There’s nothing I like to do more than designing logos for companies and helping entrepreneurs shape the identity of their brands. Branding has historically been dominated by mega agencies and it’s a big challenge to break through as an independent designer.
I decided to flip the script and rethink the ideal way to run and deliver a branding process, which is entirely centered around what the client needs. My goal is to remove the pain and friction many startups feel when working with agencies and provide the absolute best result in a seamless process.
After working in the design space for 10+ years (yes, also with some of these agencies), I decided to adopt an alternative model. A model that provides the essential value of a branding agency, without the downsides of a branding agency.
TL;DR By focusing only on what matters and leaving the bullshit aside, I'm achieving a win-win situation for me and the client. I get to work only on what I excel at, and the clients receive the best value for their money. I charge a 25% upfront payment and the client only pays the remaining 75% if they’re happy with the result. A model that has been proven fair and successful across 100% of the clients I worked with since launching the agency in mid-2023.
Ideally, after I finish a logo for a client, they end up hiring a full-time product/marketing designer to work on the implementation of the visual language and guidelines I've provided for the long term. Someone who has the time to deeply understand the brand's products and can take full ownership.
Traditional branding agencies usually provide you with a fancy timeline of multiple meetings that you have to attend. It might give a sense of control and professionalism, but it also raises many questions about whether these meetings are actually important for the process, or just there to give you the impression that they are.
The more you talk, the less you work. It's as simple as that. While endless meetings create the illusion that the clients feel "involved" in the process, it's usually a time-sucking vehicle that tires out the client, and also the designers involved in these meetings.
I believe that a single 60-minute introduction meeting with the client is more than enough to get all the information needed to kickstart a logo design process. By asking the right questions, I'm able to gain the most accurate information from my client in the minimum amount of time. I use that information to do the research and brainstorm for hours over my own time. I only contact the client if I’m missing any crucial piece of info, and when the work is done and I have the logo ready to present.
Stretching the number of days required for a branding project is a very common thing to do for branding agencies. They do that to make you feel like it's a lot more work than it really is, while they get the room to squeeze in an additional client within that same timeframe.
It's an old-fashioned worldview that the longer a process takes the better the result is. In many cases, it's the opposite. Again, it's the illusion they want to create. They want to make you feel like they've dedicated and invested two full months on your logo, so it must be a great fit that’s worth your money.
I don't believe in wasting time. I estimate no more than two weeks for the brand design process and usually deliver earlier if I manage to achieve the best result. My process is straightforward, goal-oriented, and efficient.
Typical branding agencies put their best resources and efforts into 1-2 initial logo options, and then let their junior designers create 2-3 additional options. But they'll charge a high price whether the design is made by a senior or by a junior designer. In many cases, this approach of presenting many different directions leaves the client overwhelmed, confused, and distracted. Mostly, it makes the client feel bad saying “no” because he thinks it’s weird if they don’t like all 5 options proposed.
Quantity comes at the expense of quality. The more logo options an agency proposes to a client, the lesser the chance the client will choose the best one. That's why I believe only presenting one option which I believe is the right fit because any additional option proposed won't likely be a better one.
Although I only present one option, I spend days exploring, sketching, and iterating over many different directions. My process starts with quick sketches of multiple ideas which gradually contract to a few, and eventually to the single best one. Then I continue iterating on that best idea by making adjustments, tests, and polishing the final version to make it pixel-perfect.
If my clients are unhappy with the result they can always pay for an additional option. If they're happy with it but want to do a minor tweaking without revising it fundamentally - I'd certainly do it.
Most branding agencies have interns or junior designers so that they can scale their business. They squeeze in as many projects as they can handle by using interns or juniors to do most of the work. There's nothing wrong with working with less-experienced designers, it's just that they won't say it to you beforehand. In many cases, agencies won't even revise the work of their junior designers before presenting it to the client.
The illusion of working with a mega-agency hides the truth that you can work with the same level of talent for way less money. That's why I believe in transparency and in being the one to design everything for my clients, by myself.
The value of an experienced designer isn’t visible at first, but it lies in the nuances, thoughts, and decisions made behind the delicate craftsmanship of brand design. Placing each shape and line correctly, matching the right colors properly, and aligning the compositions harmoniously, aren’t simple tasks. These fine-tuning processes of balancing and testing can frequently be thrown under the bus when the process is held by a large group of designers, or by inexperienced designers.
Doing a live presentation over Zoom or in person while talking through it leads the client to feel pressured to respond. Many designers insist on being there at this very intimate moment when the client sees the design for the first time. They use a lot of words to explain their work, to inform you of things you might have missed, and to use selling techniques leaving you intimidated and overwhelmed. This can manipulate the client to rush into an impulsive decision that they might regret later.
When seeing a design for the first time, especially a logo, there’s a personal, emotional, subjective reaction that should occur without any distraction. Imagine going on a date and having a third party sitting right next to you presenting the person you’re trying to date.
Good work speaks for itself, and I believe logos are just like a good joke — if you have to explain it, it’s probably bad. That’s why I’m not scheduling a presentation meeting to showcase the design to my client, I simply send the presentation as a PDF. In that way, the client gets to review and connect with the design at their own pace, in their own comfort, and without any distractions.
My clients get the time needed to process the design, and to get to an opinion slowly rather than feeling pressured to respond immediately. After I send the PDF I stay silent and don’t ping the client further. I give them plenty of time to share the logo with friends and colleagues and make the decision only when they’re ready.
Iterations lead to compromise and compromised logos don't last. That's why I don't iterate on logos with my clients, it's either a match or not. If my clients aren't satisfied with the result, they can pay for a new logo which will hopefully be the right fit.
Once my logos are crafted they get sealed and don't change fundamentally upon the client’s feedback. In some cases, I will consider making a small adjustment, or suggest a different color combo, to make it just right, but any additional revision request will be considered a new logo.
For that reason, I only charge 25% of the price if my clients are unhappy with the result. Logo design is very subjective and it's rare to fall in love with a logo at first sight. My clients pay the full price only if they're satisfied with the logo I designed. That’s how I prevent discomfort and always end up with a fair deal. The split in the payment is a great motivator for me as the designer to deliver the absolute best logos and align the incentives between my client and me.Gal Shir