Good Design Matters: Avoiding the $1 Logo Trap

Good Design Matters: The value of logos

You may have heard the rumor about that lady who was paid $35 to create the Nike swoosh. After all, it is of the most iconic logos of the modern day. Logos should be cheap and fast, right? Well, the Nike swoosh lady's name is Carolyn Davidson, and if you adjust for inflation, she was paid closer to $205 for her work. Plus a diamond ring and 500 shares of Nike stock. So no. You don't have an excuse to pay your designer $35 in real-time-today money. If someone says they can get you a logo for less than that, RUN.

You get what you pay for.

Perhaps you're thinking, "I just need a quick logo right now, for an upcoming event. If our startup is successful, we'll be able to afford a better logo in the future." Essentially, you're opting to pay more by paying a little bit now and a lot later...and missing out on all the good a quality logo can do for your brand in the meantime. You have the vision for your business. Show you believe in it by investing in a high-quality logo that tells the world just how good you are.

Design takes time.

Not only does a good designer spend time researching you, your market, and your competitors, but a good designer creates original artwork (no clip art!) This means sessions of brainstorming and stategizing. Your designer also knows how to balance design trends that are hot at the moment with your demographic by applying durable design principles that are more universally effective. When a website or email spammer offers a logo for cheap with a turnaround time of a couple of hours, you can bet they aren't thinking critically about your brand's future.

Your logo needs to be functional.

You never know how you will want to use your logo. Designers know the costs and complications of printing multiple colors and can discern what will work for your budget ahead of time. You will also want logo variations for every occasion and context: horizontal, vertical, one color, CMYK, RGB, etc. These take time and talent to create.

Designers have to pay the bills, too.

We aren't talking about MS Paint here. Vector-based programs are sophisticated--which means costly! Designers pay for advanced design software and equipment that can handle all the special effects that will set your logo apart.

This is why they went to college.

Good designers are educated designers. In addition to design principles, production techniques, and material applications, they have learned how to think strategically, work efficiently, and create effectively. These facts alone should make you question what's being sacrificed when a company claims they can make a logo on the cheap.

"So what do I lose by trying out those $1 sites?"

First of all, read the fine print: whatever it is you want, it's going to cost more than the "come-on" offer. But think beyond cost. Not only are you doing yourself a disservice, but it's also most likely a scam. Even if your chosen logo delivery service does send you a logo, they are likely recycling art, fonts, and design from past customers. You don't want to get involved in potential copyright infringement (at worst). Or have a logo that does not distinguish you in the marketplace (at best). A professional designer will draw up a contract with fees and expectations to protect both of you. A cheap logo seems too good to be true, because it is too good to be true.  And did I mention tacky?

This article is part of our Good Design Matters series! Check out the kick off article, "The Basics."