I had an interesting discussion the other day with a colleague about the “cost of logos” and it got me thinking about the value of branding and how it is often devalued in our industry.
Branding is a word that gets bandied about a lot, but I think many people fail to understand the true value of effective branding, let alone what it actually means. It’s so much more than just a logo and some business cards. It’s the external face of a company, the identity that customers see and interact with. It is what they value and represent.
I prefer to think of a brand as a person. What are their likes and dislikes? What do they stand for? What do they look like? What is their sense of fashion or style? All these things are what defines a brand. Look at Coca-Cola. They’re fun, young and carefree. They love living life. But they’re just a soft drink company, right? Well, yes, but they’re so much more than that, thanks to effective and consistent branding. This consistency has created a company worth 165 billion dollars. Not bad.
So, how much should you pay for brand development?
Well, the sad fact is that there is no fixed answer. Somewhere between $50 for a stock logo and 7 million (the estimated cost of a recent supermarket chain rebrand) is the right price.
My colleague was getting her friend to create a logo for her partner’s business.
She asked me if I thought the price she was getting billed for the logo was fair. I told her (much to her dismay) that had I created the logo, my quote would have been roughly triple her price. But in fact, that was a mates rates discount from what I considered a fair price for brand development.
The thing that she, and many others don’t realise is how much work goes into brand development. When they see a finished logo, they often say, “But it’s so simple! Why does it cost so much?”. What they don’t realise is how many hours of research, conceptualization, refinement and adjustment go into a great logo, let alone the associated branding material like typefaces, layout and colour schemes.
The last company identity I worked on took an estimated 140 hours to create. That was just for the logo. If those hours were billed out at a standard freelance hourly rate of $120 per hour, that puts the cost of that brand at $16,800. Even billing at a wage hourly rate of say, $25, it’s still $3,500.
Taking a company brand from the beginning (a name) right through to a fully fleshed out identity takes a lot of work.
First you research the company. Find out what they do, how they do it and so on. Look at their culture and image, what do they represent? What are their values as a company?
Then look at their competitors. What are they doing differently or the same? What do their logos look like? What is their culture and appeal? Many many hours of research to become intimately familiar with the brand as it exists.
Next comes conceptualization. Exploring a multitude of visual styles and ideas. Should you use a symbol, a wordmark or both? The brief helps guide this step, however it is primarily intuition and good research that produces the ‘eureka’ moment.
Once a design (or designs) have been settled on and signed off by the client, you begin the long process of refinement and adjustment. Slight variations of shape, typefaces and so on.
After that comes colour palette development and…well, I could go on and on.
All this work should produce a logo brandmark that is:
- Clean and clear
- Communicates the brand values
- Unique and memorable and timeless
- Versatile (can be produced in one colour, clearly read on fax, email, web, paper and billboards)
Google ‘worlds best logos’ and you’ll see a trend that follows this method.
At the end of it all, the brand is the entire worth of the company. Kill the brand, you kill the company.
I read a quote once somewhere, not sure where, that resonated with me.
To use the Coca-Cola example again:
If you were to take Coca-Cola apart, remove everything from the company but their name and brand, senior management could rebuild the whole company within 5 years. If you were to remove only their name and brand but leave the rest intact, the company would fail within 5 years.
Couldn’t have said it better myself.
Hope you enjoyed the post and maybe even found it a bit informative.