What’s your logo worth?

Logos

Many people undervalue the importance of their logo. Sure, it’s just one small part of your brand, but it’s an important part nonetheless. I recently subscribed to email updates for blog posts containing the words ‘logo design’. Here are some excerpts from my subscription.

“I need a designer to create a vector logo for my business. Must be able to be resized without losing the quality. I have the logo idea…. Budget: (US$50).”

On the contrary, you don’t need a designer.

“The prize for the winning company logo design is $100 USD payable via PayPal the day the contest ends. We will wait for your creatives, and wish good luck to all contestants. Let the battle begin!”

Designers working on spec is not a good idea.

“I’m a professional logo designer offering my skills. Prices can range from $20 up to around $280 with various package options along the way.”

Price lists in design sell the designer short.

The design process I use is tried and tested, and is implemented by many other graphic designers. There’s simply no way to cover it all in the time taken to earn $100.

A client might be on a tight budget, but isn’t everyone? But being in business doesn’t come cheap. Regardless of the success, people judge a book by its cover. Likewise, how your business is visually represented goes a long way to establishing credibility.

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74 comments

  1. I was looking into getting a logo done, on some big webmaster forums. I quickly realized that the 10-50$ logos were very “run of the mill”. I’m probably going to try to design my own for now, and when my budget increases I’ll get a professional graphic designer to do one for me.

  2. Funny . . . I also did a post on logos today. $50 isn’t likely to get anyone a quality, memorable logo. It takes a lot of planning to get a logo right!

    Aniela, I’d look into doing a SitePoint contest to get your logo done. They are affordible and you get tons of options (also in my logo post, hint ;))

  3. Thanks for the tip Josh. I was looking at starting a competition on digitalpoint actually…start off small, 100$ prize. Hopefully I’ll get enough submissions that I can pick one that I like :)

  4. David ~ Based on your experience, would you say someone like me with several blogs and websites would be better having a logo for my name, collection of sites or individual sites?

    I’ve been thinking about logos lately and thanks to your post, I’m now thinking harder then ever.

  5. I think a lot of the problem is that people only see the finished design and they don’t think about the process that got you there. They don’t see the research (budget permitting or at the very least a quick look at some competitors logos) the 20 pencil scribbles that got narrowed down to 5 worked up ideas, that got tweaked and changed and amended and amended again.

  6. I buy quite a few logos in my job and I pay between £1,000 to £1,500 and for that I’d expect to get at least three good concepts but some designers will give me nine or more concepts.

    A logo is totally worth that money – you can’t put a value on your identity! And a lot of the big corps would pay a hell of a lot more that a few grand.

    That said though, for a small local business (plumber, mechanic, gardener etc) that doesn’t even know what communication is, let alone have a budget for it, a grand is a hell of a lot of money. For them £50-£100 might be worth it but 1K is well off the mark.

  7. I’m gonna agree with Tara – people just don’t value logo design enough because all they see is the end product, which might be simple enough. If you just look at the McDonalds logo, the Nike one, how simple can you get? But they don’t realise the process taken to get there – a lot of research, thought and iterative changes go into a decent logo design, and that’s just to get a concept down. Then there’s making sure it’s all scalable, doing versions for different uses etc. It’s not something that should be just thrown together in an hour, and not something you can assume you can throw $50 or even $100 at and expect to get quality work.

    Personally I think that doing logos for that price or doing them for contests is really harming the design industry as a whole, because it spreads the idea that a logo should be worth that amount and undervalues what we do.

  8. Aniela – I do think you get what you pay for. I’d probably offer a bit more – say around $200 – $250. Many of the better guys won’t look at a contest unless it is in a higher range. As for Aaron’s comments on 1,000 to 1500 british pounds . . . that’s $2,000 to $3,000. For that, you’d probably get about 1,000 good concepts!

    In this day and age, there are better, more efficient ways to go than using one artist. Utilizing social design contests to get concepts like at SitePoint is the future. The marketplace is much more democratized now as a result.

  9. I can empathize what David said about spending countless nights visualizing the logo before hitting the drawing board. I don’t do it but I agonized with my creative team. $10-$50 logo can be “run off the mill” (see Aniela’s comment above)as it could be from royalty free source or adapted from template. And Joshua is right on getting what you paid. Too many people under value their logo which is all about corporate branding and persona. Without proper branding, he is just a faceless man in the crowd!

    It is very frustrating for us to get people who expect quality but is only willing to pay peanuts. This is what led me to write 2 posts on “Why is Logo that important” and “How Much Should YOu Pay for a Logo Design” in my own blog. If you guys can share your view at my blog, it would benefit my community.

    And, David, I’m going to put this link onto my post. Thanks for the very valuable information you have here.

  10. Joshua, I agree, planning and research is key. I’m not a fan of contests, however.

    Gayla, it would help your cause to have consistent branding. Even if your sites run independently from one another, it would be good to at least show a standard wordmark for your name in the footer. You could even make your websites sub-brands of your most popular one, tying them together under one ‘umbrella’.

    Tara, you’re right, most people only see the final result, not witnessing the full process.

    Aaron, that’s interesting that you purchase designs for that price. When you say that £50 might be suitable for a plumber, you have to think about how much a plumber would charge you for their services — around £50 per hour, so this goes back to the idea that you shouldn’t expect a good logo for one hours work. Graphic designers are a dime a dozen with the proliferation of computers and cracked Creative Suites, but you have to value your work higher than the fresh college graduate who can pixel-push with the best of them.

    Vivienne, you’re very welcome. I read your email and will get back to you shortly.

  11. I definitely agree that $10-$100 won’t get anyone a great result, but I’ve seen many design contests on sitepoint.com in the $200-$400 range where an amazing array of fantastic concepts are submitted.

    The key is to post a contest in a place where a large quantity of talented designers hang out, and offer them fair compensation for their work & feedback along the way.

    @Aaron, if you’re spending $1000 per logo, give the design contests a try. I’m sure if you offered that as a prize amount, you’d get 150+ concepts, with at least 10-20% of those being professional in quality.

  12. Unfortunately a lot of non professionals think that any ‘computer’ type work is worth almost zero.
    Logos? well that’s just someone clicking a button in a paint program, installing an OS etc just involves you putting CD in a drive etc.
    I will be hard to change that view.

