“But I can get a logo for $500. Why should I pay you $20k for the same thing?”
I think every designer can empathise with this statement. At some stage someone has questioned the value of your expertise, said it is over priced or they could get it done cheaper with someone else. It can be pretty soul destroying and really make you question your own worth if you're not prepared for it.
I’ve come to the realisation that statements like this have nothing to do with my skill and capabilities as a designer but more to do with the clients misunderstanding about what a logo and branding is. The logo is a rather small part of a greater system (branding) that represents how people feel about your company, service or product.
One thing I didn’t anticipate was how skeptical people would be when I started to talk about branding and visual strategies. I took for granted that everyone would have the same appreciation and understanding of the value that a solid branding strategy brings to a project. Since ‘good design’ is subjective people struggle to objectively value it. While people are often in awe of what a designer creates, in the back of their mind they’re thinking - it can’t be that hard can it.
What I hadn’t done for a while is spend some time on the other side of the conversation. If a company approached me about a rebrand, it's easy for them to assume that all they need is a new logo. From the client's point of view the new ‘logo’ is the most tangible deliverable that would come from such an engagement. It's then up to the designer to explain why and how the logo fits into a larger body of visual assets (as well as many other things) that are required if you want to build a successful brand.
For the sake of clarity, a logo is a symbol, monogram, emblem or graphic that visually represents a company, product or service. It is a trademark. Logos is greek for word.
An identity system is a collection of colours, fonts and graphics that have been deliberately chosen to support and enhance the logo. Identity systems are accompanied with guidelines so there is consistency across all of a company's communications (website, social media, advertisements, merch, everything!).
The logo and identity system are required before a company can start to market its product or service. Marketing is what a company or business wants to say about themselves. Clarity is key so being consistent on those early engagements with potential customers is important. People prefer something they have seen before so using the same colour palettes, fonts and style of messaging is going to help people recognise the content that you have created and start to associate it with your company or business.
The next step is branding and it encomapsses logo, identity systems, marketing, management, customer service, basically everything that your company does becomes part of your branding. The tone of voice used on instagram posts, the graphics on your delivery van, your monthly newsletter - all of these ‘touchpoints’ contribute to the overall impression of your product or service. The most interesting thing is that you have very little control over it. Branding is what customers say about you.
A brand is how people feel about your product or service and it transcends the functional benefits. Think of Apple products - across the board they are more expensive than their competitors but people aren’t just buying an iPhone, they are buying into a tribe of people who are smart, savvy and on the cutting edge of technology. When people spend thousands on the latest pair of Nikes it is not because they need new shoes, it's because they want to be on the forefront of sneaker trends, it's a status symbol and an important part of sneaker culture.
When it comes to branding the spotlight moves away from the product or service and focuses on the customer. Companies that do well position their customers for success - imagine an Apple ad for the iPad with someone casually creating beats on garageband. The product is barely shown, it’s about how cool the person using the iPad is. Apple wants you to be that person.
As Marty Neumeier puts it,
Brands build customers and customers build brands.
You can’t have one without the other.
When someone asks why I’m more expensive than perhaps using fiverr to get a logo I like to walk them through the difference between a logo, identity system, marketing and branding. When a designer works on strategy before designing a logo it means they are exploring the world in which your customer exists. This border investigation of thought helps to build a logo and identity system that can support greater and more profound concepts and will help transition your product or service into something customers rally around, share and want to succeed.