Building a reputation as a logo designer is something I’ve actively worked hard on, so in this post, and supporting podcast, I’m going to share the approaches that I’ve taken so far to position myself as an expert on the topic of logo design.
Aside from doing good work, offering an excellent level of customer service and having a solid logo design portfolio full of inspiring case studies, the approaches I’ve used so far to build reputation include; social posting, blogging, podcasting, video content, awards and juries, and social proof.
Posting on social media is one form of marketing, but it will also help to position you as an expert.
There’s a long list of social platforms, each governed by its own set of rules, but the key to success with any platform is consistency. There are only so many hours in the day, though, so showing up on every single platform frequently isn’t feasible for most of us.
My approach has been to pick one and to do it well. That way I’ve been able to dedicate my time to learning everything there is to know about that one platform. Plus I have the time and energy to post good content and show up consistently too.
Think of a social platform as a fire. If you try to light ten fires at once, you’ll probably fail. Once you have one fire started, you’ll hop to the next, only to see the previous fires dwindle back to smoke. But if you dedicate all your time and energy to one, you’ll have a thriving fire burning.
The beauty of this approach is that once you do have a fire burning, all you need to do to keep it lit is throw fuel on it now and again, meaning you can focus on the next fire, and have time to keep the other burning still, and that’s the same for social media.
Once you have built a thriving community of dedicated followers on one platform, you’ll be able to step away to build success on a second platform, and you’ll only need to check back on the previous one to keep the momentum going.
Early in my journey, I put considerable energy into building a following on Twitter, which at the time was one of the most popular social platforms.
As it’s a microblogging platform, allowing only a limited number of characters, it was a convenient platform to fit around a day job. I was able to post when it was convenient for me, be that when eating breakfast, when waiting for a train, or … and being entirely honest … when sitting on the toilet …
But what do you post?
You can continually create content of your own, but you don’t need to. What I’ve done is to keep a list of good blogs and resources around logo design, and when it comes to posting, I will share that content along with my own. Although it’s not my content, by continually sharing interesting and valuable information and news around my area of expertise, I’ll become known for that, even if I didn’t create that content.
Just posting won’t allow you to grow a quality audience, though. It’s also important that you engage with others. If someone messages you, make sure to reply.
Start discussions and get involved in those started by others. The more people you interact with, the larger and more engaged your network will become, and you will slowly establish a reputation for providing value.
Whatever your chosen platform, be sure to study and understand the ins and outs of the platform to make the most of it.
Writing is one of the best ways to share your knowledge and to demonstrate that you know what you’re talking about.
But if writing isn’t your strength, you might feel you’re not up to the task. That’s how I felt when I started, so I want to encourage you to still try. In school and college, I struggled with my writing, so I needed extra support. Once I finished school, I did very little reading or writing.
When I started working at a web design agency, as it was a small company, we were encouraged to write blog posts. Since I was writing a little each day, I started to notice my writing skills slowly improving. When I started my logo design business, I continued that trend of actively writing.
As I was writing about a topic that interested me, I started to enjoy it! Over the past ten years, my writing abilities have improved so much that I’ve been able to start writing a book of my own, which is almost done!.
I used my blog initially as a way to document and share the lessons I was learning. Over time I also used it as a way to answer questions, to go behind the scenes of my design process and to share my journey as a designer.
You can also write for others too. Contributing guest posts to other popular design or business websites will also contribute to reputation growth.
When you actively write and share your knowledge, you’ll become known for your writing and will build a reputation in the process.
Host a podcast
Podcasting is another form of content creation, but rather than type what you know, you say what you know. Unlike blogging, where it’s easy to hide behind the writing of others, with podcasting, people hear you, so they get to know, like and trust you in the process. This could be a solo show or you could co-host it with others. You could also invite guests to give more depth and perspective to your show as I do.
I started The Logo Geek Podcast in 2017. I didn’t do this to build a reputation. The primary reason for starting this was to help build my confidence, but reputation came as an incredible by-product of those efforts.
Growing up, I struggled with anxiety, so I would struggle with any form of public speaking, even in small groups. In school, I did what I could to avoid these situations, but as I got older it became a serious problem that held me back professionally.
