Believe us, we know the temptation to cut costs wherever possible. And at times, it’s definitely the sensible option – is that pricey artisan pasta going to make your spag bol that much better? But then again, there’s the time you bought that £4 pair of shoes and they fell apart after 2 wears. Logos are more like those shoes. A cheap logo will have to be replaced in no time at all, but a good one can last you years.
It’s true that logos don’t seem all that. For the uninitiated, they just look like a little picture. Can’t someone throw that together in 10 minutes? It’s no wonder that people think they should be cheap. Plus, there are some places out there offering you the services of a graphic designer for $5 a pop. Just throw up a Google search for ‘cheap logo’ and you’ll see exactly what we mean. And if you’re a startup approaching a fundraising round, getting a dirt cheap logo can be very tempting.
But, we think there are some big downsides to buying a cheap logo. We’ll run you through them.
Cheap logos undervalue design
People undervalue creative work all the time, but that doesn’t mean it’s ok. Wouldn’t you rather be known as a company who values creativity?
If you’re wondering what we mean about undervaluing, think about it in terms of wages. Say you pay $5 for a logo. That’s not even minimum wage in most places. So you’re assuming the designer is spending less than an hour on your logo, if they’re hoping to make any real profit on the work. But, a good logo is going to take a lot longer than that. Here’s a quick outline of the stages involved in logo design:
Design spec and briefing: Designer meets with the client to talk through their requirements. The designer gets to know the client and their business. (1 hour)
Research: The designer will go away and research the client and their company. They’ll explore the industry that the business is part of, including competitors. They’ll be making note of successful logos that are already established in that industry, and how the new logo will stand apart from its competitors. (2 hours)
Rough concepts and sketches: Now, some rough concepts are made. Often sketched out on paper. These are then sent to the client for their input. (3 – 4 hours)
Mockups: The chosen sketches are refined and fleshed out digitally by the designer, then sent to the client for their input. (2 hours)
Client feedback: The client chooses the final logo, and lets the designer know of any changes they want made to it. This process can sometimes take a few days because it’s not a good idea to choose a logo in a rush. (1 hour contact time)
Final design: The designer finalises the logo and hands over to the client, along with any other files or collateral requested. The project is completed. (2 hours)
So, you’re looking at around 12 hours work total. That original $5 is now 42 cents an hour. Would you be happy with that? Even if we take that cost up to $50, it only works out at $4 an hour. An average hourly rate for a middleweight designer in the USA can be between $65 – $75 (that’s around £50 – £60) – so that’s definitely too cheap.
Okay, so if you hire someone to make you a really cheap logo, realistically they’re not going to do all that work. You’re not even expecting them to. But that leads us to the next monster lurking in the cheap logo closet…
If someone’s getting $5 per job, the only way they can really make money is to work fast. They’ll be churning out logos as quickly as possible. This means they’re going to struggle to make every single one polished. And that’s looking on the bright side. It’s been well-documented that often cheap logos are simply slightly modified stock images or Word Art. In the worst case scenario, they’re just plain old plagiarised.
Again, you might argue that you’re not expecting award-winning design work. But the bottom line is that a logo isn’t something you’re going to use once. It’s a pivotal part of your brand identity and will appear everywhere. It’ll be the icon for your app, probably your profile picture on Twitter and Facebook, as well as plastered all over your website. It’s how people will recognise you. So that cheap logo may have saved you money for now – but like those super cheap shoes – it’s probably not going to stand the test of time. You’ll just end up spending more in the future getting a new one made. It would have been cheaper to just do that in the first place. Especially if you end up paying for a law suit when it turns out your logo was copied off someone else.
The bottom line
The right logo probably isn’t the cheapest option, but it’s worth shelling out for. A cheap logo is a short-term solution to a long-term problem. Just think: if you buy 10 $50 logos over the next few years, you’re better off saving yourself the hassle and spending $500 to start with. Remember Terry Pratchett’s theory:
“The reason that the rich were so rich, Vimes reasoned, was because they managed to spend less money.
Take boots, for example. He earned thirty-eight dollars a month plus allowances. A really good pair of leather boots cost fifty dollars. But an affordable pair of boots, which were sort of OK for a season or two and then leaked like hell when the cardboard gave out, cost about ten dollars. Those were the kind of boots Vimes always bought, and wore until the soles were so thin that he could tell where he was in Ankh-Morpork on a foggy night by the feel of the cobbles.
But the thing was that good boots lasted for years and years. A man who could afford fifty dollars had a pair of boots that’d still be keeping his feet dry in ten years’ time, while the poor man who could only afford cheap boots would have spent a hundred dollars on boots in the same time and would still have wet feet.”
Don’t be the person with wet feet and bad branding. Buy the boots now.
Want more advice on setting budgets for logos? Get it here.