In this guide, we’ll cover the seven red flags you need to look out for when it comes to deciding on a brand designer for your project.
And why ignoring these red flags can be detrimental to your brand.
We’ll also provide a free 20-point question checklist that you can use to mitigate these risks before making a final decision with your chosen designer.
Branding isn't a logo, website or business cards; it's a feeling, an emotional connection, a declaration of identity.
When done well, it can lead to loyal customer relationships, active word of mouth, more shares on social media, employees who are proud to be part of your team, and will ultimately increase the lifetime value of each customer that engages with your brand.
Branding done correctly can be the difference between just gaining another customer or creating a loyal brand ambassador for your business.
Choosing the wrong designer or going for a quick fix can therefore have a long-lasting negative impact on brand perception, customer relationships and, ultimately, your bottom line.
Branding is an important investment in the future of your business and shouldn’t be treated as a box-ticking exercise or a series of nice-to-haves.
The right designer will know how to uncover the important elements of your brand identity, business goals and customer profiles, before distilling them into a unique visual representation that resonates with your audience.
When you think of “brands” who or what do you think of?
Big names like McDonalds, Apple and Disney might be a few that come to mind, but there was once a time when these brands were completely unknown.
This type of brand recognition doesn’t happen overnight; there’s a lot of work and strategy involved in turning a business into a household name. Even if you’re only trying to build awareness in a local service area.
However, these examples serve as a reminder that, when done well, strong branding can make your business instantly recognisable and help you to position yourself in your market.
Here are just a few of the benefits of creating a strong brand identity for your business.
If we’re honest, we all judge books by their covers. If your branding is sloppy and unprofessional, people will assume that your business is the same. Attractive, high-quality designs help to build trust and encourage customers to invest their time and money.
Humans are hardwired to form emotional connections, and branding is a great way to turn this natural desire into profitability. By developing a brand identity that customers identify with, you can form a lasting relationship that brings in more money over time.
As well as making sure your company looks the part, using your branding consistently can help to build brand recognition. From your online presence to in-store signage, promotional items and packaging, every touch point should be instantly recognisable to consumers.
Whatever your products and services, chances are you’re not the only one offering them. By helping you to stand out in your market, great branding encourages customers to choose you instead of your competitors.
From targeting the right demographic to encouraging repeat custom and increasing the lifetime value of each customer, a strong brand identity can help you to bring in more money so you can achieve your business goals.
When you’re looking through the websites and profiles of the vast number of graphic designers, brand agencies and logo design services available on the internet, there are a few red flags you should keep an eye out for.
Spot any of these and you should probably take your business elsewhere.
Make sure the designer you choose is actually the person who will be carrying out the work. It’s surprisingly common for unscrupulous design agencies to outsource work to low-cost third parties in other countries.
This means that, as a customer, you’re paying a premium price for a less experienced, low-cost designer to do the work. Of course, low cost means low effort, so you’re unlikely to get good results for your business from this approach even directly.
Passed! When you work with Red Kite, only our very own Australian-based brand designers will work on your project.
If a designer isn’t showing off examples of their past work, this could mean that:
A diverse portfolio shows that a brand designer is competent in a variety of disciplines.
Finding someone with experience in your sector is particularly beneficial, as they will already have an understanding of the specific requirements of your business and its customers.
As well as giving you an idea of a designer’s creative ability, portfolios and case studies help you to get a feel for their process.
Branding is more complex than just looking pretty; to work well, it needs to be tailored to the client and their needs, offering a strategic approach that solves a problem.
Reviews and testimonials are an important part of the decision-making process when paying for a product or service.
Choosing a designer with lots of great reviews is a smart move, but only if they’re actually genuine. Take time to read the reviews and you’ll be able to get a feel for how legitimate they are.
You could also consider asking to speak to one of their past clients so you can be sure it was a genuine review.
Five-star reviews with no comments, or low-effort one-liners like “Did a good job” and “Would recommend” should be taken with a pinch of salt.
Look for reviews that talk about the designer’s service, process and communication in detail, and pay attention to how the designer responds to both positive and negative customer reviews.
In-depth case studies that the designer has written themselves are also a good indication that they are willing to put in the time and effort required to achieve great results for your business.
While many people prefer online communication to picking up the phone, not having a phone number (or not answering when you call) can be a red flag.
Communication is extremely important to ensure that the branding project runs smoothly, and someone who is actively discouraging you from contacting them is unlikely to communicate well throughout the design process.
Not being able to contact them directly also means that you’re never sure exactly who you’re working with, and makes it difficult to ask questions or check in on their progress.
Look for a designer who is happy to jump on the phone or meet you face-to-face, encourages you to get in touch throughout the project, and actively keeps you informed.
Passed! At Red Kite, you get direct access to speak to the Creative Director and Senior Designer of the company. Just a phone call away! You can also filter our Google Reviews by the keyword “communication” to get a sense from past clients about how responsive we are!
To design a brand that will work for you, a designer needs to know about your business in detail.
They should be asking what your goals are, what problems you’re looking to solve, who your ideal customer is… Basically, they should always be asking you questions.
