Lisa D'Andrea
Feb 26, 2016
Business

The logo buyer's guide: Balancing brand goals & budget

How much does a logo cost? The answer is not a simple one. In fact, logos can cost as much as a car, or as little as a cup of coffee. So what do you get when you pay more? And which solution is right for your business?

The cost of a logo

Most designers will price their logo based on value, time or resources. Every logo is different, so it only follows that every quote is different too.  

If I asked you how much a house costs, what would your answer be? You would probably tell me 'it depends'. Are we buying a fixer upper in the middle of nowhere or a beachfront mansion? It's a hard question to answer without more information because the cost of a house depends on its location, size, the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, when it was built... and the list goes on.

The same logic applies for the cost of a logo. Its cost will depend on the experience level of the designer, the style or type of logo you’re after and whether you want a professional, well researched, unique logo that stands the test of time, or you’re just looking for something quick and cheap to ‘get you by’ until you can afford something better.

A logo can cost anywhere from $5 to $1 000 000. And that’s one mighty big ballpark! So how much should you be spending to build a logo you love? Here are some questions to help you figure it out.

What do you need from your logo?

It’s a good idea to do your homework and have a think about what sort of logo might work for your business. Doing a bit of research will:

  • Help you to nail down a style or styles that you like
  • Help you to choose the right designer for the job (you'll be able to pick a designer that delivers styles you like)
  • Enable you to source an accurate estimate from the beginning, saving you time and money in revisions and project additions

It’s ok if you’re not 100% sure about what you want. In fact, it’s great to keep your options open and let the designer help to guide you through the process. But, before you choose a designer, ask yourself the following questions:

1. Do you know your brand? 

A logo is a visual representation of your brand, helping customers to easily identify and remember who you are. But a logo is only a small piece of the bigger branding puzzle. If you are aiming to build a lasting, emotional connection with your audience, you should spend some time getting to know your brand before you start designing anything.

The process of branding helps you to understand where your business fits within the market. It forces you to get specific about who you serve and what you do, to the exclusion of everything else and it is the key to building a differentiated brand.

Please do not start designing a logo until you have thought about why you exist (your purpose), who you serve (ideal customer), what you do (your specific offerings) and how you do it differently (the processes or approaches that distinguish you within your industry). Without knowing these essentials, you will waste your valuable time and money on a logo that looks nice, but doesn't reflect your brand or resonate with your ideal customer.

2. How many concepts do you want to choose from? 

We recommend that around 2-3 logo concepts is enough for many businesses. You have a few options to choose from, but the choice isn’t overwhelming. Remember, your designer will usually create many more rough concepts, but will choose only the best ideas to bring to life. If you give them an accurate brief before you start, you will find yourself with 2-3 logos that are right on the money!

3. Do you need alternative versions of your logo? 

Most people want a logo that sits on white and an inverted logo (for use on dark backgrounds). There are also options to get monotone and greyscale versions, or with text and graphics stacked horizontally or vertically for different purposes. Think about how you’ll be using your logo (or how others might be using it) and what your needs are. If you have specific usage requirements for your logo, telling the designer upfront will ensure they deliver a solution that suits your business.  

4. Do you need brand guidelines?

A logo rarely stands alone. A style guide or graphic standards manual (GSM) can help you to build a consistent brand through defining your businesses colours, fonts, photo treatments, patterns, textures and so much more. We call all the visual elements of your brand, including your logo, fonts, colours and imagery styles a 'visual identity'.

There are several benefits to having a style guide, but the biggest is that it will equip you with all the information you need to create a unified look and feel across all of your marketing materials. Unlike the dusty guidelines that sat on your shelf at your last job, your brand guidelines don't have to be impractical or long-winded. If you want to learn more, you can read about why your business needs a style guide here

What's your budget?

Once you’ve got a better idea of what you need, it’s time to consider your budget. I understand why the budget question may be be intimidating. Maybe you don’t know how much you should be spending and you’re afraid you’ll overestimate or underestimate. Or, maybe you’re concerned the designer is going to charge you the maximum amount possible. Many people are sceptics. They feel that if they reveal a budget, then they are going to get charged more than is necessary.

Why giving your designer a budget is a good idea

It will help them to figure out what they can offer you, or if they’re the right designer for you. For example, a person with a $600 budget probably isn’t going to be well served by a bigger design agency because their budget is far too low. If the agency knows the budget from the get go, both the client and the agency can save time by agreeing they are probably not the right fit for each other. 

Another reason to reveal your budget is that quite often a designer can tailor their services to your budget by offering different options. For example, if you’re on a tight budget, you could opt for only one logo concept instead of three. Usually the more you spend, the more value you will receive, and this can be scaled up or down.

If you’re not sure where to start or who you should be approaching, I suggest checking out our guide to finding the right designer for the job

Starting off with a cheap logo

Like many things in life, more often than not, you get what you pay for. For most people, there are some things they will splurge on because they use them all the time. For me, I'm willing to pay more for jeans because I live in them and I expect them to last. Same goes for my knives, my accountant and my mobile phone.

Many startups don't have a lot of cash, so they decide that they'll buy a cheap logo now, and once they're earning more money they'll upgrade it. While I completely understand this approach, here's where it becomes problematic.

Most people get busy. Upgrading their logo falls to the back burner. Years go by and they've still got the logo they never really loved. Now changing it becomes harder. Their customers already know and recognise their logo and they've already invested money in printing business cards, stationery, signage, car wraps and everything else! 

I get that funds can be tight when you first start out, so if you're not up for spending a lot of money, I would suggest working on a custom logo with a freelancer or design graduate, rather than purchasing a pre-made logo that doesn't represent your brand. Paying a little bit more and working with a reputable designer in the short term will ensure that you are set up with a unique logo that will last you many years to come.

And if you're reading this article because you want to upgrade the logo you bought on Fiverr, remember to factor into your budget the need to change signage, business cards and any other promotional materials you have.

How much should you spend on a logo?

A logo is an important building block in creating a leading and recognisable brand. The right logo will pay for itself many times over and reduce future costs in having to re-brand. So how much are you willing to pay? A logo's worth depends the value your business will derive from it.

Forget about what it 'should' cost, because there is no standard figure. Instead, consider—

  • What would you be willing to pay for someone to handle creating the visual look and feel for your business? 
  • Is it important to you that your business is represented by a logo that will last you years to come?
  • Is it important that your new logo is completed quickly so you can start selling? Or do you have time to refine and revise the look and feel? 
  • What are the ramifications of using a logo that is similar to another business in your industry?
  • What are the ramifications of using a logo that does not resonate with your customers? 
  • What are the ramifications of using a logo that does not communicate the value of your brand?
  • If you needed to re-brand your marketing collateral in a year's time, how much would it cost you in printing and redesign costs? 
  • Would the need to re-brand affect your brand equity, brand recognition or sales? 

No matter how much you decide you value a new logo, set yourself up for success by doing your homework and know how you would like to position your brand, before you even get to the design.

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