Why 2 Logo Design Options are Better than 15, 20, or 99

So you’ve decided to invest in your business’s branding design. Depending on who you choose to work with, the time you and the designer invest in the process, and your financial investment, you could get some wildly different results!

Some people jump at the option to use sites like 99 Designs or Fiverr for their branding needs because it seems like a sensible idea at first glance: the financial investment is minimal, and you get a ton of logo options.

As with everything else in life, you get what you pay for. On design contest sites, that looks like getting bombarded with tons of subpar submissions based on freely available clipart that you have to wade (slog) through to (hopefully) find one idea with a bud of a unique concept.

With sites like Fiverr, maybe you’ll find a junior designer whose work you like. And maybe they’ll present you with a ton of options. But for what you’re paying, the ideas are going to be defined by exactly what you’ve told them to do and not an inch more.

In both of these scenarios, for your investment, you’re left with a logo. That’s it. A static design idea. Not a fully fleshed out branding strategy. Not a vision for your business. Not a logo that will grow with you over the years.

Even if you go all the way and pay an experienced designer to overhaul your branding, many designers go in the total opposite direction of the rent-a-designer sites and present just one complete brand option—some even going so far as to fully design and present the website’s homepage. At that point in the game, if you as the client have any input beyond your initial creative brief, it’s not going to have much of a chance to affect the direction of your branding.

So many options, so many extremes. But imagine it’s your business we’re talking about now. So you’re a small business owner, and you’ve finally decided to invest some money into branding design. When the time comes for your designer to present their concepts, what would you rather see?

  1. 15 half-baked ideas that are barely out of their infancy?
  2. One idea that’s already too far along to change?
  3. Or two solidly thought out and crafted concepts that can stand (and walk!) on their own legs?

We firmly believe that the third option is best. Let’s talk about why we’ve found that two is the magic number!

But first… 

Spec Work, and Why We Don’t Do It

Sites like Fiverr and 99 Designs offer what is called spec work. Spec work is the “pick me, pick me!” audition of the design world: work done for free in hopes that you’ll buy it.

At first glance, you might think that this is the clear way to go. Lots of ideas to choose from! No upfront financial involvement! Maintaining control! What could possibly go wrong?

To be frank: a lot. Maybe everything.

Though the dopamine rush of having designers throw tons of different logo ideas at you is enticing, it’s going to leave you stranded when it comes to the elements of branding, where good design work is supposed to do the heavy lifting. You’re essentially asking people to shower you with a bunch of baby ideas and leave you to figure out the rest on your own. Going this route actually foists the most crucial part of design work—asking the right questions and figuring out the best answers—onto YOU.

We don’t do it that way. We invest a deep level of inquiry and rigor into our design process and idea development, all of which coalesce in the two logos we present to you as your branding strategy.

Why Work With an Experienced Design Studio for Your Branding?  

If you work with an experienced design studio for your business’s branding, you’ll certainly be paying more than you would purchasing a logo from a site like Fiverr. But you’re paying for the studio’s expertise in creating an effective visual brand identity for your business. 

We want your branding and logo design to be beautiful, of course. But even more so, we want it to make a statement on what’s special about how YOU do business. We want it to quickly and clearly communicate who you are, the level of service you provide, and the type of clients you want to work with.

And we want that logo design and the accompanying branding to not only work for you now, but also be something you can grow into over the next ten years. 

Beyond those ten years, we want your brand to be something that can easily adapt to new trends or business directions you want to pursue. Maybe that looks like a new tagline for your logo when you one day shift audiences or add services. Maybe tastes change and you want to use brighter versions of your brand colors. The point is, we create branding that will be able to grow and evolve with you as your business grows.

We make sure that any branding suite we present has the power to evolve and isn’t tied to a single time, place, or trend.

Branding and Logo Design Is an Investment. 

On our part, and on yours.

Clients sometimes mention that they’ve worked with other designers who don’t bill until the designs are presented, refined, and approved. While we also don’t ask for full payment until our work is completed, we do ask for partial payment upfront so that we can be assured of a few things.

First, we want to make sure that you’re serious about the project and will see it through to completion. If we worked with every client who came to us with an idea for a business but ended up not being serious about its success moving forward, we’d put ourselves out of work!

Second, we have to ensure that we’ll be compensated for our time and effort for the days of in-depth research, concepting, and design work we put into each project. We’re serious about your success as a business owner and serious about the fact that we want this visual brand identity to thrive with you for the long term.

And we just can’t do that if we’re working in 15 different directions.

“But it’s worked for me in the past!”

If you’ve been through multiple identities for your company, ask yourself: 

  • Were you asking your designers to spread themselves too thin, wanting more and more options but bringing down the overall quality of the product? 
  • Were you providing direction where your designer should have been making educated recommendations? 
  • Were you asking people to work without pay, leading them to create the quickest, least thoughtful, and most speculative designs possible?

I worked at an agency once where every designer in the office was asked to pitch in on every branding effort. And can you guess what resulted? That agency never delivered solid branding projects. It was just not possible for every designer in the office to spend the amount of time necessary to truly understand the clients and create branding that really spoke for the clients’ companies. The ethos of this agency prioritized quantity over quality, and shallow work resulted from it.