    A few hours doing a logo for $20, I bet if you asked them to mow your lawn and weed the garden for the same money they would think you are crazy.

    goldcoaster.wordpress.com

  13. sorry, should be ‘It will be hard to change that view…” not I will be hard :)

    goldcoaster.wordpress.com

  14. Matt – thanks for pointing me in the direction of SitePoint contests – not seen that before, it’s an interesting site.

    Competitions wouldn’t be appropriate for my job however – I work for a decent sized government body and these things need to be auditable. I’ve found £1,000+ to be a pretty standard price for a logo going through a decent design studio. I’m sure if I got a freelancer to do it we could get it cheaper. But the studio v freelancer debate is a whole different blog post… :p

    David – I think my point is that these things are relative. Look through the back of your local free paper and you’ll see loads of ads for local businesses where it looks like they made their logo themselves using PowerPoint and a bit of clip art. For these guys £50-£100 is all they are going to be willing to spend to get something looking a bit more polished. At the other end of the scale a big corporation would pay hundreds of thousands or millions on a branding exercise.

    I totally agree that you shouldn’t undervalue your corporate identity – but what might be undervalued for one business might be too much for another.

  15. Interesting David. You definately get what you pay for. Although I’m not trained in graphic design, I possess a little creativity, and more importantly, a desire to experiment and learn. Therefore, I find it much more rewarding to play about with my own ideas.

  16. The big question… is my logo worth more than my blog? ;)

  17. I designed our logo really before we even had a blog. I’m still very pleased with it – and so it’s worth a great deal to me – but I’m not sure that it has much value outside of that. And i find myself wishing it were a little cleaner – less sketchy…

  18. Thanks for considering. Look forward to having your feedback soon.

  19. Mikael H

    As a working creative (as in actually making a decent living as an AD/graphic designer) I can say that it’s rather common that new clients have no idea what it takes to make a really good logo. They want 10 completely different designs and want it done by tomorrow for a $100 (which is less than what my company charge for one hour of work).
    A good logo have to be a visual version the corporate identity giving a “face” and something recognisable to something that just lives inside the company walls, make it stand out, be original and clever, and fit the current trends or have some sort of timeless feature. The colours have to be choosen carefully for full visibility and for the customers wallet (pms colours and whatnot). It has to work on billboards, on business cards and on the web etc. You have to scout the specific market the company operates in and get a feel for what the competition is doing. If the company is international, will the logo work in other markets? Are there other brands in those countries with similar logos? Are certain colours a no-no (i.e. red can be a problem in russia or orange in the Ukraine).

    There’s so much more than just knowing how to use illustrator, and that’s why big companies doesn’t pay for the hours it takes to make the logo and rather for the expretise of a competent creative. That said, Joe’s laundry service down the street doesn’t need that kind of logo. $300 should suffice and that would get him something that works well. Coca Cola on the other hand probably would have to add four 0’s to that amount to come up with a new logo …

  20. The $99 logo is a very widespread disease.I can understand how someone who has a new website but “just” as a side project and maybe doesn’t expect to gain big profits from it doesn’t want to spend xxxx amount of dollars for “just” a logo.That’s fine and that’s what the Logoworks, $49 logo “firms” etc are there for.But of course you only get what you pay for.

    I really think it doesn’t matter really, because a) $99 clients are not what i want anyway because they don’t really need my expertise
    b) i have yet to see a decent $99 logo so i don’t think these “designers” really compete in my market.

    Here’s the good thing:

    In my experience it’s very likely the bigger your client is (read: the more he is willing to pay), the more he will value a logo or your design work in general.I really can say that so far my best, most interested clients mostly have been the ones with the big pockets.And it makes sense somehow simply because chances are higher that a big company is aware of the importance of corporate identity and thus of corporate design as well.

    That’s not to say i would not work for small biz clients (i fact i have done a lot of work for these kind of clients) just saying the likeliness of a cleint really valuing your work and be willing to pay accordingly for it is higher with bigger clients in general.

    Second point is this:

    If you’re serious with what you’re doing it means you’re just not able to deliver bad or sloppy work on purpose.Because you value what you’re doing, so you approach each new piece you’re doing with the same accuracy, idealism and professionalism no matter who the client is.

    For me as far as the actual design process goes i know i take the same care about creating a logo, no matter if the client is a bank or a bakery.Because the process is not very different, actually not different at all.And the same goes for clients: Just because a client pays only $99 for a logo doesn’t mean he will neccessarily be less demanding than a big pockets client.

    So if i need the same effort and time for a logo no matter who the client is, it makes most sense for me to work for clients who value my work and frankly pay the most.

    My advice: If you can afford it, avoid $99 “assignments” like a plague.As a designer it all starts with your own valuation of your own work.

  21. Michael, Frank, thanks for your detailed replies. The most important point brought-up so far is the fact that as a self-respecting designer, you won’t allow yourself to sell a client a sloppy design, no matter how much they pay. So don’t accept a small price for what should be a big job.

  22. Great discussion. FYI: Chisa – Nike paid $35 for their logo from a student.

    Personally I charge $2500 for a logo. I do not submit 3 designs because I put all my expertise into a recommended solution. I am not designing art but a communication vehicle. How can there be 3 different directions? Many of peers continue to offer 3 directions but we all know only one is their favorite the other 2 are “ugly sisters”. But more times than not the client will treat the 3 like a menu and take one a bit from on and a bit from the other.

    As part of my design fee I provide a analysis of the competition so that my solution is based on a differentiation strategy not just the designers (or clients) favorite colours or attitude. There are many things that I take into consideration when designing for my clients.

    Your Brand Logo is the face your market identifies you with, it can make you money. It astonishes me how new entrepreneurs (and I see some of the attitudes here in these comments) place very little value on their logos. They easily buy the best equipment, even the caprpeting in their locations are chosen with more care and higher budgets than their Brand image. Your Brand Image WILL make you money, the carpet is a pure expense.

    I will toss out the question to successful companies who have lousy brand images – how much better could you be doing if your Brand enjoyed a higher level of respect and porofessionalism? Where would Apple or Virgin be today if they compromised their Brand images?

