The 4 C's of Crystals, PART 3:
I'm sure most of you are aware of the 4 C's of diamonds, cut, color, clarity and carat. It's an easy guideline to help the consumer select a high quality diamond. But have you heard of The 4 C's of Crystals? These are similar guidelines I developed to help businesses and consumers identify crystal clear graphic design. They are: CREATIVE, CORPORATE, COMPETITIVE and CHARMING. While I originally developed the 4 C's of Crystals to tie in closely with a play on words to my company, Kristal Clear Graphics, this is a helpful guide that can be used when looking for any graphic design company or similar creative professional.
In the last newsletters I talked about the creative element of design and their corporate appearance. Moving on to the 3rd of the 4 C's of Crystals, let's talk about COMPETITVE. Making sure your graphic designer is competitive when it comes to price is probably one of the harder attributes to nail down. It's difficult to compare apples to apples often times with this one because there are so many variables to consider.
Let's say you're a startup new small business in need of a logo. You could probably find yourself paying anywhere from the price point of free all the way up to the thousands. So how do you know what the true value is? Here is my recommendation because almost always, you are going to get what you pay for.
Option 1: Hire an internet company for their teaser "FREE LOGO" Design. The nice part about this is it costs you nothing and if you're not particular, you can come up with one pretty fast. Here are the bad points, this process is basically an automated way to pair your company name with a clip art image that is used over and over by other companies. Logos are meant to identify your company but how can it accomplish that when your coffee shop has the same icon as the lawyer office next door? 2nd, last you checked, you were good at running your business, not knowing the perfect strategic image to brand your company or trusting it to some software. Aside from a little bit of technical help from the "design company", you're pretty much on your own on this one. You're not paying them for their professional advice or years of experience they can bring to your project and they're not going to hand that out for free.
Option 2: Hire an independent designer in the range of $20-$150/hr. Depending on how many hours the designer generally puts into their clients, this total will range from several hundred dollars to several grand. This is a good deal for the reason you'll be working with a person who can give you feedback on your ideas and produce many of their own ideas for you. You should expect the logo you obtain will be 100% original and tailored to your company, which is the whole point of a logo in the first place. How do you narrow down that price range, though?
First understand what you'll generally find at each end of the spectrum and then analyze what traits are important to you. The professional with a lower hourly wage is generally new to graphic design or has a smaller clientele and willing to take a cut for your business. Higher hourly rates generally have much more experience and sometimes overhead costs like outside staff, office space, etc. My recommendation is to view some samples of their work and track down some of their past clients. If your budget fits with their number and their past work indicates a level of professionalism you respect, you've found your match.
Option 3: Hire an ad agency. The positive side to this option is you'll have a team of professionals guiding you to find your perfect logo. With all the time and energy spent on your logo, there hopefully won't be any other option than to end up with a perfect logo. The down side to the agency route is the price point is usually completely out of reach for start-up businesses. There's a lot of time put into the logo with meetings, multiple drafts and entire teams working on the project. While the end result will look wonderful, often times you can find just as effective results with option #2.
So when it comes to being sure your designer is competitive, do your research. Get quotes and estimates after looking at some of their previous work and making sure it's a fit with your style. Often taking option #2 and finding an hourly rate somewhere in the middle will give you the best of both worlds between quality and price.