As a client manager, I’m often hit with “how much?!”. Calmly, I explain our design process, how we work and why good design takes time. More often than not, references to quick and easy design services are used in defence – search for “logo design” and see the vast selection of 24-hour turnarounds or ‘three concepts for £10′.
If you’re seeking cheap & cheerful then perhaps these options sound about right. I mean, how much could a logo possibly cost? The question you must immediately ask is: should my business appear cheap & cheerful?
The purpose of this post is to set out – once and for all – a clear and concise explanation of why a logo shouldn’t cost a fiver and why your business identity is worth some care and attention.
The basics: your business, identity and competition
Whether you’re a startup looking for an identity to operate with, or a well established organisation looking to plan your next marketing campaign, the fundamental purpose of any design is to convey a message. If you are lucky enough to have zero competition, perhaps you don’t need to be too concerned about the quality of your design. However, like most businesses, you have a pool of competitors, each with their own USP to differentiate themselves in a busy market. How is your business going to stand out? Can you solely rely on word of mouth and quality of service?
Let’s face it: most of us (!) look in the mirror before we leave the house – we depend upon our image so that our friends and colleagues can recognise us. Everything from the clothes that we wear to the face we were born with, our image reflects who we are. Surprisingly, logos are no different. They must aid identification, install trust, trigger the memory – all to create a positive image for your business and it’s activities.
Why design takes time
So, a logo must represent an image, a feeling, a vibe – all things associated with who you are and what you do. In order to achieve such transparency, a design team must immerse themselves in your business, your market(s) and your entire industry. This careful research, planning and preparation takes considerable time for ideas to develop and conceptualise. ‘Skipping’ this stage would remove any logical, preliminary elements, leaving nothing but a blank canvas to begin the design process. As creativity doesn’t come on tap, no time spent on research means no uniqueness. A lack of originality will certainly not help you stand out, especially if your competitors place an ounce of value on quality design. If you don’t stand out, how are customers – both existing and potential – going to recognise you?
For arguments sake, let’s just assume that we know your business inside out. We know your markets, your competitors, your USP and your projections. How are we going to actually design your logo? What equipment, software, resources and inspiration are we going to use? How do we know what brand application you require? What colours & typefaces are we going to choose?
The answer to all of the above, of course, is because designers know what they’re doing. Just like a doctor, they have the skills, the technology, the knowledge and the expertise required to execute something so hugely complex – and largely misunderstood! Ask yourself now: does this sound like a process that’s worth a fiver?
Quality vs. Bad Design: Examples
One of the most common examples of poor design is the international mis-use of ‘Comic Sans’. Designed in the late nineties, Comic Sans was the answer to a much needed alternative for Times New Roman – at the time, the most prevalent font in the world. Since it’s release, business owners, organisers and anyone responsible for creating a sign has stumbled upon the first alternative typeface in the font selection box, designing marketing material using Microsoft Word.
Because everyone was using it, everything that was created started to look the same. Every shop sign, poster, menu and logo all looked identical – not to mention the message associated with the font:
Clearly, Comic Sans as a voice conveys silliness, childish naivety, irreverence and is far too casual…it is analogous to showing up for a black tie event in a clown costume
The video below takes a light-hearted approach to understanding the phenomenon (source: bancomicsans.com).
It’s what you do with it that counts!
One of the big points often overlooked by business owners and decision makers is the importance of getting things right from the start. Every startup operates under the same ethos: don’t spend money unless you absolutely have to. Identity, it would seem, often falls outside the ‘essentials’ category.
Your business identity, however, is crucially important at these early stages because of one simple rule: you only get one chance to make a first impression. A quick logo cannot possibly encompass everything that your business stands for and therefore failing to address this at the beginning (or early on) can actually have a negative impact on your early activities.
Remember: a logo is a tool. It is the tip of the iceberg and the face of your business. It must be used in the right way to maximise it’s very purpose and it must be created with careful thought.
Get to the Point!
- Good design takes time. If you value your business, you must invest in careful, unique identity design to stand out from the crowd and be the best of the rest.
- Whether you like it or not, identity design is a very complex and time consuming process. Time is money!
- DON’T invest money into marketing and development if you have failed to address the fundamental tools of marketing communications. Learn to walk before you can run!