  23. I agree with Ed. I’m not sure who the heck is charging $250-$400 for logos but obviously that’s an inexperienced designer. There is target market research involved, competition research and many other factors. The last logo I designed had me under contract for 3 months, but you have to figure in a lot of things. Think about what you are making weekly or monthly. If you are working on sketches, mockups, market research, then I should be paid what anyone would be paid for a week, two weeks or a months work for a logo.

    As far as competitions, most are spec work – places trying to get logos for free (http://no-spec.com) AIGA, GAG and many other institutions have come out AGAINST ANY competitions wherease designers are doing work for free. No-spec also pertains to any work a prospective client asks you to submit in order to “get” work. You wouldn’t ask your doctor for free surgery to TRY it before you buy? Why would you ask a designer to submit FREE mockups to see if you like their work or not? Their portfolio should stand for itself. That’s why you should hire someone.

    Maryann

  24. Ed,

    Thanks again for another of your great insights. It’s all too often that a client will choose the worst of the bunch (should you offer more than one variation) so it’s refreshing to see you focus all your energy into one idea.

    Maryann,

    Good of you to give your thoughts too. I’m drafting a blog article about pricing, and have already mentioned a lot of what you talk about (competitor research, market positioning etc.). Thanks for stopping by.

  25. David I find many of the comments on here ironic given what your post was about.

    I think that any business that is serious about their business should value it enough to spend at least $1,000 on the logo if not more.

    I guess people just don’t get it. Your logo is one of the most important pieces of your brand and how the public perceives who you are or if they even remember seeing your business identity at all. That includes plumber, mechanic or whoever doesn’t want to remain a “small business”. How do business’s grow, brand recognition and the feeling that you are a stable company that is reliable and competent.

    Think of these logos and their brands:
    AT&T
    Apple
    Coca-Cola
    Adobe
    Starbuck’s
    IBM

  26. Michelle

    I have only just discovered your wonderful site and before I say anything else I would like to thank you for your openness.

    I have been surfing this exact subject as at the moment I am in legal dispute as to the value of a logo that I designed several years ago. I thoroughly researched the business and even put into place several advertising practices. This business thrived and has an anual turnover of nealy 2 million. I never sold them this logo and have a trademark ownership in one category. Without too much detail I was shunted from said business and now am wondering if I am wasting good money chasing something of little value. What do you think?

  27. Pat,

    I agree. Your logo is indeed one of the most important pieces of your brand, and is often the first impression a potential client / customer has of your company.

    Thanks for leaving your thoughts.

    Michelle,

    You’re very kind! I’m glad you like my site. About your situation, am I right in saying that this company is uing your trademarked logo for their own business, without purchasing any rights or paying you any money? That’s no good, and I’d fight it, although I’ve no experience of how much the legal costs could amount to. Have you published any info of the battle online?

  28. Michelle, if there was no buyout of the logo, you have every legal right to sue as far as I can see. Was there a contract in place? Go for it. They are in big trouble it looks like.

  29. Some big firms are rolling logo design into an entire branding/identity package.

    For startup companies with a lot of cash, I imagine this is the bulk of people wanting to purchase a new logo, they receive bids for a variety of services, not just a single product such as logo design. Bundled in the winning bid for a recent nonprofit I volunteered for was a $50K pricetag for a logo.

    I think exposure is a bigger payoff for designing a big-name logo, rather than price, and there are plenty of designers willing to sell their logo work for next to nothing if they know it is going to become a brand.

    When I started pricing logo design for my clients, I based it on time to be spent designing — how many versions they want presented, etc. — now I target clients with only one concept and offer logo design pretty cheaply at a fixed rate of around $1-5K because it often leads to other design projects.

    If you deliver a logo, they will need various versions and the sale price is negligible against the payoff from future services and deliverables needed, not to mention exposure if you inadvertently create a well known trademark.

    Enjoyed reading this discussion.

  30. I’ve NEVER understood why people think they can get away with paying less than $150 for a logo…

    You CANNOT really put a price on your company’s identity when the logo is the face, personality and usually the first impression for a lot of people when they first hear about it.

    I don’t like when I design for people and they’re confused at what I charge for design – you get what you paid for, and if I am charging more than they assume a logo is worth, it’s only because I put more thought and creativity into it.

  31. I think some logos at sitepoint are not that horribly badly done. There are “designers” who are 17-years-old High School kids and want to make a quick buck. Throwing together some clip art and some generic font calling it a “logo”.

    Such sites are also an attraction for oversees designers. Designers from South America where $100 is a lot of money. But when one is considering getting his / her logo design – think about this : Am I going to be proud of my logo? Will my logo show off my company as a high end store / business? Is my image going to have a professional look?

    Remember, good logo is your corporate image and you’d have to live with it for at least some time. Changing a logo down the road will be more costly! Rebranding / reprint of all print mail / ad ads / recognizing people your business with a new logo takes time. So don’t settle for cheap, quick solution, invest in professionally design logo because it will serve you for a long time.

  32. HI David,
    i need a logo for my personal training business. i went through another company, i’m also an artist. im incredibly picky. i feel i wasted money on this first company. i want to catch everyones eye and stick. none of the ones they did were even close. can you call me or emal when you get back i need business cards and logo. for the first of the year or soon after.

  33. 412.292.1045 my cell.

  34. Yep I agree on the costing of logos. Have you seen ebay recently? Loads of people advertising logo/graphic design for £50. Thats it! Just £50??

    My question though as someone else quite rightly mentioned is how do you separate your costs for different clients with varying budgets??
    Dave the plumber wants a quality logo but has only £150. Where as NinkyNonk PR want one and could easily afford £1500 plus. Dont get me wrong though here. Ive had clients with huge budgets expecting a logo for £100!!!!
    Do you just offer the best you can for £150 and base it on your hourly rate of £50 – giving them 3 hours work?
    I guess all one can do is present the various stages of logo design to the client from research to completion and offer varying packages based on how ‘complete’ a service the client requires.

    Would be interested to see how other people cost up for varying clients.

  35. Thanks for the continued comments from everyone.

    Russ,

    It’s a little sad to see logos being sold so cheaply, but there’ll always be people willing to undercut the competition. For me, it’s important to place a value on my own expertise, and stick to that, no matter what some people are prepared to do.

  36. Hi David,

    I agree with this great post.

    When I give a quote to a potential client, and they say “well, i found websites and other companies that will do a logo for $50, why is your quote so high, i dont want to pay that much”…..I feel like your post and most of the replies on here would be a perfect response !

