Branding Yourself | Guest Post for Paperie Boutique

To help guide you, here is an article I wrote for Robyn of paperieboutique.com!!

The first step in branding yourself is, of course, choosing a designer. There are quite a few designers out there to choose from so how do you know which one is the “right” one? When choosing your designer, be sure to look for the following:

Budget: How much are you willing to spend on a logo that defines you?

Communication: Does your designer offer methods of communication other than just email?

Previous Work: Check out your designer’s portfolio. Do they do a lot of work similar to the style you’re wanting?

Research: Contact some of the designer’s past clients. Find out how the process went and whether or not they were happy with the result.

Policies: Be sure to check out the designer’s policies. Make sure they offer what you are wanting in terms of final files, turn around time, edits, etc.

 

Let’s touch on the subject of budgeting. Most importantly, stick to what you can afford. Your logo defines your business and should be with you MANY years. Wait until funds are availabe to work with the designer that you really feel can capture your style and business in your logo. Your logo defines your business and shouldn’t be changed often. The basic concept should remain the same, as constantly changing your look may cause your clients to wonder whether or not you are serious about your work.

Next up: Communication. I offer my clients the option to call me, chat with me on messenger, or email me. I personally prefer designing when I have my client on instant messenger. It really gives me a “feel” for my clients personality. For me, the key to nailing the clients vision is to really get inside their head, get a feel for what they like, their personality, the type of photography they do, etc.

Research: Be sure to research your options. Check out local competition to make sure you don’t brand yourself too closely to them. Make sure you make note of the style of logo you like, write down links, and be sure to write out what you like about each logo you choose. I supply my clients with a questionnaire and I ask for logos that they like. This way, I can get to know their style a little better.

Final Files & Policies: I supply my clients with all files needed to use their logo to its full potential. PSD files with a resizeable vector shape, transparent PNG file to use on website, marketing materials, etc., JPG files to show off on sites suchas facebook or myspace (sites that require a JPG image), ABR files (photoshop brush file) for watermarking images in photoshop, and I supply an optional vector format (EPS or AI) if requested. I keep all my client files saved on an external harddrive so should my client lose their files, I have a backup.

Be sure to check your designer’s policies!!! Some designers do not offer PSD or Vector files that can be edited. I do. This guarantees the client the ability to change colors or placement of elements within the logo. Hey, if you’re paying for it, you should have the oppurtunity to change things up once in a while!

Now, after you have chosen your designer, its time to get down to business! Below I will explain MY logo process with my clients.

Once the client orders the logo, I will send them a logo questionnaire to fill out. The questionnaire contains things such as Business Name, a place to describe their preferred style, a section for them to let me know their color preferences, examples of a few logos they like (note above: Research!), any elements they feel they want in their logo (flowers, trees, bubbles, etc.), and finally, I ask my clients to describe what they feel their style is. The questionnaire helps me create the design based on exactly what the client wants.

Finally: How I Design for Clients

The most important part of designing, for me, is capturing the clients style. I love to hand draw elements that really show the photographers personality. I will try basically anything the client requests…I love the challenge of drawing new things! My goal as a designer is to create a brand that the photographer will never want to change. Something that defines them, as a person and as a photographer.

Let’s start the process:

Once I have received the client questionnaire, I file it in their folder in my inbox. I then tag the email so that I know what they ordered and when. This helps me make sure I get to orders in the order they were received.

The design process can either be simple or a bit trying. I always let my clients know that even if they’re less than satisfied with the first set of proofs I create for them, to not get discouraged. I ask them to voice what it is they like and what they dislike about the drafts. It’s kind of like a process of elimination. From the first set of logos, I take what the client has mentioned and apply it to a new set (of 3 logos). I will do this (within reason) until I get a logo so very close to what they’re wanting. Then all that’s left are the final edits. I try to go out of my way to make sure the client has full control over the design they hired me to construct for them.

For viewing proofs, I supply my clients a link and password to a private gallery on my site. This lets the client view their choices all at once, instead of having to refer back to older emails. This is also where I load new proofs during the process. It makes it easier when they tell me which logo designs are their favorite.

Once a design has been chosen, I will add their folder to a “Finalize” folder in my inbox letting me know what the next step for the client is. I primarily do finalizations on Friday afternoons, although if the client needs the file sooner, all they have to do is let me know. Once I finalize the files (PSD, JPG, PNG and ABR), I will zip the folder up, labelled with the clients name (for organization) and Description of the folder. Then I email the final files to the client.

I am always available for my clients if they have any questions about their designs. I like to work with them on a personal basis, and nine times out of ten, by the time I am finished working with the client, I can think of them more as a friend. My clients also get discounts for future purchases from OTSS as a thank you for choosing me as their designer.

If you have any questions for me regarding choosing a designer or any other questions about how the process works, I encourage you to email me and let me know! I will do all that I can, as a designer, to promise you my best work should you choose me for your design needs!