Plain Thoughts Blog

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Why your logo should cost more than your lunch

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By peterurban - August 13th, 2008

It always amuses me when I visit one of the graphic design contest sites that wander around the web. Every time I do, I see various contests being started by people with text such as “The winning logo designer will be given $120 USD via PayPal when the contest ends on September 9th. Good luck everyone, and I look forward to seeing the results of your creativity!” Then there are the designers who advertise their portfolios with logo design work ranging in price from $20USD to $100USD.

The truth is, this is not the way to get a good logo. There is so much that goes into making a logo; it is impossible to do it in just a couple of hours. Don’t believe me? Keep reading!

To begin with, any respectable designer is going to take the time to get into the mind and vision of your company: what you do, what your workplace culture is, who your competitors are, and how they have branded themselves. The whole idea is to start the process of creating a logo that fits seamlessly with the business, the people in it, and which is unique. After the designer has a good idea of what your company is like, they will go back and start sketching. Lots. Most of these will never see the light of day, but eventually little pieces from each one will come together into half a dozen different designs which actually look like they might be getting somewhere.

It is only at this point that the designer even opens Illustrator. They then take their ‘best’ sketches and turn them into proofs for the client, starting to think about things like colour and making sure that the shapes and text work nicely together. After the proofs have been submitted, the client will often come back with suggestions for changes – maybe different colouring because they painted the office reception wall. This involves talking with the client again before returning to Illustrator and reworking the logo – sometimes this process involves going right back to the sketchbook!

Now, every designer has their own way of progressing through a project. Some will skip certain steps, others will break some of them down into a collection of smaller steps but as you can see, however you complete this process, it is not a quick one. Every step along the way is hours of work, and it adds up quickly. If you put your logo in the hands of a cheap $60 design ’studio’, you’re not going to get a good logo at the end. So, why is this a problem?

Your logo defines the identity of your business: who you are. It acts as a visual short-cut to convey the company’s character, personality and attitude. It is one of the first thing new clients see, and leaves a lasting impression on them. It needs to be original and instantly recognizable so it can stand out in a crowd of your competitors. It also needs to be – in short – a good design, so that it can be used for many years, giving birth to a concept and image that can be recognized everywhere.

Do you really want to leave this in the hands of a designer who is going to spend maybe a couple hours working on it, only to wind up using some lack luster clip-art that is used elsewhere, or who will base it off of an existing logo and get you into trouble later on?

There is no hard and fast rule as to how much a professional logo design should cost – every designer will charge differently based on their reputation and on how large your company is (it stands to reason that a designer will charge a startup less than a Fortune 500 company.) But the old adage applies to logo design, as well as it does to anything else – if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.


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