    Hours of sketching happens at the start, we promise the client 3 highly professional concepts with the smallest logo design package….our biggest package gives 9 concepts…all 100% customized toward the client and their business.

    We allow for many revisions after they pick a concept….or they can pick a few concepts that they like and put elements of them together.

    This ensures they have involvement in the process and they are also receiving a perfect logo for their business.

    “If all that is worth only $50 to you sir, then we are not the design studio for you”

  37. yeghia: graphic design professional

    What a fantastic website you have David.

    It is amazing how ignorant so many of these commenters are about the design business.

    $50 for a logo? ha! you can’t even buy a decent pair of jeans for that amount.
    Are you commenters really saying you’d put more value on a night at a bar to what you are hoping will
    help you enter retirement (your business, social, and corporate identity) non-sense.

    If you are spending less than 5k for your logo you are truly throwing your money away,
    and if your business is making less than 100k you are wasting your time anyway.

    a phone bill in a years time is more than 1k.

    it is a tax deduction and an investment to the lucrativeness of your business.

    real companies spend millions on identity design.

    i work for warner bros as a designer but if i am ever approached to design a logo and identity system for a small company my minimum is 10k.

    And honestly if you don’t want to invest in your business you are wasting my time.

  38. Brian,

    Glad you agree (no surprise really), and thanks for commenting.

    Yeghia,

    Good of you to stop by. I hope your work with Warner Bros is going well, and you’re very right – people starting a business must be prepared to invest in their corporate identity. It’s just good business sense.

  39. Hi Michelle here (see blog Oct 22nd 07). Just thought I would update everyone as to my situation so that no one falls into my trap.
    Eventally they pulled out of the legal dispute and I now own the logo. They drew it out over 18months costing my nearly $5K. It would cost more to get any damages from them and the law does not allow for my costs to be covered as they withdrew. Whilst we were in dispute they were in negatiations for the company to be absolved. They received 2.2 million. I receive nothing. The logo helped make them a known business and this is why they received the price that they did.
    People make sure your legal paperwork is in order!

    On the otherside I am now using the logo myself with a few alterations and so far business is doing well. Thanks to everyone who gave me support.
    Michelle

  40. Hi Michelle,

    That’s a shame it cost you so much time and money, only for them to pull out in the end. It’s good that you own the logo, but what about the damages? Buggers eh? Regardless, it’s good to know that your business is doing well. Long may it continue.

  41. Thomas Thorstensen

    First of all I´d like to thank you David, for putting together such an informative, interesting and knowledgeable site. I didn´t discover it until yesterday, but I´ve already spent numerous hours on here. The friendly, helpful and competent comments from your readers is also a bonus. And now it´s time to post a little something of my own…

    The way I see it, buying a logo can be very similar to buying a car. If you´re a realestate agent, you can always find a dirt cheap “knackered old banger” on AutoTrader. It´ll get you from A to B right? Wrong. You want a car saying you can be trusted. That you are running a respectable business. That you expect quality thoughout, and understand perfectly well that your customers do too. That you can afford such a car because you are good at what you do, and are worth what you get paid. Okay, maybe I´m stretching it a bit too far, but it usually gets the point across, especially with most male customers. Similar examples can be made with female clients, as long as you use something they can relate to and do it in a friendly, informative way without sounding smug or obnoxious. As has been mentioned many times on your site, the time spent on teaching and educating the customer about what you do and why you do it really pays up later on.

  42. Michelle

    Thomas I really like your analogy! Spot on! Trouble is that some people without the degrees etc can actually do a decent logo! Whatever they charge it is a little conceited dont you think to assume the man with the flash car will definately give you more for 5K than the other who may sell it for less. If the unqualified man researched thouroughly also, maybe even knew the market well he may well be just as good but cannot charge as much. You need to be big to charge big! Did you all out there in the rich world charge that ammount from the start? Or did your price rise as your car got flasher?

  43. Thomas,

    Many thanks for posting a comment of your own. I agree, the messages left by my other readers are great, and they really add to the value of the article (especially where I ask a question). I’ve learnt a lot from the others who visit.

    Michelle,

    You’re right that as people grow and learn more, their prices will rise accordingly. When I started, I was charging a price that would be underselling my skills now, but of course my skills are now better than they were.

  44. Around my town I see new businesses emerge and almost every single business has a very bad logo (softly speaking). For example it suprises me how businesses go to a print shop and ask a print guy to “design” their logo. Those print shop guys throw together a name written in Times and call it a “logo” and charge from $800 -1800 just for the name they wrote in Times font. There are sooooo many bad logos out there and people fail to ralize it what an importance a good symbol plays.

    I wonder how do u approach a client and tell him that he could have a much better logo without sounding too judgemental. I’ve learned when u try to tell a potential client their logo is bad, they get offensive and won’t even listen to you because their sister in-law made that “logo” lol

  45. Alexandra,

    I know what you mean about telling someone their logo is bad. Rather than be that blunt, I’d focus on how it could be improved, not what’s bad about it.

  46. David,

    I spent 750 on my logo.. it’s still in development right now.. we decided on a concept.. and i really liked the lay out.. now it is being refined. I really like how you started this post off.. and you are absolutely right about the re-branding. I’m 26.. my mom is 46.. she is old school.. and doesn’t see the value of a logo and branding.. when we spent the 750 she was shocked! But i know the value of things. My speciality is insurance.. not logo design.. i designed a logo that i saw three different times at three different businesses.. the first two times, the colors were different, so i was okay.. the nail in the coffin was when i actually saw it on a commercial for hair loss product.. it was EXACTLY TEH SAME THING.

    Well i just wish someone in a position and experience like yours would call and speak with my mom.. i hate having this uphill battle to make our business better.

    PS: can i e-mail you my logo? I am iffy on the icon.. but love the colors and layout

    Uni

  47. Hello Uni,

    Happy to answer any questions your mum might have, and feel free to email your logo, telling me what you don’t like about it.

  48. I know what you mean.But there are some “quality” cheap designers out there since the great amount of graphical designers. I think it would be more important to look at a portfolio of past work. If it eye catching, its eye catching. Just because its expensive doesn’t mean it will be eye catching, though it usually is.

    More economics due to the good/esteemed designers being in high demand due to reliability. Therefore they are in control of the prices and not trying to scrounge any jobs like the less experienced or less talented.

