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Logo Design Advice

If you need a professional company logo, here’s some advice that is a little controversial.

I’ve designed around 50 logos over the years, including those for my own businesses (some examples are in the image above). I don’t design logos anymore, and I’m not the world’s best logo designer, but I like to think I know what I’m talking about.

When I designed logos, I usually charged around $1,000. (IMO they were worth it, and that’s on the low end of the “professional logo designer” pricing scale)

Here’s my advice to you: if you just started your business, don’t spend $1,000 on a logo.

I also don’t think you should design your own logo (unless you are talented creatively). It’s extremely important to have a professional logo, and if your skills aren’t up to the task, you could be doing more harm than good.

I think it’s perfectly acceptable to get a less-than-perfect logo and use that until your business takes off. It’s just a starting point, you can always redesign your logo later. That’s what we did with Press Coders, and I wouldn’t be surprised if we redesigned our logo again at some point.

Yes, I’ve read books on the importance of branding, and I appreciate a great logo more than the average person. I just don’t think it’s important to pay thousands of dollars for a perfect logo if you don’t even know that your company will be around in a year or two.

What’s more important is getting something to use affordably while you get your business cranking.

How to get an affordable logo

I’ve reviewed the portfolios of many different companies offering “cheap” logo design, and most of it is crap.

Just because you aren’t going to spend thousands of dollars doesn’t mean you have to get an unprofessional logo that is going to make your company look bad. For around $100-$300 you can get something that works just fine until your business gets cranking.

A few companies stood out to me, and here’s one of them.

99 Designs

These guys have a couple of options for you, you can either buy a pre-made logo for $99 (they put your company name in the logo in 24 hours), or you can start a design contest.

Pre-Made Logo

Go to the 99designs website and click on “Logo Store” in the top left. You can choose one of these designs, and they will put your name into it within 24 hours, and it’s only $99!

I would recommend this route if you want to spend as little as possible. The logos look professional, and you can see exactly what you are going to get without worrying about revisions or deadlines.

Design Contest

The design contest is an interesting way of “crowdsourcing” your design. You basically set the conditions of the design, and lots of different designers can submit their designs. You choose the best one, and pay the winner. *Note this is a little controversial, see the comments below

Pros – While I’m against crowdsourcing from a designers perspective, it can be good for a small business owner without a lot of money. You get to see the work of a bunch of different designers while you only pay one.

Cons – It seems to me that you get what you pay for. It’s not worth doing a contest unless you spend at least $300 to get designers interested in your project. If you are going to spend that much, you might as well save up a little more and pay a designer.

Does this work for everyone?

This advice does not apply if you have a business with a decent income, and some staying power. In that case you would want to get a logo that will last, and you shouldn’t get cheap with your long-term branding.

However, if you’re just getting started, and you don’t have much of a budget, 99designs could work great for you.

P.S. – If you have some time to kill, and you want to see some beautiful, professional logos, check out http://logopond.com/.

What has been your experience with getting a logo designed? Share it in the comments below…

If you want to reproduce this article, please contact the author. There are affiliate links in this article, which we don’t take lightly. We would never recommend a service that we haven’t vetted personally.

13 Responses to Logo Design Advice

  1. Sarah Weeger says:

    I love your themes but I hate this blog post.

    I’m a graphic and web designer. I’ve done a good amount of logo designs myself (also for my own business and for a lot of clients’) and I strongly feel that no matter where you stand as a business owner – just starting out, gaining momentum, well established, etc. – INVEST in a logo. If you’re serious about your business, you should be serious enough about your identity to invest at least $300 in it. At least. $100 or anything less is a crapshoot at best, and almost always a waste of time and money. http://mashable.com/2011/03/30/crowdsourcing-logo-design/ I get you want to get clicks through your affiliate link but please, at least be an affiliate of something that ultimately HELPS the design community and your clients and clients everywhere… not hurts them. It doesn’t take much to save up a couple hundred bucks more to invest in a logo that truly works.

    • Scott says:

      Totally got you Sarah. I’m not a fan of crowdsourcing either (as I mentioned in the post), but I can’t deny that it’s an option. This post comes from my experience with clients/people who put up a website on little or no budget just to see if they can make an idea go somewhere.

      I agree it’s worth spending money on, but I am also a firm believer in the MVP (minimum viable product) which means spending as little as possible until a business gets going. If you aren’t a designer and you have little money to spend, I think a $99 logo is a great way to go until you save up (crowdsourcing aside).

