Today, we are joined by Randi Sjaelland, she is a Graphic Designer. You can view her portfolio here.

  • Tell us a little about yourself and what you are currently doing – give us a brief bio.

Hello my name is Randi Sjælland. I’m a graphic designer and illustrator from Denmark. I’m currently job-hunting and working as a freelancer in my spare time. I have a Bachelor degree in Visual communication and I’m passionate about commercial and functional design.

  • What are the common criticisms of identity design and is there any validity to them?

You can never go wrong if you stick to using the font Helvetica, I constantly hear this statement and I only see evidence of the opposite so I often say you should try using a different typeface. Do you really want to look like every other business out there, not only does it not stand out from the crowd it is designed as an neutral typeface. Well the greatness of the font definitely boils down to it’s neutral and very functional design. But often with a logo you want to stand out from the crowd, be attention grabbing, informative and target the right consumers for your brand. Just as an example everyone recognizes Coca Cola’s typeface but how about for instance an Helvetica logo like American Apparel, which one of the two do you think have the strongest brand identity, pretty obvious, right? I get clients telling me they don’t just want me to just type out their logo in an sans-serif typeface, they want an actual logo.Every identity design must solve its share of problems and be versatile and future proof. two very important advices for good identity design Great identity design can withstand time and therefor don’t conform to the latest hype.You are not designing for the client, you are designing for the client’s customers.

  • Business owners often pay to have everything taken care of by professionals except their identity mark. Why should a business care about its logo?

Your logo is your company’s face, it represents your business’s core values and should on its own show customers what your business is about, are you a bakery or moving company! So in conclusion your logo is the biggest most important and vital part of your identity. This is not the part where you can just lightly skip over by having some professional or not give you about two hours worth of their creativity. A logo design takes time and a lot of effort. Understanding your client’s customers needs is key and don’t forget fundamental design principles in the creation of your logo.

  • What constitutes a good identity mark?

A good identity mark is easy to recognize, informative and functional. Again you want your customers to remember and recognize your logo. Do you sell used books or do you restore furniture, a very important fact that a lot of clients and designers seem to forget, not every brand have large amounts of money to promote their products so people can recognize and associated their logo with a product. It should all come together and make sense. A typeface can only get you so far, you have to give people something to associate with, either write out the word bakery or have some way of indicating that this is a bakery. A great logo should be able to breaks through different languages and cultural barrier. Have a solid, functional and recognizable look.

  • What are some common mistakes which identity designers make?

There is fashion in everything from typefaces to color palettes and shapes. If you follow the trend not only does the Identity design suffer when the style changes and leaves the logo feeling outdated it also feels like many other companies have similar looking identities. So it is a big No No to follow trends, you can be inspired by them and learn from them, but don’t follow the hype.

  • Can you detail the identity design process and how long this usually takes?

It always takes more that just a couple of hours, every project is unique. What does the client need? a logo and the basic design package or do they need several other design solutions as well. Some clients like to test out different ideas with a group of selected people representing their target group, and use their comments and insight in the process of locating the values their identity must contain. It is not uncommon in a design studio that you have several people working on the logo design and they spend more than a day or two. A lot of work and decisions go in to finding just the right logo for the client. What should the logo say and how should it say it.

  • What are common challenges which identity designers encounter?

Your design solution must be very functional and versatile. The many different surfaces which your identity will cover, they must all be taking into account when designing. There should be a red thread to follow so all elements of the identity match. You don’t use a red color background on your business card if you have a yellow color on your website.It is very important to have guidelines to follow, both for you the designer but also when you hand over your work to either another design studio or the client themselves.

  • How do you account for the great disagreement over the quality of identity marks even among identity designers?

I have heard many fellow designers say that the client only wanted to pay for two hours worth so that is what they’ll get. There is a sad trend going around, where you pay very little and have your logo project featured on a web page, where people from all around the world can take part in this contest and the best logo wins. This outsourcing trend and other similar web services provides either horrible or semi-decent results. In every way you get back what you pay for, very little engagement and budget will leave you with a logo you would be better without. A great logo takes time to make. You need to know as much as possible about the company and who they see as their target group.Just as well as any decent designer is professional about their work you should act accordingly, show some respect to the designer or company you hire to do your Identity design, choose the designer with great consideration for you own benefit. Do your own research, there are a lot of bad “professional” designers out there so watch out or you will regret hiring them.

  • How much do top identity designers usually charge for a logo and how much is it really worth?

It is worth a heck of a lot more than people give it credit for, why people always think logo work is easy and not at all time consuming only means that they have absolutely no clue what goes into making a good and functional logo. It is never just at two hour job, well only if you are expecting something of such a low quality. Never leave it to a newbie designer or a non professional, seek professionalism and quality work, your brand will thank you for it in the end. Good work lasts, great work become classic examples of great design but cheap and horrible design solutions drown in the huge and vast ocean of mediocrity.

  • Can you list a few of the best well known identity marks and what makes them good?

WWF: This logo has great impact in black and white. The Panda along with its physical features and status as an endangered species, is seen to serve the need of a strong recognizable symbol for the organization. Simplicity is key.

FedEx: It is simple, yet clever. The hidden arrow in the FedEx logo is a nice little touch that apparently is a hidden sign symbolizing speed and precision of this courier office.

Burger King: A good example can be found when looking at burger king. The name alone explains what this company sells but the logo also contributes. Paired with their new slogan “Taste is king” they take their identity serious and it is gives them better usage of their brand because it is functional and versatile.