You get what you pay for as the old adage goes.
While I fully understand the appeal of the following avenues one can take to reach the ultimate goal of visually branding a business, I’ll be using this post to explain why these aren’t effective options if you’re interested in compelling and attracting customers with good design.
Nothing says “cheap” like ready-made logos. The goal of brand identity is new, fresh and unique; something that boldly enters and impacts the marketplace—not recycled. If your brand’s image looks like free clip art from a Google image search, it’s likely anyone who sees it will suspect your products and services match.
This includes designing with your own software or utilizing an online service. The only instance in which you should consider branding yourself with your own designs, is if you are graphic designer. I have a good friend who is considered by many to be an excellent artist. If I were him, I would have jumped at the chance to design my own logo for my business. However, despite his years of artistic experience, his first choice was to hire a professional graphic designer to do the job. This is because he recognized, despite his personal experience, that someone who was a designer by trade would most likely have a better handle on how to use design to draw customers.
I like to do things myself. I’ve done a great deal of the plumbing in my house, for instance. Does it work? Yes. Would I hire myself out as a plumber? Never. Just because I have enough ability to make it work for me, doesn’t mean I can make it work for others. A professional in any field is someone who can consistently produce good results in a timely manner for those who hire him/her. You may be satisfied with the logo you made for yourself, but what do your customers think? Recognize and acknowledge your limitations and hire professionals.
“You mean I can pay a few hundred dollars and get hundreds, maybe over a thousand submissions from designers all around the world?!” That sounds pretty good, doesn’t it? This is probably the most alluring of all options herein considered. But there are downsides to be sure. The primary drawback here is the lack of an in-depth, personal communication experience—something that is central to attaining your goals. Since you’re going through the “middle man” (i.e. the design contest site), all your communication must be channeled through the site’s contact methods. And if that isn’t limiting enough, who wants to communicate with one, particular designer when you’ve got a hundred others to see to?
Design Contests are a bit like texting: texting is fine for casual conversation and small-talk, but it is generally impersonal, and overall—lacking. Lack of communication can leave you with a logo that feels generic and not at all what you initially intended. When you have one or a team of experienced designers working with you on a project, you have the opportunity to get in touch with them when you want and how you want. Since the lines of communication are so open, you can get the design you’re looking for in a much more timely fashion. With a skilled professional or creative team, you are afforded the opportunity of complete disclosure of specific project goals.
Our design process gives you an idea of what it’s like to work with individuals directly.
It’s said often and in many contexts, but it’s never a good idea to cut corners. I spent nearly five years in the hotel industry and in that time became very aware of the consequences of not getting it right the first time. Ceramic tiles on uneven floors crack. Poorly-situated plumbing invites unnecessary and premature clogs. Under-staffing to save a buck stretches employees beyond their capabilities (and job descriptions) and causes business to suffer. Let’s face it, the front desk worker should not be the only employee on staff folding towels in the laundry room, or straightening up the pool area while guests are left to search the entire premises for assistance!
Rather than having to learn from mistakes (errors that wind up costing more to rectify than it would have cost to have quality work done from the get-go), it’s best to do your research, find the professional(s) you trust and reap the benefits of a good business decision.
Graphic designer David Airey posted this regarding the level of professionalism every designer should have, and it’s definitely worth a read.