Friday, January 15, 2010

How much is a logo worth?

As a Graphic Designer I have created many logos over the years. Although I love all aspects of my job as a Designer, logos are special and I get excited when presented with a new identity to design. Rarely do I ever make money on them after I've calculated the hours spent, and most of my dog logos are done pro bono (especially promotional or event logos which I'll cover in a later post), but I still enjoy working on them.

In this post I'm going to give you a "behind the scenes" look at Logo Design. What exactly are you paying for? How much is a logo worth?

This is on it's way to becoming a personal logo of mine for K9-CRAZY. Not quite done yet... Side note: This is mine, created by me, copyrighted and no, you cannot use it. Because you have the ability to pull something from the Internet does not mean you can use it.

A logo is the face of your company. It is your identity. It creates a first impression and could be the decision maker... or breaker.

A well designed logo fills a big role:
It is memorable.
It is unique and strong enough to stand out in the clutter.
It is timeless.
It represents you and will be with you for a very long time, possibly forever. Don't underestimate it's power or go cheap on this one seemingly small thing. It is not small. You get what you pay for and you want to be proud when you hand out that business card or hang a sign. You want to be noticed. If a sketch from the kid down the street or a generic piece of clip art represents you, then knock yourself out.

The best logo may seem quite basic on the surface. When the public looks at the finished result they don't see the countless hours of research, brainstorming and designing that went into it. They don't see the options left on the cutting room floor. Hours - days - weeks can be spent on one simple graphic, tweaking and modifying it until it reaches perfection.

I did this logo as a favour to my friend, on request from the breeder of her dog. Do you know the breeder didn't even thank me?! A hard lesson for me to learn and one I've repeated waaaay too many times to admit online, but the lesson has finally sunk in. I no longer do things for free. There, I've said it. The upside to this logo is that I really love the simplicity and power I captured after many versions.

How much a logo costs depends on many factors. Let's walk through a typical logo creation:

First you meet with the client and get a briefing on the job. Are there any specific requests? What are they hoping to achieve? With today's technology a face-to-face is not needed but can be helpful.

You have to crawl inside a client's head to discover what they want. Then give it to them. That, my friends, is the recipe for a happy client. This logo was successful in delivering that happiness.

You then research their line of business. Depending on the client this can be very time consuming, but if you are familiar with the industry it may not take long at all. If you don't understand a business it's hard to capture it accurately in one visual which is your ultimate goal. What your competition does is very important for the designer to know as well, and this is also included in the researching stage. You want to look better than your competition! You MUST look different. Standing out (for the right reasons) is good business.
Without research this logo would not look the way it does. Once you understand their business of top secret information storage and delivery, and have delved into the history surrounding "under the rose" it makes perfect sense.

My next step is to get down and dirty by putting pen to paper and starting to sketch. This is where the majority of time is spent. Hours come and go while pages fill with black lines. Red circles. Stars next to favorites. When you think you have something good you turn to a fresh sheet and start over again. I won't mention the times when inspiration doesn't strike and things don't go smoothly! When you agonize as you watch the clock tick and the deadline seep closer. A good logo is not pulled from clip art people. It is one of a kind and takes thought, time and talent.

Once you have some solid sketches you aren't even close to being done yet. That's when you bring your ideas into the computer. I won't lie, it can be a bitch to get something that looked good on paper to a finessed state on screen. (Fellow designers will know exactly what I'm talking about here.) Fonts must be chosen, and often they'll be modified to make them unique. Adding colour is another element entirely, how to treat the logo reversed out of black yet another.

When you are happy with your results you prepare them for presentation.

Ahhhh, the presentation. This is the most painful part of the job for me - my creations being sent out for judgement. Sometimes a client falls in love with a design right away but that is an exception to the rule, often they want revisions or a merging of designs. How many revisions are needed varies, but eventually you get something that you are both happy with.

Woohoo, success!
...but wait, you're not there yet. Almost though.

The files must be prepared for print and web. When I provide a final logo you receive vector files created in Adobe Illustrator. They can be used by any printer and scaled to any size without the loss of quality. A black & white version, a CMYK version and a PMS colour version are included. Often I supply the logo with instructions on how to treat it in it's reversed state as well. High resolution TIFFs, low resolution JPGs, GIFs and a PDF file of everything is included for your use. Preparing the final files alone can take a few hours. (NOTE: The kid down the street may not understand how a logo must be built therefore quality could suffer as a result when printed or reproduced in the future. Something to consider...)

We're done once the files are delivered.

One of those "free" logos I was talking about, but since it's for the DVG club I'm a member of it doesn't really count as it's my contribution.

Now, back to the original question.
How much is a logo worth?

After reading this post I hope you can see that this is a question I can't answer for you. There are too many variables that depend on how much your appearance, your brand, your identity matters to you. How many revisions you make. How many logos you want to see. Just beware - you get what you pay for. If you want to skimp on price there are other places I recommend you do it. Don't underestimate the power of your brand and your image.

Does this post help you see what you are paying for? Look at the steps involved try and visualize how many hours it might take. I'll let you do the math. Then I'll ask one more question: As a professional offering a service, how much do you charge an hour?


Jenn@ You know... that blog? said...

Great explanation, thanks for taking us through it.

I don't blame you for not doing more freebies. You put your heart and soul into these things.

I'm morally outraged that she didn't thank you, but I'm not surprised, either. She is more than lacking in social graces, and has a grandiose sense of self-entitlement. Quite disgusting.

Have a wonderful day, my friend.

Logo Design said...

Great post, a logo is every thing for a successful business.