Why does it cost so much to design a professional logo?
We understand that it can be shocking to people that a creative agency can charge thousands of euros for such a simple symbol. Many entrepreneurs are surprised when they receive a quote to design a logo from a brand designer, branding agency, marketing company or advertising agency.
Logos range from free to tens of thousands of euros, and we have all read about logos costing companies and governments millions of euros. This crazy range of prices can be difficult to explain.
Why are logos so expensive? A logo design can be so expensive because the process of coming up with a high quality logo takes time and talent, and a great logo can help a business succeed.
A professionally designed logo is the result of a long process called the "design funnel". Many ideas are poured into the top of the funnel to arrive at an excellent design at the end. Therefore, there is a lot of work behind the design of a logo that can be appreciated when looking at the result.
How much money are we talking about?
The design of a logo can vary between 15 and 15,000 euros - quite a range!
Logos are not all expensive. An entrepreneur has the option to have a logo designed at a low price. A cheap logo may be appropriate depending on the age and stage of the organisation, as well as its financial capacity.
There are options for free logos. Some of the graphic and web design platforms for newbies have free software to generate logos. There is the Wix Logo Maker, the Squarespace Logo Maker, and the Canva Logo Maker.
There are cheap logo options that are designed by a real person with some experience. These logos can range from €0 to €400. Most printers and web design companies offer a logo design as an add-on, and sometimes even offer it for free on a large order. Entrepreneurs can also bid low in design competitions such as 99 Designs or hire a cheap freelancer on the other side of the world through platforms such as Fiverr. And, for the price of lunch, a case of beer or a bottle of wine, you can always hire a friend or colleague who knows how to use Adobe Illustrator to create a logo.
These free and cheap options may be just what the doctor ordered. There is no point in investing in a logo if you are not sure that your business will succeed. A cheap logo is fine if you're just dipping your toe in the water or testing the market - who knows!
What surprises entrepreneurs is the price of logo designs from professional brand designers and marketing agencies. These places can quote from 2500 euros and up to 15,000 euros for a branding package.
If you see a logo as just a cool shape and some text in a nice font, then paying thousands of dollars or euros is pretty mind-boggling.
Famous million dollar logos.
Logos for large corporations and governments can cost 100,000 to 100,000,000 euros!
What is even more surprising is the budget for corporate logo designs. We have all read about logo designs that can cost over a million dollars.
Pepsico famously paid The Arnell Group $1,000,000 for its current logo, which was only slightly different from the previous one.
And some companies paid even more than that; see this article on the design of Medium by Inkbot with examples ranging from $280,000 (City of Belfast, Ireland) to $210,000,000 (BP: British Petroleum).
Why do logo designs cost so much for these big companies?
These large agency projects are much broader in scope and much more complicated than just designing a logo. Major rebranding means that every piece of marketing that the company uses needs to be redesigned.
Such a large effort means that client company executives demand that the agency ensures that the logo design is the best direction. This commitment to excellence means that hundreds of concept logos are presented and tested in the marketplace, and then the hard work begins! If an agency must have a team of about thirty professionals working full time for a year, then a million dollars seems more reasonable.
What is included in a professional logo design?
It's hard to appreciate the time, resources, and expertise that go into a professionally designed logo.
What gives branding agencies the right to charge so much for a small and seemingly simple design? It doesn't seem like much is needed for a logo design, so how could it be expensive?
On the surface, a great logo design seems so simple that it couldn't take much design time.
The truth is that graphic designers only dedicate a few hours to the final logo design. But it took a lot of background research and hundreds of ideas and dozens of alternative logo designs to confidently arrive at that final design.
Although the end result is quick and straightforward, the process of arriving at a well-designed logo takes time.
This process is called the design funnel. The more ideas you put at the top, the more possibilities you have for a good outcome.
A professional logo designer invests time in understanding the founder's vision, their taste, and the attributes that the logo must have to contribute to the company's success. The designer researches other design pieces that are analogous to that vision, and shares them with the entrepreneur to ensure they're on the same page.
A professional logo project may have hundreds or even over a thousand logo concepts sketched out. Usually, ten to twenty are chosen to be fully developed in Adobe Illustrator. All of these preliminary logos receive the same time and attention as the final logo because the final logo is there... somewhere.
A professional branding designer will take the time to test the new logo design on a company's business cards, signage, vehicles, clothing, etc. to ensure it will work everywhere.
Sometimes the logo design process includes market testing. Secret groups of people in the target market of the brand in question are asked for their opinion on the logo concepts. Testing takes logos out of arguments about taste and into the real world and how real people in the market would react to the logo. Market testing is typically required when a large company rebrands; large organizations must do everything they can to avoid launching a new brand identity and having people hate it, as happened with Tropicana.
The market testing process is costly. It takes time and good professionals to carry out the process impartially. Participants also want to be rewarded with gifts or cash incentives.
The logo design process is long and complicated. But if you work through the process, then the result is simple, elegant, and works for the business: a great logo.
Is an expensive logo worth it?
A professionally designed logo can bring in more business and can be legally protected by registering the trademark.
A professionally designed logo can contribute to the growth of a brand.
