What Does It Cost To Develop A Logo in Philadelphia?

If you were poll a random passerby on the street and ask them how much they thought it would cost to design a professional business logo, chances are they would guess below $1000. If you were to then show them a series of popular logos, such as Google or Nike, and ask them how long they thought it took to develop these popular brands’ popular images, chances are they wouldn’t be guessing more than two weeks at the very most.

These misconceptions of brand identity are incredibly widespread in today’s business community and often lead to business owners being caught completely off guard by not only the actual costs of developing a logo, but also the sheer amount of time and effort that go into a developing a seemingly simply piece of art. A well-done original logo, developed by a creative graphic artist will cost you, at a bare minimum, approximately $5000. Doing a simple search for brand identity in Philadelphia brings you an array of pricings ranging from $5000 to $25000. Imagine the look on Caroline Davidson’s face were she to have seen these prices today. For those of you unfamiliar, Caroline Davidson was the woman who was paid $35 to draw the “checkmark” that became the hugely popular logo of Nike.

We understand that these figures seem exorbitantly high to those outside of the world of brand identity, but this does not change the reality. So let’s work together to determine where exactly these prices are coming from and what exactly goes into creating a professional brand for a business today.

The logo development and brand creation process

Before we dive into this, we would like to note that the logo development process described below is that of our own company, Direct Line Development, and there may be some steps that differ from those of other brand creation companies. The basic steps, however, will all be the same regardless of the company creating the logo.

Before any work can begin on the design side, we must first learn all there is to know about the company for which we will be working. We will schedule an initial meeting that requires the business owner as well as all other people involved in the decision to fill out many different pieces of information that detail their likes, dislikes, preferences, style inclinations, attitudes on certain colors, etc. The goal is to ask enough questions upfront so that before our designers even hit the drawing board, they have a relatively good idea of what the business will like and what it will not. This will save time and effort in the long-run, both of which contribute to the overall cost of the project.

Our initial analysis does not stop with the business itself, but also continues on to an analysis of the industry and that business’s direct competitors. It is incredibly important to understand the design trends of the industry because it helps us to better gauge what customers in this sector are receptive to and what they are not. It does a company no good if they love a logo that is created uniquely for them, yet feels out of place to potential customers. Each industry has a set of “branding standards” that act as guidelines for acceptable branding. This is not to say that these guidelines are set in stone or that it is always unadvisable to stay within a safety zone, but when creating a logo, it is important that each move and stroke of the pen be calculated and their effects be understood well in advance before the brand is formalized.

At this initial meeting, as a rule, we always have the account manager, art director, and at least three designers present. These people need to hear the details directly from the customer because communication, while important in all types of business, is doubly so in brand identity. Once the meeting concludes with the business people for whom the brand will be developed, our personnel then host a team-wide meeting to discuss the customer’s needs and preferences. They will brainstorm ideas and categorize their thoughts into a uniform, concrete plan that outlines a timeline, goals, budgets, etc. Having a plan to work with is key in successfully creating a unique and creative logo for any company. After this meeting, the initial stages begin, and each designer/ artist is given a few days to prepare his or her ideas and present them to their team.

The second meeting is where the team congregates as whole yet again to discuss their initial works and to consolidate popular themes and ideas and discard those that won’t bring more value to the project. The art director plays a key role at this meeting because it is their guidance that is to keep to the team on track while pushing the project forward and avoiding stagnation and inconsistency. As a general rule, 1–2 concepts presented by each designer are selected by the group to be pursued in further detail, taking into account the findings and decisions of the meeting.

What one must understand about this stage of the brand identity process is that we are not only trying to nail down the idea for what the logo will consist of, but we are also laying the groundwork for the company’s overarching brand style as a whole. The logo, while the main face of any company’s brand and image, also sets the framework within which all other aspects of the company’s brand must fit. If your logo is soft and relatively monochromatic, your business cards should not be vibrant and edgy. These inconsistencies are what make a company seem disorganized and out of sync.

The designers are again given a few days to further develop their initial concepts. At the third meeting, the general direction of the project becomes more solidified, for when the design drafts are again presented, it is clear which choices will be better fit for this particular project and which ones will not. It is important though that we have our designers develop multiple options up until this point because the team needs a variety of options from which they can compare and contrast. Sometimes two or more concepts are even merged together, taking the best parts of each prototype and further enhancing the logo’s creative edge.

If at this stage we have still not reached the point with our project where we have an idea we would like to develop further, we return to the very beginning and start from scratch. Our system of creating multiple concepts, however, usually serves as a hedge against such instances, though it does occur occasionally. The more likely problem at this stage is that we have an abundance of good ideas and we have trouble determining which of them is the best. Not a bad problem to have in our opinion…

Once the best idea is finally decided upon, we schedule another meeting the with the customer to present results of our initial 1–2 month’s worth of work. This meeting is very important, and so all necessary people are again present. We take the customer and run through a detailed analysis of what was done with the logo and the thought processes behind each step. We are always sure to tie each explanation back to what was originally discussed with the client because, as you can imagine, their opinion at this stage could make or break the entire project. It is not uncommon, however, for the customer to give valuable feedback that we can then use to enhance the brand identity project to their liking even more.

There will be cases where the customer is entirely unsatisfied with the development of the logo up to this stage. The point to first be made here is that this is entirely okay. We will not argue with the customer because we too understand that a logo that you don’t love is a logo not worth having. Instead, we sit with our clients and ask very detailed questions as to what they don’t like, what they were expecting and why, and what they would prefer be different. It’s definitely great if we can meet all of the customer’s needs on the first shot, but if we do not, we want to make sure we are still making progress with each conversation. With further customer feedback in mind (in the case that they are not satisfied with the original work), we, as a rule, make one more redesign for them, taking into account all of their newly-voiced concerns and preferences.

After the logo is finally approved by the customer and everything is to their liking, we put the finishing touches on and begin our work for the rest of the corporation’s brand. This phase cannot take place until after the logo is approved because, as we mentioned before, the logo sets the stage for all further aspects of a company’s brand. A good brand means overarching consistency. For our customers, we develop what we like to call a Brand Book. This booklet contains a variety of different elements of the customer’s brand that can be used for a variety of different outlets. Obviously the design specifications for a billboard will differ greatly from those required for a company-wide email signature. We always walk our clients through the Brand Book and teach them how they are can use the various aspects of it to their advantage.

What if i know my logo crap, but can’t change it because i’ve already had it for so many years?

A newly redesigned logo is a sign of company growth and its renewed commitment to the times. In fact, sometimes the only thing holding companies back from earning more profits is their image. If company hasn’t redesigned its image since the 90s, many potential customers will look elsewhere because they perceive that company to be underdeveloped and lagging in the market. Logo redesigns can be small updates or full-on massive projects. The scope of the project is determined by what the customer wants and what is discussed at the initial meeting. We can almost always breathe new life into a dying brand.

Concluding remarks

We strongly advise that you consider your company’s brand identity a top priority in its success strategy. It serves as the cornerstone of its public perception. The better a company is perceived, the higher its profits. We at Direct Line have professional artists who work with these matters on a daily basis. If you have any questions about your brand or logo, feel free to give us a call and we will happily guide you in the right direction!

Original publication can be read in our blog!