      • Sarah Weeger says:

        I can appreciate your stance on MVP for sure. But when it comes to a logo, for so many reasons I think a person would be better off saving that $99 all together until their idea goes anywhere. Focus on the idea/product/service behind the business. Then, if/when it starts to gain momentum, invest in your branding and identity. At that point, you’ll have that $99+ to start with when you do.

        Buying into a crowd-sourced logo devalues all design. Buying a pre-designed logo is backwards; The logo determines the face of the business when the business should determine its logo. So both are ultimately a waste…. which contradicts the whole MVP model.

        Again I appreciate your approach but I just think there are MUCH better ways to get a business idea running. “It’s extremely important to have a professional logo, and if your skills aren’t up to the task, you could be doing more harm than good.” I couldn’t agree more. And I think the exact same thing applies for logopond, 99designs, and all other crowdsourced logos.

        • Scott says:

          That’s great advice, I love to hear your viewpoint being a designer.

          I agree with everything you are saying in theory, but I have seen so many people with terrible logos they designed themselves, or no logo at all, and honestly the pre-made logos would be a step up from that. It’s just a pragmatic thing I guess.

          BTW your work looks great at http://www.great8creative.com/

          • Sarah Weeger says:

            Thanks Scott. I appreciate you checking it out and taking the time!

            And I can completely understand where you are coming from on this, I really can. I guess the difference in opinions is that I’d rather see no logo at all than a pre-designed one! I’m sure others would agree with you though. Guess it’s just our personal preference as designers.

            Keep up the great work.. I really do love your themes. :)

  2. Todd says:

    Scott,
    I have use a designer for my business logo and spent $500 years ago. For all of my other personal training programs and Ebooks I like using Logo Nerds. They are the most cost effective option that I have found. Also, their work is awesome. I have used them 5 times now and am about to launch a new site and I will need them again. For only $27, you can’t go wrong. They are worth taking a look at.

  3. Joan Bell says:

    Hi Scott,

    I used 99 designs and am thrilled with my logo. I had been trying to define what I wanted to various artist friends who came up with some amazing ideas but when I saw the 99 design it said exactly what I wanted it to in the colours I wanted.

    The service and attention to detail was second to none.

    • Scott says:

      Glad to hear it Joan! There are a lot of companies out there that make affordable logos, but a lot of them are offshore, and their credibility is questionable. I think 99designs is a good way to go.

      • Tom says:

        Yes, and a lot of the designers on 99 designs are also ‘offshore’ as in they are from the Philippines, India, China etc or rank amateurs who quite obviously wouldn’t know the meaning of copyright infringement if it hit them on the head. The number of plagiarized entries in some contests is astounding, and clients seem completely oblivious to this fact most of the time. Recently I saw a ‘design a sci-fi book cover contest’, there were entries featuring everything from the star ship Enterprise to the promo art for the game Crisis 3. Whilst examples such as this may be blatant and obvious I have also seen plenty of plagiarism of the artwork of lesser known artists that could well slip under the radar. This is no less copyright infringement than using images that belong to Paramount Pictures or Disney or some other large company and just as likely to cause trouble down the line if the owners of that art see it being used without their permission. Frankly I am amazed there have not been any lawsuits arising out of people’s use of sites such as this and I suspect it is only a matter of time. And if there was a problem, what are you going to do when you get sued if the designer responsible is based in China or India, good luck getting satisfaction, because I seriously doubt 99designs will take any responsibility. Speaking as an illustrator I have entered a few contests on this site to make some extra money, I have now given up and washed my hands of it. The problem is this, I do not copy other peoples work, rely on cheap clip art or bog standard stock images. I create all my work from scratch, this requires time craft and skill and as such I simply cannot compete with the designers who’s only real talent seems to be in googling a suitable stock image or using the first image that pops up on Google and as such can enter a hundred contests a day by throwing endless sh*t at a wall until something sticks, especially given the fact that the average ‘client’ on 99 designs seems to have no appreciation of the difference. Often they say ‘I want a unique original piece of art’ in their brief, only to go and pick a crappy stock image that has probably featured on 50 other book and magazine designs. The simply fact is this, most of the time you get exactly what you pay for and as much as everyone now days likes to think otherwise, there is no such thing as a free lunch.

  4. joseph says:

    I found this site: http://www.myriad.x10hosting.com

    They design free vectorized logos and although what they design may not match the dream logo you had in your mind but its free so worth a go. As for me, I tried their service and they did design a decent logo. No charges, seriously!

    Another problem they have is the time they take to send the logo draft. takes days.

  5. Shaun Marsh says:

    Great advice . . . . . :)

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