In high school, I was given a VHS tape with an assortment of band footage. The footage included some local high school bands and the North Carolina A&T State University Blue & Gold Marching Machine. This began my journey of buying, trading, collecting, selling, and even filming my own footage of marching bands. I had, and still have, a particular love of watching Historically Black College and University (HBCU) band footage from various schools across the country. I even joined a forum called Marching Central (which eventually became Showtime Magazine) in high school and became cool with fellow bandheads from all over.
Completing logo projects means providing my clients all the files they will need going forward. It’s not just sending a jpeg of the finalized logo. You have to take into account all the possible ways the logo will be applied. Will this logo be used only in the digital space or will there be print elements? Will it work on light and dark backgrounds? Will all the elements of the logo translate well on multiple backgrounds and platforms? Because of these questions and more, I like to provide multiple files for my clients in the final stage.
Many discussions and revisions have led us to this point. We have arrived at the solution the brand needed. Delivery of that solution may need to be in various parts. The logo and its variations are sent in multiple formats, for web and for print. The logo is the centerpiece of their visual brand identity so it needs to be prepared to work.
First, the main logo in full color. Alternate files will include variations of the logo for it to work on light backgrounds and dark backgrounds. For more involved logos, a one-color option can also be handy to have in the future. The one-color option is very versatile. Its uses include letterhead, stamps, or even laser-cut products. For example, the Nike swoosh logo is an extremely versatile, one-color logo that can be used on various products in a variety of colors.
For combination logos (with typography and an icon), you’ll need to think how those will translate horizontally and vertically. Each element will need to be isolated and maneuvered. The results will vary depending on whether you need a banner/sign or a Facebook cover photo.
The needs of the client may require multiple components to be satisfied. Delivering for the client means providing as much value as possible. The more problems you solve preemptively in the delivery stage, the greater the value and the longer it will last.
Writing down your process is important. It is great to know how you best operate so you can communicate that with those who potentially want to work with you on a project. In this post, I will take you through the client process I typically use for my freelance design clients.
The Questionnaire + Q&A
Information is vital to understanding. Whenever anyone reaches out to me about possibly designing something for them, I send them to the contact page on my portfolio website. My questionnaire gives me much needed background of the project, their goals, and any design preferences. It is my job as a designer to bring the vision of the client to fruition. I can’t do that unless I know everything I can as early as I can.
After receiving the initial questionnaire answers, we delve deeper and have further discussion with the goal to gain the utmost clarity on the project needs and goals. This is where I learn more about you as an individual and the impact you want to make on the world (or your local area) through this endeavor. Clearly defined company and project goals are required to successfully translate the story of your brand to the public. As a designer, I want to know as much as possible before any sketching or designing actually begins. Knowing the goal(s) makes it easier to come up with a brand strategy — visually and otherwise.
Design Brief and Proposal
Based on the questionnaire and our follow-up discussion, I will put together a contract that will include the design goals, pricing, and policies. The question of “How much” is reserved for this stage because an estimate can not be made without the project goals and needs being clearly defined and agreed upon. I personally don’t have set generic prices I advertise. Every project is given it’s own price estimate based on its particular needs and scope.
Project Start to Finish
Once the proposal is approved and the first deposit (usually 50%) is made then the project will begin. The personal investment made by the client means that there is buy-in from the beginning. It means they value my time. The receipt of the deposit secures their project into my schedule.
After initial sketching and digitization and refining, we will go through rounds of necessary revisions until we achieve the optimal solution. We are teammates in this endeavor. Once we have agreed on the final design(s), the remaining balance will be due. Once final payment is received, all necessary files will be turned over to the client for use.
Create your own process. Discover what works best for you. There is a confidence that comes with having one mapped out. With practice, you’ll know when to deviate and/or re-evaluate. However, the clarity of process will do you good.
How do I know when an idea is “finished”?
At what point do I stop messing with layers, shapes, words, video, etc.?
For the most part, there is usually a feeling I am chasing. A feeling of completion. It can be a hard, moving target to hit. As you improve, your standards will as well. Your own high standards will make it increasingly difficult to let go and call a project finished.
In the early days of my graphic design career, I wanted people to just let me do all the work. I did not want anyone putting any parameters or requirements on me. It felt good to have complete and utter creative freedom on projects. Now do not get me wrong. Creative freedom is a great thing. However, it can also be a trap that will send you into a black hole of revisions and frustrating back-and-forth discussions that pull you further into the darkness.