There's more than meets the eye when you're looking at a logo- at least, there should be. I want to show you the creative process that lead to BespokeABCS' logo, and some tips you can take away for your own creative process. I'll let you know what goes into the 5 stages of completing a project, and things to consider when freelancing for a client.
BEFORE WE BEGIN, I'D LIKE TO INVITE YOU ALL TO CHECK OUT BREA AT BESPOKEABCS.COM. SHE'S AN INCREDIBLY KNOWLEDGEABLE, PERSONABLE, CREATIVE, AND AWARD WINNING BAR TENDER. I CAN'T WAIT TO SEE HER SUCCESS.
THE CLIENT: Brea is the owner of Bespoke: A Bar Catering Service, that she recently legitimized in Seattle. With many opportunities fast approaching, Brea contacted me to execute a vision she'd had to identify her brand. Brea had already established a business plan; a carefully conceived document outlining the perimeters of the business both financial and ideological. It informs all of the creative decisions for the brand.
WHERE I COME IN: Having had experience helping people identify themselves visually, I had a good grasp on where Brea should start. IT'S IMPORTANT TO BEGIN ESTABLISHING YOUR BRAND right out of the gate. If you decide to focus on visual presence later, you'll have lost connections with people who won't recognize you in the future. There's obviously room to develop, but there are visual ESSENTIALS THAT A NEW BUSINESS NEEDS RIGHT AWAY: a logo, business cards, and a website. Really, you can start with the bare minimum.
Stage 1: Consultation
Obviously the first step in working with a client is meeting with them. In this case, Brea had a strong idea of what she wanted which is really helpful. You'll notice after some time that people don't necessarily always know what they want, so it is very important in this stage to LEARN TO DIRECT THE CONVERSATION. Ask questions that will be meaningful in contributing to the end goal.
This is the stage where you'll find out what the client is looking for. MAKE INFORMED SUGGESTIONS based on your conversation. Let your client know how you can make their vision a reality, and any considerations for development and application. For instance, I like to have my clients consider future print methods. If you someday wish to letterpress, screen print, embroider, or otherwise physically produce your designs, you can make decisions now that will save on cost in the future.
BE CONFIDENT in your questioning and TAKE NOTES (I know that sounds like a no-brainer but seriously, don't rely on your over-caffeinated, sleep deprived mind muscle to hold on the nuances of your meeting). Do what it takes to make your client feel comfortable knowing you can and will handle it. Some established people charge for consultations. I guess if your reputable enough that can fly, but it's my belief that stellar customer service is an investment in your business. You'll get a bigger return than if you rushed meetings to stay under budget.
Stage 2: Follow Up and Paper Work
After you've discovered what your client needs and what your capabilities are, it's time to make it official. Now that you've had some time to monetize your contribution, It's so important to STAY IN TOUCH. Reiterate the goals you outlined in the meeting, relay a timeline to meet those goals, and set up a pricing structure. Don't make your client wait to hear from you when you finally get some visuals worked up.
Different people have different practices. Some people have their clients SIGN A CONTRACT. Some people keep a running tab. For small jobs, I personally don't have client's sign a contract because I wouldn't have the means to bring it to court if necessary. I lay out some terms regarding payment and approval in my INVOICE and require 50% up front.
Stage 3: Research
Taking the details from your conversation, go further to LEARN ABOUT YOUR CLIENT'S PARTICULAR BUSINESS INTEREST. One of the perks of being a design professional is that you get to learn a lot of things by association. Look into the client's competition locally and nationally. Make notice of concepts you see that are executed well. KEEP AN INSPIRATION FOLDER for things like color palettes, graphic treatments, illustration, and typography. Needless to say (I hope), but DON'T COPY other people's work.
Depending on the client or the breadth of the project, you may or may not show your inspiration to the client. In this particular case, there was no need. However, if the situation arises to make a presentation, INSPIRATION BOARDS ARE REALLY HELPFUL for client's who need a fuller visual reference. Whether it's digital or a physical presentation, just make sure it's cohesive and easy to look at. Basically, don't make your client look at 52 open tabs on your already disorganized Mac Book.
You may think you have enough to go off of without spending time researching, but you don't. It's your job to bring the concept to life. If you're not looking at new things, and only relying on your first instinct, you're not informing the gestalt (look it up) of your client's business. If you're not researching, your work is going to get stale, and you'll have a totes boring portfolio.
