Logo Design – (Updated)


What to Look for In Your Next Logo or Corporate Identity Design

You are a business

You are looking for something of which you can be proud. Something that clearly and completely communicates what your business does and stands for. Or you want a logo that will make you money.

Affordable vs. Cheap

The democratizing effects of technology are great, making new and more affordable opportunities available. However, there is a difference between affordable and cheap and when you’re creating an identity for your business the cheapest solution is not necessarily the best.

A simple search for logo design will produce a plethora of companies offering to design your next logo for as little as $69. My fees, on the other hand, start at $5,000 for non-profits and $15,000 for for-profit businesses. What’s the best solution for your business?

What do you want to accomplish with your new logo? The sky is the limit, but your objectives may affect how much you pay.

One very good rule of thumb for gauging the cost of designing a new logo is whether or not your business is tangible or intangible. If you manufacture rubber hoses and have been selling them to a variety of industries, you probably don’t need much of a logo. Your logo probably doesn’t have to communicate intangible notions such as integrity, or speed or flexibility. But then again, maybe it does. You might be able to get away with a $99 logo (but I still wouldn’t recommend it).

If your business has to convey a sense of stability or predictability or fun and excitement, then your logo (or corporate identity) must work much harder. So, the more intangible your key message is, the more you’ll probably pay for a logo that achieves your objective.

What is Good Design and can’t anyone do it?

Design is the process of solving a problem. Good design is any design that solves the problem. But that’s where things get more complicated. Problems are rarely as simple as “plug that hole.” Usually, there are a lot more conditions and requirements. The same thing can be true for a company’s identity. But you may be wondering, if you’re paying for the logo, aren’t you the final judge and jury for what “good design” is?

The more important question isn’t whether you or your loved ones like your logo (although it’s great if you all do) but whether or not your customers understand your logo. They have to “get” it. Your logo has to instantly communicate all of the things you want communicated, including fun or integrity or reliability or having been in business for 300 years, etc. And it’s not even that your customers have to like your logo. Do they feel that they can trust you and your business when they see it? Remember, your logo is your public face. You may have the best people, the best practices, and the best products, but if you don’t look like you do, you don’t.

If you get a good designer who can hit your target, depending on your business, you may be able to merchandise your logo and corporate identity— potentially very lucrative.

When I’m asked what good design is, I mention legibility, readability, and tone. Your logo should be technically legible, up close and far away, in print and online. That’s the price of admission. Second, your logo should be readable. It should feel as if you didn’t even have to try to read or, worse yet, decipher it. It should feel as if it was already in your head when you glanced at it. Oops! By “you” I mean your customers.

Finally, the tone of the logo should be appropriate to your business. That seems obvious, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen graphic design mixed metaphors, something that would be great for a children’s clothing store on a bank or vice versa.

What are you trying to accomplish?

Identifying your objectives is your main job. What does your business need to communicate? This is something you should spend time identifying and write down on paper. A good exercise is to see what your competitors are doing and ask yourself the same question about their identities.

Next, you should create a budget for your logo design. It should be part of your business plan (you do have a business plan, don’t you?). Just because you’re not a graphic designer or you think you’d be okay with a $99 logo don’t assume that your business will be okay with it. Talk to designers and get their input on your business and what they think you need. Beware of them though. Logo jobs are few and far between and they want your money. So, don’t agree to work with the first one to offer you the whole package for the least amount of money. Look for the designer who will add value to your business. That’s what you really want and that’s how your logo will make you money.

Most designers work on a project fee, charging a flat rate for the whole thing. If you were to go to a graphic design firm, you would be starting at $25,000 to $50,000, and up, for a logo. They might throw in the layouts for your business cards and letterhead, but maybe not. Some itemize that and it’s extra, as well as the rest of the stuff you might want and need, such as the look of your website, your email branding, packaging, etc. Don’t forget that you can write up an agreement that lets you pay the designer off over time. Discuss it and negotiate something that works for both of you.

If you contract a sole proprietor, depending on the size of your business and the scope of the work as well as what you need to accomplish, be prepared to pay a couple thousand dollars up to $25,000 or more. Your identity cannot be priced by the pound. It really is more art than science.

But, what about the $99 logos?

My recommendation is to never use those services. Their businesses are built on speed and one-size fits all. It may not seem like it since they promise to provide, and seem to provide, unique graphic solutions for their customers. But if you really look at their product, it’s not unique. It actually blends into the background with the rest of things clamoring for your customers’ attentions. Remember tone? I see the same tone, no matter whether they’re simple, bold graphic solutions or delicate, illustrative logos. Most often, I see a lack of editing in these $99 logos. Your company’s name may be a mouthful and just typing it up with some nice typeface, adding some drop shadows, colors, and embossing and then putting a swoosh over it…or under it…or through it does not a logo make.

Too many people like to repeat that there are no new ideas under the sun. But you are unique on this planet and your business probably is too. Your corporate identity needs to express that uniqueness and the particular points of difference in your products or services. Think about what you’re trying to communicate and achieve and pay for that. Don’t waste your time or your designer’s time saying that “you don’t know what you want, but you’ll know it when you see it.” They know you don’t know what it might look like. That’s their job. But if they’re good and you’re clear about your objectives, the solutions they come up with, after listening to you and doing their research, will feel as if they plucked them out of your brain or your heart and your customers will get it.

Update:
These are great posts on two other wonderful sites to visit, JustCreativeDesign.com and LogoDesignBlog.com:

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