Creating a consistent brand across all of your interactions both online and off is critical to your success. Key to branding is memorable logo design. This post explains the various file types and uses and the difference between a $5 logo and a $1200+ logo.
The primary method for doing this is the use of a distinctive logo design. Your logo creates an immediate image – that all important first impression – responsible for how someone feels about your brand.
Done well, your logo makes your business
instantly recognizable wherever it appears.
Logo styles vary greatly depending on the niche you operate in and the size of your business. There is a distinct difference between the types of logos used by Major Corporations and businesses that interact with them and logos that will appeal to marketers, creative types and in specific niches. This difference is the first of many reasons for the wide range of prices charged by logo designers.
Do you need a $50 logo or a $1000+ logo
design package? Read on to find out.
Smashing Magazine has two articles that clearly define what factors are involved in the most effective Logo Designs. Their 10 Common Mistakes in Logo Design is critical reading for any business that goes beyond a Web site. It spells out common mistakes an inexpensive designer is likely to make. More importantly, it explains what is necessary to transition a logo design for other uses – and THIS is where the major differences come in!
Rather than write about the details, I recommend you read the excellent article 12 Essential Rules to Follow When Designing a Logo. It provides excellent background on how to ensure a logo design is memorable and suits your business. Also be sure to read What Makes a Good Logo by David Airey because he adds additional factors not mentioned in the other posts. He wrote:
“My good friend Lee Newham taught me about five elements that can be seen in every iconic logo:
- It’s describable
- It’s memorable
- It’s effective without colour
- It’s scalable i.e. works when just an inch in size
- It’s appropriate
The image below from 5 Useful Logo Design Tips (on David’s site in a guest post by Jacob Cass clearly illustrates how it meets the above criterion:
Before you have a logo designed I strongly recommend reading David’s post and the others I am including in the body of this post. Each was carefully chosen to convey specific information you will need to make the best decision FOR YOU. Each person’s needs are different and the purpose of this post is to make it obvious what level of logo design to select for your project.
One tip I did not see in those excellent articles I shared recently jumped out at me when I read about the new logo design for the Limeade Studio Graphic Designer blog. He wrote:
“I made a firm decision to stick with colors that work in both CMYK and RGB. This really limits brighter greens and blues. Yet, the colors I have chosen are brilliant and bold.”
Beyond the design itself there is a major difference in deliverables between logo designers. If all you need is an image to use on your Web site you can consider the lower priced options (but seriously consider finishing this post first to make sure you won’t have regrets if you do). Any business that intends to use their logo for other purposes will have additional requirements that are unlikely to be provided by lower end design companies.
You may want to use your logo on:
- Printed materials (large format printing, stationary, catalogs, mailings, etc.)
- Advertising (color and most likely black and white too)
- Signs (on your building, at events, billboards, trade show booths, etc.)
- On promotional items (corporate logo pens, business card holders, mousepads, etc.)
This is an important consideration BEFORE you select a designer because these other logo applications require your new logo be provided in different formats. They make color, font choice, and especially scalability more critical. Logo designs often use modified fonts which can be extremely difficult to recreate if you want more materials later.
TYPICAL LOGO DESIGN DIFFERENCES:
- Low End Designers:
- May charge as little as $30-$50 with $100 being common although some may charge up to $500+
- Are far less likely to be aware of all the factors brought up in the posts above
- May not do background research on you and your company
- May not interview you or ask you to fill out an interview document
- May skip creating preliminary sketches
- More likely to “borrow” logo ideas or use stock art
- May only provide images in Rastor (.jpg .gif .png) file formats commonly used in PhotoShop instead of Vector based images (.ai and .eps) created by programs such as Adobe Illustrator
- Less likely to provide images in grayscale or black and white (b&w)
- Consider using inexpensive logo design options ONLY if all you need is a logo for a Web page and a matching Avatar and Favicon or you manage to locate a Logo Designer in this price range that provides what more expensive designers do. If you need logo images for any other purposes be sure they will be provided in the appropriate formats and the design meets those requirements too. Remember that the results of attempting to match your logo later may be less than desirable.
