March 15, 2010

Why a logo doesn’t cost 5 dollars

Filed under: Useful Stuff @ 3:27 pm

Here is a snippet from a great article written by a fellow designer from New York. To read an entire post please go to his blog.

“What Is A Logo? To understand what a logo is meant to do, we first must know what a logo is. A logo’s design is for immediate recognition, inspiring trust, admiration, loyalty and an implied superiority. The logo is one aspect of a company’s commercial brand, or economic entity, and its shapes, colours, fonts, and images usually are different from others in a similar market. Logos are also used to identify organizations and other non-commercial entities.

It makes me wonder why people… would even bother with a cheap logo design if a logo is meant to do all of these things?

Before I get onto comparing cheap VS professional logo design I want to talk to you a bit about SPEC work. “Spec” has become the short form for any work done on a speculative basis. For example, ‘You design this for me, and I will pay you if I like it’. This is not right.

To clarify, let’s create a scenario in another industry where SPEC work does NOT exist.

“I went for a dental check-up yesterday. After the dentist inspected my teeth, she suggested some work to prevent further tooth decay. I told her to go ahead, and if the dental work was satisfactory, I’d be more than happy to pay. She responded that she wouldn’t be able to do that, because she normally provides a service when a fee is agreed upon up-front. I said I’d let her know after I checked in with other local dentists.”

This scenario happens in the design industry every day and is seen as very unethical as it is ruining the design industry. A designer should not have to invest time and resources with no guarantee of payment much alike a dentist or any other professional.

I do not want to go into this any further as much has been written about it but I would like to say please avoid design contests and spec work at all costs. Logo Design Contests are bad for your business. Period.

$5.00 (Cheap Logo Design)
Now that we have taken a look at the damage of Spec Work, let us now take a look at what quality you can expect from a logo in between the $5 to $200 bracket. The particular case I am looking at today is from a logo design contest that was held on Digital Point Forums.

The “brief” for the logo design project was “Make a logo for the site ‘Spela Piano’. The meaning of that is Play Piano. This is a site where our members can learn to play piano online.” Below you can see the responses from the contest, which one do you think won?


Ask yourself these questions in regards to the logos above:

  • How many of the logos can you describe or remember?
  • Are these logos effective without colour?
  • Are they scalable?
  • Do they gain immediate recognition?
  • Convey the company’s personality, character or attitude?
  • Relate to your clients by conveying a feeling of familiarity and credibility?
  • Have association with quality and satisfaction?

I will leave these questions for you to decide.

Professional Logo Design

Professional Logo Design

Now compare these professionally designed logos and answer the same questions as above… See the difference?

Why are they so different? Professional logo designers have an actual design process that involves research, sketching, conceptualising, and reflection and this is why they do not charge $5.00.

The design process of a professional logo designer usually consists of:

  1. The Design Brief: They conduct a questionnaire or interview with the client to get the design brief.
  2. Research: They conduct research focused on the industry itself, on its history, and on its competitors.
  3. Reference: They conduct research into logo designs that have been successful and current styles and trends that are related to the design brief.
  4. Sketching & Conceptualising: They develop the logo design concept(s) around the brief and research. They use creativity and know how to design a logo.
  5. Reflection: They take breaks throughout their design process. This lets their ideas mature and lets them get renewed enthusiasm and receive feedback.
  6. Presentation: They then choose whether to present only a select few logos to the client or a whole collection.
  7. Celebration: They then drink beer or eat chocolate or sleep or start on next logo design. Or a combination.

On that note, did you know that the software to make the logo is $700 in itself, let alone the computer that it has to be installed onto or the costs associated with the essentials… paper, ink and an internet connection.

Another 6 reasons why a logo should cost more than your lunch:

  1. A logo is the very first impression people get of your company.
  2. A logo needs longevity.
  3. A logo needs to be original.
  4. A logo should look professional.
  5. A logo should reflect the time and thought gone in to designing it.
  6. A logo is the starting point of your whole corporate image.”

Thank you for writing this article. It is very frustrating to try to explain to a client why their logo will cost $X amount. And why they probably were not happy with the $200 logo they got off some random site from some template designer in the middle of no where. Or when the client tries to rush the process. These things they take time. Time and money.

Comment by Alisha Wilson — March 17, 2010 @ 8:29 am

That’s right. Not to mention the years of schooling that is required to get a design education.

There is also a ton of ‘hidden’ costs to the designer, the amount of time you have to spend on the phone, writing communications to the client, billing, etc. that consumes a big portion of your week.

Computer equipment, and software, is also not a ‘buy once’ deal. Staying on top of design means keeping up with the modern tools too. Professional equipment is not cheap.

Comment by Alex — March 17, 2010 @ 11:24 am

Today, everyone uses a search on Google and steal and logos and all you find, just a little modifying as it was their idea, I personally think that today is rarely where you can find a unique logo. Best regards :)

Comment by Sokobanja — August 30, 2010 @ 10:39 am

I am remaining an optimist — I truly do believe there are many amazing and talented artists out there who take pride in their work. Doing searches on Google and getting inspirations from work by others is fine — for some it helps them to get those creative juices flowing. But at the end of the day, only best work is what people are going to remember. And at our studio, we always strive to produce unique work, no matter how large or small a project is.

Comment by Natasha — August 30, 2010 @ 12:19 pm

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