Again, we want to create branding for you that lasts and creates a legacy. We don’t want you to have to buy new stationery, repaint your lobby, update your colors in your CRM and Canva, or purchase new signage every three years.

Good Answers Come From Good Questions

The fact is, it’s impossible to design successful branding when all you know is a company’s name and that they want a fun logo. There’s so much a good designer would need to know about, say, a shoe company they were developing branding for: 

  • Is the target audience moms buying shoes for kids or seniors buying shoes for exercising? 
  • Are these expensive shoes for wealthy people or inexpensive shoes for people on a budget? 
  • Does the brand have a history in the Northeast or do the owners have a cultural heritage that they want to celebrate with their branding? 
  • Are they high-end consumers that demand the highest level of polish? Or are they softer, friendlier types who are looking for something a little more approachable?

There are no wrong answers here. But the questions must be asked, and the answers explored. You’re trusting us to nail the visual dialogue for you, and to do the hard work of pushing through all the iterations of a design that will arrive at the best solution.

The Only “Wrong Answer” Is Not Asking the Questions at All!

People often think that all successful logo designs are an instantaneous stroke of genius. In actuality, the best logo designs only come about when a designer can integrate a whole lot of information on a business’s history and vision and distill it all into a refined visual concept. 

Again, the questions are everything. The answers come through in the designs. And the process of refining and distilling concepts takes time.

Sometimes designers do have a stroke of genius. But designers can’t recognize that genius without first asking the questions and listening. 

If your designer doesn’t intimately know your brand, there’s no way of knowing if the idea they’ve worked the kinks out of has morphed into a stroke of genius or if it’s mere sketchbook filler. There are no shortcuts. If there were, we could all just go drop a chunk of change for a cool idea on logos.com for our Fun Shoe Company and our businesses would soar. Good branding requires a level of closeness that engenders long answers, not single word responses.

Narrowing the Field Down From Many to Few

That’s not to say the final two designs we’ll present you are the only ones we worked on. We aren’t advocating lazy design here—far from it!

All ideas—even the bad early ones—play a crucial role in the design process. But that doesn’t mean every idea should be a part of the final package. You’re paying us to give you a really nice sausage, not for the documentation of how it was made. And that’s pretty much what’s going to happen if you rely on spec work for your branding: lots of factory touring disguised as scrumptious final product.

Good designers take their dozens of idea sketches and resolve the questions they bring up by pushing for more sophisticated and streamlined answers. In other words, they work out those many ideas until they coalesce into just a few.

Two Is Our Magic Number

Hopefully we’ve talked you down from the 15 logo scenario at this point. 

But our goal in doing this is not to devalue the role of your input or to take all choice of direction out of your hands. It’s to give you choice and input at the best possible point in the branding design process. That’s why we present you two logos: so you have two directions to choose between. It’s easier to decide between two than 3, 4, or 15!

Presenting one logo has become more popular over the past few years amongst many designers. We really do love this idea in theory. But in practice, we’ve found that one logo is often too limiting to the client. It requires a designer to develop a brand identity too far along without ever bringing it back to the vitally important stage of client input.

It’s easy to make a client fall in love with a brand identity concept when it includes intricate mockups and a beautiful homepage design. There’s a real rush that comes when your business’s future branding steps out of the realm of imagination into reality! But if you NEVER present a client with choices, it robs them of the chance to see the power in making strategic brand decisions and taking the helm to steer the final course of the journey.

Imagine, for instance, being presented with two logo options, one of which is “lighter” in terms of shade, font weight, or shape, and one that’s “bolder.” There are good reasons we got to these two solutions, reasons that incorporate all the deep diving we’ve done into the heart of your brand. The direction you choose will impact all the rest of the visual language we develop for your final branding package. That’s a powerful—and crucial—choice to make!

YOU get to pick the direction at that crossroads.

You trust that we’ve worked out a lot of tangles and synthesized a lot of information to get the branding this far, but you still feel empowered to own this new visual brand identity.

This is how we deliver branding that you fall in love with and are excited to integrate into your business. Because two really is the magic number!

We’ll Take You There.

A solid design process asks a lot of questions. No one knows your brand better than you—its intricacies, its struggles, its aspirations. 

It’s up to us to take your intimate knowledge of your business and turn it into powerful, effective branding and logo design. The branding we deliver is going to be strong because we’ve made solid, informed choices along the way, and it’s going to be YOURS because we’ll let you choose the final path to take to the finish line.

Jessica Suhr

I'm a designer, gardener, and animal lover, hell bent on creating beautiful, cohesive brands for fun-loving and level-headed small business owners. Read more about me here.

Keep reading, friend!

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1 Comment

  1. Mary Reilly on April 15, 2023 at 5:47 pm

    Love this; your work, creative talent, the site and branding statements!
    Worked with your mom soooo many moons ago at Halbeib-Beggs and met you as a young, teen pushing your way forward. And that you did! I’m proud of you and your accomplishments. You did go girl! Hugs and hello to your Mama! Best wishes.
    Mary Reilly

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