- Mid-Range Logo Designers:
- Prices range from $1000-$5000
- The number of unique concepts created and the number of revisions strongly affect the price quoted
- Should use an interview process or form to determine what type of logo will fit your business and your preferences
- More likely to research your industry, competitors and audience
- Have a deeper portfolio making it obvious what their design style is
- Should use Industry Standard Logo Design practices including providing both Rastor and Vector file types
- Can create logos that are more unique and memorable
- Will modify the fonts used 90% of the time to make your text distinctive
- Usually provide additional deliverables such as:
- style guides (specs for using your logo)
- color codes (RGB CMYK) – see also Color Fundamentals
- multiple file formats
- b&w along with color & grayscale
- style guides (specs for using your logo)
- High End Logo Designers:
- Prices range from $5000 to $15,000
- Like all specialties, Logo Designers command higher prices because they are more talented, have more experience, have more extensive portfolios, have won design awards or other recognition, or work with a more upscale clientele
- Firms and Logo Design Agencies:
- Prices range from $15,000 up to $250,000 or more
- Normally work with largest Corporations, Fortune 100/500
- Prices they can command are based on experience, industry recognition and current client list
Before you hire a logo designer:
- Know what you need based on the above information
- Review portfolios and ensure their designs match the type and style you desire for your own logo
- Ask specifically what items you will receive in which file types. Vector designs are preferred over only Rastor file types. (If you do not have an in-house graphics department be sure to request additional file types you can open on your PC.) Ask which file types are included and which incur extra charges
- Determine how many concepts and revisions you need. The more of each the higher the cost will be. Too few and you may not be satisfied with the results. Too many and the cost can be higher than necessary. Consider asking if you can pay for a smaller number and then pay extra for additional concepts or revisions. It is only fair that your designer be compensated for any additional work required.
- Read online testimonials or reviews regarding not only their design skills but also how they communicate, their work processes, and whether they complete projects in a timely manner.
- Remember to ask if there will be an additional charge for other file types.
- You will need a matching Avatar (for Social Networking) and Favicon. Ask if they are included or how much additional they will cost.
- Plan to really spend some time and invest thought into answering the questions during the interview process. The more specific your answers the better your results would be. I was very impressed with the 1981 Logo Design Questionnaire for gathering my input on the new logo for GrowMap. By the time I had finished it I had a much sharper idea of what logo designs I preferred and which I did not care for – and more importantly so did he.
- You can get a good idea about what various Logo Designers are charging by reading through some of the comments in How Much Does Logo Design Cost. Get another take on what I have shared above reading How Much is a Great Logo Worth?
Now that you know what to ask you can move on to How to Choose a Logo Designer. When I began researching Logo Design I wrote Freelancer Challenges – Logo Graphic Designers. That post lead to several logo designers providing me with answers to my many questions – especially Joshua Geiger, the designer behind NineteenEightyOne.
Anyone who reads me knows how many questions I have about the what and why. Until I thoroughly understand a subject I can not clearly explain it equally well to those who have no background in the subjects involved, in this case graphics, file types, color codes, scalability and so on. A major reason for consultant dissatisfaction is this disparity of knowledge.
A small business owner who barely uses computers has different questions than a Corporate client with a Graphic Design department. Logo Designers who regularly deal with a certain type of client will not provide the information required by others with different skills. Some already know what scalable (looks good no matter how small or large), vectorized (doesn’t look grainy) or CMYK (type of color codes used for printing) or .ai (Adobe Illustrator file format) refers to and the others don’t.
Joshua has done something that high end designers do and that all Logo Designers should seriously consider. He has provided his Logo Designer process online for us so we know exactly what to expect when working with him. Notice the detail he provides:
- how long each step will take
- what the process includes (research, support)
- confirmation that no clipart is used
- exactly what files are included
- how many concepts and revisions are included
- links to the questionnaire and payment method
- contact information
What you can not tell by reading his site is the exceptional communication skills Joshua has. While creating the new GrowMap logo I knew exactly where we were in the process, what he needed from me, and what he was providing. This may be a larger area of concern in logo design than you might think.
Some designers are intensely creative and visual and are not nearly as comfortable or talented at writing, communicating, time management and running a business. If you visit many design sites you’ll notice that some have almost no text on them. Some designers have commented that they would not read long posts or could not understand my previous post on Freelancing Logo Designers. That is unfortunate as they won’t be benefiting from what I relate here.
