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Benefit of Logo Designers
Maybe I just don't get it...

 3:45 am on Jul 14, 2003 (gmt 0)

Over the past year Iíve had logos designed for three websites and spent about $400 on each project. Iíve tried using online bidding processes such as elance, tried using firms Iíve found through the SERPS, and tried one on a referral. Each and every time, Iíve gotten back stock images that I recognize from clip art galleries or logos that would get me sued by other companies due to blatant similarities. In each case I just gave up and made significant changes to the logos they sent to make them unique.

Am I the only one who has lost all faith in logo designers? I try using these guys because I figure their creative talent trumps my ability to manage a site and code but Iím starting wonder about it myself. If I see one more stock clip art image submitted as 'original artwork' I think Iím going to puke.

Am I expecting too much for $400 projects? How much have other webmasters who had designed logos paid to find a descent service?



 10:03 am on Jul 14, 2003 (gmt 0)

hi woop01,

professional logo-design is just around more than $400 in general, but any (diploma) designer can do this for you, if he knows a little about corporate id and the different media types so it might be possible for you to get a $400 deal. in my opinion $400 might be fair for a not super-advanced website logo at all delivered in vector formats. maybe the use of the logo is restricted to the web then.

your problem in special might be related to se-optimizers finding it a big deal to offer clipart for $400 and doing a ten minute job. keep the job clear, say you want 4 options to choose and the designer will create then the one you're choosing etc.. make it clear that you want to have a unique logo not a clipart variation etc. this might help. if a designer is offering you a written contract, this is often a hint that he/she is a professional and you can look forward what he/she is willing to grant you for the money. if they take some time in discussion with you about what the logo should 'speak', it's a hint for a professional, too. take a look how much time he/she is taking to verify your needs.

if you want, you can sticky mail me to figure out details and to analyze your specific situation.

- hakre


 10:36 am on Jul 14, 2003 (gmt 0)

Also, ask for a write up explaining why the designer created the logo they way they did.

A professional logo designer will use every element for a specific reason. To draw attention, to indicate, to direct, to point and so on. We've made all our logos in-house, we have a pretty talented person, and he designs logos with a purpose. He makes the logo work FOR the company/product, not just sit prettily in the corner.

A real logo is not just a graphic, but part of the business and pulls it's own weight. I think asking for a point by point explanation of the logo may deter less professional "logo designers".


[edited by: killroy at 11:37 am (utc) on July 14, 2003]


 11:16 am on Jul 14, 2003 (gmt 0)

A real logo is not jsut a graphic, but part of the business

This is a very true statement. Corporate identity must be reflected in the logo branding. This is big business and companies can spend many millions developing their ID - but I think any company large or small that has a public face, or something to sell, should develop a good brand. Logos form the basis of inspiration for the rest of the company artwork and can help make and shape the future of a company.

There are some excellent books out there on graphic design and logo design - these would be a good place to get an idea of what you want then approach a reputable local design firm to get your options drawn up and be prepared to pay well. $400 is pretty cheap by any stretch.

Another tip would be to go to the summer design exhibitions of newly graduated designers and pick up a few cards - offer them portfolio expanding experience and crate of beer.

that or get a freind with a good imagination to do something for you - Richard Branson did this and look at Virgin!


 11:53 am on Jul 14, 2003 (gmt 0)

Also, ask for a write up explaining why the designer created the logo they way they did.

If you have to ask for an explanation then it's a bad design.

Unfortunately the World is now full of people who call themselves "Graphic Designers". This is largely due to the proliferation of graphics software packages over the last 10 years. Now anyone who knows how to use filters in Photoshop tends to call themselves a graphic artist.

As an example, 90% of applicants who apply to the RCA in London to study graphic design, or any other discipline of design, cannot draw! Most get refused.

Good designers are becoming increasingly difficult to find. As and when you do find one, pay him or her well and don't lose their phone number.



 12:06 pm on Jul 14, 2003 (gmt 0)

Logos are worth their money when they work... and only when they work.

I watched an interview with Richard Branson, his Virgin logo was drafted in a hotel gents loo on a piece of toilet paper or cigarette carton ... as the story goes.

He still paid thousands for the end result, the final artwork.

I bet nobody can explain the purpose behind any of the elements. It looked good and it worked.

The famous 'golden arches' that Ronald Mac holds dear to his heart was probably created more for illumination and night sight than any other reason.

Bill Gates' flying window isn't a great work of art ... and I bet he paid peanuts to a salaried designer;)


 12:54 pm on Jul 14, 2003 (gmt 0)

I bet nobody can explain the purpose behind any of the elements. It looked good and it worked

<climb onto high horse>

I'll have a go.

