Category Archives: General Graphic Design


We expect your business (or you as a freelancer) to provide a professional, preferably perfect product or service.

But we know that’s not always what we’ll get. You are human. We know that. We know you will make mistakes and forget things that you really should remember. Sometimes you won’t have the answers to our questions.

That’s OK.

It’s how you deal with us that matters. Own your mistakes. Apologize where appropriate. Then fix it. Your clients will see a sincere human being on the other end and they will love you for it.

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It does not exist in software design, web design or business in general.

Perfection is something we all strive towards, but if you delay a product, site or business launch until everything is perfect you will never launch it.

I launched LogoGround almost 5 years ago. Most of it works perfectly and it is doing exceedingly well. There are also many things that don’t work perfectly. We have a to-do list with bugs and ideas for improvements. It has 91 entries. We are adding new items to the list faster than we are fixing old ones. This is a good thing. It is the way you work towards perfection.

Set your launch deadline and stick to it.

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By The Book

We had a logo design client recently who studied our terms of service agreement and insisted, from the get-go, that we do everything exactly as stipulated there. She came in with the assumption that we would try to sell her short and wanted to send a message: Not this lady!

She got a great logo in the end, but so do our nicer clients. As a rule we over-deliver at She could have gotten more than she paid for, but she was so focused on getting exactly what she paid for that she wasn’t open to discussing options.

That’s one way to respond to a dishonest world. I feel for her.

Companies are only groups of people. People like you and me. Most of us try to do the right thing and to treat others fairly. Sometimes we will bend our company rules in your favor. You might get more out of life and you might enjoy the ride more if you give companies (people) the benefit of the doubt.

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99designs Logo Store Shut Down

A week ago announced that their ready-made logos store is shutting down. The company cited poor sales as the reason.

In my opinion, the poor sales could have been an easy fix. In ready-made logo sales, buyer confidence is paramount. The buyer must have the assurance that the logo is an original, once-off design. By contrast, the 99designs logo store was primarily about reselling the same logo to as many companies as possible. No doubt a percentage of buyers did not realize that they were buying a non-exclusive logo.

Really, how many companies would be comfortable with logo sharing?

Another crucial ingredient in successful logo sales is quality – which you cannot expect when designers are paid $30 to $50 per sale. Compared to LogoGround where designers receive just over $200 per sale (on average), 99designs had little chance of attracting brilliant designers.

By scrapping the “non-exclusive” logo idea and by treating designers fairly, 99designs could have turned their store into a goldmine for themselves and for their designers.

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Making it Right

If the client is so unhappy that she asks for her money back, then your “no refunds” policy is the last thing she needs. It’s enough to send her off on a campaign to tell people how terrible you are. Over time, that will cost you a lot more than the refund. Have a generous refund policy with no fine print and stick to it. It’s good business.

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Logo Designer’s Checklist

1. Learn from those who can. Check out and Your personal opinion of what constitutes a “good logo” is unfortunately irrelevant. What counts is what your client thinks and, more importantly, what works in the real world.

2. Do not build a logo design site. Unless you are a marketing genius, creating a logo design site will be a waste of your time. There are many, many thousands of logo design sites that do not make a penny. There are easier ways to sell logos. See the next point.

3. Sign up at sites that allow you to upload logos for sale. See

4. Upload 10 good logos a day to those sites. Of course you can make ten good logos a day. (See footnote)

5. Don’t overdo it. Only 10 logos a day. You are not a logo machine. If you try to be one you will hit designer burn-out within a year. Take your time with each logo. Don’t upload anything that you would not proudly display in your portfolio.

6. Don’t give up after a week. Commit to uploading ten logos a day for six months. Every day. Sales will gradually pick up as your logo collection grows. After six months you will have around 1,800 logos up for sale. You’ll be making more money than most big ad agency designers make.

7. Collect good logos. Buy logo books like the LogoLounge series. Always keep looking at logos. If you stop, you will quickly start running in a circle.

8. Get Adobe Illustrator and CorelDraw and become an expert in both. If you truly understand every aspect of those two programs you will create better logos in less time. You don’t strictly need both. Adobe’s new software renting scheme is BS and CorelDraw doesn’t run on a Mac. If you have to choose and if you’re on a PC, choose CorelDraw.

9. Don’t try to please everyone.

10. Study Saul Bass, arguably the most successful logo designer in history.

11. Expand your font collection and don’t hesitate to pay for awesome fonts.

12. Driving with the handbrake on is stupid. Poor communication skills will hold you back in the same way. The ability to talk to clients about logos is a required skill. If you are not very experienced or if you have a hard time translating ideas into words, read more. Work at it.

13. Developing a “style” is OK in fine art, but masters of commercial art are not confined by styles.

14. Craftsmanship is underrated in logo design. A craftsman is someone who uses their extensive subject knowledge to hone and refine their output to the point where it cannot be improved further. Aim for brilliant and be proud of every logo you send into the world.

15. Geometric precision matters. The logo you produce might end up on a billboard where sloppy little mistakes become huge eyesores.

16. Study colors. You need to understand the differences between RGB, CMYK, Pantone and HEX colors so that you can use colors correctly and intelligently advise your clients on colors.

17. Take time to learn about printing processes and the different file formats.

18. Respect intellectual property – over and above the minimum legal requirement.

19. Unfair criticism is something every brave creative professional has to deal with. Don’t let it dampen your resolve or inhibit your creativity. Every negative can either be ignored or used to improve your output. You decide which.

20. Be a generous logo designer. Make a meaningful contribution to the art of logo design. Help other designers. Treat clients more than fairly.

Most old-school graphic designers will strongly dislike my 10-logos-a-day suggestion. In their world, big clients pay big money for a team of creative professionals to spend days/weeks to come up with one logo. You are reading a logo designer’s checklist, so I’m guessing that you do not have clients like that. In the real world, where you and I make a living, small businesses need inexpensive logo design options. This is where pre-designed logos shine and where the 10-logos-a-day concept applies.

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Logo Colors

When clients ask us to match the colors in their logo design to colors on their web site it usually points to a fundamental misunderstanding of the role of color in branding.

It’s not about colors that look nice. It’s certainly not about taste. Color is an integral part of the message of your logo and brand. It pays to do the research and get a basic understanding of colors and their meaning before you go any further.

You must also consider the impact of your colors on the distinctness of your brand. If every one of your main competitors use blue, using green might be the perfect way to distinguish your brand. Using pink might be even better. My favorite surface cleaner comes in a pale pink bottle. They don’t have a catchy name, but they have this pale pink that makes up for it. Nothing else on the shelf has that color. It’s integral to their brand.

There are no rules here. There might be a good reason why everyone in your industry use blue. The point is, you have to think about, research and understand colors so that your final color choice is an intelligent, considered decision based on factors that will give your business the best chance of success.

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Finding Clients

Online graphic design is becoming ridiculously competitive. Those who go out in search of clients have an uphill battle, trying to sell something that can probably be bought much cheaper elsewhere.

So stop trying to find clients. I think the future – in any online industry – is in giving clients a reason to find you. Not the means. I don’t mean “SEO” or ads or any other online marketing widget. I mean making them go “A-ha!” when they arrive on your site.

How you blow their socks off is the million Dollar question, but don’t focus on the value for money that you offer. That’s the most traveled route and it does not make people go “A-ha!”. It makes them go “Hm, not bad. I wonder if I can get this even cheaper.”

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