Three Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Pay $5 for a Logo

Identity design (which includes logo design) has become a cheap commodity. If you’re not familiar with the term identity design it may be because websites like fiverr.com, pixellogo.com, and pixelbuddha.net have turned the experience developing a brand identity for your business into the equivalent of buying a bag of Cheetos from a vending machine.

Logo design has become a cheap commodity; the equivalent of buying a bag of Cheetos from a vending machine.

Logo design has become a cheap commodity; the equivalent of buying a bag of Cheetos from a vending machine.

Here are three solid reasons why successful identity design is worth the time and financial investment: 

Logos don’t exist in a vacuum

Successful logos are part of larger identity system that includes a logo, fonts, a color palette, and any other visual elements that comprise an organization’s visual brand. Variations of the logo are developed to accommodate different applications such as size (trade show banner vs. phone app icon), materials (printed brochure vs. vinyl window graphic) and production process (animated TV spot vs. newspaper ad). Logos should not be designed to look good in a single instance, but they should work well in many different contexts over a long period of time. That’s why most well-known organizations have extensive brand guidelines to educate their employees and associates on how to properly use their logo. 

Successful logos are part of larger identity system that includes a logo, fonts, a color palette, and other visual elements that comprise an organization’s visual brand.

Successful logos are part of larger identity system that includes a logo, fonts, a color palette, and other visual elements that comprise an organization’s visual brand.

One size does not fit all

Buying a pre-made logo is like the drug store Halloween costumes that my grandmother used to buy for me: cheap plastic coveralls that were so long I had to roll up the legs and a hard plastic mask that sat on my face like a dinner plate. Compare that to the custom-made, custom-fit 18th century wool coat my wife made for me as part of my pirate re-enactment kit. A logo that was created in a vacuum without your specific needs in mind is just never going to be a good fit. 

A good logo is worth more than a few bucks

The phrase, “you get what you pay for” applies to cheap logos. Most of them are the result of someone noodling for a few hours in Adobe Illustrator and spitting out a generic template with no thought to the longevity or scalability of the final product. What sort of quality would you expect if you spent $5 on a pair of shoes? Would they be comfortable all day long? Would they last more than a few months? Just because you can get KFC to cater your wedding doesn’t mean you should.

A successful logo is worth a decent investment of time and money because it represents who you are to your potential customers. It’s the face of your organization and it should be custom-made to speak about the values of your company.

So, how much should you pay for a logo? You likely don’t have the resources of a Fortune 500 with the ability to invest hundreds of thousands of dollars, but developing a brand identity should be an expense in your company’s budget, not pulled from the coffee kitty.

When pricing identity design, you should use the same consumer logic as when you’re building a house. You’re likely going to be living in it for many years so it needs to be well-built, comfortable, and large enough to grow with your changing needs. The house should be in a good location and fit well in the context of its surroundings. You want a good working relationship with a talented architect that will help you build your dream house but also respect your budget.

My Process

When I work with a client to develop an identity system I typically have one or two meetings (before I start sketching ideas) to discuss their needs and learn all I can about them and their business. Then I come up with some rough concepts, based on their input, and walk them through my thought process.

There’s usually a good amount of back and forth as we continue to refine one or two of the strongest ideas until we’ve settled on a final concept. I spend time running the approved concept through several tests (does it hold up at really small sizes? how does it look in the context of a letterhead, or on a website, or on the side of a vehicle?) The next phase is developing a color palette for the identity system and mocking it up in different contexts, both in print and on screen. 

I may spend weeks developing an identity system but the goal is to make sure the final product is the right fit. You can get a glimpse of my process in this client project and in this case study.

Ok, you convinced me. Now what?

If your business is in startup mode and needs a “face” for your marketing strategy, or you’re ready to upgrade from the $5 logo you bought a few years ago, let’s talk.