  49. blu3man,

    The portfolio is certainly the most important factor, but it can’t be used on its own. For instance, if there’s no communication, the logo won’t work. If there’s no time management, deadlines won’t be met. There are many factors that go into a higher price.

    An eye-catching logo is great, but if it doesn’t work for the target market, it’s back to the drawing board.

    Thanks for commenting.

  50. My question is how much do the big firms charge for logos? Such as Siegel+Gale http://www.siegelgale.com/work/. It truly is amazing how many masterpieces they have created, and I’d imagine it would come at a pretty hefty cost.

  51. Good question, Richard.

    Siegel+Gale are no doubt a huge company. Some insight into their pricing structure would be fantastic.

  52. I was curious enough about it and decided to contact them, just for the logo mark it starts at $50k.

  53. $50k just for the logo mark?

    Now there’s a bargain.

  54. hey David,

    My name is Uni.. i have posted on this one already. I have finally decided on a logo…… the more i read.. the more i feel unsure about my decision. But one of the things i thought to myself is that a logo is only a design.. but what we make of it truly gives it its identity. The thing about my industry.. we’re not a donut shop.. so we won’t put a picture of coffee or something that resembles coffee.. or we’re not a transmission shop.. or a dentist… i do sell insurance though.. how do you illustrate that or convey that with a graphic or a picture? Hence why i decided on my logo.. my logo says “Mey’s Insurance Services” which pretty much anyone knows what we do instantly without there being a graphic….

    I have gotten a lot of critisicm about my logo decision, but to tell you the truth, i know that i will make my logo complete, i saw more elaborate things.. but i decided to keep it simple and clean.. a lot of people exepcted there to be something ultra flashy.. i’m happy with it.

    I spent 750.. and that included 10 concepts, 5 designers submitted it.. and unlimited revisions.. i was pleased with my experience and the result.. however.. the particular company i worked with worked a lot through e-mail and their website.. but i felt that they understood me the most when we actually spoke on the phone.. but i wasn’t speaking with the actual designer.. i was speaking with an ‘account manager’. I noticed that they had more expensive packages.. in which you had a direct connection and contact with the designer… now that i have finished my logo.. i think it would’ve been worth it..

    In any industry where you are sellling the “intangible” – education is key.. i deal in an industry like that.. so.. yes

    I know that my logo is the beginning of great things to come to our business.. i wish i could tell you my story!

    Uni

    PS: Thanks Dave ( i will be e-mailing you my logo ! )

  55. Uni,

    You’re very welcome. I’m glad you didn’t go for an ‘ultra-flashy’ design. They don’t work. I’m concerned that you spend 750 (regardless of currency) to have 5 designers present 10 concepts, but I’ll take a look at the email you sent as soon as I have some spare time.

    As for wanting to tell me your story, it’d certainly make for an interesting read (the whole process you went through with the company you choose).

    Bye for now.

  56. Lew Hollerbach

    I disagree with some of the assumptions made here. I own a Web design and development business, and have used 99Designs, a graphics design crowdsourcing service out of Australia, for logos. The minimum price is $100, but you can pay more if you like. I’ve had three logos designed. The winning entries came from artists in Poland, the Netherlands, and Algeria.

    In these countries, $100 or $200 is actually considerable money, so those participating see a cost-effective if not profitable avenue. Especially given how much value the greenback has lost lately. As a result, after currency conversion and adjust cost-of-living calculations, you DO in fact get what you pay for. The scale is just different.

    More importantly, such services allow designers who otherwise could not practically make their services available to participate in a global market. And you know what? It works. It works very well, in fact.

    So I would invite readers to seriously question the assumptions that if something costs $100, it must be crap. That’s self-serving. The reality is that the world is full of talented people whose cost bases are different from ours.

    Like with so many other services, what you get is also proportional to what you give: a detailed, simple, clear creative brief gives good results. Sure, being vague, or window shopping, will give you a bunch of graphics that will be hard to work with. But that’s OUR responsibility; cost of logos by others doesn’t factor into that equation.

    Not to be mean, but the fact that these criticisms (at worst) or advice (at best) come from a person engaged in the business of logo design also seems self-serving. A more objective analysis might yield the same conclusions, but they’ll be based on interests that aren’t vested in particular outcomes.

    Do check out some of these crowdsourcing services. I like 99Designs, but there are several others. The best part is, if you don’t like anything, you don’t have to pay, so you’re no worse off than when you started.

  57. Most of the 99Design logo contests produce crap–but there are some surprisingly good marks in there for a couple hundred bucks or less. Lew is right.

    I agree in the theory of logo design. It has to reflect your desired brand image. But assuming the mark is professional, clean, free of clipart and technically accurate (ie. vector, transparent, CMYK, RGB, yada, yada), it rarely does that by itself.

    Your logo is a tool that aids recollection and association. If you took the iconic logos of the businesses listed above and showed them to someone that literally had no previous exposure to any element of the company, the logo wouldn’t say anything. An apple wouldn’t say design or simplicity. The IBM mark wouldn’t say high tech or business solutions or services. Coke wouldn’t say refreshing or original.

    But pair your logo with great service, great offerings, great value and a message that actually resonates with your audience and you have the makings of a strong brand.

    Here’s the part most designers hate… If you cannot effectively differentiate yourself from an $500 logo designer in the eyes of your target market, you’ve got problems. It’s your job to convince client’s why your services and skills are worth your fees. If you can’t do that, don’t blame the client.

    If your clients are not seeing the value and/or need for research and competitive analysis and whatever else you’re pitching, find another reason that is important to them or better yet, find another client that does value those things.

    The customer is always right. Even when they’re wrong, they are right in their own minds until you educate them otherwise. It’s your fault if you cannot convince them why they are wrong. Otherwise they’ll walk away feeling like they were right the entire time–and you’re left feeling frustrated.

  58. Hey all –

    (“pro” 99designs.com rant removed since it has already been addressed.)

    I know a lot of designers.

    In fact, my site and logo (click my name to link out) were designed by “professional” designers because I didn’t know about places like 99designs.com at the time. The logo was done by a biz partner with this specific talent and the website was outsourced.

