Thursday, August 29, 2013

The True Cost of Brand Design

Just the other day I stumbled upon a socket set screw lying on our kitchen floor. Everything looked in order, so I assumed one of my kids must have dropped it. It seemed rather insignificant until I noticed one of the dining room chairs was wobbling. Realizing the screw must of come from it, I examined the chair more closely. And I discovered the problem. Surprisingly, that little screw made all the difference between a very stable chair and a wobbly one.

Logo design is much like that screw. It’s sometimes difficult to fix a value on it until it comes unscrewed. For instance, a fortune 500 company can spend thousands to a few million on logo and brand design. While smaller businesses may spend up to $1000. And if you talk to most freelance designers and firms, they claim that the cost depends on many factors like the type of business it is, its size, and the time involved.

On the other hand, stock logo and crowdsource sites give the impression that logos should only cost around $25 to $200 regardless of the business size. And many small business owners would agree with them.

But there’s a danger in treating a brand as a simple logo design project. When the screw is not secure, business can get a little wobbly. There are three problems:
  1. A brand is more than a logo. Everyone’s signature has value. There’s a reputation behind it. And a reputation is difficult to build. But if the signature is inconsistent or doesn’t fit, it is treated as a forgery. An inconsistent or inappropriate logo causes confusion. And confusion causes distrust.

  2. Different brands have different business value. Let’s face it. The average person’s signature may be valuable for most transactions. However, most signatures on a piece of art are not worth as much as Pablo Picasso’s signature. The bigger the reputation within a market, the more valuable the brand. If the logo design process doesn’t take into account a business’s market, competition, and potential return on investment, the designer might be doing that business a disservice.

  3. Brand redesigns tend to be more expensive than the initial design. A cheap logo can sometimes work. But it’s not a sure bet. Imagine being stuck with a bad logo when your business starts to take off. Eventually the business will be saddled with an image that doesn’t fit it any longer. And a much more expensive redesign would be required. Because when your reputation grows, your brand message grows with it. For good or ill. So to rebrand will cost more in logo design, reprinting collateral and stationery, marketing, and redesigning the corporate website. Why pay twice when you can make a good investment up front?

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