The $5 Logo: Is It For You?

Behind the scenes of cyber-branding

The $5 logo is not a hoax. It’s a product offered on the internet by several sources — same goes for the $99 website or the close-to-free business cards.

How do you acquire such marketing tool bargains? Well, it starts with spending time navigating the internet, weeding through options and checking out (hopefully) web reviews.

Once a selection is made, you most likely have to create logins, fill profiles, read instructions, select specifications (in the case of print products) and probably a few more steps, depending on the service, product or vendor.

What should you expect in terms of results? In the case of a logo, you may expect it to be on point if your instructions were clear, industry-appropriate and probably good looking (after all, you might have received several options from a team of designers all over the world!)

Sounds good, right? Let’s take a closer look.

In my research I came across a particular story in which the client was so excited about his new logo that he put it up for discussion on his social media blog. While the answers were mostly favorable, it did not take long for the cyber-originated logo to be compared to an existing one. Another similar complaint was that the main icon of the logo was directly lifted from royalty-free clipart.

If the above creates disappointment, let’s try to understand the designer’s perspective. How long could any one of us afford to spend in creating a logo for $5? If we consider the average $45 hourly rate of a graphic designer that amounts to only 7 minutes! What would you do if you were one of them? Exactly! Make use of whatever quick tool you’d find along the way and get the job done as quickly as possible; even if it just sort of works.

So, is this to prove the $5 logo is a bad option? Absolutely not! The question is, is it for you?

Things to Consider:

Additional fees. A $5 logo may not include hidden fees required to add some necessities such as creation of production files (can’t print without them!) or expedited service.

Business longevity and logo’s reach. There is a huge difference in investing in a temporary logo and one that will carry you through decades. If you are planning to offer, for instance, lawn services during the summer and need to pass out a few flyers, the cheaper option makes all the sense in the world. On the other hand, if you’re looking to establish your business in a market full of competitors or present to a boardroom deciding the future of your product, you may require a greater investment.

The Art Director. In the $5 logo business, you are the director. Anticipating and visualizing the key elements that convey the right message of your product or business could be a tricky thing managed best by trained professionals. If you don’t trust your “art direction” skills, this option may not be for you.

The value of your time. The time spent in researching and selecting a supplier in cyber branding could be lengthy — even more so if you take into account managing the production process. If you happen to be the lucky individual who is momentarily benefiting from down time, go for it! But if you are on the clock or quickly associate a dollar figure to each hour of your day, well, do the math.

So, Where Should One Go For a Logo?

There are endless options out there ranging from the $5 to $25,000 logo and beyond. Here are some brief comparisons to satisfy general understanding and hopefully shed some light:

The $5 Logo:

It is important to understand that $5 is only “the hook.” You will be offered endless options in terms of levels of service, numbers of sketches or various industry standard production files. Every single option adds to the bottom line.
• Fast
• Cheap
• Lack of originality — parts or entire logo could be generated from existing icon libraries
• Your logo may look like someone else’s
• You run the risk of finding yourself
in violation of copyright laws

The $99 Contest Logo:

In this category, your logo is handled by several designers (sometimes all over the world) who compete for your selection. The results could be surprisingly decent; however, watch out for originality issues.
• Affordable
• Fast
• Decent chance of getting some good options
• Risk of plagiarism. The relatively low fee still rushes the design process, which can prompt designers to take short cuts
• Commonly offered options to upgrade design services may put you borderline in price with much better custom options

The Freelancer:

From the student right out of college to the pro with several years of experience willing to make money on the side, the freelancer seems to be a relatively good option, at least from the “human contact” perspective. With this option, here are some key points to consider:
• Moderate pricing starting at about $300
• Lots of pros in the pool; you may find a great designer
• Huge disparity in skills. Doing your research is a must
• Possibly a longer turnaround time, particularly if the freelancer does this type of work on the side and only works for you a few hours a week
• Personality issues. Remember, working one-on-one with a professional can be tricky. Watch out for big egos

Design Firm:

Design firms are the heavy hitters of the logo design world. With an impressive set of skills among their team, most firms are reliable sources with professionals who’ve been around the block and piled up a few design awards.
• Most likely working with pros that hit your target
• Will stand behind their work
• Will offer other related services that you may need down the line (one-stop-shop)
• Expensive! $5,000, 25,000…and beyond
• Most design firms work in teams and are therefore unable to touch on a project for less than an already high fee. If your logo is priced below, let’s say, $5,000, be cautious…your account could be in the hands of a junior designer. In this case, you’re better off doing your research and finding someone in the previous categories.

The Wardrobe Analogy: Studies show most people invest a lot of time and money in deciding on the appropriate suit and accessories to make the right impression on clients.  Considering the cost of a statement pair of shoes, handbag or tailored coat, are you comfortable leaving a Calling Card with a $5 logo imprinted on it?

Remember: Your logo is an investment in your brand.

Freda Paz owns The Calling Card, a design and print store in the Arts District in Downtown New Orleans where she expands design and print services in the business entrepreneurial and event markets. Presenting products and services through samples and displays, the store offers an interactive and engaging experience for those who appreciate guidance and direct consulting.




Categories: The Magazine