In a LinkedIn forum for graphic designers, I asked a simple question: “How many hours do you spend on a logo design project?”. It’s an over simplified question I know, but I wanted to get an approximate idea on how many work hours other designers were investing in their logo design projects. In total, 134 designers responded to the poll… enough of a sampling to warrant a discussion.
As expected, the poll consisted of a mix of replies from amateur designers claiming to spend just a few hours on their logo projects, to more experienced professionals dedicating 20-30+ work hours. What I didn’t anticipate was most of the submissions being in the 2-6 hour range. Not only is this not enough time to create a quality logo (outside of periodic luck), it’s not even adequate time to perform the basic tasks that any professional should be implementing into their projects (a proper design brief, research of the client and their industry, ensuring the logo is unique and appropriate for the client’s needs, exploring font and color schemes, etc).
I have a difficult time understanding how 2 hours (or 6) is near enough time to create anything of quality. Sure, it’s possible to get lucky and whip up a decent design quickly, yet there’s whole lot more to logo creation than just aesthetics. It’s crucial to understand the client’s needs and create a design that’s not just visually pleasing, but also adheres to the basic elements of good logo design. A strong logo should be unique, timeless, versatile, memorable and appropriate. This is no easy task and not a process that can or should be rushed.
Based on the poll results, either the LinkedIn design groups consist of mostly amateur designers who don’t understand the value in approaching logo creation in a thorough manner, or professionals who are doing their clients a disservice by taking intentional shortcuts. It’s one thing to work fast, but it’s another to avoid crucial research and communication. There is simply no way to incorporate all necessary tasks in just a couple of hours. Apparently I’m not the only one who feels this way. Nathan Shelton shares my sentiment:
“I’m amazed that you guys can generally create a logo so quickly. Perhaps I’m doing it wrong, but it will take me 4 hours just to question, research and start sketching ideas. I’ve kept track of all the design work I’ve created over the years and I’d say on average a logo design takes somewhere between 10 and 20 hours to complete. Sometimes longer but almost never less than 10 hours for me. I am a perfectionist however.”
Aside from simpler revamps, I personally dedicate a minimum of 20-30 work hours to logo design projects, and often double that with more extensive endeavors. Most of the time is spent on conceptualization and exploration of design ideas. The rest of the time on research, communication, establishing font and color schemes, performing revisions, presentation of designs, and so on. Hell, just the creation of the various vector / print / web files requires a couple of hours in itself. I provide clients with dozens of files in various formats / file types / sizes / with logo in reverse color / etc. And more elaborate projects (custom lettering / highly illustrative logos) require even more time. The point is, this all takes effort. If you’re completing projects in 4 hours, you’re cutting corners.
The intent of my poll was to see how much time other designers were spending on their logo projects. The intent of this article is not to shame, but to question and advise designers who are doing their clients and themselves a disservice by omitting basic tasks such as research and a proper brief. Not only are your clients not receiving a true investment, you’re putting them and yourself at risk of a possible cease and desist or law suit. Just about every week I read a story about a company getting sued for their logo or brand identity infringing upon another. Something that could have been possibly avoided if the designer had dedicated more time vetting their designs. With the millions of new logos being created every year, the likelihood of creating a look-a-like becomes more possible. Sure, there will always be clients who don’t have a large budget and are completely fine with a quick and generic logo, but ask yourself if it’s worth the risk of even taking on that project just to make a quick buck.
Final thoughts: Approaching projects in a thorough manner will strengthen your client satisfaction rate, increase the amount you can ultimately charge your clients, escalate your reviews and referral rates, enhance your portfolio, and contribute positively to the perception clients have of designers.
(UPDATE: LinkedIn has removed their polling features, so I can unfortunately no longer link to the results of the poll).