I’ve written about How Does a Designer Choose a Client earlier and in email discussions with a potential client, he asked me if there was something related to the customer’s point of view – how should a customer choose a designer – on what basis?

One simple way would be to trust your gut. If you have to choose between a handful of designers you will have varying portfolios and varying quotes – in today’s work culture you will also have varying locations.

– How do you decide which designer’s portfolio is the best?
– What looks good to you? What looks relevant to you?
– Is it a red gradient butterfly outline above the client company name done in the Times typeface?
– Is it a logo that is relevant to the client’s requirement and business?
– Does the designer share case studies of how they went through the whole process of designing a logo?
– Does it appeal to you?
– Ask a designer for the brief they use with clients – do they even have a brief? Is it freely available – does it make sense to you?
-Does the designer inspire confidence?

There honestly is no rule and most of the common variables would be put down as :

1. Sense of balance in the graphics
2. Sense of color
3. Creativity in avoiding the obvious
4. Sense of typography, etc.

But the point is that most clients have no clue how to judge those variables – if they did, they wouldn’t be looking for a logo designer in the first place.

Most clients, invariably, decide on the basis of price – because it is an important variable after all. As a customer, when you see a designer’s portfolio and you know their quote, you do get a sense of how it might work out with this particular designer – and you can see what you’re getting in return for what you’re paying. That rule applies universally – I have yet to come across a designer who does fantastic work and charges peanuts for it.

More than price, it is important that you look at how important your logo is for you. Why do you, as a customer or business owner, even want a logo? Most customers would usually answer that with, “Well, because it’s important that I convey a professional image to my own customers.” Some would even add, “Everyone has a logo – how can I even operate without one?”

If you want a logo to help you create an identity for your business and yourself, then you are better off going in for a designer who inspires confidence and where you have your gut telling you that you’re not compromising.

It is nearly impossible to show direct positive results of a good logo on your business / revenues / profit. But I have seen how good design affects client perception. I am currently working with a couple of friends on an Adventure Sports company called Leo Adventure Sports. I haven’t designed their logo [ that got done way before I even knew them ] but I handle the design of everything else – website, photograph display, certificates, stationery, t-shirt Front and back – and as an example, I have seen how a well-designed letterhead immediately creates a positive shift in their client’s behavior. At the end of the day, it wouldn’t matter one bit if the design was great but what Leo delivered was trash – design doesn’t make or break a business – but it does help with brownie points. Imagine if you were the best Adventure Sports company in town [ which Leo is poised to become ] and your work was supported with excellent design – so now you have your innards in order and your make-up’s brilliant too.

To get that, what are you willing and able to pay?

Great! You got a logo for USD 100 – the kid who lives down your road who just got out of college was thrilled to do one for you. Now your business has a logo. You already know that you do awesome work and clients rave about you. Assuming that kid’s a born designer – you’re most probably in safe hands – but if you scrimped on money and got it done from that kid only because you could get it done for cheap – you probably don’t have a good logo. I’m not saying that’s a certainty – but I’m saying “most probably”. And if it isn’t a good logo – your clients are still going to be happy with your work but they’ll look at your logo and somewhere, subconsciously it will lodge in their brains that that isn’t good design – it probably doesn’t mean anything tangibly and I might sound like a Freud wannabe but this is my personal opinion because I’ve seen it happen.

As a customer you might be willing to pay a lot of money but your ability might be restricted. If so, then wait. Wait till your ability matches your willingness. A logo is typically for a long period of time – you might as well get it done from that designer who has a stunning portfolio than compromise with an identity that’s going to be your face for the next 20 years.

This is something I have to deal with so I am mentioning it.
I am located in Mumbai, India and I work with client from the US, from Europe and other countries apart from India. There have been instances where the client was not comfortable working with a designer who is remotely situated and there will be no face-to-face interaction. All clients who have worked with me, have taken a risk. They had not previously worked with a graphic designer who wasn’t in their country and they decided to take a chance – the arrangement worked out great for everyone and till date I have not had any complaints about the location affecting work.

I have refused some projects because their scope and involvement would require a preferred face-to-face interaction and it really did not make sense doing it remotely.

If your gut tells you that you will not be able to handle a remotely located graphic designer – don’t collaborate with them. Not that there’s any rocket science involved in working remotely – any face-to-face interactions are replaced with emails and sometimes phone conversations. I prefer emails because they tend to reduce ‘noise’ and small-talk clutter and everyone stays focussed. We write with more focus than talk and it helps to have everything written down when working on a project. My creative brief also needs to be typed in – no conversation – conversation has plus points when I’m looking at creating a relationship with the client – for me, it’s more important to deliver good work and get the work done – if the work is good, the relationship is automatic.

And I take a 50% advance before starting. If, as a customer, you think I’ll run away with your money – then please don’t collaborate – because even if you do, these issues will manifest themselves later on in the project.

In whatever interactions you have had with a designer, assess if they are treating you as just another prospective client or whether their communication is personal. If the designer isn’t personalizing even the initial communication, it can only get worse. Assess if the designer is someone you could get along with – atleast for me, because of the remote location – it is important that my client is someone I can have a conversation with without feeling like I’ve been run over by a truck. Same applies to a customer – if you’re not comfortable with the designer – whatever the reason – think twice.

Although work delivered is priority, work delivered by someone who is anti-social is no fun.

Work with a designer who inspires confidence.
If you’ve had a bad past experience with another designer from India, don’t sue me – not everyone’s the same – if you have doubts talk to my past clients – they are all listed on my portfolio and most of them are on my LinkedIn network.

And again, trust your gut.