Cheap logo design: 5 reasons you should avoid it.

As a logo design and brand identity specialist this is a topic has haunted me throughout my career. There have been countless discussions, not just with clients, but with friends and family in order to explain the value of what it is that I do.

It’s easy to understand why this conversation arises so often. The logo design market is flooded with incredibly cheap options, which look very appealing, and makes you question why others in the industry are charging upwards of 10-20 times more for the same service. What people soon discover is the fact that, although the same end product is being offered, the level of service provided is far from equal.

I’m going to list 5 of my key reasons why a logo design project should never be undertaken on the cheap, and why you should think twice before choosing a budget firm.

#1: cheap logo, cheap business.

Don’t take this literally. I’m not saying if you spend a small amount of money on your logo design your business is inherently cheap. It takes time, and effort, to build a business; taking that idea in the back of your mind and putting in hours of research to determine whether or not it’s going to be a viable venture. Then taking that heart-stopping decision to bite the bullet and go for it. I’ve been there, I fully understand nobody perceives their own business as cheap.

So why after all of that effort and time would you then think it’s going to be okay to put zero time, or thought, into the symbol that people will identify your business by, and that will represent it for a number of years to come?

It’s important to remember that your logo is representative of your business. It is often the first aspect of your business a new customer will see, and it needs to be of the same quality as the products and services you offer.

First impressions count. If you’re looking for a tree surgeon to help with some overhanging branches in your garden you’re going to do some research before picking one to hire. Browsing through website listings your first impression of each of these companies is going to be from either their logo design, their website design, or a combination of both. A company with a poorly designed logo and brand is likely to stand out as amateur and as a result one you’re less likely to hire. Even though they may be as qualified as any of the others. First impressions really do count. 

A quick Google search of ‘tree surgeon logo’ shows that there are many ways that designers have rehashed the exact same concept dozens of times, simply changing it enough not to be identical. 

As you can see, it’s easy to get lost in amongst the crowd if your logo and brand follow the exact same path as every other company in that industry. One main difference between cheap ‘logo factories’ and high quality design agencies is how they undertake a branding project.

#2: in-depth research & understanding.

One of the main reasons an industry can get flooded with so many logos which look so similar to each other is that some companies simply do not charge enough for a logo design project. As such they’re unable to spend time creating a new idea. It’s that simple.

£100 for 6 logo design ideas, within 24 hours! Sounds like a great deal. The reality is far from this. There is simply no way that any designer can develop an understanding of your business, your clientele and your company ethos and values, then research competitors and your own personal likes and dislikes in 24 hours. Let alone then do 6 original concepts in that time.

They achieve this by simply having staple concepts they revert back to every time a project from that industry sector appears. And if they don’t have a staple concept for that sector, a quick Google search will usually do the trick. Not exactly the best method of creating unique, powerful logo designs. Plus, there’s always the risk of out and out theft! More on that later…

If you really want your logo design to reflect your brand values and ethos, and I assume you do, then the chances are that it’s not going to happen for £100, and within 24 hours.

#3: consistency, flexibility & usage.

An element in logo design, that is often overlooked, is that specific designs ability to be used consistently across different formats and situations. Some of this reverts back to the previous point about research; before any design work has started a designer should have a comprehensive understanding of how the client intends on using this logo in the future. Will it need to be adapted to be used in monochrome format? Is a simplified version of the logo going to be needed to be used as an app icon or website favicon?

Simple questions like these are fundamentals of the research process, and directly affect how flexible, and suited, to each individual client the finished logo design is.

Expanding on the need for flexibility and consistency, they’re two of the main reasons many agencies and designers like to offer more than just a stand-alone logo design as part of their basic package. It affords them the ability to ensure that the entirety of a company brand identity is cohesive and follows the same design ethos and goals as the logo design itself.

As can be seen in the example above, a logo design should work harmoniously within the brand identity of a company, as well as being unique and memorable in it’s own right. Learn more about the brand identity we completed for Total Tree Fall.

A badly designed logo will make future design tasks for the business much more complicated, and in some cases may end up in a logo redesign further down the line.

#4: longevity.

It goes without saying no one wants to go through the inconvenience of rebranding their business. Sometimes it’s necessary, whether that be due to a takeover, change of business plan or new services and products introduced. However, one reason for a rebrand should never be because of a poorly designed logo to being with.

Not only have you essentially lost the cost of the initial logo design, more importantly there will be costs in having all printed materials altered, shop signage changed and new uniforms designed; the list is going to be long and expensive.

On top of that there is the impact the change in branding will have on custom. Existing customers may associate the change as something bad, or simply not recognise it as the same business and go elsewhere.

This can all be avoided right at the start, if the value placed on the logo design was as much as you value your brand.

I’ve always believed in creating logos that will stand the test of time. Designing based on current trends and styles has never been something I’ve been a fan of, for the exact reasons stated above. A logo design based on good principles of design, combined with research and meaning bespoke to that project, will ensure that the logo created will be able to represent that company for decades to come.

#5: copyright & trademarking.

One of the most dangerous aspects of going down the cheapest possible route of logo design is the possibility you are being sold somebody else’s work, which is already trademarked or copyrighted.

I’m not saying that this is practiced by all cheap logo design firms out there, but it has definitely occurred before, and will no doubt continue to. It was brought to my attention a few years ago in this article: The Boat Logo Saga

Every single person in that article has paid good money, in good faith assuming their designer is creating them an original logo design, and yet it turns out they have the same logo as multiple companies already in existence. That’s going to sting, not only emotionally as you feel cheated, but potentially financially if you were to be sued for using an existing logo someone has already trademarked.

does the question still remain?

Is it okay to cheap out on your company logo design? In my opinion, absolutely not. It may seem like a lot of money when starting up a business, but it’s also money well spent. Money which need not be spent again further down the line.

It is an investment in how your company is perceived by customers, and competitors alike, and it matters. As designers, we’re not here to tell you how to run your business, but we are definitely here to advise on the aspects of it that we have spent our entire careers researching and perfecting.

If you’re currently in the midst of setting up a new business and would like some advice regarding your company logo design and brand identity please feel free to get in touch using the form below.

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About the author

Mark is a logo design and brand identity specialist, and founder of Foundation Design Agency. He has worked for many years as a freelance logo designer operating www.thelogomark.co.uk. He has a passion for all aspects of brand identity design as well as being a keen NFL fan and occasional songwriter.

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