Most business owners won’t think twice about hiring a graphic designer to create their business logo for US$ 10. As long as the designer knows what the business is about, and is aware of the owner’s preferred colors and the shape or form the owner desires, everything is good to go! A great bargain, right?
Such a frame of mind should give both business owners and graphics designers pause. A US$ 10 job gives graphic designers (who will say yes to the proposition) an idea of just how important the business is to the owner. After all, a logo is the “face” of a business or the visual representation of it. While it might not be quite correct to say that it literally means “Give me a US$ 10 visual representation of my business,” it is, to state quite frankly, and as uncomfortably close as it can get, that the value given by the owner to such an important visual facet of his business, is just US$ 10.
Face or Soul?
The most common mistake is to equate a logo with identity. It is not. It is but a fraction of it. One visual part of it — and there’s the rub. It is admittedly but a fraction of the entire identity of the business but it is visual. There are other equally important parts like history, goals and personality to name a few. These are all communicated in various ways, styles and methods that make up and contribute to the overall identity and yes, the branding of the business.
For a logo to effectively convey even just a fraction of all these parts into one visual “summation,” a graphic designer must invest a lot of time (emphasis on A LOT) to study and digest information given him even before starting to create one.
Others argue that the logo is more that just the “face” but the business’ very “soul.” Face or soul? That is a topic for another day. What cannot be argued however, is that a logo must reflect the company’s character and its purpose in the way consumers, the ones who matter, will understand.
Think soda - Coke or Pepsi (How many times has Pepsi changed their logo?). Think denim, and you automatically think Levi’s. Just take a close look at the Levi’s logo and you’ll know the character the logo tries to evoke. Think Facebook, Google or Apple.
Think how different each of these logos were designed. In full color or in solid black, think of what makes each logo distinct and easy to remember. There’s something about how a well-made logo registers perfectly even in black, minus all the colors. Above all, think of what makes each of them timeless. See if you get a glimpse of the “character” they are imbued with (not necessarily the trade they are in as most people often assume a logo should) and the soul “breathed” into them by their respective owners all captured visually into one form by their respective designers. Do you think any of these logos cost US$ 10?
Choosing a graphic designer
If you’re after a logo that would sum up everything you believe and aspire your business to become, selecting the right designer for the job is a crucial step.
If you can have the “face” that you desire, the one that would truly reflect who you are, would you go for the cheapest surgeon or would you seek out the one who has the skills to deliver what it is you are looking for? Would you say to that surgeon ‘I’d like to see what you can do for me and if I like what I see, I’ll pay you.’ ? I don’t think so. I doubt if you’d even go under the knife for a “free trial” under one whose skills you question.
There will always be a difference between a US$10,000 and a US$100,000 cosmetic job the same way there would be difference between a “canned” logo and a logo that is a product of much research, thought and deliberation. There’s no escaping the rule ‘You get what you pay for.’
Most would disagree that a graphic designer is as important as a surgeon (I know, but I wanted so much to emphasize how crucial the job is!). But most would think twice and perhaps even agree to the analogy that one’s face is as important to an individual as a logo is to one’s business. More so if the business in need of a logo was created because of one’s calling, or dream… or even passion — as most often those who are in need of a logo are.
There is a thing called “body of work” or a work portfolio for graphic designers. Portfolios will give a business owner an idea of the level of skill and creativity of a graphic designer before engaging them for the job. Pouring over portfolios is a much decent way to gauge a graphic designer’s skills and level of expertise than calling one for a “try out.”
It takes a lot of thought and time to properly design a logo. The graphic designers who seriously pursue such work spend as much as 75% of their time researching and asking a lot of questions before grabbing their pencils or tablets to begin sketching. The task is not so much as to design something “creative” for that is a given and that is expected. The task of a graphic designer commissioned for a logo is to reflect everything that truly matters to and about the business, and to condense all of that into one final visual form. And THAT is asking an awful lot for US$ 10.
In the end, you commission a logo based on how important it is to you. If it is nothing more than an illustration to slap on a letterhead and some business cards, then perhaps a canned US$ 10 logo would feel right. But if its something that embodies the work or the message that is important to you… something that gives you pride… If it feels like it would be something you can leave behind and call a “legacy,” then I guess a US$ 10 budget won’t feel right,