How to Tell the Difference Between an Experienced Designer and a Rising Amateur
Hiring a good designer is no small investment, and sometimes it takes more than a good eye to determine whether or not you've made the right choice. Sometimes, it takes a trained eye to notice even the smallest signs of inexperience. Lucky for you, we're going to be using one of our logo concepts as an example to illustrate how even the most minor of mistakes can lead to a poor end product.
Mistake #1 - Lines Don't Match Up
Maybe it's our CAD monkey days from our past interior design life, but making sure that every line has a place and a reason to stop where it does is crucial to an aesthetically pleasing design. Take a look below (left) at the difference random line work makes to the overall logo. The lines on the right all have a rhyme and reason to where they begin and end.
Bonus tip: Take a close look at how each line ends - is it a square edge or a round edge? Make sure the designer has picked only one to use. In this design, we like how a harder edge helped give this Washington state law firm some stature.
Mistake #2 - Inconsistent Line Weights
While you're checking to make sure the line placement makes sense, do a quick sweep and take inventory of how many line weights are at play. If it makes sense in your mind for two lines to have similar weights (like the 'D' and 'A'), make sure they're not off by a few points. For a "flat" design such as this, it makes sense for all line weights to be equal.
Mistake #3 - Too Many Fonts
We don't like using more than two fonts in a logo because more than that tends to get busy (read: distracting to your target). If a designer is using a legitimate typeface with many styles within the family (light, regular, italic, bold, bold italic, etc.) than there should be plenty of room to play with only one or two fonts. See how the below example cheapens the overall aesthetic? A novice designer will throw a bunch of bells and whistles into a design in hopes to legitimize it. Don't fall into this trap - simple is always better.
Mistake #4 - No Center Line
No matter what the design application, symmetry is key. Now in some cases, an asymmetrical design is acceptable if it makes the overall logo visually centered, but with such a geometric shape such as the below shield, its definite center line needs to take precedent.
Mistake #5 - Not Scalable / Not Vector
Vector is a graphic made from points and paths, rather than being constricted to a pixel grid like raster image graphics. If your designer isn't creating your design in Illustrator (or another vector art program), abort. Something drawn by hand and simply scanned in (or created in Photoshop) will never be scalable without getting pixelated. A vector design ensures it will be crystal clear at 1" or at 1000" (you know, for that bus wrap you've been dreaming about).