As every good designer knows, a logo is about more than looking cool. A quality logo also needs to stand out and be recognized among the slew of others in the same market space. It should deliver an immediate and positive association with its company and products. Also, obviously, it has to satisfy your client, who is the one wanting the logo in the first place. How do you achieve all of these goals? The secret lies in the prep work. When you gather the right information before beginning your design work, you improve your designs, not to mention save yourself lengthy redesign work.
Questions to Ask Your Client
Before moving forward with design work, make sure you understand your client. Here’s what to ask:
1. How Would You Describe Your Company in 1-2 Sentences?
It won’t matter how slick your design is — if it doesn’t represent your client’s business, it won’t work. Ask for 1-2 sentences describing what your client’s company does.
2. What Keywords Describe Your Business?
This question is another way of asking the first, but it forces the client to choose a handful of descriptive words rather than a statement. These keywords give you clues into what the client feels are crucial.
3. What Makes Your Company Distinct?
Getting your clients to tell you what makes their services distinct is crucial to knowing how to set them apart.
4. Who Is Your Target Market?
A logo catered to children will likely look different from a logo catered to parents. Know the target market of your client’s products or services.
5. Who Are Your Main Competitors?
Knowing your client’s chief competitors allows you to conduct a little comparative research. When you know what the other guys’ logos look like, you know both how to be different and how to evaluate ideas that are and aren’t working well in the industry.
6. What Are Some Logos You Like and Dislike?
Taking a good look at the logos your client likes and dislikes will show you design preferences — and ask why. This is helpful in understanding client desires.
7. Why Are You Looking for a New Logo?
Maybe the client has never had a logo before — but if a company has an existing logo and is looking to you for a redesign, you need to know why. What are they hoping to accomplish with a new design? What was the old one lacking? Read what industry pros have to say about successful logo redesigns by visiting Tonya Garcia’s Mediabistro piece.
8. How Will You Use the Logo?
Will the logo be used on the website and on business cards but nowhere else? Or will it be printed on T-shirts and billboards? Some designs won’t work in print as good as they will on the Web and vice versa, so know what you’re designing for from the beginning.
9. Do You Have Color Preferences?
If your client is already known for and associated with a certain color scheme, it makes sense to work those colors into the design.
10. Do You Have a Crucial Tagline?
If your client has a tagline that needs to be worked into the logo, you need to know that—It’s much easier to go into the project with a tagline than to design something and try to work in wording later.
11. How Quickly Do You Need It?
Some clients are going to want their designs ASAP. Some are going to be flexible and want most for you to exercise creativity. Asking about expectations upfront clears up potential misunderstandings before they occur.
12. What’s Your Budget?
Obviously budgetary concerns must be factored into any design project. If a client can only spend a small amount, he or she needs to know what that small amount will provide. Get financial expectations in the open to avoid major frustrations down the road.
13. Is There Anything Else You Want Me to Know?
As a final client way of asking your client for feedback, provide a chance for sharing anything you may have missed. This cover-your-bases question sometimes reveals lurking questions the client has or pivotal concerns you weren’t aware of yet.
Questions to Ask Yourself
Just as important as the questions you ask your client are the questions you ask yourself. Before you go signing up for another logo project, consider these:
1. Are the Client’s Expectations Reasonable?
There’s no sense taking on a project when the client isn’t willing to pay you what you charge. If the client has unreasonable expectations of timing, costs, project scope, or otherwise, you can either reason with him or her, or you can decline the job. Learn how to properly manage client expectations by checking out Preston Lee’s piece on Graphic Design Blender.
2. Can I Deliver What the Client Wants?
Nobody knows your capabilities better than you do, so ask yourself if you can actually deliver what the client wants. If you’re not sure, do yourself a favor and say no to projects beyond your scope and/or current schedule.
3. Have I Communicated Clearly with the Client?
Just like you don’t want a client to tell you one thing and then demand another, clients don’t want designers who do that, either. Make sure you’re upfront with your clients about your qualifications, commitments, and timelines. The clearer your communication, the better for everyone involved.
Do the above questions ring true for you and the logo-design projects you’ve handled? What do you wish you’d asked your clients or yourself in past projects? What other questions should be added to the lists?
Alan Rosinski is a writer at LogoMagnet, a company that designs, produces and distributes custom magnets for schools, non-profits, sports teams and more.