So You Need A Logo, Eh?

various coloured pencil crayons on a yellow background. Photo by Rahul from Pexels
Photo by Rahul

Side hustles, small businesses, and organizations of all sizes require a stellar logo. Getting one is a crucial step in going from cool idea to launch! It’s the face and foundation of your brand identity.

It is also often the first impression of your brand, so you want a design that looks amazing, can grow with you and is meaningful to your target audience.

Need a logo but don’t know where to begin? We’ve put together a list of the four of the more popular options; Do-it-yourself, online logo maker, design contests, and hiring design professionals. For each option, we highlight typical costs, timeline, and quality of the work and more generally the pros and cons of each of the options. These allow you to weigh your needs versus what each option can provide. Now, let's get to it.

Do-It-Yourself

Are you someone who feels creative? Like the feeling of being in control? Can’t help but think, “I want to design my own logo”? Well, you’re in luck. The internet has plenty of tools, tutorials, and videos to help you navigate the logo-making process and start from scratch.

A big reason folks choose this option is to avoid paying someone to do it for them and perhaps you have a vision that you’re not certain someone else could fulfill. To create your own logo the cost will be your own time and potentially the purchase of software as well.

Creating meaningful and captivating design is challenging work. It make take a decent chunk of time to get it right. If you’re not yet familiar with design software, learning to use it may factor into how long it takes you to design your own logo. This is because knowing how to use software doesn’t make you a designer (just like learning how to use a saw doesn’t make you a home builder). Spending time to learn software also takes you away from building your business.

Your logo will only be as good as you can manage. Unless you’re a professional designer or have a keen eye for design, your logo may not turn out as you envisioned despite significant effort and time. It might not grow well with your business without incorporation of your brand strategy.

    Pros & Cons

  • + Creative control
    You can take your logo in any direction you want —which is great if you're willing to put in the time and effort.
  • – Time-consuming
    You'll need to set aside a chunk of time to work on your idea from concept to completion. This can take longer than most people think.
  • + Low cost
    If you have the right software, the only cost is your time. Try a free online image editor or get a program like Adobe Creative Cloud on a monthly membership.
  • – Software learning curve
    If you're new to design software, it can be a little intimidating —and it's one more thing you'll need to learn and takes time away from building your business.
  • + Plenty of online help and tutorials
    The internet is a great place to learn new things. Jump on YouTube and you'll be provided with a nearly endless number of tutorials and how-tos.
  • – Creative mastery
    There's a lot to think about and take into consideration when creating a logo. It's difficult to take an idea in your head and make it come to life on-screen.

Online Logo Makers

Online logo makers are handy tools that let you generate logo ideas and customize designs quickly while keeping more money in your pocket. Think of this as a DIY+ starter kit for getting a logo made. Some newer systems even claim to use Artificial Intelligence to build your logo —we will just have to believe them on that one! When choosing the best logo maker app for you, test out the ease of use, the quality of the designs, the options for customization, the files you get, and the price.

Pricing for online logo makers is relatively low which makes it attractive to those looking to save money. There are even free options available, but you often don't get the source files for these. While some logo packages include vector formats, they're still relatively cheap. The best part about online logo makers is they can create multiple logo options for you in a short amount of time. It's up to you how much time you want to spend going through their process in the hopes of stumbling upon a decent logo. Many online logo makers also have designers you can consult for a fee to help you, whether this means you get personalized or custom elements, likely depends on the service provider.

All that said, not all online logo makers are created equal. Some can generate options that look like Microsoft Word clip art, others really try and push the current design trends. Others tend to focus on literal meanings, so if you're looking to create a logo for a coffee shop, don't be surprised if you see coffee beans! Please do remember, that any logo created through a logo maker is derived from a set of common symbols or elements, so it is more than likely you're not the only one out there with the logo. And since logos are supposed to be the face of YOUR unique identity in the market, is it a good idea to be the same as other people?

    Pros & Cons

  • + Low cost
    For a start-to-finish design service, the prices are fantastic. Compared to many other options, this is the best bang for your buck.
  • – Need an eye for design
    It's not totally necessary with logo makers that use artificial intelligence, but an eye for design will still be helpful. The result is on you; however, some services provide design support for an added fee.
  • + Fast
    The time to make a logo can range from minutes to hours, rather than days to weeks. Using pre-made elements like fonts and icons really speed up the process.
  • – Pre-made elements
    It’s on you to come up with your logo but within the confines of the system. Most online logo makers reuse the same elements, styles and tropes.
  • + Better quality for paid versions
    Services and packages will vary depending on the logo maker you go with, but with most online logo makers you can upgrade for higher resolution files, vectors, and logo guides on what colours and fonts were used.

Design Contests

Crowdsourcing your logo through design contests or competitions lets you have multiple people create logos for you, giving you the option to choose which direction you like best.

For a design contest to even have a chance of being successful you’ll need to develop a creative brief. At a minimum this includes what style of logo you like and the more detailed the better, so think of adding things like describing your organization, your brand vision, the visual look and feel you’re going for (both what you like and dislike), your target audience, and any parameters the designers have to use like brand colours, fonts, or cultural references. This is a lot of upfront work but is required to gain the best chance of receiving a logo you like.

Pricing can vary significantly depending on how many options you're looking for and the quality of designers you're working with. Depending on how much you've made your contest worth, will determine how many mid to high-quality designers you will get. Also, something to consider, the lower the price you set, the more likely you are to get templates, clip art, or logos already in use.