Written in white - the colour most commonly associated with the 'virgin state'. Printed on red to contrast this as red is the colour of passion and err sex :). This contradiction signifies placing the pure with the experienced - ideas and business knowledge/acumen.

The typography is created as though it was hand written on the back of a pub coaster (and as we know thats where the best ideas are formed ;) ) but has the tell tale signs of design - the V is a giant tick and a effeminate symbol - He wanted a sexy positive company. The I's balance the logo and the underline creates the signature effect as though you were looking at somthing signed by somebody important.

This creates the whole graphic, but has the added option of being cleverly adapted through word play too - like the guiness brand becoming 'genius'. Virgin use it's name like this to great effect through advertising.

I am a true beliver in visual identity - having an brandable stylish identity is a significant factor in the first few moment a visitor comes to a page - done well will add to the experince - done badly can be a big deterrent.



 1:19 pm on Jul 14, 2003 (gmt 0)

A thunderous rapture for Limbo :)

I think different though.

Richard Branson said to the man waving a big red marker pen about ... " look cut the bull, cut the cost - get me a logo now"

Still shaking, with thick Nobo white board marker pen, he sat on the loo ......and the rest his history.


 1:19 pm on Jul 14, 2003 (gmt 0)

Limbo, whilst I respect your opinion and you may well be right, I personally think that you're reading a little too much into it. I think it was literally scribbled on the back of a piece of toilet paper without a great deal of thought.

The "Virgin" brand was established through publicity and public recognition, before that it didn't signify anything to anyone. Subconciously or otherwise.

It doesn't even need to be in logo form. If I just put Virgin like that with a capital "V" in straight text in the middle of a sentence everyone immediately know's the company I'm talking about.

I agree in design principles that a logo or any form of graphic should visually represent the target of the company or business or website where possible. That is a fundamental element of design (the form follows function philosophy). However, I would say that with good publicity and recognition, a logo can actually be anything and given time will become a world-recognised symbol representational of the company that uses it.

Blogger.com's logo is representative of that, as is the Coca-Cola logo with it's distinctive typeface. The Coca-Cola bottle however, has become as much of a logo representing it's owner as the original text logo. That was not deliberate, that's just brand recognition and indicative of the fact that we associate images with organisations in accordance with that recognition, not in accordance, necessarily, with their design.



 1:58 pm on Jul 14, 2003 (gmt 0)

Trillian/Peewhy, I hear you.

My point wasn't really that they spent all that time coming up with the logo - I knew that is was a scribble composed quickly by a mate of Richards (I wish i was on first name terms) - but when it came to adding colour manipulating the type and finshing the design I can see designers took over, and may have considered some of the concepts I mentioned. I have read into very deeply into the elements of the Virgin logo but this helps me to be a more complete designer when I working on the graphic elements of web design. Which personally does not come naturally - Beer and wine, sadly, are the only certain catalyst for my creativity - hence the logo on our latest site - based on the reflection of a beetle on wine glass :)


 2:21 pm on Jul 14, 2003 (gmt 0)

Coke bottle:

"It was intentionally designed in such way even if a bottle was broken into shards, you'd still recognize the pieces as having once been part of a Coke bottle. You'd still see brand identity in a single fragment piece."

from: [ecommerce.internet.com...]


 2:47 pm on Jul 14, 2003 (gmt 0)

trillianjedi> "If you have to ask for an explanation then it's a bad design."

I beg to differ. The explanation is not to tell ME what the logo is all about, it'S to tell me if the designer knows what it's about and why he's done it.

If his explanation is "well I kinda squiggled and that's what I got" then I'd run for the hills and find a new designer.



 3:18 pm on Jul 14, 2003 (gmt 0)

This thread was started by the submittal I received from a logo designer two days ago. Basically the logo could be described as the same font, same font border, same image, and same layout as a major corporate logo, one you see every time you go to the grocery store. Basically all the guy did was change the name of the company to my website, rotate the image 1/8 of a turn, and change the colors.

This was a project bid out on Elance and he wasnít the low bidder by any means. We spoke for about 45 minutes about what the site is about and it took him two weeks to return this logo. If this were the first time something like this happened with a logo designer, I would write it off as a bad apple. However, stuff like this seems to happen quite often with my sites.

I think the comments that everyone, regardless of qualifications, is calling themselves professional graphic artists is right on the money. I go to these guys because I know that Iím NOT a graphic artist but Iím not sure if the cost vs. benefit of contracting this work out is positive.


 4:32 pm on Jul 14, 2003 (gmt 0)

I beg to differ. The explanation is not to tell ME what the logo is all about, it'S to tell me if the designer knows what it's about and why he's done it.


I misunderstood you and agree with you in principle with the clarification above, although your gut instinct on first view is very often the right decision anyway. No matter what picture a designer wants to paint around it.

