My Clients are Paying for the Process First and the Logo Second

01.16.2010 / Author: Steve Zelle

How many new clients can quickly and clearly tell you their positioning statement, their strengths and weaknesses, and the threats to their success in the marketplace? How many can articulate their vision in a unified statement across the entire management team? Can they tell you why their customers care about them without being vague? How many can do this at your initial meeting?

For those who can, how many can translate this into visual information that is functional, clear and appropriate? Can they translate this into visual information that will work for them in the future? How many truly understand what the purpose of a logo is at the outset of the project? How many think their brand is what is on the top of their letterhead? This covers just a fraction of the information explored and exposed in a structured creative process.

A well-designed logo is the prioritization and distillation of information regarding a specific set of behaviors, needs, and goals. A logo created without critical thought often rings untrue, does not provide value and can, in fact, do damage to a brand. A creative process ensures that clients have a substantial personal investment in their visual identity, as they should. A visual identity should be viewed as a long-term investment of time, capital, and resources. Guiding clients towards making that investment is one of the functions of the creative process. When clients are guided through a creative process they are investing in exploring key business decisions and exposing critical issues they may not have been aware of, or were choosing to ignore. They have to be able to answer the questions above for a designer to create an appropriate visual identity.

This is one good reason why hiring a designer, and investing in a creative process provides value to a client. There are many other reasons, including developing a relationship that can be leveraged in the future, the ability to meet goals and expectations through a proven method, and the expertise of someone trained and experienced in visualizing and simplifying concepts. I think the title “graphic designer” can sometimes deliver the wrong message to a client, focusing on the deliverable and not the project as a whole. The logo is a result of the process.

Steve Zelle is a logo designer and consultant with over twenty years’ experience working with clients. Based in Ottawa, Canada, he operates as idApostle and is the founder of Processed Identity. You can reach him through his website or on Twitter.

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2 comments, please join in the discussion

  1. 01.18.2010

    Excellent points made about what goes into a logo design assignment, aside from the logo itself. With the glut of logos available these days from various stock sources, I’m not sure clients understand what exactly goes into a quality logo.

    Thanks for bringing those issues to light.

  2. 02.08.2010

    Good explanation. Many times, clients see the logo as a throw away item (i.e. Oh, I just need a quick, simple logo) and don’t realize the value and level of investment is should have.

    Additionally, I think concept and process are severely undervalued. Once had a potential client call me up 3 weeks after we submitted a proposal asking for his concepts. I said he had to accept the proposal and pay his deposit before we would work up concepts. He said he needed to see concepts before he could accept the proposal. To which, I explained that the concepts were the most valuable and intensive part of the project and that was was he was actually paying for. Needless to say, we didn’t end up working together.

    I read a Paula Scher quote recently: “It took me a few seconds to draw it, but it took me 34 years to learn how to draw it in a few seconds.”

    It truly is the experienced thought process that sets a design apart from a someone who simply monkeys around with drawing software.