• Brian Dupont
    Hello Knife Talk Fam. Hey Cuties! I thought I'd post up a little contribution to the community before I start asking questions.... and I've got sooooo many questions.

    Since becoming part of the knife making community I've noticed that a lot of the logos created for custom knife businesses are not as successful as they could be. Having a background in Graphic Design I figured I'd try to shed some light on this subject for those that are new to working with a designer.

    Whether it be design style, logo size and shape, or their application in marketing and advertising, their seem to be numerous flaws. However, instead of discussing what a bad logo looks like I'm going to lay out the key points to look for when hiring a designer to create a logo for your custom knife business.

    Below I will cover formats, color, deliverables, and expectations so that we can have a well rounded view of what to expect when dealing with a designer.

    Before we get to the technical info I am going to make a strong suggestion.... DO NOT have your logo created by "Your friends son who is in his/her second year of design school" or "Your buddy who draws really cool shit" or "A person from fiverr, or similar freelance sites" or... I think you get the point. Use a professional that you have vetted. There is a reason designers go to school to learn how to design logos properly. The info I will cover below will provide info to help you do this vetting better and show why you shouldn't have the above mentioned unqualified designers do the work at a cheaper price.

    1. Format: When discussing format we should identify "sizes" first. By this I mean 2 specific sizes. The largest and smallest your logo will be viewed at. (Example: Smallest - IG profile Pic, Largest - Banner for Knife Show table.) This is particularly important because your logo must be legible and "clean" (we will discuss this later) across all applications. Since the majority of us will conduct most interactions on IG it makes sense that the logo be designed in a square or circular format to maximize readability at such a small size. This can be done in 2 ways. 1. Have one logo design made that is very simple with bold lines that will work across all applications. 2. Have a more detailed logo done for larger applications and ask to have a separate simplified version done in a square or circular format for smaller application like your IG Pic or touch mark.

    2. Color: It is your choice which colors to pick but try not to pick more than 3, 1 or 2 is even better. This serves to make your brand more identifiable and cohesive. Think about the brands that you always recognize and you will see that most are only 1 or 2 colors. Not all, but most.

    3. Deliverables: Deliverables include all the files that the designer will provide you and the details of each particular file. Below is a list of the minimum files you'll want from your designer.

    A. Vector "Master File" - typically a .svg or .ai file. This file has your logo in all of its color variations in one file, it should also have swatches of your color choices which are chosen from the Pantone Color Book. This is a universal color system that all printers and designers use to maintain consistency of color on different types of applications.

    B. PNG files - Each .png file should be 1 version of the logo, all having transparent backgrounds. (Example: Black logo with transparent background, White logo with transparent background, Color logo with transparent background.) You will need at least these 3 to use on your website, IG profile, packaging, letterhead, business card, etc.

    C. Contract - ALWAYS read the contract. It should be easily understandable and should give you "All Rights" to the artwork. Be careful because some designers will limit how you can use your logo. (Example: You may be given rights for only web and not print, which would make it illegal to produce t-shirts or something similar without going back to the designer and paying for an additional license.) This is typical when dealing with online freelance sites like fiverr.

    D. Additional files you could request - 1. Specific use files - These are files, usually in .jpeg or .png format that are made specifically for 1 use. (Example: IG Profile Pic.) 2. A vector file in .svg or .ai format made specifically for your touch mark or etching stencil.

    4. Expectations: When you've found a designer that you want to work with set expectations for your timeline. There are several steps and many communications during the process and knowing what to expect and when to expect it is important for keeping things running smooth. Typically a designer will do sketches and choose the best 2 to 6 designs and present them to you for review (This is called a Proof). After you've discussed these options and narrowed it down to 1 or 2 that you like the designer will then do more detailed versions (2 to 6) with slight variations. They will then provide another Proof for your review. At this point a final design will be chosen and the designer will begin constructing your deliverables. There is a lot of variation in this process so ask your designer what their process entails, including how many edits/redesigns they allow in the price you were provided.

    Early in this post I mentioned a logos "cleanliness" - this refers to the digital (vector) construction of the logo. Since it could be printed large for a banner or on a tshirt it is important that the design have few or no overlapping elements. It is also important to check for smoothness in the lines and paths. It is much easier to show an example of this than describe it! Let me know if you guys would like to see an example and I'll post one up.