GSX - re: coke bottle - looks like I picked a bad exmample - thanks for the link though, interesting read! The point that I was trying to make is that we recognise shapes as brand identity when those shapes (or typefaces) are clearly defined as a particular brand over a number of years. Often, that is not the original intention (although clearly with Coke they thought about the bottle).



 7:28 pm on Jul 14, 2003 (gmt 0)

I would recommend that your logo designer have a background in the graphic arts first, then digital second. Anyone can hack around in photoshop, but I feel that you only get a really good design when the designer can draw. They may never touch a pencil when doing your logo, but the thought process goes way beyond the cut, paste, layer mentality.

I would also request from your designer four or five rough looks with the ability to choose one, make some comments, and then have the designer come back with with a couple refined versions based on your comments. Only after going over the refined versions should they do a final.


 7:36 pm on Jul 14, 2003 (gmt 0)

I would also request from your designer four or five rough looks with the ability to choose one, make some comments, and then have the designer come back with with a couple refined versions based on your comments. Only after going over the refined versions should they do a final.

That's how I work... I can't imagine just handing someone an image and expecting them to pay me for it.

With all due respect, it sounds like a lot of your problems with designers start during bidding/negotiations. You should definitely be asking for more than one preliminary rough design, and making sure a couple rounds of revisions are included in the price. If a designer balks at that, look for someone else... because the guy who's balking either does not know his stuff, or he's got an ego too big for YOUR own good. ;)


 7:43 pm on Jul 14, 2003 (gmt 0)

Yes, revisions were included in the design. However, I've cancelled the project with him because the logo he presented and the logo it looked like were just TOO similar. It was a high quality logo, it was just the exact same thing as a major coporation.

If you want to see how close they were sticky me and I'll show you both of them.


 8:26 pm on Jul 14, 2003 (gmt 0)

making sure a couple rounds of revisions are included in the price

For $400 bucks!? I would expect clip art for $400. We paid $5000 for our last logo. It's very simple, but works well. We had LOTS of submissions and worked thru many versions till we got colors/style etc. just right. This is a company logo, that we are able to use on the website, in brochures, business cards, magazine ads etc.
(PS not the website listed in my profile - that's there for another reason)


 8:33 pm on Jul 14, 2003 (gmt 0)

Lets face it - we live in a world of posers. Especially when it comes to website design and development.

Anybody can purchase a cheap copy of FrontPage or DreamWeaver and start churning out websites with no real knowledge of what it takes to make a professional website. Likewise, anyone can steal images or simply use clipart and pose as accomplished logo designers.

Before you hire someone to do work for you, always be sure to check their background and see some samples.


 8:38 pm on Jul 14, 2003 (gmt 0)

My boyfriend's sister is a graphic designer who has done work on corporate identities, and I have heard *of* her rants about unprofessional "graphic artists". I haven't heard the rants: at this point, she just rolls her eyes. But she's got her B.A. and is in the midst of her M. F. A. and is absolutely killing herself on these elaborate projects so that she can be a graphic designer... and she can't find a job because all these kids with a pirate copy of Photoshop are undercutting her.
It's just like SEO and webdesign, where anybody can get software and slap it together and make something halfway decent. But it's still true that if you want something really good, you have to find someone with some real credentials. It's not easy to sift the pros from the should-be amateurs, and sometimes the line-blurring is a good thing.
But it can be very frustrating.
Any trained artist has practice at writing up explanations of their artwork. It's called an... um, I forget. Abstract? When you do an exhibit of your work you have to write an essay about its significance, the materials you used, your influences, and the like. So I'd say that's a reasonable benchmark to know whether you have a pro or not.

But, as with all these things, that doesn't necessarily mean that you'll get the best artist, or the most bang for your buck. Sometimes the kid with the pirate software really is the best. Sometimes a fancy degree really is meaningless compared to real-life experience. So, good luck.


 8:41 pm on Jul 14, 2003 (gmt 0)

webwoman, it was explained in the bid on Elance that no clip art would be accepted and yet we got 44 bids, 36 of which were below $400. These sites are all small and $5,000 for just the logo would break them.

Regardless, if you saw what was sent back to me, you would agree that even $200 would have been too much. Not the design quality but the plagarism.

[edited by: woop01 at 9:07 pm (utc) on July 14, 2003]


 8:52 pm on Jul 14, 2003 (gmt 0)

These sites are all small and $5,000 for just the logo would break them.

Exactly. There are different markets out there... for a large, well-funded business' logo, $400 is too low. But the small business market needs design work too, and $5000 is entirely out of the water for most of them.

I include revisions for <$1000 design jobs, because having my customers happy is important to me, and I'm not psychic enough to hit the mark on the first try 100% of the time.