Crowdsourcing is a process that can take time. Designers need to create several logo options and then you'll have to do some back and forth with multiple designers. Some designers can make changes quickly, while others may be working on several projects or in different time zones. This means you must stay on top of communication to get the assets you want on time. The design process can drag out as you wait for logos to roll in. On the flip side of that, many logos that are first to appear are clipart or templated hack jobs. You'll have to review and select from the best designers, then ask them for revisions and then repeat until you're left with a handful of viable logos. You should be able to find the style you're looking for, but you'll also have to sift to find the diamonds in the rough.

RANT: When you work, you like to get a pay cheque. Designers are no different. But with logo contests, many designers end up working for free. So, let’s say you get 50 designers that enter your competition. 50 designers that worked on creating your vision. Often you will also ask for revisions from multiple designers before making your final decision. 50 designs for a single price, not bad right? Wrong. That is bad because only one of them is going to get paid and they are the winner. So, you have 49 designers that just worked for free. In fact, those designers that entered your competition need to enter many competitions daily to just stand a chance of winning one and getting a pay cheque. When you consider that reality does it seem fair?

    Pros & Cons

  • - Many hands; only one gets fed
    Logo contests result in many designers working for free. You like a pay cheque for your hard work, so do designers.
  • + Lower cost
    Each contest provider is different and you decide what the contest is worth. But generally, the cost is quite manageable, especially for the number of options you receive.
  • - Only as good as your brief
    If you have never worked with a creative/designer before, you may not know what kind of direction they need.
  • + Many options to choose from
    You'll get a bunch of different options and styles to choose from — which could be a big plus if you're not sure what direction you want to go.
  • – Paradox of choice
    Getting a mass volume of logos may be difficult to choose the best direction to go forward with.
  • + You can give feedback and refine
    Once you've chosen a handful of designs you like, you can ask for revisions providing feedback and tweaking designs to your desire.
  • – Long process
    The design process can drag out as you wait for logos to roll in as you'll be working with a community of designers to yield many different logo options.

Professionally Designed

Working with professionals can be a fun and a collaborative process that produces a great logo —and a strong foundation for your brand identity.

It takes time to seek out an agency or designer with the right fit, but you’ll want to make sure you do your research so that the investment pays off. If you decide to hire a design agency to make a logo for you, it won’t come cheap. But the professional results and quality will serve you well in the long run.

Working with experts to create a custom logo from scratch will likely be more expensive than all other logo-creation options. With some designers you can work out a flat fee or go on an hourly basis —just make sure you agree on the pricing before getting started. Some design agencies have a minimum engagement amount, which would be important to find out before getting too far into the process. Finding experts who can design an aesthetic you're looking for —and one who's reliable— can be a daunting task. Especially so if you've never worked with creatives before. Be sure to do your research and expect the process to take time (i.e. you won’t get your logo the next day). The designer will be doing all of the work (leaving you to focus on your business), but the process will be iterative and have multiple steps before you get to the end-product. But it is more than worth it in the end.

As a value-added benefit, design agencies also provide strategic consulting. It can end up costing extra but also provides you with greater value and a strong foundation upon which your business can grow. After all, these are professionals with a wealth of knowledge and experience to guide your custom logo in the right direction. They will also help you make informed decisions.

Hiring specialists is one way to ensure you get exactly what you need for your logo. They will want to meet or arrange a call to review your ideas and get a feel for the company. From there, depending on the process, you may receive mood boards, style scapes, and go through other steps. Typically, you will be provided with several options and make suggestions. Be prepared to take the time to filter through what option will work best for you. You'll collaborate alongside them to create something unique and special for your brand. You should be getting many years of experience from people who know what they're doing and an aesthetic result that resonates with your target audience.

    Pros & Cons

  • + Design that resonates
    These are professionals with a wealth of knowledge and experience to guide your custom logo in the right direction.
  • – Most expensive
    Agencies usually work with large companies and their pricing generally reflects that. Unless you're willing to pay big bucks, you might want to stay away.
  • + Fully customizable and original
    Agencies will create something unique and custom just for you. You'll have the final say and will be able to give feedback throughout the logo design process.
  • + Longer process
    Professionals want to make sure you get the best logo possible. They'll probably have a process they want to stick to so they can design the best possible logo.
  • - Longer process
    If you want a logo tomorrow, a professional is likely not the way forward for you. The process can take anywhere from 2 weeks plus when a proper process is followed. That said, it is the designer who is busy, while you can continue to run your business.
  • – Not all designers are creative equals
    Not every design agency or professional designer has the same level of experience, collaboration, or process. Finding experts can be daunting, but the time it takes will pay off in spades when your logo is complete!
  • + Back-and-forth communication
    Depending on what your contract says, you don't have to go with the first option the professional designer comes up with, so be prepared to go back and forth to finalize your design. Once you've chosen a direction, you can ask for revisions providing feedback and tweaking designs to your desire.

Conclusion

If an aesthetic and meaningful logo is what you're after, consider looking at hiring professionals for your design. Yes, choosing experts will cost you money. But with that expense comes benefits. Instead of thinking of design as a cost, think of design as investing value into your business. Investments increase with value over time especially when you invest with specialists. In the end, you have to weigh your needs and what is feasible for you, either way, we wish you the best of luck in getting a great logo!

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