How much is your logo worth?

Jono Willis of Canberra design consultancy Paper Monkey shares a story of a client that wasted $4500 on a bad logo, and how he turned things around with a logo that will last.

A client asked me to address a logo problem. Their trouble started when, to save money, they decided to design it themselves. They had a copy of Photoshop, a computer and an idea — how hard can designing be? With new found confidence they set off on their business voyage in a leaking boat.

Everything went well for a while. They set up their letterhead and ‘With Compliments’ slips, in Microsoft Word, and had several thousand printed at a copy shop. They wanted to be taken seriously, so they designed their business cards in PowerPoint and emailed the file to the printer.

A day later the printer called, they couldn’t use the file or the logo that they’d sent in. There was also a problem printing their two colour business cards as the logo would only print in four colours. They were quickly in over their heads, the price for having these cards printed had ballooned massively. The printer advised that they go and talk to a graphic designer.

It was at this point that they engaged us.

I listened patiently. They’d spent thousands on business paraphernalia and their material looked cheap, amateurish and none of the colours were consistent on any product. What would their clients think? It’s horrible to think how their poor presentation impacted on potential business — and that’s the point.

A good logo is worth far more than any computer or office furniture you’ll buy. It should contain the unique essence of your business — your personality, promise and purpose — and convey meaning that words alone can’t express. It will be the face presented to all new business prospects for decades to come. Shouldn’t it be good? Shouldn’t it be crafted by an expert?

Fortune 500 companies pay anywhere from $1000,000 to $2,000,000 for their logo designs. They fully understand the true value of a logo and what it’s worth.

People starting off in business underestimate the importance of a properly designed logo. A well-crafted logo is an important investment in your business. It enables you to stand out and compete — and it will keep returning long past any commodity’s lifespan.

Back to our clients. Their logo had to be re-designed, there was nothing to work with. How did they get into this mess? They tried to save money by avoiding a graphic designer — ironically it cost them more than if they’d seen us at the start.

I sat down with them for 90 minutes and began from scratch.

The client’s name referred to an obscure constellation. They weren’t sure why the amount of stars in this particular constellation fluctuated from diagram to diagram — a path worth exploring.

After they left I spent several days researching their competitors, market niche and goals. I also spoke with several well-known astronomers who explained in detail why there was a difference in the amount of stars represented in this constellation.

The research yielded a gold mine of information and it helped me explore many different paths in crafting their unique logo and branding. Again, this process took another several days.

At the end of the research and creative exploration there were three viable options for the client to choose from. Each explored a different angle of their business. The client was extremely happy, they valued the professionalism with which they’d been treated and the result was far beyond what they expected. More importantly a relationship based on trust had been developed, they had access to professional people who have the skills and industry knowledge to partner with them to achieve their goals.

It’s a round-about way of getting to it, but just how much should a small business expect to pay to get a professional designer to design a professional logo?

I often wonder if people looking for a logo designer think that we take five minutes to ‘throw it together’, charge the earth and then laugh maniacally as they leave. Not counting the research, I often fill at least 10 A3 pages with hundreds of sketches. From there it’s whittled down to a handful of concepts. Then I explore those concepts on the computer — often in two to three jam-packed files. This process reflects the work on a small business logo. For a large corporation this takes a team and months of work, plus a budget to reflect that.

I can’t speak for everybody, but I can say that creating a logo is fun and scary at the same time. The amount of time spent researching a client and their competitors and then expressing the business’ essence in a logo is no simple task. It takes experience, thinking and intense creative exploration.

In the end I’d spent weeks researching and creating the final logo. It cost approximately $5,000, will last them for decades to come and return time and again on that investment.

Business is expensive, why make surviving harder by shooting yourself in the foot early on? Our client had designed their initial logo for next to nothing. They paid for that error every time they created a product. By the time they spoke with us they’d already spent in excess of $4,500. They looked unprofessional and didn’t have anything they could use.

How much do you think your logo is worth?

Jono Willis is a senior designer and writer.

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