Written by: Jim Wrubel Published on: Mar 25, 2021 Last updated: Mar 25, 2021
Tools Used In This Recipe
Especially for a software company where there's no physical product, a logo can bring a strong sense of tangibility to an early-stage startup. And while you can launch without a logo, the questions you need to answer to develop a logo are critical to the rest of your startup journey. They are especially useful for brand positioning and in building your pitch deck.
It's common when hiring for logo design to combine this with either a brand palette (which defines your organization's unique colors; your logo will likely include some or all of these) and sometimes the process will include a full brand identity guideline. This recipe will cover only hiring for a logo and brand palette, but the questions listed will apply to later stage startups that may be looking for a brand identity guideline document as well.
One of the most challenging things about hiring for a logo is there isn't an objectively 'correct' outcome. The right logo for you is the one that is truly unique, reflects your company's core attributes, and that best resonates with you and with your customers. This is one of those cases where you'll need to trust your instincts. Keep in mind that your logo isn't set in stone. While rebranding costs money and can be a challenging process, it's not impossible. Even a company as famous as Starbucks has changed its logo multiple times over the years.
What will this cost?
Hiring for logo design can be uniquely challenging because it's possible to spend high five figures on a logo if you are using a boutique agency in New York, and it's also possible to get a logo for free by using a logo generator like Hatchful.
In this recipe we'll be using the online marketplace Fiverr to hire a logo design. The recipe is based on Fiverr for the reasons we list in our criteria. Logo designs on Fiverr start at $5 but higher quality designs will cost more. If you have a minimum $250 budget for logo and identity, you will likely have a better experience using 99 Designs, Upwork, or a freelance designer to source a logo and brand palette. The questions below apply to any individual or agency you hire, however.
Questions to Answer For Yourself Before Hiring a Designer
Unless you are working with a branding agency (and paying the cost that comes with it), your role in the logo design process will be to direct the designer with a detailed set of instructions. This means that the final logo will be heavily influenced by the input you provide. You'll want to
- Describe your product and company in detail. This isn't a time to worry about the designer stealing your concept, and you won't be able to enforce an NDA here. The more detail you can provide, especially about the attributes that make you unique from competitors, will help the logo designer craft something that truly reflects your vision.
- Describe your buyer. What motivates them? Is their purchase rational (to save money or time), or emotional? Is this a consumer product or does the buyer make their decision on behalf of a company?
- List your competitors. Ideally, build a spreadsheet with their name, logo, primary colors (if you can find them), and a short summary of how you are different than them.
- List colors that you think are reflective of your brand. Go through the different primary and secondary colors in this article about color psychology and list the top two or three colors (in order) that you think match your brand.
- Other logos you like. This is really the most important step to help the designer create something you'll love. Start by identifying logo categories you like, and pull together a list of at least five logos that you like. If you are stuck for inspiration, there are lists here, here, and here, and a search for logo design styles will turn up other ideas. Also consider opening the app store on your mobile device and using keyword searches related to your idea, or just browse app listings and record ones you like.
- List font styles that you like. This is especially important if you intend to have your company name included in the logo. Google has a large library of fonts you can browse, and Dafont also is an excellent resource. On both sites you can type your own word or phrase to see how it will render in the specific font.
- Where will you use this logo? If your logo will only be used online, that changes how a designer will approach the job. If your logo will be used on printed materials, or if you have a very unusual expected use for your logo, those are all useful to note. Also consider the typical environments in which your logo will display. If your product will be used in a factory that may have poor lighting, your logo might need to be brighter. If your logo will be used primarily on a dark background, that's worth communicating.
Pull all of these answers into a short creative brief. You'll need it for this recipe.
Questions to Ask When Hiring a Designer
Here are some questions to ask a potential designer. Some of these are related to their process and some will help you select one designer over another, because on any marketplace you will get potentially hundreds of bids.
On Fiverr, depending on your budget you aren't likely to have a chance to interview potential designers, partly because their logo design workflow doesn't provide an opportunity and partly because you'll get too many applications to make it practical to interview them. Other platforms will have mechanisms to ask questions, but if you are using Fiverr you can look for satisfactory answers to these questions in the profiles of applicants, and screen out the ones who don't have good answers.
- What is their preferred design style? Check that it matches the style of the logos you indicated a preference for.
- Do they have experience with your industry? If their portfolio includes a logo for a company in the same industry as yours, that's a good indication that they've done research in the past and you'll be able to take advantage of that.
- How many rounds of revisions will I get? A typical logo design process is iterative. The designer will take your brief and produce 2-3 different directions. You'll be asked to pick one and provide feedback on it. For example you might like the style of one version but the colors from another. The designer will then produce another round of revisions and again you'll be asked to provide feedback and a direction. This process will repeat until you are satisfied with the result. Note that on Fiverr you'll pay extra for each round of revisions.