Stage 4: Visualization and Revision
This is what we all came here for. This is the meat and potatoes (it was just Thanksgiving). This is where it all goes down. But we can't just start slapping things together and sending our client's every idea that finds its way onto the art board. There is method too, to this madness. PRESENT YOUR VISUALS IN A CLEARLY LEGIBLE FORMAT. I designed my own proof template branded for my business, that includes the client's project info and my contact information. You're going to do all sorts of work the client will never see. It's your job to make their decisions easy. When submitting your ideas: CREATE, CURATE, & COMMIT.
Create: use ALL of your ideas. Bring out the big guns. Play around with shapes. Get weird. In the end, the client won't see all of this.
Curate: Narrow down the most appropriate options that fit within the vision.
Commit: Only show the client what is relevant and put it in a format they can easily see and understand.
***TIP*** If you're showing multiple items and pages, make sure to identify your figures with numbers or letters so that it makes it easier to have a conversation. No one wants to have to decipher which one the "third from the bottom on the page with the one that's not blue" is. If it says 2-A, everyone can find 2-A.
If the direction is organic, I like to start with hand drawn sketches. If it's highly constructed, I'll go right to the computer. For Brea, I began with hand drawn sketches (1). Once we exchanged some initial notes, I began digitizing the designs and playing with some different compositions and type styles. You can see the progression from start to finish above.
After (3), me and Brea met again to solidify the final push to the finish line for this logo. It's important to be able to anticipate how your client communicates, and to BE FLEXIBLE IN YOUR COMMUNICATION STYLE when reaching goals together. For instance, Brea's computer broke so it made it difficult to communicate via email. I was able to meet Brea in person which was actually able to save a lot of time rather than trying to decipher long text messages and keeping track of phone calls.
BE GRACEFUL WHEN ACCEPTING FEEDBACK. It's not only a growing experience for the project, but a growing experience for you as an artist. BE UNDERSTANDING AND TIMELY when making revisions. It will make for a professional and memorable experience for your client. The obstacles you have to hurdle in providing a quality product will only make your business better. Critiques aren't meant to be taken personally. That being said, you need to do all that you can to grasp the concepts and goals early on so that you're not adding unnecessary time to the bill, and so the project doesn't topple over into something completely different.
Once the logo was approved and a style set was established, the rest was much easier. We used the character of the logo to enhance a basic visual pattern for the identity. Key phrases Brea uses to describe her business are: uniquely handmade, accessible, and quirky with out being cheesy.
We decided on a warm wood motif- a theme that was carried over from her already established website, but updated to be more intentional. I showed her several available options, she chose the one she liked best, and I purchased the digital asset. The business card design was approved right away.
Stage 5: Delivery
Depending on what services you're offering, you need to DEVELOP A STANDARD FOR RELEASING FILES. There are many file types and formats used across platforms, it's unnecessary to have to anticipate every single one. If your client is facilitating printing, it should be your responsibility to MAKE YOUR WORK PRINT READY for the client so they can avoid additional design charges at their print shop. You'll look like an absolute amateur if all you provide is a proof that they then have to extract the important bits from. With that being said, if you're not sure where your client will print, at least establish your printable files at full size with a bleed (no trim or registration), outlined text, and proper color space, so that it's easy to output if necessary.
This is my standard list of the logo files I'll provide to clients automatically:
- Full Color PDF- Vector based images, infinitely scale-able, editable
- Black+White PDF- Vector based images, scale-able, editable
- High res .png- with white, black, and transparent backgrounds
- Low res .png- with white black, and transparent backgrounds
It's important to note that you may want to ACKNOWLEDGE YOUR OUTSTANDING INVOICE at this time. One of the terms in my invoice is that I require final payment prior to the release of assets. I frequently don't keep up with that so I guess my advice would be to acknowledge when you want to get paid and stick to it. Send your assets with a SMILE, accept your just desserts with grace, and THANK YOUR CLIENT for believing in your ability.
That's it! Hopefully you've given your client a meaningful experience that'll make them want to continue working with you.
There's more positive practices you can enlist once a job is complete:
- UPDATE YOUR PORTFOLIO! Update your portfolio while the project is still new. Recent work will make you much more desirable and approachable.
- Archive and back up your files. Just do it. Now.
- Send Thank You cards! If you couldn't tell, I love mail. Some of your clients may be one stop shoppers, but it's important to acknowledge your relationships, build new ones, and hope that you're well-liked enough to be passed on to your client's associates.
I'm so thankful to have gotten to work with such a cool client. I really enjoyed this project and she did as well. I can't wait for the business cards to arrive. We did Holiday cards too!
Thank you for sticking around to the end, I hope this is helpful for someone! Thank you Brea for giving me something to write about, I hope to work with you again soon!