Lots of companies these days start off their businesses without a real defining visual brand or any real corporate identity to speak of. This is fine for the most part as the last thing you want to be doing when trying to get a business off the ground is worrying about branding and shelling out hundreds or thousands of pounds in graphic design work. What if your company fails? It’s wasted money, money for nothing and a cost that you as a business owner could really do without. Obviously nobody expects their business to fail but it is something which you have to consider and the lower the start up costs the better in my opinion.
When it comes to branding, it seems to be only one of those things that people worry about further down the line. Usually it’s in the form of a rebrand rather than coming up with a brand from the outset. Sometimes the market dictates the brand change, sometimes you’re just unhappy with your current look and feel but ultimately it’s during the rebrand where most companies put their time and effort and also cost into getting it right.
So how do you go about rebranding and what are the options out there? I see a lot of people going through rebrands day to day via the websites I visit and recently one of the web hosts I use has also gone through a overhaul of their brand – everything from the company name right through to the website and corporate branding has been swapped out for what I consider to be a far superior brand to what they were using currently. So how does one actually get started and what are the options. Well, in short, unless you’re a modern day Picasso on the illustration front, you’re going to need to hire someone to do you’re the bulk of your rebrand for you. Once you’ve decided to take someone on, you can go down one of two proverbial paths. The first is to find an actual designer you like the look of and the second is to crowd source. For those not in the know, crowd sourcing is where you have multiple people, in this case designers submit proposals for you. You then simply choose the one that works for you and all the other work is discarded. But you have to ask yourself, is this really the best way to do things? There are many advantages in crowdsourcing and equally many pitfalls. Hiring a dedicated designer is not without its detriments either but it is important to know which of the above is right for you.
The Dedicated Designer
The dedicated designer is most definitely a preference for most and finding someone who you think is capable of creating your branding is relatively straightforward. Just head on over to Google, search logo designers or corporate identity and you’ll be presented with a wealth of people who are more than capable of doing the job. Then it’s just a matter of finding one with a portfolio you like and hiring them, right? Well no, it’s not that simple. The problem arises when you don’t like the concepts they create for you. It’s well known that designers only choose their best work for their portfolio and it’s not uncommon for a designer to have a fantastic looking portfolio only for the concepts they create for you to be well below that standard. So what do you do? Well depending on the package/agreement you could perhaps get more concepts but what if they’re more of the same? What if you don’t like ANYTHING they do. You’ll be left arguing for a refund, or throwing money down the drain. In both scenarios, you still don’t have branding you can use.
The Crowdsource Plan
At least with crowdsourcing you’re going to get lots of different concepts and designs to choose from, especially at places like CrowdSpring that have lots of designers participating and yes, you’ll probably find something which you actually like visually, but is it really the best option? The problem is that when you crowd source people can obviously not afford to put a lot of time and effort into thinking what would make a good logo or letterhead design as they have no real way to know if they’re actually going to get paid. This often leads to poor work and in extreme cases even completely unoriginally work. There are a few blog posts around the web that show the same logo designer using the same branding/icons/logos in designers for several companies. The problem for you, the customer is you’ll have no real way of knowing if the concept is truly unique or if it had been used elsewhere before either in the real world or as a contest concept. Thankfully the Google Images search is becoming more and more powerful so if you’re diligent enough you can search for your chosen brand and see how similar other styles are to it.
So in reality neither option is without their pitfalls and overall disadvantages. You can crowd source and end up with a copy of something you actually like or you can hire a designer, probably get something fully unique but given its only one style from one designer there is a high chance you won’t like the options.
My advice to those looking to rebrand is to avoid the crowdsourcing, hire a designer but look for a highly specific package. Ideally, you want something with multiple concepts, 5 – 10 would be ideal and request that your designer do completely unique designs – not just iterations on the same style. This will at least get you a wide choice but you will have to pay a premium for it. If you’re lucky you may find a designer who is that confident in the work they produce that they’ll offer you a money back guarantee if you don’t like their work. Don’t be afraid to take advantage of this.
Whichever route you go down, make sure you grab the proposed concept and drop it into Google Images to see if there is a copy of it anywhere. The last thing you want to do is go to print and then find out someone else has the same logo. Even worse if they’re in the same sector!