- Will I get the source files? The answer to this question should always be yes. Typically these will be in an editable format like Adobe Illustrator ( .ai ) or Encapsulated Postscript ( .eps )and they may be referred to as vector files. You may not expect to edit your logo, and you may not be able to do anything with them yourself since they require a specialized set of software, but pay for the source file since you will be able to use them as your company grows.
Posting a Logo design Job On Fiverr
When you first arrive at the Fiverr site you'll see a search box to describe what you're looking for. Fiverr is a global marketplace for project-based work, so you'll need to identify yourself as looking for logo design. It might be an option on the home page, but if not just enter logo design in the search box.
The logo design screen will give you a number of filters to help you refine the list of designers. Outside of budget (which we'll get to later) the most important of these is style.
For a corporate brand logo, minimalist or hand-drawn are the categories most likely to match your interests. You can select multiple styles using the Logo Options dropdown (it just contains the same styles as the boxes, plus a few more uncommon styles).
The other radio buttons visible are for Pro Sellers (These are specifically vetted by Fiverr for quality but will also be more expensive), Local Sellers (Local in this case means 'same country'), and Online Sellers (Sellers who are active on the platform right now).
Scrolling down the Logo Options dropdown you'll see options for Output File:
Unless you know what you are looking for, select all of AI, EPS, and SVG.
There is also an option for additional services:
You'll want to select all of Printable Resolution, Include Source File, and Vector File. If you expect to need a social media kit you can select that option, although it will generally increase the cost. This will generally give you profile and header images pre-sized for popular social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, twitter, and LinkedIn.
Fiver's website describes the criteria used to place each designer in a level. You can generally expect that the higher you go the more they will cost. Level One Sellers are more expensive than New Sellers, Two is more expensive than One, and Top Rated more than Two. If you want to filter on Language you can do so here. English is the most common option, although most Fiverr designers are not U.S.-based and English may not be a primary language.
You can also filter on budget. As with many services, you will get a better result with a bigger budget, at least to a point. From experience we recommend setting a minimum price of $100. Logos at prices below that tend to be overly simplistic or too generic to make the impact you'll want.
Designers on Fiverr can set minimum and maximum prices they are willing to accept, so if you set a maximum budget you can hire a designer who would otherwise charge more, as long as your maximum price is within their acceptable range.
You can also filter on delivery time. Shorter delivery times will cost more, but a logo isn't something that you should rush so you can save money by not limiting this. If you need a logo to use temporarily, you can try an online generator like Hatchful.
Selecting a Designer
Once you have applied filters, you will have a reduced set of potential designers. At this point the process is like buying any other item on a shopping site. You can sort by Best Selling or by Fiverr's Recommended vendors. Each vendor has an image and an overall rating generated from previous work (the same way that Uber drivers have a rating from other passengers). Some will have earned the Fiverr's Choice badge for consistent positive feedback. Try clicking in to a few of them and reading some of the reviews. If you tap the radio button marked Show only reviews with delivery images you can see logos that other clients received. If you want to ask a question, you can use the Contact Seller option, but many sellers don't respond quickly to questions if they have a lot of business.
The designer's profile page should indicate any special packages they offer along with the differences in each package. This will look similar to this chart:
As you can see, turnaround time can make a huge difference in the final price.
If you are satisfied with a particular vendor and you want to proceed, use one of the Select or Continue buttons to select the package you want. The next step is to set up a Fiverr account and handle payment details, and the last step will be to submit requirements. Some designers may have specific questions they will ask as part of the process, and some will ask you to submit a client brief. This will be your opportunity to send the information you developed earlier in this recipe.
Your turnaround time will depend largely on your ability to review submitted options and provide feedback quickly. Be as specific as possible in your feedback, and eventually you'll find a logo you like.
Be careful! Some vendors will submit existing logos or images they find on the web. Typically this is only the vendors at the lowest price point, but it's always something to watch out for. If you have concerns, take the logo (or any of the revisions) and submit them on TinEye, Google Image Search, or Bing Image Search. Just drag the image in to the search bar to perform a lookup to see if the image is similar to any other on the web.
Once you have the image you love, you can use it in your website, emails, or other marketing initiatives. Fiverr also offers the option to tip your designer, but it's not required. If you are happy with the work you should leave a positive review since that is critical to the designer's business.
Example Transaction: Startup Recipes
In writing this guide we contracted for a logo design on Fiverr. You can review the requirements document we developed here.
After hiring a designer using the criteria above and providing design input, we received the following logo concepts as a first round of designs:
After review, we selected one of the concepts as a base. We requested some design feedback. We asked the designer if it would be possible to stack the words in the logo as opposed to having both words on one line. They submitted this revision, which we accepted as final:
Technically this logo is a logotype, since it includes the product name. We asked the designer to extract the logo (the mark that constitutes the 'c' in recipes) as a separate visual element, so we can use it in designs where the full logotype wouldn't work.