Clearly, Joshua was an excellent fit for me to work with because he was willing to answer all of my questions and understood that my intention was not only to take GrowMap to the next level with a professionally designed logo; it was also to help my readers know precisely how to select a designer that best fits their needs.
GrowMap could have gotten by with an inexpensive graphic design because my intentions are 100% firm on being online only. I doubt many other businesses could say the same. Are you positive you will never publish a catalog, sponsor a local event, be featured in a newspaper or magazine (oops – maybe even I was not 100% there), order stationary, buy promotional gifts with your logo on them (got me again), or have any other reason to use a different format.
More importantly, I love the new logo. It even passes all of David Airey’s tests of being describable, memorable, effective without color, scalable, and appropriate. That sounds like another blog post. I wonder how many would be interested in seeing the answers I gave on the questionnaire, the various other concepts and colors, what we chose and how we then developed the logo into the header you see here today? Let me know in the comments if you would like me to post it.
Now that you know that creating a consistent brand across all of your interactions both online and off is critical to your success AND you know what to ask I am certain you will find the perfect logo designer for your needs. I can highly recommend Joshua Geiger’s Nineteen Eighty One Logo Design for your consideration.
I challenge Logo Designers to provide all of this information online and develop your own process. Establish relationships with people outside your niche who are in a position to recommend your services. If you are also talented at writing, follow David Airey’s lead and provide quality information for the public on what you do. I know of David because of his writing – not his design work – and he has more visibility than most logo designers because of his articles and posts.
What designers who are not writers can do is what Joshua did. He recognized an opportunity to raise awareness of what he does, assist businesses in understanding how to hire a Logo Designer, and have his work featured at GrowMap, a blog whose whole reason for being is to assist businesses to grow. This is a strong potential market for mid-range logo designers.
Although we could, we choose not to charge for offering proven strategies to small businesses. We do this because many of them either can not afford us (especially during the current economic climate) OR even more importantly – they simply do not yet understand the value of what we offer. Because of this we do not have resources to spend; however, we have something that can be far more valuable: time.
We spend that time answering questions, communicating at Twitter, FriendFeed, cliKball and elsewhere, and in providing personal recommendations. Joshua knew that and saw the benefits of providing our new logo. He also knew that we always tell the truth and as of this moment although he knows we are very happy with his work he does not know what will be in this post and won’t until he reads it after it is published.
We guaranteed him credit for his work including a valuable link in the footer. (Footer and sidebar links appear on every page of a site so the larger the site the more incoming links you receive and the more valuable they are for search engine rankings.) He knew we were going to do this post and he would receive at least one link in the post.
We knew his work and since we will see it far more than anyone else we would not have gone ahead if we were not certain we would like the results he provided. We did not know the process would be so excellent or we would learn so much that we can now share with our readers.
We have learned that small businesses really need more than just a logo. They need a consistent image in many formats from a designer who really understands all we have shared above. There could be inexpensive designers out there who are this qualified and if we come across them we will let you know.
We know that Joshua has these abilities, charges at the lowest end of the mid-range logo designers, and can provide complete graphic support of his logo designs for small businesses – and they are our target audience and who most need such support.
You can see his work in his portfolio (click the arrows to see more) and also where it has been featured:
Articles & Interviews:
- “Logo Design Round-up Part 8” – I’m Just Creative
- “45 Fabulous Logo Designs” – Inspiredology
We leave you with a quote from Joshua:
“We need to keep your “brand” seamless across all mediums. It is best to have your logo designer create all the collateral materials. Only the designer really knows exactly how everything should look.”
If you have a small business consider investing in a Logo Image that gives you the look of a major corporation without having to spend anywhere near what they do. If you do Logo Design, consider focusing at least some of your efforts on small businesses. Also consider raising awareness of your work by trading a custom design to a deserving Non-Profit or high profile blog in exchange for attribution, incoming links, and recommendations.
WHY INVEST IN LOGO DESIGN?:
Is anything in this post unclear? Do you have any questions that were not answered? Are you a Logo Designer with something to add or another viewpoint? Please consider leaving a comment.
If you are a logo designer you are also invited to leave a brief bio and additional links to your portfolio, process, or other relevant information. Comments with additional links in them do usually end up needing moderation; however, I will approve all real comments with relevant links.
- Logo Moose for Logo Design Inspiration ~ Interview with LogoMoose Creator Dirk Leys explains its purpose.