January 1, 2012
I had just graduated in Graphic Design, when an acquaintance bluntly articulated what most people think – How can a design firm justify charging 250k for a simple logo and a few coloured folders? – a business major herself, she was at the time working for a major bluechip company that had undergone a full brand revamp by Wolf Ollins.
I’ve been asked the same question often (just replace the 250k with any amount). It implies a kind of devaluation, but also highlights an important point. Design solutions often look simple and effortless, making designers appear to be some kind of con artist.
Well, the fact that it looks simple and effortless is probably what makes it effective. The logo has to be applied to all sorts of media, and associations made appropriately and memorably. It has to be kept long enough for the association to build up over time and ultimately help shape the brand (which is the sum of perception/emotions/value and judgements made on a product or service and exist solely in the mind of people who see it and experience it).
There are no hard or fast rules, it really does boil down to the designer’s sensibility/talent/training and the search for the right composition, form, colour, which is what designers spend a considerable time exploring before settling for the one and only, whilst factoring in all its possible applications.
So, to sum up, the answer to the original question is: a logo is a long-term commitment, and the designer will add value to the brand, a long term value. When the Designer in question has a particularly good track record, and they take the endeavour seriously, they will request serious payment. On another note, Wolf Ollins (the very firm the question was raised around), went on to rebrand a whole country, Liechtenstein, in a very royal way – follow the above link to read the case study.
The Emperor’s New Clothes, by Hans Christian Andersen
Quotes “It’s a fact, people don’t understand how or why a logo is designed. Most clients or people on the street think that the important thing about a logo is that it illustrates what the business does, or what it represents, which is nonsense. …[It] requires that the thing is seen, and associated – the association is what makes the logo.”Paul Rand
“… First of all, things that look good are important for our environment. It’s better for things to look good than look bad. Ofcourse, the problem there, is it depends who’s opinion you’re seeking, but I think the value of a designer, for example, to a businessman is that he can add a great deal of value to the businessman’s product, and very often designers have ideas that not only improve the appearance of a product but also improve the product itself. A good designer who understands his business can make things memorable, make things easy to recall, which is very important, and improves the general quality of life, which is the only reason for our existence.” Paul Rand