7 things a band should consider when hiring a logo designer
February 22, 2021
I'm more focused on album illustrations art and graphic design, but logos are sometimes also part of my job and I almost always need to also vectorized client logos because most band logos are not made by professional graphic designers.
Whenever you decide that you really need a logo for your band, I do recommend saving up and hiring a professional to do it. It may not feel so important at first, but it might get quite important to have a professional logo really fast. You may also be an older artist who has rocked your raster logo for years already and haven't noticed any problems while using it. I wouldn't be surprised because the band rarely is in direct contact with an event promoter's graphic designers who actually need to make use of your band logo.
Personally, I'd suggest first asking yourself do you really need a logo and if you do, why? Why can't you simply use the band name with the same or different font on each album or a band shirt? My answer to that would be the same as for companies. It's the branding. With branding, you will become recognizable and it defines your visual style for everything else as well. Now if you agree with that and decide to order a professionally made logo from a designer, here are few pointers to keep in mind.
1. Why the logo should NOT be made with Photoshop and why you should never accept logos made with it?
I can easily say that almost all band logos I've got from bands to work with have been raster logos made with Adobe Photoshop, Canva, Gimp, or other raster graphics software. The reason for this is most often because they didn't use a professional graphic designer or they sent me the wrong file. We all have artistic friends and some have photoshop, but not everyone is a graphic designer. If you want your friend to design you a logo I still suggest you send it to a graphic designer who can vectorize it and turn it into required formats, so it's always ready to use when needed.
Vectorizing a logo isn't really that expensive, but I'd still suggest making sure you're not hiring the cheapest possible option. Some cheaper designers might just use the quick trace function in Adobe Illustrator and be done with it. Even I did that way back when I was still new to graphic design. I've seen quite many of those and it may end up creating really heavy files and really ugly lines because it doesn't do a perfect job. When doing it by hand, the image will be optimized and every line has some thought put on them.
I've seen quite amazing logos made with Photoshop and many that have been way cooler than anything that I could have come up with. I even follow a couple of great logo artists on YouTube because I love their work, but when I see them only making a raster logo, I personally wouldn't hire them due to that.
2. So what file format do you need?
When you get your logo from the designer you should be getting a folder that has the logo in multiple different file formats. Some of them might be in types of formats that you have no way to even open because they require graphic design software like Adobe Illustrator, Acrobat, Affinity Designer, etc. to open.
DO NOT DELETE THOSE FILES!!!
I cannot even count how many times I've been contacted by my clients that someone needs a vector version of their logo that I designed for them and every time I say them to share the whole folder I had sent to them, but then the reply is they deleted some of the files they thought they wouldn't need. There is a reason why your designer sends you your logo in multiple file formats and you will most probably going to need all of them at some point.
Personally, I have all client commissions backed up in the cloud so I can easily share them again even with just my phone available, but not all designers do that. So please keep the files in a safe place and backed up.
So what do you need to expect to be in that folder?
Here is the list that I offer and I always recommend others to request when ordering a logo:
PNG 72dpi version in white, black and color. You should request this in few sizes like 32x32 pixels to use it as a favicon on your homepage, 150x150 to 600x600 (as the largest width or height) to use it on the web.
Vector files in SVG and eps version in white, black and color.
If the logo is complex with something like gradients or any effects, you should also have a flat version. If the logo doesn't work in a flat design, then you should consider changing the logo idea because that will only cause headaches and increased bills in the future.
Why multiple color version? These just to save time for the designers who use your logo and sometimes a logo may have minor differences when using light or dark versions. Maybe your logo has some small detail that requires a little play with negative space as an example. But overall the most important it to have it in any flat color on top of having a more complex version if there is one.
What's the difference between SVG and EPS? Why should I have both?
This is something I've noticed that even some designers do not actually know. The main difference between EPS and SVG is that EPS is a legacy vector graphics file format for print workflow while SVG is a vector graphic file format for the web. In brief, EPS is suitable for print and publishing while SVG is suitable to use on a web platform.
So when a designer opens an eps file, he should be expecting it to be in CMYK color space and 300 dpi already when SVG should be in sRGB and 72 dpi. SVG format should also be optimized in size so it loads faster. A complex SVG logo might require to be taken through some additional SVG optimizing service like SVGOMG from Jake Archibald that I really love to use. It's free and really simple to use. I've run some logos through it that got even up to 70% smaller file size.
If (and when) your designer says that you shouldn't use SVG file size because it's not supported by all browsers just yet, don't be rude to him, but this is fairly old information. Even Internet Explorer among all most common browsers support SVG images now, so there shouldn't be any problems with using it anymore.
Especially small promoters or venues usually only have Microsoft Office for everything and even more now when there is Office 365 available at way cheaper prices than Office used to have. Office software like Word doesn't have the ability to even open PSD, Ai or EPS files and this is why the logo is required to be in a certain file format that can be used with it. Instead, SVG is editable in Office. The only place on the web I do recommend avoiding using it is in email because some email services may tag it as a harmful file. In some cases, SVG can also be larger file format than PNG depending on how complex it is.
3. Listen to your designer
Sometimes you have a really great-looking logo sketch or just an idea, but the designer sees possibles troubles with it. It might be too complex to be used small or the designer might see something else that wouldn't work too well. It might be color, shape, or even the font.
