Branding a Business or Product: A Guide for Business Owners
Many of our clients ask us about branding their service company or new product line. These are questions that frequently come up that we are going to share.
How do I choose a designer for my logo?
Our design company makes checklists when we ask a client what they need out of their new project. We suggest clients do the same. Sit down and make a list of what you need from the logo. How it needs to function:
- On letterhead or business card
- Vehicle decal
- Envelopes and/ or on the web
How it needs to be printed
Come up with a budget first and this will determine how many colors and what special processes you can afford. Do you need a vector or raster image? A knowledgeable designer can make a determination based on your list what will be best for your job. A vector image is easily sizeable and is based on a mathematical equation. A raster based image is pixel based and is limited to the original image size determined by the creator of the work at the beginning and is difficult to alter in the future. Often vector images are reserved for type and raster images are used for photographs. Our past nine clients have requested images in multiple formats for both print. We find this easy to do in Adobe Illustrator for the purposes of scaling and formatting for print and web without loosing image quality.
What kind of files should I ask for?
As previously stated, a good graphic designer will look at your specifications and tell you what you need. If you are going to be printing from a home computer or on a professional printing press, a pdf at 300 pixels per inch is the easiest and most universally recognized format. If you are going to put it on your website, a gif or jpeg image at 72 pixels per inch will be best.
Should I pay a flat rate or by the hour?
If you want all rights to the image and all file formats created during the development of your logo, paying by the hour is best. Anything created on your time is yours and you can use it in anyway you see fit. This is best if you have a large corporation or a growing business. You will need to ensure your brand identity is protected from duplication.
If you have a small business or a not for profit, paying a flat fee will work best for you. If your business is limited to a specific market or a not for profit, your brand identity will not be easily compromised. Be aware that the creator of a flat fee graphic can re sell that image over and over again unless the contract specified otherwise. Most designers will give special consideration for not for profit organizations and give reduced rates for maintaining related materials like print ads and annual reports.
Do I have to buy a typeface?
Sometimes, if you contact the person printing your job and ask them, they will tell you if you need to. This is really a part of past printing needs. Often it is more common for designers to save type as outlines in Adobe Illustrator and treat the type as an object. This method requires no need to purchase a typeface, although the type will no longer be editable. If you are a large business, it is best to look ahead and reason that you should buy the type face for future use. For a smaller business I do not think this is necessary.
What are infographics?
Infographics are usually reserved for annual reports, text books and charting web traffic. These materials are not always part of a branding strategy but can be useful internally (within the company). They express statistics and growth or any information that is best understood visually.
What makes a logo successful?
A logo needs to meet the clients needs. If it fails to do so, it is of poor design and the listening skills on the graphic artists’ part may be sub-par. A logo must represent an idea with simplicity, boldness, geometric recognition and style. A successful logo can hold its own alone on a page or a business card and be easily incorporated into an array of applications. Designers must take special consideration for logo recognition when scaling the image up or down for product labelling, packaging, envelopes and point of purchase displays (POP). Most importantly, a successful logo is loved by the client.
How do I choose the right logo?
From the client’s perspective, we know they want to choose the “right one”. Always choose what you like. Don’t let the designer tell you that you should like something that will not work for your needs. A good designer will give you many options in the beginning of the logo’s development and then determine by your preference what style is pleasing to you.
We often ask clients if they like a specific type face and give them a sheet of different logo options. It is like process of elimination. Often we will combine elements of two or three logos on the first sample sheet to come up with a workable image the client will like. Do not think the images a designer presents are set in stone. A good designer is flexible and easy to talk to.
How do I brand online? Is it important?
The short answer is yes! It’s very important. Recently we created a branding strategy for a client launching a new product line that was the customization of social networking pages. She told us that when she gets a product she likes, the first thing she does is look for their website. For a long time we thought that word of mouth was the most important. If you like something, you will tell your friends and do whatever you need to do to find that product, perhaps even buy in bulk. The combination of these two aspects of marketing a brand are more effective than just one alone.
We hope we have educated those of you intimidated by branding for a new or existing business. Remember that a designer is there to make you happy and help you make good decisions based on your needs.