Someone recently approached me with the following proposition: “I will soon need someone to design a logo for my small non-profit business with very limited resources. Since I am looking for something very simple and basic, I’m hoping to have it done fairly cheaply. I’ve budgeted $50 for the job. Do you think that is enough? And would you be able to take on the job?”
I’m guessing most of you can easily see the various misconceptions wrapped up in this single request, but you’d be surprised how many people think in this way. Ironically, even the person making the above request would agree that his logo is the single most important piece in his company’s marketing brand, yet he only budgeted $50 for it. And I’m not sure where this idea comes from: “if it’s simple, it can be done easily and cheaply.” As a designer, I find that it’s quite the opposite – to create something simple yet effective is a difficult task which requires much attention to detail and much time for careful thinking and designing. So I’d like to take a look at what good logo design involves and why you should expect to pay considerably more than $50 for it.
What is a logo?
In short, a logo is that graphic mark which helps promote instant public recognition of your brand. Its role is not to say everything about your company or organization, but to foster immediate recognition. Because of this, it is the part of your brand and identity which should change the least over the course of the years. So you must think of your logo as something you will keep for the long haul.
What makes a good logo?
There are many things that could be said about what makes a good logo design, but here are a few principles that most everyone can agree on. A good logo is: simple, memorable, timeless, versatile and appropriate. You may want to take a look at my list of ten timeless logos, to see some actual examples.
What steps are involved in logo design?
Below are some basic steps which I consider to be essential in good logo design. Other designers may have slightly different approaches, but the basic principles should hold true.
- The design brief – This should always be the starting point. If you do not have a solid design brief, you will most likely not end up with a logo that reflects the needs of your organization. Read more about the importance of a design brief.
- Research – The designer must become familiar with the particular industry, its history and its competitors. What characteristics connect with its target audience? What logos have been successful in similar markets?
- Brainstorming – This is the beginning of the truly creative part of the design process. The designer starts to conceptualize the form(s) the logo design might take on (relying on the design brief as a guide).
- Sketching – The designer’s ideas begin to take on tangible form through quick sketches. At this stage, the designer is jotting his/her ideas down on paper and experimenting with various creative approaches. In this way he/she can see what will work and what won’t before taking it to the next stage.
- Initial drafting, review and presentation – In this first draft stage, the designer cleans-up and expands the ideas developed in the sketches (usually in a vector-based program such as Adobe Illustrator) focusing on form and on font selection. Color may not be introduced at all until a later round, so as to not let it influence the design. The designer then evaluates the various logo ideas and chooses which one(s) to present to the client.
- Subsequent evaluation, selecting and tightening – This often involves several rounds between the designer and client, the introduction of color, and other special considerations before a final logo is settled on
- Final design prep and delivery – In most cases, a logo package includes the main logo (often using spot colors) as well as several secondary logos (for example, a black version, a reversed version for use on a dark background, and possibly a logo incorporating an added tagline). The logo files must also be prepared for delivery to the client in a way that will eliminate possible problems on the press (such as with fonts) and in a variety of formats for maximum versatility.
Do you think you can find a designer who will do all of the above for only $50? (If you do, let me know!) When you think about each step and consider how much time must go into each one, you get a better picture of the effort and cost involved. I personally have never spent less than 15 hours (minimum) on a single logo. If I charged $50 for it, I’d be making a whopping $3.33/hr!
Beware of fakes
There are many websites out there that claim to offer unique logo designs at incredibly low prices – some as low as $25-$100. How is this possible? In a nutshell… it’s NOT. There is no way a company can offer (as some promise) “5 unique logo options specially-created for your business in 24 hours.” So how do they do it? Using various shortcuts (eliminating some or all of the steps above). Here are just a few ways they do it:
- Recycled design material (used in other logos)
- Discarded logos (rejected by other companies similar to yours)
- Clip art
- Outsourcing (sending you logo project to Eastern Europe or India)
- Theft (searching the web for similar companies to yours and illegally copying parts of their logo)
I would advise staying far away from companies that work in this sort of way.
So… how much DOES a good logo cost?
This is probably the most frequently asked question. Both designers and clients would love it if there were a magic formula. But it is a hard one to answer without more detail on the project. A number of factors must be taken into consideration such as the size of the company, how many concepts need to be presented, the amount of research needed, how many variations on the main logo are required, special considerations such as style, etc. The best way to find out how much a logo design will cost is to get a quote directly from the designer. This will take some effort on your part in gathering the relevant information that will help the designer give you the most accurate estimate possible. Since logo design often involves a number of unpredictable variables, many designers may offer a cost range instead of an exact figure.
Do you need a quote?
Don’t hesitate to contact me for a free quote for professional logo design services.
What do YOU think?
I’d like to hear from you. Do you agree that logo design is worth more than $50? How much did you pay for a logo design? Do you have other helpful ideas or suggestions to add? Please leave your comments below.