When people pay a premium price for an event, they have some serious expectations and I’m not talking about pickles and half-boiled potatoes. I’m talking about a shirt that doesn’t suck and a medal (if there’s a medal) that’s kick-ass. That’s where I come in.

I’ve always been a designer, but I got my start designing for the ultra running community when my husband decided to put on a few races of his own. I designed the logo for his first race and half the people who signed up did it because they wanted the shirt. Soon after I did some work for another race director who happened to pass my name to Ultra Running magazine and from there I’ve been designing ads, logos and t-shirts for race directors across the US (and a few in the UK) ever since.

Working with race directors

race poster destin beach

Poster design by runlogo.com

A majority of race directors who come to me already have logos and are just asking for ad work or T-shirt designs, but they always want their logos to be included on the design. And some of the logos, unfortunately, have been just awful.

Here are a few of the more frequent issues I come across:

  • The logo is in raster format (jpg) which means it cannot be enlarged beyond the size it already is so it ends up looking grainy
  • The logo contains clipart that I’ve definitely seen on another logo (at least once!)
  • The logo is just flat out ugly and it’s messing up the rest of the design
  • The logo is really dated and looks like it came from a bad 80’s trend

Often, at this point there’s nothing I can do.

A lot of these events have been going on for years and banners, awnings or other branded items have already been created. Race directors are rarely wealthy and can’t afford to do a rebrand. I totally understand this because I’ve been in their shoes. However, if an event is relatively new or has the funds to invest (or doesn’t really have an established brand yet) then it’s definitely worth investing a little into creating or fixing a logo.

Things to consider when designing a race logo

If you are in the fortunate position of getting started with designing a logo, here are some simple things to consider to prevent the logo mishaps described above.

Make a plan and know your brand

Before you even contact someone to design your logo, take down a few things about your event: What is the average demographic of your audience? What season does your event take place in? Is there a theme? Where will your event take place? Is this an urban event? A trail race? Make sure to take notes on all of these factors and more. It’s ok to hand your designer a mind map as a guide to designing your logo.

race logo design portfolio

What does your logo say about your race? [sample designs from runlogo.com]

Hire a real designer

Almost everyone has that friend or family member who has dabbled in photoshop and that’s fine, but if you’re charging someone a premium price for your event, please hire a professional to design your logo. I am available to anyone who’d like to work with me, my website is runlogo.com, however there are plenty of designers out there to choose from so feel free to shop around. When you are looking for a designer to hire, check out portfolios.

One great starting place for hiring a designer is dribbble.com. The only way to get on Dribbble is by invite so everyone on there has been vetted and will likely produce original quality work. Prices will vary, but you should be able to get a decent logo designed for between $250 and $550 depending on the skill level of the designer you hire, the complexity of your design and the size of your event**.

Get some feedback

Before finalizing the logo with your designer, please get some feedback from friends and maybe a few people who have attended your event. Do the colors match? Does the logo look ok on all of the colors you think you’d want to use it on? How does it look on your website? Is it too big, too small? Does it disappear on a black background? What about a white background? How do you think you’ll feel about this logo a few years from now and most importantly, would you wear it on a shirt?

Ask for multiple file formats

When it comes time to finalize your logo and pay the bill, ask for the files to be delivered in EPS and transparent PNG formats (you’ll need a few different sizes of the PNG). Back these files up onto your hard drive, put them in dropbox, email them to someone who is more organized than you if you must, whatever you do, just make sure you’ve got a copy saved somewhere incase you loose the files. You’ll also want any fonts that were used in the logo. If the designer cannot provide the font due to licensing issues, make sure the designer outlines the type so that it becomes part of the image.

After your logo is finished be sure to save your designer’s contact information so you can reach out if you need adjustments or additional material for your events. This will do wonders for brand consistency, which is a topic for another time.
READ NEXT: How to Design a Race Website →


** This is an indicative price for directors of smaller events, under 500 participants. If you have a very popular event that brings in massive crowds and oodles of money, the price will be quite a bit higher.


About the Author: Jackie Hurd is a designer and owner of runlogo.com, a design studio working specifically with races and race directors.