 8:58 pm on Jul 14, 2003 (gmt 0)

There's definitely a market for logos in the sub-$400 range. Small web sites and underfinanced startups can't afford to pay corporate rates for a logo. I've looked at some of the work by the elance logo artists and some of them have decent portfolios. I think the key to getting a good job done is to pick a designer whose work you like, and then insure that the designer will go through multiple iterations to satisfy you.

This is the kind of business where you don't always get what you pay for. A big corporation might pay $50K for a logo design, but a lot of that money may go into market research and other peripheral stuff rather than into great design.


 9:32 pm on Jul 14, 2003 (gmt 0)

The Nike "swoosh" is one of the most identifiable logos around (you know what company it is, even if you just see the swoosh, and not the name). It was a bargain at a mere $30 ;)


 9:44 pm on Jul 14, 2003 (gmt 0)

I paid $250 for our logo. No clip art, great design, four looks, then a couple cuts once we got down to one look I liked. It was just trademarked about a month ago.

It helped a lot that I knew the designer through friends so she cut me a good rate.

Before starting I looked at her portfolio and knew that her style was compatible with what I wanted. Had it not been I would not have gone with her even though I knew her and her rates were good.


 10:25 pm on Jul 14, 2003 (gmt 0)

Woop01...Plagiarism? Now that's a dirty word. I agree you shouldn't pay two nickels for plagiarism. Even using clip art, you can be creative and come up with original ideas. Talented creative people are tough to find. Especially for small companies with limited budgets. Sorry for my outburst - I'm going thru a rant currently with a friend of mine who is an amazing graphic artist and keeps selling himself for pennies :)


 5:25 am on Jul 15, 2003 (gmt 0)

Talented creative people are often caught up in two areas, the first being the slave trade, working for pennies and being ripped off. On the other end of the spectrum there are those who think they are more creative and demand extremely high fees to turn out work of lesser value than the slave trade.

In between, we have those that have the ability to create excellent work at a fair price, and a earn a very good living from it. They are few and far between.


 6:19 am on Jul 15, 2003 (gmt 0)

About two years ago the man who created the logo for Nabisco was celebrated in a design magazine I used to get. I wish I still had it.

It went into great detail about how the oval with crossbars was developed, the meticulous tweaking he did to the original font so the letterface was optimally readable, and many other details. That article gave me a depth of appreciation for what a professional logo designer can produce.

Even a website which cannot afford the services of a top-notch logo and branding expert still has issues to consider that a bargain-basement designer may not even touch. For example

1. Does the logo download fast?
2. Does it look good at different sizes, or does it lose essential detail?
3. Will it reproduce well in print - such as invoices, packing slips, envelopes, ads on newsprint, etc.

I recently designed a logo for a music group. It was originally needed for their website, but it also was needed for their CD (released a year after the website launch) tee shirts, hats, music fanzine ads, etc. And most of all, it needed to express their musical sensibility -- so that with one quick glance you would have some feeling sense of their music.

The final design took me well over 200 hours, and I don't work for $2 an hour. If I were looking for a logo designer for a website, I would be sure to articulate all the parameters I cared about up front. And if I were bidding on a logo job, I would require such a list, or else I wouldn't have a shot at prediciting the time investment required.


 9:17 am on Jul 15, 2003 (gmt 0)

I recall one or two famous corporate ID makeovers.

British Telecom dropping the 'BT' logo for an image of Mercury .... their biggest rival at the time. - Smart move:)

BBC changed their almost Arial Bold 'BBC' to almost Arial not quite bold but almost italic 'BBC' for several million pounds.

Look if you've got money to waste and you've got a long established brand name and unforgetable logo ... start all over again, its fun, it keeps people in work - think about all that new printing, new vehicle livery, new packaging ... and you might have a few friends that have a printing business, signmakers, packaging firm etc ... or am I looking too deep into the reason why long established firms need to re-invent themselves?


 4:48 pm on Jul 15, 2003 (gmt 0)

I agree, logos are extremely important to a company's image and it's brand recognition. A poorly executed logo is either not noticed or it so similar to others that it has no impact and is not remembered.

Generally, a good designer will want a written agreement executed before any work is performed.This serves serveral purposes, some of which are: 1)outlines what is expected by the customer, 2)specifies costs, and 3)outline what is expected by designer. A good designer will do some research into the customer's goals, it's goods and services, and it's history. Afterall, a good logo often hints at all or some of these things.

Also it can't hurt to look for a designer who's a member of the AIGA (American Institure of Graphic Artists). Most of us agree to adhere to certain ethical standards which includes the originality of artwork.

This 33 message thread spans 2 pages: 33 ( [1] 2 > >
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