My Marketing Thing

Briefing your logo designer

Logo already taken

Following from my previous post on logo basics even some graphic designers forget, here are some things to consider when approaching a graphic designer to create a logo for you.

But before we start…


Why give your logo designer a brief?

A friend of mine recently approached a graphic designer to create a logo for his new business.  He told the designer the name of the business and described the service he provided.  Then he said, ‘Go for it’ – i.e. the designer was to present a wide range of branding ideas.

What came back was two pages of half-baked concepts, none of which my friend was remotely happy with.  From my experience, this result was not surprising.

I could understand the guy’s logic.  An open slather brainstorm can often bring about amazingly creative ideas.  But the brainstorm needs to come from a strong foundation. And what you ultimately want is a strong presentation from the designer with a logo that will work.

The designer needs to know all kinds of things to create that happy outcome.  And contrary to popular opinion, graphic designers don’t have ESP.


Does the designer already have a creative brief form?

Before writing your brief, ask the designer if they have a creative brief questionnaire.  This document will assist in preparing answers that will inform their approach.  Some designers don’t have this template set up.  Don’t ask me why.


Who is a logo for?

No, it’s not all about you.  Naturally it is important to be comfortable with your logo, but don’t think that it should be purple because purple is your favourite colour.

Your logo is one very powerful way of making a connection to those you want to reach.  So think about what are they going to be attracted to.


List the basics of your business:

  • What is your business name and tag line?
  • What is your core service(s) and/or product(s)?
  • Who is your target market? (list demographics like age, income and geographic area)
  • Who is your competition and what makes you different from them? (copy and paste business logo designs from your competitor’s websites, so the graphic designer knows how to differentiate your business from theirs)


Explore your logo’s logistics:

  • How is the logo likely be used? (consider letterhead, business cards, website, signage, stickers for packaging, ink stamps, pens, t-shirts, embroidered on uniforms, billboards, television, etc.)
  • Are you likely to need sub-branding? (i.e. a logo for each of your products/services)

What are some key words that convey what your business represents?

  • Some examples: nurturing, reliable, secure, feminine, lush, hygenic, fun, creative, practical, resourceful, friendly, etc.


Already have some ideas?

If you have some visual concepts in mind, sketch them out.  It doesn’t matter if you think you can’t draw.  Any indication is further information for your graphic designer.

Important note: Just because you come up with a concept doesn’t mean this is what the logo will end up being.  Your designer may think up something completely different that works ten times better.  Well, you would hope so.  It’s what they do for a living after all. 

When non-designers have design ideas for their business, it is best to get them out in the open.  Why?  So the concept can be discussed.  Your idea might be useful to the process…or, at least the exercise gives your designer an opportunity to explain why you idea is appalling (hopefully they’ll do this nicely while offering chocolate or a tumbler of whiskey).  Then you will be able to move onto other, decent ideas.

Changing an existing logo?

If you already have a logo, ask yourself the following:

  • What are the elements that are already successful?
  • Why do you think they are successful?
  • What elements do you want to change?
  • Why do you want to change them?


What do you expect at ‘Presentation Time’ from your designer? 

My two cents: three deeply considered logo concepts from your graphic designer is generally better than a multitude of possible ideas.

A couple of dollars worth of two cents (I’ve addressed these points – and more – in the previous post, but they are important):

  • Have the logo(s) presented in different sizes (really, really small is important)
  • Have the logo(s) presented as black & white versions
  • Have the logo(s) presented in a corporate material context (e.g. business card layout)
  • Have the logo(s) printed on different kinds of paper (newsprint, glossy, etc.)
  • Make sure you see how it looks on a computer screen (sight colour variations between printing and screen are usual in these instances)

And make sure you own the copyright to whatever design is decided upon.


Wrapping up

Gathering as much information as possible in advance before briefing a designer not only helps with initial discussions, it also assists with potential negotiations later if the designer has strayed off the brief.

So be painstakingly detailed in your brief.  Throw all your thoughts down – even though you will be welcoming new ideas from the designer….won’t you?

And be nice to designers.  Even if they look strong and assertive, deep down they are usually gentle, sensitive souls.  And this sensitivity is a good thing.  If they weren’t, their powers of creativity would be dramatically diminished.  And that would be our loss.


This article was written by Megan Hills.  Megan is a writer, marketing consultant and cartoonist.  Megan thinks that graphic designers who are able to create logos that are highly creative AND work logistically AND are relevant to the business’ purpose are the Zen Masters of our time.  Read more about Megan

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Posted on Feb 5th, 2010 Branding and logo design  ,  ,  ,


  1. Angela

    Thanks for the great info. I was just about to contact my designer and this helped me to consider a few additional things. How do you know the design or logo will be well received by potential customers?

  2. Megan

    Great question, Angela.  The short answer is: test it on a sample group that represents your target market. 

    'Keep posted' as I'll be writing an article on this very soon :)

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