Considering reaching out to a designer to have a new logo created?

We asked a few top logo designers and branding specialists the most important things they wish clients knew before hiring them. They responded with everything from common gripes to sound advice on how to make the process run smoothly for both parties. Here are a few tips.

It’s best not to focus on the logo as a standalone piece. It’s a small (albeit important) part of your branding as a whole, and the designer will want to know more about the big picture.

Graphic designer Dean Giavos, who works extensively with restaurant brands, says, “I wish clients understood that it’s never just about a logo; it’s how that logo works in a system. You can have a cool logo, but if that design doesn’t translate and complement the rest of your branding, people will be able to tell—even if they don’t know design.”

If it is a situation where you’re paying for a logo and nothing else, avoid trying to make a logo alone do all the heavy design lifting. “Don’t just plaster the logo everywhere thinking that’s all you need to build your brand,” he says. Using the logo out of context will diminish its effectiveness and perceived quality.

2. Do your homework, and come prepared.

Every designer loves a little free rein, but it’s best to give them a jumping-off point. Solid groundwork ensures they’re able to deliver what you’re looking for.

Mood boards are one place to start. Brand designer Amber Osterhout says, “I want my clients to have some skin in the game by either selecting visual inspiration for a quick brand board or having them approve one I create from their criteria. I also have them fill out a brand questionnaire that helps to guide both parties.”

There are other things you can bring to the table. “Give me examples of logos that resonate with you and tell me why, so I can get an understanding of your style,” Osterhout suggests. That means examples of iconography and fonts you like and colors that resonate with you.

Discover potential colors with a tool like Adobe’s color wheel, which lets you select shades and get a range of exact RGB numbers. Colors can be very personal, so giving the designer a place to start is extremely helpful in ensuring the first draft doesn’t totally miss the mark for you. Similarly, the Noun Project has a huge collection of categorized icons to browse for ideas.

3. Trust the expertise of the designer.

Your opinion is ultimately the deciding factor—and you know your audience best—but along the way it’s important to listen, defer to the designer, and trust his or her expertise. “Put trust in the person you’re hiring,” Giavos says, “and try your best not to micromanage design minutiae you don’t fully understand. You’ve hopefully hired me for a reason!”

4. Know you’re probably not going to have the next Nike Swoosh story.

We all know the story of the $35 Nike logo, but it’s not realistic to expect you’ll get something iconic for the same price. Giavos warns, “Don’t hold a contest for a logo design and then think you’ll get the next Nike Swoosh. You’re not likely going to get something fantastic for five dollars either.”

Good original work takes time, exploration, and talent. If you want something done fast and cheap, then understand that your designer may produce something that looks fast and cheap. Be sure to budget appropriately so that you’re both happy with the result. “Really good designers don’t like churning out crap,” says graphic designer and strategic marketing director Catherine Crosby. “We won’t want to do that to you, but we do need to be compensated fairly.”

5. Know the difference between vector and raster-based image files.

How logo files are built will determine what you’re able to do with them. A raster file, or bitmap, is made up of pixels; JPEG, GIF, and PNG are examples of raster files. These enable you to create gradients and subtle edges. Vector drawings, on the other hand, are made up of lines and shapes that mathematically scale.

If you zoom in on a raster image, it becomes more and more pixelated as it scales because it’s made up of a set number of pixels. Vector images are much more scalable and resolution-independent. Also, the colors of vector images can easily be edited into limited color graphics. Vector files are ideal for logos used for embroidery or laser cuts, or on promotional items.

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6. Give your designer plenty of background information.

Who is your demographic? How does your service or product satisfy a need of that audience? Is this a new brand, a redesign, or a brand extension? Are there existing brand elements that need to be considered? These can be anything your clients or customers already use to identify you or that differentiate you from your competition.

Next, explain how you plan to use the logo. Will you need several ways to use it? For instance, will you need a logo that can be reversed, one-color only, or text and image vs. text only?

7. When doing version reviews, talk about what’s working or not working and why.

Go beyond “I like it” or “I don’t like it.” Explain why something isn’t working for you or what you like but maybe want pushed further.

“Don’t be afraid to ask for changes,” Crosby says, “but understand that 50 million little adjustments starts to get annoying. Better to talk through major changes early and let us talk with you versus a million little back-and-forth changes one at a time.”

Too many changes could push the designer to move on. Osterhout says, “In my years designing logos, if a client is still undecided after four rounds, cut ‘em loose!”

8. Understand your logo colors won’t always look the same everywhere, depending on where the logo is used.

You have only so much control over how your logo colors look once it’s out in the world. “I wish my clients knew that colors translate differently and can shift, depending on the medium you’re using the logo in,” Crosby says. “Color can look different in print than it does on the web and on social media platforms.”

9. Using your logo in different applications? You won’t be able to use the exact same version across the board.

Different file formats are required for different applications: “Please don’t just put the same logo for your Facebook profile that you would for your business cards,” Crosby says. A designer can adjust the logo file to fit in the 1:1 aspect ratio so that it displays correctly, but only if you tell him or her that you need it done. If you try to resize a file on your own, chances are it will end up stretched and distorted. If you need multiple sizes or dimensions, be sure to reach out to your designer.