    The logo I love… the site, not so much. The regular design cost is well over $8,000 (I did a contra deal) but frankly, isn’t worth more than $50 because it is very difficult to edit and the designer was a flake who had “tricked” her employers into believing she knew what she was doing.

    She didn’t.

    But the swift reality is that a logo really isn’t all that important.

    Sorry, but it has to be said.

    A logo is like a beautiful suit or a gorgeous dress… it can accentuate the positives and hide some of the unsightly lumps… but it’s true purpose is to cloth your body and any old rag can do that.

    In fact, a gorgeous body (to carry the analogy) in ripped jeans and a t-shirt (a $100 logo) is often much sexier than when it is all dolled up (a $1000 logo).

    The real value lies in what your company offers, how you communicate with your prospective and actual customers. That is where your BRAND really comes out – the promise you make and how you deliver on the promise.

    A logo is icing – not the cake.

    Just my $0.02.

    – Paul

  59. Hey all. Here’s the deal: Although I appreciate what Nick Rice is saying about pay “scale”, and I can appreciate that a new business has budget considerations, the fact is that using websites such as those cheapens the value of all graphic designers’ work, worldwide. A CONTEST is Spec Work, which is exactly the same as not paying for something. I can’t walk into a store, eat a banana, and then decide to pay for it. Why buy the cow if you can get the milk for free? AIGA and GAIN, GAG, all the trade organizations agree that Spec Is A Bad Thing and should never be done. EVER. There’s a good web site out there that talks about it: http://www.no-spec.com. Also, do a search at AIGA.org for their take.

    Also, although I understand Mr. Keetch’s point, it’s up to the client to make sure that the designer that’s hired to do the job has a clear understanding of the company’s products, mission, vision, etc., and that the buyer and the designer each “get” each other and have a good rapport. If the estimate is within the client’s budget and everything is spelled out with a clearly written contract, get to work! Re his web site disappointment, good work costs money, and having confidence in your chosen resource costs due diligence. It would be wise to talk to other clients of that company.

    Yes, much value does lie in what and how your company offers what it offers. But you can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. (I’m full of cliches today!)

    My more than 2 cents–d

  60. Varun Badhwar

    Hi David,

    I was so intrigued by the discussion that couldn’t help but to add on.

    Why people didnt talk about nike’s swoosh logo, i think thats one logo that has left a long and lasting impression on children, adolescents,teenagers, and all ages alike.

    Very generic but still holds such strong impact. That was one logo that just popped up when i started to recall the logos and mind you,one of the most easily recognised logos in the world.

    I am not really sure how much it would have cost, but i think Nike has been successful in their Logo Design and therefore, not necessarily co.s need to spend that much money but just a bit of creativity and whole lot of brainstorming.

  61. As a consumer on the logo side.. and a “vendor” (for lack of a better word) of selling the invisible (i sell insurance) i totally agree with PAYING for it. You are reducing things to a commodity when it’s ‘FREE’. I got my logo for “FREE” too.. it ended up costing me more money in the end

    Frankly, some people are hella cheap, don’t know the value of things

  62. For the record, I didn’t get my site designed for free – I just didn’t have to pay for in cash up front. The deal was based on a percentage of revenue over three years that will undoubtedly result in more cash than had we done a 1-time payment, but which didn’t require an up-front outlay of cash.

    That being said, I firmly believe that there are always ways to get things done for “less than scale” and in my professional and personal opinion, the vast majority of designers do not know how to JUSTIFY what they charge.

    Most have ZERO real-world marketing experience and a logo is an element of marketing. If it doesn’t show a quantifiable, positive return on investment… IT AIN’T WORTH IT!

    The Nike Swoosh was designed for $35 in 1971. Even with inflation, that doesn’t put it anywhere NEAR the thousands of dollars that many 2nd-rate design hacks charge unsuspecting new business owners for logo design.

    (Sorry, I have personal experience here – I’ve seen too many new biz owners get taken to the cleaners because they THOUGHT they were hiring an expert when all they were getting was a shyster. I realize that all designers are not like this, but unfortunately, it’s hard for the uninitiated to know the difference.)

    Do you think, when they designed it, they knew what they were getting out of it? Not a chance! The story goes that the only reason it was selected was because of a time constraint – they needed SOMETHING and the swoosh was the best option on the table at the time.

    A logo DOES NOT define a company.

    We think it does because the logos we recognize (Apple, Microsoft, Nike, FedEx, BP, etc) are companies with strong brands and cultures that have been developed over years and years and have withstood the test of time.

    The truth is, the company defines the logo, and it is up to the business owners to find the truth of themselves in their company, the truth of their company in themselves and then strive daily to blend the two into a cohesive product or service that speaks to the consumer.

    From the consumer perspective, no one has ever done business with a company for the SECOND time, simply because of a nicely designed logo.

    That’s my $1.02 this time… :)

    – Paul

  63. Lew,

    You mention that those participating in logo design contests “see a cost-effective if not profitable avenue.” Of course this is only if the participating designer is chosen amongst many as the ‘winning’ entrant. What about those who are effectively working for free?

    I’m going to edit my post statement that mentions a cheap logo ‘ being rubbish’. This was published a year back, and I’ve learnt a lot since then, particularly about absolute statements. I believe it is possible to come up with an effective logo in a short space of time, but this is where a knowledge of graphic design comes into play, so rather than paying for time, the client pays for skills amassed.

    Your point of view is summed up when you state the following:

    The best part is, if you don’t like anything, you don’t have to pay, so you’re no worse off than when you started.

    Nick,

    Most of the 99Design logo contests produce crap–but there are some surprisingly good marks in there for a couple hundred bucks or less.

    Would you use the service? You mention how the logo is a tool that aids recollection and association. I completely agree. 100%.

    Paul,

    I agree with your analogy:

    A logo is icing – not the cake.

    However, I do believe that a logo is important when it comes to branding. Are there more important aspects? Sure. Also, I don’t think anyone here is saying that a logo “defines a company”. I’m certainly not.

    Dina,

    Thanks for your thoughts too. Another question, are logo design contests even legal?

    Varun,

    That’s right, the Nike logo needed brainstorming and creativity. I’m guessing a fair bit of research too. Was the designer adequately compensated? Not if it took longer than an hour or two to create, which is highly likely. So it was a very good deal for the client.

    Uni,

    Spot on.

    Thanks for everyone’s comments and debate. It’s always good to hear from both sides.

