Photo by Aleks Dorohovich on Unsplash
Why A Good Logo Costs More Than
A Few Hundred Dollars
You know a logo is a fundamental part of your brand identity and that it’s crucial for your logo to stand out from the competition. As a businessperson, you should balance the cost of logo design for the quality and value you will receive.
Whether your business is a startup or well established, having a professional logo design builds trust, raises awareness, and attracts new clients. Working with a professional designer ensures you will receive an original logo that helps convey your brand message.
The cost of good logo design often shocks clients, especially if they are just setting up their business. They don’t realize the time and effort involved in creating an effective logo that will last a lifetime.
So What’s Wrong With A $30 Logo?
Okay, you’ve noticed the many inexpensive logo making services providing a logo for between $10-$50 dollars. Logo generating services allow you to make a logo yourself, and that is certainly a cheap alternative. But you get what you pay for. Even with design training, at best you’ll end up with a usable, but generic logo—at worst you’ll end up with something that just doesn’t seem right. Now we all have to stay within our budget, but I advise you run, don’t walk from cheap logo design.
What You Should Expect To Pay
A small business or startup should expect spending between $300 – $2,500 for a well-designed logo. You may find a freelancer willing to make a logo for less, but there’s a good chance you’ll end up with something as generic as if you’d made it yourself.
The cheap designers you can find online will not put the necessary time into your logo design. The logo may look okay, but it probably won’t strengthen your brand or make a lasting impression on your customers.
A Lot Goes Into Creating A Great Logo
While some designers are self-taught, most professional designers spent four or more years in college learning their craft. Aside from typography and color theory they also learned what goes into creating a powerful brand identity.
Every designer has their own way of approaching a project, but the good ones will follow a process like what I will outline for you now. Let’s look at what goes into a logo design and how much time it can take.
It All Begins With The Design Brief
Before any work can begin, the designer needs to learn about your business. One of the best ways for that to happen is the design brief. Every designer should have a design brief they go over with you to create the best work. The brief can be anything from a few key questions to a document several pages long.
Aside from basic information about your company, there will be questions specific to the logo design, like what your deadline is and if you need any other brand identity materials, what your goals are and what you want to communicate, and what style you want your logo to have. There may be questions about your competition and your audience. To help guide the design, the brief may ask for examples of other logos you like or dislike. Designer’s time investment: 2 hours.
With the design brief in hand, the designer will create a proposal for you to review and sign. The proposal should outline exactly what you will receive, how many revisions you can expect, what the timeline is, and what it will cost. You’ll return the signed proposal along with a down payment (typically as much as 50%). Then the designer can get to work. Designer’s time: 1 hour.
Research And Inspiration
At this stage, a good designer will research not only your business but your industry and competitors. This ensures the logo created addresses your audience while being unique enough to stand out.
The designer will then look for inspiration and may create a mood board. All of this work takes place before any design work ever starts. Designer’s time: 6 – 10 hours.
Brainstorming And Initial Sketches
Now the fun begins. Armed with the information from the brief and their research the designer will create a good number of sketches. This is brainstorming so everything goes down on the page. The sketching part of designing the logo may take place in an afternoon or be spaced over several days. Allowing time to step away from the project helps keep the ideas fresh. Returning to the sketches after some time away often results in the designer seeing a new approach they would have missed if they only had one brainstorming session. Designer’s time: 3 – 8 hours.
Designing On The Computer
The designer will then take their best ideas and create them in a vector format. They will work up rough, black and white versions of the logo to have a better idea of how they’ll look in the real world.
Next, the designer will refine the best logo and prepare it for presentation to the client. Designer’s time: 5 – 10 hours.
Client Presentation and Edits
Working with the designer, you will agree to how many versions of logo you will have to review. At some point in history, someone decided that three versions seemed reasonable. That arbitrary number is common today. But I will let you in on a little secret. One version is sufficient.
Paul Rand (1914-1996), one of America’s great designers, was responsible the iconic logos of IBM, Westinghouse, UPS, and ABC. In 1986, he was enlisted by Steve Jobs to create a brand identity for their NeXT computer. When Jobs asked for a few options of the logo Rand replied, “No. I will solve your problem and you will pay me. You don’t have to use my solution. If you want options, go talk to other people.” Rand knew he would put his best thought into the work and create his best approach to the assignment. Doing other versions was pointless.
Clients ask for several versions of the logo so they can determine the best one. Isn’t that what you are paying the designer to do? Then let them do it. Here’s the secret designers don’t tell you. They put most of their effort into creating the best logo they can for you, and then throw in two more just to fulfill that arbitrary number of three. Okay, that’s may not always be the case—but it happens more than you think.
If the designer has a thorough understanding of your business and what you need (based on the brief and research from earlier) they will provide you with their best idea. That’s their job. Don’t waste your time or theirs with additional versions.
During the initial client presentation, the designer should explain the ideas and strategy behind the concept. The designer will then take the client input and refine the logo further. There are typically one or two rounds of edits before a final design is achieved. Designer’s time: 3 – 5 hours.
How Long Does It Take To Create A Logo?
That may look like a bunch of steps. But when you consider the importance of a logo to a companies brand identity, it makes sense to invest some time and effort on the logo’s creation.
How long does it take? Truth is, it all depends. It depends on how well you know your needs, how well you communicate those needs to the designer and the designer’s level of experience. Going off the example numbers above, a typical logo design will take anywhere from 20 to 40 hours. This broad range is a very rough estimate. Simple logos will need less time while more complicated ones will be on the high end of that range.
Let’s Look At What A Logo Can Cost
Now you know how much time and effort goes into creating a good logo. And we haven’t even discussed the value of the designer’s years of study or the cost of the equipment and software we work with.
Logo costs tend to fall into three main levels:
– Low end, between $0-$300 and you get a generic logo composed of stock icons and fonts
– Average, between $300-$2,500 and you get an original high-quality logo from an experienced designer
– High-end, more than $2,500 (likely $10,000 or more) and you get the work of an agency and a high-quality logo and other brand identity materials
What You Can Expect For Your Money
You should always get your final logo design in vector format. A vector based logo can be sized for any application and will remain sharp and readable in a range of sizes. You’ll use the vector format for printing and large-scale applications. You should also get a raster-based version optimized for the web to use on your website and social media. And don’t forget full legal copyright. This ensures that the logo is completely yours.