I ended up seeking help. I spoke to a nurse, who suggested I may have Social Anxiety Disorder. To help with this I was offered a form of talking therapy called Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, which can help you manage problems by changing the way you think and behave. In short, it requires you to face your fears.
Podcasting was my entry point. When I pressed that record button, it brought up all the fears and anxieties that I faced in any public situation. But I could face this in a safe environment and control how far I took it.
At first, I did a few solo episodes, which are sadly no longer available. A few years later I was a co-host on a friend’s show, SideGig. Then I decided to throw myself in at the deep end and start a show of my own. And so the Logo Geek Podcast was born.
While I made lots of mistakes and fumbled over my words, the beauty of audio is that you can cut out what you don’t like and re-record yourself as many times as needed. As long as the final thing sounds good, that’s all that matters. As you do more, you get better. It took me a few years, but I now feel very confident as a podcast host and enjoy it.
While my show has been successful and has bought me many personal benefits, including helping to build a reputation, I do feel that to get the most out of a show and to differentiate it from the sea of design podcasts, I would recommend creating content that’s targeted at your chosen audience.
For example, if you want to target restaurant owners, you could create a series of episodes called ‘Restaurant Branding Tips’ where you discuss ways that design and branding can be used to improve the overall experience within a restaurant to attract more customers and increase profits.
Podcasting is a fantastic networking tool, so you could interview successful restaurant owners to go behind the scenes of their story, and, as you have the chance to speak to them directly, they could eventually become a client.
Podcasts can be released in seasons, made up of as many episodes as you wish, or you could release an episode on a consistent date, such as weekly or monthly.
My podcast started as seasons made up of ten episodes, and over time it has become a weekly show thanks to the support of sponsors who help to fund the production of the show, enabling me to dedicate time to creating valuable content.
This episode, for example, is sponsored by The Perfect Match, a game show for designers where they can win $1000 by designing a brand inspired mood board – just by entering Adobe will give you a free gift, so it’s a win-win situation.
There are thousands of podcasts out there covering just about every interest you can think of. A lot of them also feature guests and are actively looking for interesting people to be on their show.
I’ve personally made it my mission to get on as many shows as I can, no matter what the topic. The main reason for this was to support the goal of building up my confidence, but it has also allowed me to speak directly to new audiences who could potentially become followers or even clients.
Aside from the obvious networking benefits, this can contribute to your SEO efforts too. Most podcast hosts will create show notes for each episode, and on this page, they’ll also include links to your website and social media channels, so even if nobody listens, you at least get a backlink, which will help contribute to your ongoing marketing efforts.
If you’re not a confident speaker, being a guest on other podcasts can be a way to gradually build up the confidence to start a show of your own, so if the opportunity comes up, go for it.
Video is hands down the easiest way to consume content.
Written content needs to be read carefully for the information to be absorbed. Audio content requires you to focus too, but it is ideal for situations where you’re on the move and can’t do much else, such as driving or walking. It’s less ideal when you want to multitask.
With video, you can just sit back, watch and enjoy, and since you’re able to make it so captivating, showing imagery along with the audio, people are much more likely to focus on the content.
There are countless ways to share and watch video content. Almost every social channel allows you to share videos in some form, so there are ample opportunities to show your face and provide value.
Video platforms like YouTube are search engines too, so if you create helpful content, people will search, find it and consume it.
If you dare to get on camera, it’s an opportunity for people to get to know you, like you and trust you. The perfect way to build a reputation. But … if you’re an introvert like me, video is scary. At the time of writing this book, getting on camera still slightly terrifies me. I don’t feel comfortable on camera, so I haven’t yet leveraged its full potential.
But that’s not to say I don’t try. I’ve pushed myself to do the occasional Instagram live. I’ve also been a guest on a few video podcasts. In general, if I’m invited to contribute to something that requires me to be on camera, I’ll still do it.
I see the immense value in video content, so I will continue to throw myself into situations outside my comfort zone, and I encourage you to do the same.
Awards & juries
If you win one award, you can forever call yourself an award-winning designer. This not only makes you feel good, but it sounds impressive to clients too.