While some designers use a questionnaire to get this information, this one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t yield the detailed, in-depth insights required to do your branding justice.
They should also be thinking beyond just your logo, working with you to make sure this small piece of the branding puzzle fits into your overall marketing and business strategy to achieve the best results.
Passed! We will never start working on a project unless we’ve had a discovery interview and an in-depth briefing interview over the phone first. This is how we ensure we have a comprehensive understanding of your business and target audience before we start.
While it might seem like you’ve struck gold when you get offered a free logo as part of another product or service you’ve purchased (like a new website), this is a huge red flag.
Your logo and branding should never be considered an afterthought. And certainly not something to be used to “sweeten the deal” when being offered a different product or service.
It should be at the core of everything you do, and all your other marketing and sales materials, including a new website, should be based around your branding.
Anyone who is offering a logo in this manner isn’t a professional brand designer and is not taking your branding seriously.
A legitimate brand designer would never offer to develop your brand in this way. It’s much too important of an asset for your business, and we’ve already explored the different ways it can go wrong and end up costing you thousands of dollars, as well as damaging your reputation.
Passed! At Red Kite, we understand the importance and value of your logo and brand development and would never offer it as an afterthought to help us land a larger project. Your branding is at the very core of our service offering.
It’s quite common in the design industry for clients to provide their own sketches and ideas of how they want their logo to look.
We know it’s tempting to try and influence the final design, but please don’t do this!
Unfortunately, telling a designer exactly what to design based on your own subjective view is going to end up hampering their creativity and interpretation of your business and will create more problems than you might think.
Brand designers are highly specialised in designing logos and brand collateral and they are trained to consider so many different aspects of your logo and its application across varying materials and touchpoints, as well as how it will be interpreted by your target market.
Remember: you are not your target market.
It’s much more important for your target audience to connect and engage with your brand than it is for you to have a design you personally want.
As hard as it is to trust in someone else to create a logo concept for how your business will look and be perceived, it’s extremely important to trust your brand designer to do their job and make the final decisions to get the best result.
In the same way you wouldn’t risk representing yourself in court unless you were a highly experienced lawyer who understands all of the intricacies of the law, you should never risk attempting to design your own branding unless you are a highly experienced brand designer.
When you hire a professional brand designer you’re not just hiring them to draw a logo mark, you’re hiring them for their professional interpretation of your business and the expertise to create the perfect visual representation to match. And it has to be suitable across a wide range of different applications.
If your chosen brand designer is willing to design your logo based on your sketch with no questions asked, that’s a sure-fire sign of an inexperienced brand designer who isn’t taking your project seriously.
Passed! While we encourage you to share your ideas with us and get involved in the design process, we’ll always be honest with you, and sometimes we’ll ask that you allow us to come up with an original concept from scratch rather than work off a sketch you’ve provided us.
We've got good news:
As branding professionals, we know the questions you should be asking to separate the less experienced designers from the highly experienced branding experts.
So to help you find the right designer, we’ve made these questions available to you to help you choose.
Let’s have a look at them:
Not just any designer is right for the job of visualising and ideating your company's brand.
To make sure you get the best results, take the time to speak to a few different people to get a feel for their process, their abilities and whether they're the right fit for your business.
By asking questions like these, you can separate the designers who just know how to use the tools from the highly experienced branding experts who are able to interpret and visualise how your business should portray itself.
When looking to create a brand for her new business venture, Carina was at first skeptical about the cost, and understandably so.
However, after being disappointed by low-cost alternatives, Carina came to Red Kite and was delighted by the difference in quality, communication and attention to detail compared to the cheaper services.
After trying several designers that weren't quite hitting the mark, I was so happy I was referred to Chris. He was the first one who took the time to pick up a call and get a solid understanding of what I was looking to achieve, communicated openly and professionally throughout the whole process and worked efficiently to get a beautiful job done in only a couple of weeks. And that's with my slow responses as I couldn't decide what I liked, due to everything he produced being fabulous. Not a bad problem to have lol. Highly recommend investing in a professional service like Chris' - worth every penny.
Carina - Carina Chirila FitnessClient Testimonial
The only way to find out which brand agency is the right fit for you is to get in touch with them and discuss your design project.
Speaking with someone in person, or at least over the phone, will help you to see what level of passion, enthusiasm and attention to detail you’ll get when working with them. This also gives you the opportunity to ask the pertinent questions we’ve looked at above, and get a sense of how well you would work together.
To find out whether Red Kite is the right choice to get the most out of your brand, contact us online or give us a call on 1300 383 146 and we’ll be more than happy to discuss your project with you. After the initial chat, we’d love to book a face-to-face meeting to really get to grips with what you’re looking for, and so you can get a better understanding of who we are and what we do.
Read next: 5 Company Logos to Inspire Your Design
Lee brings over 15 years of design and marketing experience to Red Kite, with 4 of those years spent running his own digital agency. He spends his time developing content, guides, tools and resources that educate our clients and help them grow their businesses through branding and marketing.