Your company only has one chance to make a first impression. The aesthetics of a brand have an effect on the likelihood of a potential customer or user being interested in it.
You know this to be true as well. Have you ever rejected a business, app, or charity organization because it looked unprofessional and unreliable?
Well-designed logos increase sales and hiring. Professionally designed logos inspire confidence in the business. A well-designed logo is a signal that the customer looks for when choosing businesses to associate with, especially when their money, health, or well-being are at stake.
A professionally designed logo can attract a clientele with greater financial capacity. Wealthier customers are more sensitive to the difference between an amateur logo and a professional logo. As a result, they frequent businesses that have simple and elegant logos. A business logo is not the only thing that attracts or repels high-end customers, but it does contribute.
For example, a salon with a high-end logo will attract wealthier customers than one with a shoddy logo. People who need their hair done for luxury galas and weddings don't want to risk it with a salon whose sign shows a blue and white illustration of a woman with a popular haircut from the 80s.
A professionally designed logo can be the foundation of a brand. Investing in a logo is also an investment in your business brand. A company with a professional logo has the potential to become a valuable brand. A simple and memorable logo can help a business grow its reputation because it is simple, unique, and therefore easily memorable.
A poorly designed logo may not build a reputation. At worst, a cheap logo can be the anchor of a ship that a good business is dragging.
A professional logo can be legally protected. A properly designed logo is entirely customized. A professional brand designer will start each logo from scratch, specifically designed for the unique qualities of the business. A professional logo is like a custom-made suit.
Unique logos are protected by copyright. If you want to go further, you can apply for a trademark. Both legal protections require the logo to be novel and unique.
A cheap graphic designer or online logo generator will reuse designs among clients.
If a business makes use of a logo, then it may find another company doing business with a very similar logo. There is no legal recourse for them to stop doing business with that logo.
Copyright or trademark is not legally enforceable if the logo is derived from another logo. In other words, if a logo is a copy of another logo or other design, then it cannot be protected.
A professionally designed logo is actually multiple logos. A logo designer will offer their final design in a variety of formats for different situations.
We offer our clients a horizontal logo, a vertical logo, a square format logo, an icon, and a wordmark. Then, I create a version for a light background, a version for a dark background, and single-color options for all those formats. All of this adds up to fifteen unique versions of the logo.
In today's marketing environment, a brand needs a logo that works on a small scale (e.g., a Twitter icon) and a large scale (like building signage).
Professional logo designers are creating a set of logos that meet the needs of their clients. There are logo designs intended to be legible and recognizable at a variety of scales.
An adaptable set of logos requires a lot of thought and time to ensure that the brand remains consistently recognizable at all scales.
Why not choose a cheap logo? What could go wrong? When a company doesn't take the time and effort to nail down its logo, it risks being perceived as a joke and requiring an expensive rebranding effort in the future.
Companies with low-quality logos struggle uphill battles. They have trouble attracting customers, sales, donations, investments, talent, etc.
A poorly designed logo signals to outsiders that a business shouldn't be taken seriously. It could be a scam.
These entrepreneurs clearly don't take their business seriously. They aren't even willing to invest in their own business, so why would an outsider do business with them?
A poorly designed logo can make a company go through a very expensive rebranding process.
Having a professionally designed logo can cost a few thousand euros up front, but having to replace a poorly designed logo years after the company has started operating will cost tens of thousands to millions of euros. It's expensive to replace signage, reprint marketing materials, replace uniforms, etc.
Who do these logo designers think they are? There are many amateur graphic designers. You probably have at least three people in your immediate network who know how to use Adobe Illustrator.
But one is not a professional logo designer just because they know how to use the program. As we've discussed, an amateur designer can harm their credibility and reputation.
Professional logo designers are in high demand. There are large companies that seek out only the work of the best designers. Advertising agencies and marketing companies quickly snap up these talented individuals because they appreciate how much their work can sell.
Designers who are particularly skilled in logo design and who take pride in their craft are hard to find. They have years of experience and know both the business side of branding and the art of visual design. A person who can consistently design high-quality and genuinely unique logos is among the top ten percent of graphic designers.
They can choose their jobs because they are a limited breed in high demand. They choose high-impact or high-paying jobs, but usually both.
Top-notch brand designers are like top-notch athletes. The best athletes make a lot of money because they are winners. You hire them because they should win games for your team, not for your opponent's team. They're proven difference-makers.
Take logo design seriously, whether you have a lot of money for a logo or not. Your company's logo has the potential to make or break your business. You should take the process seriously, even if you can't afford to work with the best designers.
Nothing prevents an amateur from making a great logo design. A novice can find a good design from time to time, where a professional finds it consistently. If you work with an amateur designer, then it's up to you to ensure that you give clear direction and do all the background work and then pay them enough to propose multiple designs.
But if you have the money to work with a professional, you probably should. It will only reduce the risk of having to rebrand in the future... and that could be quite expensive. Investing in a great logo design is like moving into a great office. You may only have enough money to rent a small office, but you may discover that your company grows rapidly and you are forced to make an expensive move. But if you rent a more substantial office than you need, then you can grow and grow and grow.