Your logo is like your face; if you could have had some say in its design before you got stuck with it, you probably would have made some changes. Don't make the mistake of thinking the logo you may already have, or the one you're planning to design yourself, is going to be good enough. Not if you really think your brand or product has what it takes to become a global commodity. If you have faith in what you've created, you owe it to yourself to invest in the future of your dream, to have a logo designed that will be as unforgettable as your product.
Logos With The Owner At The Forefront
Some logo design companies make it a point to introduce you to your designers. Cynically speaking, this could be because it's harder to critique the work of someone you know, even less someone you've come to like. The Logo Company takes a slightly different approach, introducing you instead to the company's owner Simon McArdle. He's all over their money back guarantee pages, which include a video of him explaining their business ethics.
It's refreshing to see such candor from a position that's usually rather hands-off in companies like these. It's also refreshing to see a guarantee this up-front and honest. For a design company, though, it is a little disconcerting that their website suffers from a poor layout.
As for their pricing, The Logo Company only makes logos; they don't dabble in the other products you'll see offered by the rest of the companies on this list. That said, their logo design is competitively priced, with five concepts presented to you, subject to endless revisions, for only $199.
Forging A Designing Relationship
While most logo design companies limit themselves to logos and stationary, with maybe some internet branding thrown in, it seems as though 99 Designs will design anything you like. Their primary business comes from logo design, sure, but you can call them up if you're in the market for anything from a cover design for your latest novel, to a mascot for your product, or just a new tattoo that you won't want to get removed within a year.
The interface for design is incredibly intuitive, allowing you to pick your favorites from among dozens of other brand logos the company has designed. The result of this cull gets you directly in touch with the designer whose work you enjoyed the most. Then a fun and simple survey of your brand and its goals is all that remains before your new designer pal gets to work on your logo.
If all you want is that basic logo, it'll only run you $299, with things like business cards, shirts, packaging and more available a la cart or in comprehensive packages for a reduced price.
Logos For Everybody
Logo design can get expensive, and some small companies at the absolute outset of their experience may not see real value in dropping hundreds of dollars on a design they might change in just a year or two. In addition to catering to the crowds who want to spend bigger bucks on more artfully designed logos, Logo Garden has an inexpensive feature unique to its platform: a logo maker.
Very basically, you type in your product name and select from among hundreds of logo images. From there, you can customize color and placement within the selected template, getting yourself a decent and perfectly serviceable logo. If you find success in your business endeavor and you want to pay a little more for a fancy redesign, well, you can always come back and get with a custom logo designer.
While the option is a nice one at just $39.99, the available images feel a little bit like clip art, a tad uninspired, and you might find yourself sharing imagery with competition if you happen to choose the same base logo design.
A Focus On Designers' Rights
It's unusual for a company in a field as competitive as graphic design to make business ethics a corner stone of their policies and branding, but that's exactly what Logo Works has done. Traditionally, the concepts you get from a company when you're just starting down the path toward your custom logo are each designed by a different artist in the house.
When you make a selection, that artist is hired, and the others hit the bread lines, so to speak. A designer doesn't get paid until you pick their design as a base for your logo. The other designers just spent many hours on a concept that didn't get picked, so they don't get paid.
Logo Works offers a full suite of design options, from logos, to custom websites, to business cards, and brochures, but they do so while paying everybody for their work, whether or not it gets picked. The result is a team of much happier, much more patient employees, but the cost of that happiness and patience is passed on to the consumer, as Logo Works has slightly higher prices for the bulk of their products.
Designs For The Ages, Pricing For The Laymen
When you pick a company to design your logo, and you want them to add something like a business card design or stationary options, you can either add the products piecemeal or you can lock into one of a few packages with other options.
Deluxe utilizes a slightly different system, preferring instead to break your design options down into four pricing tiers, each of which gets you progressively more materials, whether it's 1000 printed business cards in the top tier, or additional designers working over your logo as you move up the scales.
If you're an indecisive type who likes as many options as possible, be careful heading straight to the $795 platinum option–the company's most expensive. You actually get far fewer concepts delivered here than you do at the tier just below it. Presumably, a customer in the platinum tier has only the best of the concepts shown to them, to take up less of their precious time, but if you like options, you'll either have to sacrifice some of the other products offered at the platinum tier, or you'll have to get on the horn with customer service and work something out.