  64. Thomas 2.0

    Most logos are so lame and useless that plain, readable text would be better, and you can do it for free on your word processor–type it, spellcheck it, to sarif or not to sarif, throw in italics if you appeal to a youth market, viola! What makes it extra lame is that consumers couldn’t care less. Even worse if you’re renaming a brand to go along with the new logo–these sad little ads where a company implores you to no longer call them X Company Inc., ‘cos now they’re XCI, and look at this neat little graphic we made . . .

    (Really? XCI? ‘Cos you make the same crappy sitcoms/fried chicken/music that used to be made by X Company Inc.)

    Who cares, except a few marketing execs and clueless CEOs? An engaging commercial, event reach-out, or even a better product? Sounds smart. Spending $100 on a logo? Sounds like you overpaid.

    Which is not to say that graphic designers don’t have worthwhile skills. Have them make your ads appealing and readable. Have them photoshop your burgers so they look fat and juicy and hot, not flat and dried and exhausted. Pay them what they’re worth for work you need done, and forget about the logo.

  65. Jessamyn

    Hi. I found this article while doing some research for a logo design contest for an print industry association. There’s no cash prize but there is the reward of a big recognition with a large local audience of ad agencies, direct marketers, large corporations (like Bank of America), print vendors, etc. Definitely worth more than $100.

    My reason for posting is, after reading several posts discussing design worth vs. what the market will pay, I thought I may offer some tips to get a fair price. For starters, I meet with my prospective client to discuss their needs and feelings for their logo design. During this time I ask many questions about their business to assess their size and potential growth. This enables me to divide each client into 3 basic categories that I use to determine pricing. Most of my clients fall into the medium corporate size. For me, this means I won’t do any logo design for less than $350. Each client I quote an individual price at $350 or above depending on how intricate their needs are, how demanding I feel they may be based on the initial meeting and what I sense they are would be willing to pay based on the initial meeting. I usually provide 5 designs and then bill $40 per hour for alterations.
    I also have my large corp. groupings will bill out in the $1000+ range and small entrepreneur which usually earns $150-$250 and payment in favors, such as a local restaurant owner will throw in a free meal for me and a guest.

    My big selling point if a client balks at a quote is to explain to them that they are not just buying a little logo to throw on their envelopes, business cards and other products…

    They are investing in corporate branding.

    Using this method, I have never lost a client due to pricing and always received what I felt was a fair price for my time and creativity.
    For what it’s worth and hope it helps.
    Jessamyn

  66. Jessamyn,

    Regardless of the monetary (or other) value of the reward, it’s still spec work for all the folks whose designs weren’t chosen. And if there’s no cash changing hands, what is the value of the reward, in this case?

    Thanks for the insight into how you determine your pricing. It’s always interesting to hear how others do it.

    Have you looked recently at the logo design packages offered by some of the inexpensive online logo mills? You might want to reconsider your pricing for the small and medium-sized business. It seems awfully underpriced to me. Don’t sell yourself short! These clients will be using your design to represent their company for years to come.

    Haha, on the other hand, you’re probably working right now, while I have time to fritter away on blog posts… (one must have a sense of humor…)

    –d

  67. Wow, Thomas, tell us how you really feel!

    I agree with you that there are many, many crappy logos out there. Some of them are probably done by professionals, but I’ll bet a lot of them aren’t. I just don’t think you can badmouth, er, lump ALL logos into the “useless” category.

    As an editor of a magazine about furniture, you write about lots of design and trends and whatnot that your readers are interested in, and your job is to sell magazines. If you changed the masthead every issue, which is essentially your logo, it wouldn’t be recognizable on the newsstand, and sales would suffer. If you went from a glossy, full color perfect-bound publication to black and white, copied, and stapled at the top left, your readers wouldn’t take you at all seriously. You have to look like your customer. Dress for success.

    First of all, it’s SERIF, not sarif. Secondly, italics is not universally youthful.

    One can’t assume that all consumers don’t care about a company’s logo. I think it’s part of the entire branding package. It gives a visual clue as to the type of company it is.

    If Apple’s apple graphic were a soft pencil drawing, would you think of it as a technology company? No, it would look more like a food company, or something to do with education perhaps.

    IBM’s logo reminds me of data bits, which was central to their business when that icon was created.

    For Shell Oil, the shell does represent what the company is about in a nutshell: oil reserves throughout the world are under water, in shale fields created by millions of years of crap on the sea floor (simply put!).

    Ritz Carlton’s lion doesn’t say anything about the hotel business, but it does convey royalty, excellent service, and the ultimate in understated tastefulness. Contrast that with the Super 8 logo, whose logo is equally unconcerned with implying a place to spend the night. It’s yellow and red colors and homey feel, make it look much less exclusive and much less expensive a place to stay than the Ritz.

    GE does have a typographic logo. Even though it’s fairly simple, it is always presented consistently. The cursive GE in the circle mark looks to me subtly like the wires in a light bulb, which is what made them.

    The logo embodies the company’s promise to the consumer, as well as its history and possibly its future.

    Anyway, look, I’m not saying that a company always has to hire a graphic designer to have an effective logo. (May the Design Gods not strike me dead!) There are a gazillion solutions out in the naked world. What I am saying is that sometimes it is efficient to hire a pro, since the designer, ultimately an artist, business person and marketer themselves, understands what a logo is supposed to do, how it will be used over time, what file formats will prove most useful for all the various media a logo could be presented in, etc., etc., etc. There are many, many variables that have to be considered.

    People hire a pro to do something they either don’t want to do or can’t do. The problem is that they don’t always know they can’t do it until they do it poorly. You can get logos out there for $10. This is like shopping at Walmart for a business suit. It’ll look like a suit, but it won’t be anything special, it won’t fit right, and it’s so cheaply made that it’ll fall apart after a few wearings. Which doesn’t mean you have to go to Neiman’s ($$$$$) when Nordstom’s house brand ($$$) will do.

    So, more food for thought for you. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts. I’ve been trying to cement my own arguments for hiring a designer. This has been a good exercise.