There are several credible industry awards, which I have listed at the back of this book should you wish to enter them.
I’ve been fortunate enough to have won a gold in the International Visual Identity Awards, and I’ve also had my work featured in the Logo Lounge books several times. Not a lot in comparison to some designers I know, but it’s never really been a priority for me.
You need to be aware that most awards are businesses that profit off the back of designers’ need for gratification, and there becomes a point where it’s more about vanity – although I’m sure some of the bigger awards will attract clients, so I appreciate the value.
Most of us work in isolation, so, understandably, we want to hear that our designs are the best of the best, but most of the time it’s money in someone else’s pocket.
This is why I aim to be on the jury instead. This looks just as impressive as winning, but it also positions you as an industry leader. It’s something I do freely and thoroughly enjoy. In some cases, I have been invited to do this, and in others, I’ve volunteered.
I believe I’ve been selected for juries because I have built a reasonably large following on social media. Part of the agreement often requires me to write or post about the awards, so it’s free publicity for them. I get value out of it too, so it’s a mutually beneficial arrangement.
Qualifications & certifications
If you have a degree or certification, mention it throughout your website. This will help to demonstrate your knowledge and will provide an additional layer of trust.
I don’t personally have a formal design education. But I do have plenty of experience working within design teams, which can provide just as much trust. So in my content, I’ll mention my prior experience and name drop the well-known companies I’ve designed for while in these positions.
Despite not having a degree, I actively work to earn certifications in areas relevant to logo design and branding, which I’ll mention on my website and in sales proposals.
If you’re buying a new computer, how do you decide which is the best? Most of us will read the reviews, or you may ask a friend. It’s ultimately the actions and attitudes of the people around you that will influence your decision. This is known as social proof, and we can leverage this as designers.
Imagine if a client was choosing between two designers, both with equally strong portfolios. One only displays only a portfolio. The other also mentions that they’ve won awards, been featured in reputable publications, and have hundreds of reviews and thousands of social followers.
Which would you choose? Which would you trust? Which will provide more value?
There may be no difference between the quality of service and the knowledge of the two designers, but there’s immediate perceived trust gained from social proof. That’s why I’ve made it an intentional part of my strategy.
We’ve already discussed a lot of the things that will impact social proof, for example, growing a large social following, winning awards, being on juries, being a podcast guest and gaining certifications.
But there’s more.
Book & Magazine & Publication Features
You could get mentioned or featured in books and magazines or in articles on high-profile websites such as Forbes and Entrepreneur.
An easy way to get featured in a logo book is to join Logo Lounge. Every year they select the best from the designs uploaded and include them in a book. I’ve been fortunate that my work has been featured in a few, and I’ve been on the jury too.
I’ve also been lucky enough to feature in a few magazines, and this has come as a result of actively posting on Twitter.
By posting and engaging on social media, your following will grow and people in your industry will be drawn towards you. So when writers need an expert to contribute to a feature, they’ll probably reach out to you because you’re easy to find. This is how I got featured in Dot Net, Photoshop Creative and 99U and how I’ve contributed articles to Creative Bloq.
I’ve also been lucky enough to have been mentioned on Forbes, Entrepreneur and AdWeek.
The AdWeek mention was thanks to a guest I interviewed on my podcast. They needed opinions on several logos, and as I was one of the people in his network who had knowledge of logo design, I was invited to contribute.
Both the Forbes and the Entrepreneur features were thanks to a fellow freelance writer who contributes to a large number of websites. As he often needs tips and opinions for his articles, I’ve become part of his trusted network of experts.
This is why networking is so powerful!
It’s ultimately your reputation that will provide trust, and it’s this that will determine the quality of the leads you attract, the volume of leads you convert and the price you can charge. This is why I continue to work on building my reputation as a designer – and why you should too.
If you have other ideas of your own for building reputation, please discuss them in the logo geek community on Facebook. Alternatively, if you want to chat about this with me, and a small group of other like-minded designers on group Zoom calls every few weeks, send me a message and I’ll tell you more about Logo Geek Plus.