The designer might be wrong, but give him a chance to justify his opinion before arguing against it. If you feel strongly against it, just sleep on it before making any decisions.
There are logos like most black metal logos, that are not even close to readable even on a larger scale. But those logos still need to be technically usable. Sometimes you need to forget a rule or two and everything I write here are just pointers in the right direction and not something to be written in stone.
After all your logo is your flag. It's like the heraldry of your band that won't and shouldn't be heavily edited after it's done properly.
4. Mood boards
When my clients have ideas for their logo, they always try to describe it to me, but it's sometimes hard to visualize the description. Even a rough sketch helps a lot in these cases and no it doesn't matter if you can't draw. Most of my rough sketches are just stick figures to give some pointers of the basic layout or shape.
Another great tool is to make mood boards. When you do not really have any specific idea, but you do know what type of logos you like. The best tool, in this case, is to make a mood board on Pinterest (or anywhere else where you can collect images). Simply collect images from anywhere to make a mood board of the overall style for what you're after. This makes it really easy to visualize what you like and what I as a designer should go for.
How much a logo designing costs is something that has a very large variety. It also depends if you are commissioning a hobbyist, a freelance professional, or an agency and the price will also scale on that same order. As a designer, I need to consider all the time I will be researching ideas, sketching, and then I need to approve my concepts with the client which may require quite a lot of time. Sometimes the band already has an idea and even a rough sketch done for me and I can skip that part completely, but without it, most of the time for the designer will be spent on finding the right idea. Sometimes my clients have great-sounding ideas, but it's really hard to describe sometimes and even with the vocal description I still need to research to make it visually match.
One of the best ways to approaches any creative work is to first put aside a certain budget and only after that begin searching for the right designer. This way you come prepared because you may just fall in love with some certain designer's work, but if you ain't prepared for the artists' price point, then you might get disappointed and go for someone cheaper who isn't exactly who you wanted. Some designers might be way out of your budget, but I'm fairly certain that unless you're looking for some really renowned artists who are the "rockstars" of graphic design or art industry, they won't be too much over the budget if you are willing to save some of it before commissioning. Professional work is never cheap so the good 'ol "couple of six-packs" won't be enough as payment.
On average hiring a freelance graphic designer in Finland where I live costs around 45-120 € /hour. If you are hiring an agency, it might get even more expensive. Now after hearing that you might think it's a lot because you could find a designer from Fiverr or 99designs who can do it for you for much less. Of course, there's always the cheaper option, but good talent rarely comes cheap. Sometimes it's hard to give any hard promises for the total price and this is why designers offer a limited amount of revision to their given price. If you spend all revision. Then the project will cost more than originally agreed. Then that extra work will be charged by the given hourly rate. All designers work differently, but this is the method I use and do recommend for everyone. Rate by the hour also variates a lot between countries because living in different countries also costs different. Because I live in Finland I need to charge more than someone who lives in the USA as an example because our taxing and cost of life are totally different here.
Especially with logos, you should always go for the one designer whose work you love the most and does the most professional work because your logo stays with your band forever. Sometimes it costs more, but would you really be ok with anything less than perfect?
6. Pay the artist even if you decide not to use his design
This is something I see fought about on many forums and groups where bands hire designers. The designer should always make a commission contract before beginning with any work and it is also in your interest as a commissioner. The contract is there, so both parties know the terms of the deal, so if either party disagrees with something, there is a contract to be used as the final word.
Sometimes there are reasons not to go with the designer you chose because the results are just not working out as expected or you got into an argument and can't find a common ground. If you had already commissioned the designer, he can charge you for the work that was already done. Usually, most of this is time spent on doing research and it is really hard for the designer to justify research time for the billing if there are any hostilities on either end. I've been in that situation once and it really sucks, but like in all professions, we bill for the time spent on the job. Personally, I always charge 50% upfront. If the contract is terminated before finished, then I will keep the upfront payment and all the rights to all assets I've created for the project. As a client, you may argue that you should get the unfinished work at least because you paid for it, but to get the rights for the creative work requires the payment in full. This is the rule that all creatives should always follow and I know most professionals do.
Don't make enemies from the artists and designers. Nothing is better than finding just the right people to work together for the rest of your life, but it might not always be the first one you commission. When you work with an artist who already knows what you like, it will also become way easier to get good stuff from them in the future.
7. Avoid getting copyright claims
I know multiple cases where the band provided the designer some reference images or sketches for what the band wanted. Most of these are related to the cover art, but the same thing may happen with logos as well and I do also ask if the band has some mood boards or sketches for their ideas.
If you do not tell the designer that you copied your sketch from someone else's logo, then you might get a copyright claim for your logo. You and your designer are both responsible for not breaking any copyright rules when making logos or album art. The designer should always check if their work might be too similar to someone else's, but it's practically impossible to search through the whole internet and something even isn't on the internet at all.
Please always respect the copyrights and give the credit when it's due.
I hope you learned at least something useful. Hiring a logo designer is usually the first time the band requires any creative services, so I thought this would be the perfect theme to begin with. This is just the first of many posts I'm working on helping bands and musicians with their creative requirements.
If you ever need a logo, album art or graphic design done for you or your band. Just send me a quote request and I'll happily look into it if I have some ideas for your project.