    I hope this helps you folks feel a little more confident and knowledgeable when dealing with a Graphic Designer. Keep it at the front of your mind that your logo is the business suit that your company wears, so make sure it represents your company in an appropriate and professional manner. Good luck to all, and feel free to hit me up with any questions or if you'd like your logo critiqued.

    Happy Hammering!
    Brian @forgethirtythree
  • JR Knifemaker

    Thanks for taking the time to write that Brian. Super helpful. I’m currently in the throes of trying to figure just this thing out!
    I went professional for one logo idea, which I liked. But wife didn’t. Nor did many others. So at the minute I’m logo-less. Considering just a sans serif JR, which is straight forward enough. But some food for thought there. Thanks again.
  • Brian Dupont
    No prob JR. Simple is good, if I could suggest to have at least one detail in the sans serif to separate yourself from the pack. It could be as simple as connecting the letters in a unique way, or extending the leg of the r. Something simple, but differentiating. I'd be happy to review the proofs you get from your designer with you. A little tip I forgot to mention in the post... When you open the Proof for review, zoom out until the logo is the size of a pea. This will give you a better look at the balance and weight of the logo. As well as whether it is even legible at that size.
  • Brian Dupont
    Shit. That last response should have been a reply instead of an additional post. Sorry JR, it's gonna take me a minute to get ahold of how this works, I haven't been on a forum in many years... I mostly hate the internet! Lol.
  • JH Forgeworks
    I looked into having a logo "designed" but, hadn't even really decided on a name for my... hobby? Sorta business? Thing I waste tons of time and money on? anyway...

    After looking around, trying to design something, trying to have a buddy whose a graphic dude do some stuff, etc... I ended up using my finger, in my phone, to sign my signature. Yup... it's super grainy and ugly but its now a hot stamp and electro etch stencil for all my knives. The stamp is smooth and clean. The stencil totally picked up the square pixelated picture style. Someday I'll find someone who can fix it or adjust it to better suit but, live and learn I guess. Definitely some good info I probably should have considered but, I'm impatient and impulsive. Especially when it's late, I can't sleep, and have had bourbon.
  • JR Knifemaker
    I think your logo has come out v nicely! That’s a nice idea as to how to come up with design. I’m going to try that

    thanks Brian. I’ll do some playing around. I have a friend who is an established designer in London who I may use. But fully paid and no mates rates. I feel uncomfortable with mates rates as I want full price for full product!
  • Brian Dupont
    I like your logo as is. There are always exceptions to the rule and this is definitely one of those cases. Having a digitized clean and crisp version would be really inexpensive to have made for you. Hit me up in a DM if you want advice on where to go for that. What you may need at a later date is a cohesive logo that includes "Forgeworks" so that it can be used for web or print. Other than that you seem to be in good shape with your current logo.
  • WingOnWing
    I got a friend to refer me to a professional graphic designer that they knew, consulted with them on what I was lookin for, and a day or two and $300 later I had a kick-ass logo for my photography that I then got printed off in various sizes for electro-etching. Works awesome for both.
  • Brian Dupont
    That's awesome... and at a fantastic price! To be quite honest, I'm surprised you got something good for so cheap. Good on you.
  • WingOnWing
    Likely it was a combination of that I already had a pretty good idea of what I was looking for but was flexible on the artist's interpretation of it... and thus I tend to be a very easy client to work with :)

    So he did it in an evening, took a suggestion and made a modification in a few minutes, and we were done and I had all the original Adobe Illustrator files :) (I have the whole Adobe suite since I also do photography and videography besides blacksmithing... and sailing... dear god I have too many hobbies)

    EDIT: here's a picture from instagram of my test etches when I got the logo stencils in, you can see what the logo looks like: https://www.instagram.com/p/B3VtJguJWBy/
  • Brian Dupont
    I'm digging it Dan. Bold and simple... really good! You sound like the perfect client with the perfect situation. A designers dream. Haha.

    Typically a designer will do 30 or more thumbnail sketches, pick the best 2 to 6 and design larger versions of them, then Proof those to the client, and then do 3 to 6 versions of the clients favorite. Then make 2 to 4 edits after that. Then make all of the deliverables. And that doesn't include the time spent researching the clients industry, color options and comparables within that industry. That's about 3 days work for most designers. Most should expect to pay &$500 - $1000 depending on many factors. You saved yourself a boat load! Nice!
  • Matt Priestley
    Really useful, thanks Brian
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