Branding & Identity

I need a logo, how much does it cost?

Advice for business owners on how much it costs for a logo

PJ Engel
November 9, 2018

This is a common question for many business owners, especially startups. The tricky part is that there is a wide range of price options for this type of service. The first thing to consider is what is vital to a logo in todays business climate.

Rules for logos:

  • You need more than one logo
  • Your logos need to scale for the format
  • Your logos need to meet the business goals and strategy, not your whims
  • Your logos need to work in one color
  • If you have a physical location, your sign/logo needs to be easily read while driving by in a car...on a bumpy road...with bad eyesight...*see next rule
  • It needs to be simple and memorable

More than one logo? Yes. You will be using the logo on various items; one mark will not look as good on a ten foot sign and your Facebook icon. This type of design is referred to as an identity system, which includes a logo for each use. This sometimes requires simpler renderings for specific uses.

A common example is the athletic brand Puma. Their cat icon is used for their social icons and smaller applications. Some of you may be thinking, "My business is not like Puma, people don't know it already".

Newer businesses don't have the same traction like Puma, Apple, or Polo to be recognized by their icon or secondary mark. This is true, but easily achieved. Using a simpler mark in the right applications will set the stage from the beginning. If designed properly, it can hold its own and tell the story.

As the format changes, the logo needs to change as well. A great designer or design firm will ask the proper questions to consider where you will be applying your logos. Will it be embroidered or screen printed? This is where the simpler logo will be easier and cheaper to apply in these methods, especially in one color. Will it be used on a sign? What will the sign be made of? Neon? Wood? Plastic? Will it be etched on metal? This also is a good time to decide on the type of sign you can afford. Call sign shops while writing your business plan, it should be considered.

Now you may be realizing what goes into creating a proper identity system, it's like ordering take out food for your entire neighborhood. You have to consider taste, allergies, and forecast potential problems for a huge group. Luckily there are professionals out there who take care of this for you.

Business goals and have those, right? If not, then a $500 logo is perfect for your business. Strategy and goals need to be factored into the design of your identity system. Beyond that, they play a huge part in your branding as a whole (I'll leave the definition of branding for another article). Even your projections should play a part in the budget for hiring a designer for your identity system (more on that later in this article). Knowing your goals and having a strategy to connect them with customers is what needs to be done in all aspects of your business. The logos, the interior space, the website, the app, the tags on products, your social media; all of these should fit the goals and strategy. Getting a logo just because you need one is a waste of money. You will not meet goals and either need to change it or close your business because of low revenue. Being as specific as possible with the goals and strategy will help keep all decisions for the business on track. They are like the lighthouse that helps ships come to shore without crashing or get lost. Most designers or firms that charge more, do their own form of strategy to bridge the gap between visuals and your goals. This is what has the most value and sets them apart from the inexpensive options out there.

We all have crossed paths with many businesses that have horrible signs that are difficult to read from the road. You may like the idea of having an elegant script for your logo, but before you spend the money on a sign, drive down the road about 200–400 feet away and take a photo. Then think of how big the sign will be in comparison to the other signs nearby. Will someone who is older with bad eyesight be able to see it while driving down a bumpy road? Adios to the thin script...unless you can afford a 50' sign that sits higher than everything else nearby. 

Simple and memorable is the tough part. Accomplishing one is easier than both. This is where an experienced designer or firm can help. Most have examples and are willing to explain how they created logo systems for clients and showcase how they were used properly for each application. Take a look at their work first to see if it seems like they have a grasp of the rules above, then ask questions. You love to talk about your business and so do designers. If they don't, find one that does, they have the passion to do great work.

I thought this article was about how much people charge for logos?

Ahh, yes. The ever important question of cost. Identity systems or branding are a tricky thing to cost out. The best comparison is cars. All brands of cars get you from A to B, but everything else involved in the experience is vastly different. There are a ton of options and how they are designed to heighten the experience. The Toyota Prius: outside its not very appealing and doesn't excite people to sit behind the wheel. But it does show that you are economical and care about your carbon footprint. Or you could get a Tesla and look cool on top of the same core values. The same goes for a business with a well designed logo system. You will be judged and users will have expectations based on your outward appearance before they even interact with the product or service.

Can you just tell me how much a logo costs?

Sure. The local bakery should pay much less for a logo than Hostess would.

Lets dive into things further. you need to decide on a budget before you engage with someone to design your identity system. Budgeting for a logo is tricky until you think of how it will impact the business. If each customer is a monthly value of X and you projections show gaining between 20 and 50 new customers each month in the first year, then you have something to start with. If you have no logo or identity, you'll be at the bottom of your projections or likely below it. If you have a great identity system and clear message that draws people to your business, then you'll be at the top of the range or hopefully beyond it. Is this a guaranteed return? No. Nothing is guaranteed when it comes to identity systems or branding. You could be in a horrible location with a killer logo and not move the needle. You could have a great logo with an outdated website and not hit your goals. Your cafe could be top notch in all aspects except your servers are jerks and you close in eight months.

The value in a logo is to draw people in with a clear and bold message. The rest is up to you. Businesses have gotten $35 logos and gone on to be multi-billion dollar companies. For most of you reading this, the business projections and customer value are a good starting point for pricing your logo system. Get that done while writing your business plan. You may be surprised at how much the visual identity is worth to your bottom line.

If you think $500 is a fair price to for the visual representation of your business, there will always be someone out there to do it for any price. It will just come with less experience and skills to meet your goals.

Let's get creative with you brand

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