Friday, May 03, 2013

But the Nike logo only cost $35...

I have heard this so many times in regard to the pricing of logo development and design work in general, that I am at the point where I may instantly jump out of the nearest window the next time I hear it.

Yes, the Nike logo was designed by college student Carolyn Davidson, in 1971, for the measly sum of $35. But did you know that she had agreed to work for only $2.00 per hour? Which means that it took her 17.5 hours of design time for the logo development. Furthermore, she has stated that it actually took a lot longer than what she billed for the design.

Would you have guessed that such a simple image would take upwards of 17 hours? Probably not. Logo development is generally seen as an easy thing to do because logos are thought of as "simple graphics", which should take no more than 2 or 3 hours to create and so should not cost much. That assumption could not be more wrong. While logos are minimal in design, they are not easy to create, and are in fact, one of the most difficult elements for designers to work on. So, 17 hours for logo development by one person for a small company is pretty much near the average.

There are a few reasons why any designer, anywhere, would only spend just a few hours or less to create a logo. The first is if by chance the designer has a stroke of genius and a fantastic design pops into their head right away. That does happen but not very often at all. I can tell you it has only happend to me maybe three times in my 14 years as a professional designer.

The second reason is if the logo design is being done by someone who just doesn't know what the hell they are doing and or doesn't really care. I have always said that anyone who claims that "logo development is easy and done quickly", isn't doing it right. You see, the more someone knows about design, and the more experience they have the longer it takes them to design a good logo. That's because a good designer has developed a far more discerning eye, and is working with actual goals in mind about what your company does, your target market, the industry you are in... Not to mention taking into consideration how and where the logo will be used, along with a myriad of other factors. They will create tons of concepts, scrap a lot of them because they are not as strong as they need to be, revise others multiple times, all in an effort to come up with the few logos that end up being presented to the client. A lesser designer will just slap a few designs together, call it done, and be completely satisfied in presenting the mediocre designs they quickly cobbled together.

Something to consider about the pricing for logo development is that it is custom, one of a kind design work to which you are getting full rights to. That means that designers can't do anything with the logo other than showing it as work that they have created. Designers can't resell the design or profit from it in any way once you purchase it. I bring this up because I have heard clients say that for the price I charge they can buy "X" product... Unfortunately, that is not a fair comparison because what we design we cannot sell over and over again like mass produced consumer products. Since I'm talking about Nike, I'll use that as an example. You can get a really nice pair of Nike shoes, top of the line, for say, $150 or so. Nike produces these shoes by the thousands and sells the same shoe design over and over again for that price. Now, try calling Nike corporate headquarters and asking them to design and manufacture one pair of one of a kind shoes, just for you, that you will own all rights to and they can never copy and sell again. How much do you think that will set you back?

Ultimately, you have to take the Nike logo and its price for what it is, the exception, not the rule. So much so, that over 40 years after it was created, it seems to be the only story of its kind that anyone can refer to.

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