Since a month or so now I’m asking myself this same question: “When I am asked to create a brand identity for a client, how many logo options should I present?”
This question came to my mind after some three years working as a freelance graphic designer, during which I created many logos and brand identities for a wide range of companies…

What brought me to ask myself this question:

1) I usually present  2-3 options in pencil sketch version, but I notice that looking at a rough pencil sketch is not so easy like one would think. The client is not used to visualize the rough pencil lines as an ‘idea’, a ‘direction’ to take and keeps focusing the on small, minor details of the sketch that means nothing

2) To present 2 to 3 logo options developed within a vector graphic software is the same as working on 3 definitive proposals instead of one: the client will ALWAYS keep focusing on minor details that means nothing at that stage, and is unable to see the mock-up as a ‘direction’.

3) Once this ‘direction’ is finally taken, the visual choices for the co0nstruction of the final logo are simply a perfect summary of the elements that constitute the character of the brand: how can there be 2-3 perfetc logos? Obviously there can only be one.

4) Considering what we just said, why throw away precious time over 2 or 3 proposals when the designer (if she’s good of course) is perfectly able to pinpoint what is the perfect choice for the brand?

After having soaked in these questions for qite a while, and having obsessed about it with family and friends, so much so that after a while the only reply I could get from them would go something like this: “DO WHATEVER THE HELL YOU WANT I DONT CARE!!!” …. I finally got my answer!
I’m sharing what I found with you because in the end the question is still open for discussion: every professional self-employed graphic designer work process reflects who he/she is and what types of client he deals with, so the answer that I found might work for me but not for many other, and I would like to hear from them.

My Solutions:

For me the definite answer arrived when, since none of my friends would answer the phone anymore, I sent an email to one of my favourite designer and blogger, that I follow even before I started my college course: he’s David Airey of Logo Design Love.

(applause)

In my email I wrote to Mr Airey that I couldn’t be the only one asking myself these questions, and that this could have been, in my opinion, a great subject of discussion for his blog.
Two days later the article was online on David’s blog and I couldn’t be happier ‘cause I knew I’d finally get to read the opinions of a great number of professionals on the subject:

David Airey writes

” I give a client three or four very different ideas, but I’ll explain the ideas in words rather than images. The client can then visualise each direction without getting distracted by details I select at a later stage, such as colour and typography. Once the client agrees on the most appropriate direction, I’ll create mockups and prepare a presentation.”

Luke:

“Lately I give just one option, shown in mockups. It gives the client the feel that we wanted to achieve as written in the brief. The key is to understand the client’s business and what he or she wants to achieve with the design.”

Steve D

“One and one only. If there is a disagreement, at that point I can do something else, or they can hire someone else. As Lukee says, showing an idea in context is key, as is setting the expectation that we aren’t at a Subway, chucking elements into a logo sandwich. This applies to almost any design work.”

David Guillermo Escalante Trinidad

One.

I elaborate on options as the project is growing, but I only show one result to the client.

Why? Well, because showing him a lot of options could mean he feels he can ask me to deliver even more options, and such diversity of visual options could confuse him into choosing different features from each option, driving the design more by taste than by strategy.”

Richard

“Just one for me.

My partner and I tend to ask many, many questions so we’ve found that creating a design that fits the client (and is liked by the client) is much easier to arrive at.

I used to offer at least three options when working alone because I thought I should. I always felt that one was the obvious choice and the other two were weaker, and that led to problems when clients wanted to take elements of two or more designs and blend them.

Having said all that, we now make it clear from the outset that we will present one concept after exhaustive research which we can then work with if changes need to be made or if it’s not acceptable”

Read ALL of the answers under David Airey’s Blog Post

 

When I started working as a freelance designer I gave myself some guide lines:

I wanted develope a work in progress that would allow me to work at strict contact with my clients, to engage them in the development of their visual identity with the result that the final product could have a real, genuine value for tem, and not just something packed, sealed and delivered..
I have thus decided I wanted to invest on the human side of the process, developing identities that were tailored on the brand unique history, character, philosofy. Something that would last through time.

The method of showing 2-3 proposals had to serve in order to choose toghether the direction to follow, but I understand now that this concept of direction is really hard to grasp for someone not working in a creative field and they will always end up lost in the smallest details of the mock-up as if it was the final product.

I still want very much to make the clients a part of the creative process, but I understan I have to make things a little easier for them:
The client describes his/her ideas ‘in words’, thus there is no reason why the options presented shouldn’t be in words aswell.

After all at this stage the only thing we care about is the concept, and this is what I’ll do from now on: I will still present 2-3 options, but I will present the in words.

Another important this I need to point out is that, when a client chontacts a designer, that means that the designer have already been chosen over other professionals out there, and the style of the work presented in the portfolio is probably what the client is looking for .

 

And what do you guys think? How many options do yuo give your clients?
Let me know in the comments below and share this article if you think it can be useful to someone you know.
See you next time!