    –d

  68. Dina, I think your argument about consistency in a logo is quite right. Actually, Apple is a great example. It’s logo has become iconic. But beyond consistency (and maybe simplicity), I don’t think the logo has contributed to the brand’s success, so much as the other way around. An apple with a bite out of it doesn’t communicate anything about the actual product being sold. We all think it’s a great logo because of the success of Apple’s product, and would retroactively justify almost any logo. If it were drawn in pencil, we’d say how perfectly and brilliantly it conveys Apple’s hallmark simplicity of design and user-friendliness–a technology almost as intuitive/easy to learn as a pencil! If it were a coffee cup we’d say, oh, because Apple stimulates the imagination, wakes you up, helps you get through the busy workday, gets you jazzed.

    And all the other companies you mentioned, GE, IBM, etc. . . having a consistent, recognizable logo no doubt helps them, but really, they’re known for their products, and any consistent logo would have done. Shell Oil could just as well have been Apple Oil, or Future Oil, Noble Gas, or whatever.

    Ritz’s logo, okay, you’re right. Well chosen (perhaps because they went with something pretty obvious, symbols of royalty and all).

    Nike’s logo (regardless of how it was arrived at) is, I think, unusual in how well it really does convey, just visually, what the brand’s about, and given that we’re talking apparel here, it’s worth noting that it does look good on a pair of sneakers.

    Target’s logo is a strange case, too. I don’t think it’s inherently better than anything else they may have picked, but they’ve really done something with what it in their recent commercials.

    (I think you’re point, Dina, about a professional graphic designer providing you the right files and formats is also well taken.)

    My argument, though, is that there’s better, more meaningful things to pay a graphic designer for than agonizing about a logo. I’m standing by my assertion that consumers could care less about logos, but if you have evidence to the contrary, I’d listen. I just think that when they do SEEM to care about a logo, as in the case of Mac users who put the Apple logo on their bumper, it’s really because they care about the product, or the cultural memes about the product (or maybe in the case of cars or handbags, the status a brand conveys), and their affection for a logo is a secondary attachment.

    None of which is to say that a good designer can’t do a lot for a business–layout ads and other forms of communication, develop signage, etc. I have a great respect for graphic designers and what they do. I just question whether a corporate logo is the best use of their skills.

    And it’s a question of proportion. If you’re a small ma-and-pop, maybe a $500 for a logo is kind of extreme. On the other hand, if you’re launching a new company and spending millions or tens of millions on marketing, well, it seems stupid to ONLY spend $500 to see what a professional can do for you and your logo.

  69. I ran a 99designs logo contest and these are the reasons I did so.

    A) LIke many small start ups I am on a very, very tight budget and I know from experience that a fancy logo is not critical to my business succeeding. Most of my competitors have wordmarks created, for free, at their local print shop.

    B) Based on my EXTENSIVE research if you have less than five hundred dollars to spend ,on a logo, then your best chance of getting a logo, you’ll love, is from 99 designs.

    C) I feel no guilt in running a contest because let’s face it why do most of the people enter the contests. They do it because because designing is fun. That’s right FUN.

    D) The contests are self policing. If one of the contestants sees someone else entering a stolen/doctored icon they are quick to point it out.

    BTW I am extremely happy with the logo I ended up with.

    Cheers Don

  70. Because of time constraints I didn’t write all that I wanted about my 99designs experience so it ended up sounding like an advertisement.
    There were some negative things too

    First off 99designs have a shady way of charging a contest holder. They say the cost will be 37 credits but it isn’t until you’ve gone through the whole process of filling in the sign up forms, describing your project, that you learn a credit is really just a sugar coated dollar.
    If it costs 37 dollars to hold a contest why don’t they state right at the beginning it cost 37 dollars……

    There’s a good chance, as happened with me, you will see a brilliant concept submitted by someone with absolutely no graphic design skills. If you have any scruples you won’t be able to use the concept. That hurts.

    The designers can be quite treacherous. They’ll see a great concept submitted by someone else. and then they’ll create strongly derivative designs and PM links to them

    If you are a softy, like me, you’ll waste a lot of time posting comments to designers who aren’t very good. For example should a contest holder really have to explain what kerning is to a “designer”

    Generally the fonts, used in entries, are freebies. That perfect font could be just a few dollars away……

    Cheers Don

  71. Thomas,

    You make a valid point about companies making their logos work. Absolutely, but that’s not to say a poorly designed logo can’t act against what the business culture is trying to achieve. Logos help to identify and differentiate. If they were all standard logotypes, our first impression of brands would be almost exactly the same.

    Jessamyn,

    …they are not just buying a little logo to throw on their envelopes, business cards and other products…

    They are investing in corporate branding.

    Very true, which is why I believe it’s wrong to design without the promise of fair compensation.

    Dina,

    I agree with you. It sounds as if Jessamyn is underpricing herself. Thanks for responding to both Jess and Thomas in such depth. I appreciate your time.

    Don,

    It’s interesting to read both the positives and negatives you list on 99designs. There’s a great post (and discussion in the comments) on the Logo Factor here: Are logo design contests legal? I’ve yet to see any provide a definite answer.

  72. I saw the nike swoosh brought up as an example ($35 in the 70’s). Nike later recognized the value of Carolyn Davidson’s contribution and…

    “Although Davidson left Nike, in September 1983, Knight invited her to a company lunch. There, he presented her with a diamond ring engraved with the swoosh, and Nike stock in an amount that remains a secret. Of the gift, Davidson says, “this was something rather special for Phil to do, because I originally billed him and he paid that invoice.”

    There IS value in logos/branding.

  73. Thank you for this article! You wrote it over a year ago but it is still very relevant. It just assures me that I am right to get angry when friends ask for a “quick and simple” logo and expect me to whip one up. And to do it for free!

  74. May –
    I wouldn’t be so hasty to get angry and refuse doing the occassional freebie. My last official design job before starting grad school was to brand my brother’s new legal practice for free. (He is after all my brother) His request was just to layout his bus card and letterhead in a nice font but I went all the way and submitted 5 logo designs as well. Now he’s fully and originally branded. And I’m getting requests from associates for paying work.

    I’ve also exchanged “free” services with a couple non-profits with payment in form of dinner ticket to they’re big charity events. Despite putting in many hours working with their programs for the event, which should have fetched a pretty penny, I was paid tenfold in networking contacts. Many of these events have high level execs attending and subsequently become high paying new business with their companies.

    Jessamyn
    “Free” can be a workable arrangement if you choose wisely where to place your efforts.

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