The problem is, the client almost always chooses one of the crappy logos and then I’m stuck using it. Never ever, ever, EVER show a client a logo you don’t love!

Show the logos in black & white ONLY.

I explain that we will work on colors only AFTER the final design is approved. The reason is simple, you don’t want to give them yet one more thing to focus on. The client WILL spend a ridiculous amount of time just thinking about the color scheme instead of what they should be thinking about, which is how well the logo conveys their brand/image. Also, with little exception, 60-80% of the clients work will probably be in black & white or one color, so it needs to look good in black & white. And when I say black & white, I mean BLACK and WHITE, no gradients or tints.

I ALWAYS design my logos in Adobe Illustrator.

Any logo, even one for a Web site, needs to be scaled for different use. Designing a logo in Photoshop leaves you with a ceiling you may not be able to live with later on. Designing your logo in Illustrator also allows you to “break it apart” and use the pieces in other aspects of the client’s work. It gives you flexibility in how it’s used (outdoor, ads, multi-media, etc.) and keeps it easy to edit later.

Go straight to the top.

Never accept a logo design job where a committee of 10 people must approve the design. You’ll end up taking a great logo and turning it into a giant puddle of monkey piss in a matter of hours trying to please 10 people. Find out who the decision maker is and work ONLY with them. If there is no single decision maker, then don’t accept the job! You’ll thank yourself for it later!

Make sure the logo works at ridiculously small sizes.

This goes along with the black & white rule. Clients will use that logo on all sorts of things, including imprinting it on a pen. The logo must work at a small size! You might also consider how it will work in a tall skinny ad, a square ad and a wide ad layout. Is it easy to fit into the “flow?”

Avoid using filters, effects and other gimmicks.

A logo is a big investment for a company. Creating a trendy/gimmicky logo will result in it looking outdated and cheap next year.

Create simple artwork.

Don’t get too complex with the design or the way you build it. Don’t use more than two fonts and one single graphic image. A logo that is too complex serves to do nothing but dilute the brand and look horrible at small sizes.

Create offspring.

OK, not THAT way! Once you have a design you like, check to see if there’s a way to use only part of the logo. The Coca-Cola logo is a perfect example. You can use the scripted type, but you can also just use the ribbon design and people still know it’s Coca-Cola, even though it doesn’t say it. Apple Computer is another great example. Apple stopped putting the word “Apple” with the logo years ago, yet you still know it’s Apple. You might also want to create a horizontal and vertical version of the logo to give you and your client a little more flexibility.

My final bit of advice is to think ahead.

Don’t design a logo that looks cool on a blank piece of paper. Your client most likely will want to use it in ads, in TV commercials, on banners, billboards and even on a truck. Design a logo that “works” with a lot of different end-uses. Make sure the logo is balanced. Does it work well at the bottom of an ad, regardless of whether it’s in the lower left, centered or lower right? Does it look good with a Web address centered below it? Does it work on a dark background? Will it look good on a coffee mug? Of course rules are made to be broken. You’re the designer, you make the rules. But you have to assume the worst, look at all possibilities and put yourself in the mindset of the client. While you may not end up with an award-winning logo every time, you will have a happy client and, hopefully, a very nice logo.

Why logo design doesn’t cost $5.00

“A designer should not have to invest time and resources with no guarantee of payment…”

Jacob over at Just Creative Design has an opinion piece in which he discusses his thoughts on Spec work, design contests and more. While logo design contests that pay $35 to $200 are somewhat demoralizing, and ultimately produce mediocre work, I don’t entirely agree that they’re bad and should be avoided at all costs. The fact is that your work is only worth as much as someone is willing to pay for it. In today’s economy, companies don’t place a great value on great design. This is a poor business decision, but out of our control. If you need the money, and you can bang-out some quick (and I do mean QUICK) logo designs, why not make $200 for your two hours of work? The key to dealing with design contests such as 99designs and other sites offering these contests is to accept that the clients they bring to the table are not “prime” clients. They’re “filler.” Don’t spend a lot of time and effort on them because no matter how many you win, you aren’t going to make a living, and ultimately you aren’t going to produce your best work. I’m not advocating these design contests, I just don’t believe they’re all the evil that some designers believe. They can even serve to stimulate your creativity, or at the very least provide you with some work for your portfolio.

Free image templates for identity design

Among the numerous resources that can be found over at CreativeBits are a set of image templates for identity design. These “blanks” are perfect for showing off your design ideas to clients. There are around 200 images in 5 different categories available. The downloads are broken up by category and are anywhere between 7 and 17MB each. You can download the templates here. The download links for each category are below the photos.

“You TOO can become a graphic designer!”

A recent post on Creative Bits (and the subsequent commentary underneath) got me thinking about what might be required to refer to oneself as a ‘graphic designer’. Is it a college degree, a kick-ass portfolio, or is it simply because you’ve printed the flyer for the local church’s fish dinner on your home inkjet for the last 10 years running…? There’s a commercial that appears on TV in my neck of the woods for a local trade school called Gibbs College, and it manages to make my blood boil most every time. Not only because of the deafening audio levels at which all cable ads seem to run at, but because it also seems to cheapen what I do for a living. (more…)

Cool site for package designers

Package design is a niche in our industry that gets little attention, even though it’s probably one of the coolest things to design and looks great in a portfolio. There are few resources dedicated to it, so when I came across The Dieline, I knew I wanted to share it with you. The site offers inspirational samples and articles about great package design, as well as design studio spotlights.

Don’t design a dead-end Web site – it’s all about the content

When I look at a lot of Web sites these days, two things jumps out at me. First, many sites look absolutely stunning. Beautiful mastheads, delicious AJAX everywhere, blinky, swooshing Flash and Web 2.0-style graphics adorn tons of Web sites. Competing with these gorgeous Web sites requires not only great graphic design skills, but you’ve got to be a coding genius as well. The second thing that I notice right away is that many of these sites contain little if any useful, informative content. Opinion blogs are everywhere, virtually anyone who can type has a blog, but finding great content is just getting harder and harder. It almost appears that many of these sites’ purpose is simply to show off the fact that they know how to code. Now I’m not trying to stand on my high-horse and look down on anyone’s efforts… (more…)