If you are starting a company or are otherwise in the market for a new logo, you face a dizzying array of options. Stocklogos.com allows you to buy or bid on an off-the-shelf logo, with prices set by the designer. 99 Designs will allows you to have designers audition for your logo–with prices starting at $299 for up to 30 design options. Hiring a graphic designer or design firm can cost anywhere from several hundred dollars to several thousand. Here’s a great Reddit stream asking companies what they actually paid for their logos. It’s a couple of years old, but still useful.
When thinking about logos, people tend to think about iconic brands like Nike, Starbucks, and Apple. “Look at that awesome logo–those guys nailed it!,” you might think. Nike founder Phil Knight famously paid a student $35 for the “wing,” as it was originally called. But he didn’t like it. “Maybe it will grow on me,” he is reported to have said. It did.
It’s easy to mistake a logo for a brand, but it’s really the other way around. The brand you build for your organization makes the logo meaningful. Sagi Haviv, partner at New York graphic design firm Chermayeff & Geismer & Haviv (CGH), says, “It’s never love at first sight. A good logo, a good trademark, gains meaning and power over time.”
Back to costs. Another consideration in logo pricing is what comes with it. You should expect your logo to come with a style guide that specifies the colors that can be used, a black and white version, dimensional versions (stacked and horizontal, for example), versions with and without the company name, etc. You won’t get this with a cheap online logo. You may also want your design to include letterhead, business card, and signage mockups.
A style guide goes a long way toward streamlining all future graphic design, marketing collateral development, and printing. It is something you can give freelancers, outsourced service providers and partners to make sure that your logo is always properly used. Getting colors right in print projects, for example, can be tricky. The style guide should specify the technical details of colors (CMKY and RGB mixes, Pantone numbers, etc), but often the output appears different on different types of material–paper types, vinyl surfaces, hard surfaces like trade show booths are a few.
Many designers recommend tying basing your investment in logo design to your aspirations as a business. If you are primarily a local business, your logo may not be critical to your marketing, as referrals and name recognition tend to be the largest business drivers. But if you aim to build a national or global business, investing in a logo can be critical. You want something that truly represents your culture and your vision, and that will be hard to get without finding a designer that “gets” you and can conjure up a visual version of your identity.
Robert Jones, professor of branding at the University of East Anglia, says a good logo will express your values. “Your logo is how people recognize you, and it helps express how you’re different from your rivals.”
If you expect or want your logo to become a competitive advantage for your company, you’ll want to find a great designer with a track record of success helping companies do the same. Could you get lucky like Phil Knight and hire a kid that will make accidental magic? Maybe. A great design will likely cost more upfront, but can pay for itself many times over.
A logo and style guide to define and build your brand takes time. Think about it: multiple meetings to understand your company and culture; multiple designs to choose from, finalizing the design; creating the style guide and brand personality and voice. That’s quite a few hours of a professional creative designer or team. To get it right, you can expect to pay $2,500 to a freelancer or $10,000 for a creative agency that will bring not only designers, but writers and marketers to the project.