Business Logos: In-Depth
It doesn’t matter how great your product is; if it isn’t branded well, it’s going nowhere. A logo is the first thing anyone will encounter when they meet your company, your product, your band, your store. It better do its job, or you might lose far more customers than you could ever gain. Sure, you could try to design something yourself, but without a joint degree in fine arts and psychology, you’re not likely to do a quarter of what the pros can accomplish in half the time.
But Is It Art?
Among artists, whether they be graphic designers, filmmakers, or musicians, there simmers a constant debate. Does an artist set out to employ the tools of his or her craft the way a carpenter would when building a house, or is there something inside the artist that, when given leave to express itself freely, will build a house unlike any before it?
It’s the debate over the balance between craft and inspiration.
For acolytes of inspiration, the tenets of a given art are to be learned and then unlearned if they’re to be learned at all. More often than not, they would say, craft inhibits inspiration by creating the illusion of rules.
Adherents to these rules would disagree, saying that only by the employment of these rules can expression reach its heights in human experience, that the very development of these rules is grounded in a codification of the human condition into its most relate-able art forms.
The truth, as it often does, lies somewhere in between the two poles. After all, the masters of any given art, the people who push art beyond what we ever imagined, are often among the most familiar with the rules developed by their predecessors and the critics and theorists thereof.
Look at Marcel Duchamp as a perfect example. When most people think of Duchamp, they picture a guy hanging a urinal on a gallery wall with a mischievous smile on his face as though he got one over on the whole artistic community. Casual fans of modern art see him as a rebel and an upstart.
If you look at his actual paintings, though, you see an artist trained and skilled in a technique not dissimilar to Van Gogh. He knew the rules as well as anyone else, which is why he was able to so effectively break them.
A Perfect Marriage
The designers of professional logos are objectively artists. They just do something that a lot of artists are too egotistical to ever attempt, to play by the rules, to marry artistic inspiration to a strict adherence to craft.
There are very specific psychological things happening to you when you look at a logo, whether it’s the first time you’re seeing it or the fiftieth. Brilliant logo designers are like professional psychologists paid by companies instead of individuals to solve one set of very basic problems: how to get customers and how to keep them. Odds are the bulk of them are Jungian, since Freudian logo designers could probably only work in the adult entertainment industry.
That said, FedEx uses a dirty little trick in their logo design that is about as phallic as is legally possible within the advertising world. If you’ve never noticed it before, you’ll never be able to un-see it. In between the E and the x in FedEx, there is an arrow. Go ahead, pull up an image of the logo. You see it? From this moment forward, the FedEx logo will forever be altered in your brain.
It’s important that the direction is left to right, as well. That direction in the human mind is associated with progress, with positive movement. You might assume that it would only be so in the western world, where our reading direction moves left-to-right, but a study of film viewers from around the world found that humans regarded the left-to-right movement of characters with more positivity than their opposites, regardless of the participants’ country of origin or reading direction.
Dirty Little Secrets
Advertisers and logo designers employ a whole slew of secret devices to solidify the brand message that your logo conveys. These range from the kind of hidden visual messages we looked at in the FedEx example to applications of color theory and even more advanced visual psychology.
Colors convey a lot of meaning. UPS trucks are brown because brown conveys reliability. Yellow is soothing, blue trustworthy. There are subcategories of each color with more information for you to discover, and like the progressive direction discussed above, these color meanings cross most cultural boundaries.
You’ll inevitably start noticing these tricks more and more, like the application of Gestalt theories throughout the advertising world. Look up the logo for the WWF. No, not the wrestling one, the wildlife one. See the panda? Take a closer look.
Nowhere on that panda is its shape actually complete. The ear on the right is just a free-floating blob, for example. But the Gestalt principal of closure has our brains completing the missing portions of the image ourselves. If you think about the purpose of an organization like the WWF, it’s a brilliant move to get you psychologically involved in the completion and thereby the preservation of the animal before you. Your brain is already invested in the process, so why shouldn’t you invest a few dollars to save these animals you so clearly care about?
That’s just the tip of the iceberg here, but it should give you a clear sense of the power available to you should you have your logo professionally designed.