The high cost of saving money on your business image

Not too long ago a potential identity design client requested information about the estimated cost of creating a logo to represent a new start-up business. The business was about to be launched and the identity creation costs had not been considered in the business plan budget.

I wasn't surprised when, after receiving the information, the business owner contacted me to explain that the price range quoted was much higher than anticipated and that they would most likely consider branding the company with a logo design that was "adequate" at the present time. It was explained that they later hoped to hire me to redesign the corporate image to better reflect their desires for the public persona of the business?


In nearly 30 years as a professional designer I often hear this justification for initially scrimping on one of the most important advertising, marketing and promotion elements for any business. Many new business owners simply do not plan for the possible costs involved in the creation of the image with which their business or product will be introduced to the target market.

In cutting corners, such business owners are seldom saving any money. In fact, much greater business identity costs over time are usually the result. When "settling" for a less than adequate logo design, the costs of stationery packages, storefront and vehicle signage, print advertising and other promotional items are still incurred. Being less than satisfied with the early graphic image of the business often means that all of those expenses will be duplicated until the owner has achieved the desired end result through a series of re-designs.

A client once came to me after having a business identity re-designed five times in five years. The owner admitted to "settling" for a new logo each year due to an impending print or advertising deadline reminding him of the lack of satisfaction with the image being used at the time. Each new identity effort was rushed;, and then required the reproduction of every piece of material used to market and promote the business. Over five years the process had become a very costly endeavor.

The business owner finally budgeted time and money for hiring a professional designer to create a logo to properly represent the firm in question. As a designer specializing in identity design, I researched the business's target market, local competition and specialized industry before even starting the design process. Several logo concepts were presented to the client and, within a few weeks, the company had a new and improved identity. In this case, the logo was used successfully for a period of 10 years - until the business was purchased by a larger industry entity.

When entering into the process of starting a new business, or revamping the identity of an existing company, the business owner needs to do their research and budget adequate time and funds for the project. This is a "must" when creating an initial business plan. The spur of the moment decisions to go with a discount online logo design resource may not provide the knowledge, expertise, and unique end result that will best suit one's business. The successful branding of a business most often requires much more than slapping a clip art image up next to a type treatment of the business name as a last-minute solution. Instead, the businessperson should research a variety of designers, or design firms, to find a good match of talent, skill and understanding of the business's very specific needs, before embarking on the process of establishing a strong business identity.

In my new book, Identity Crisis! 50 redesigns that transformed stale identities into successful brands (HOW Books, October 2007), Robynne Raye, of the Modern Dog Design Company in Seattle, suggests the business owner "find a designer you can trust, and then trust them."

An identity design process that is well planned, realistically budgeted early on, researched thoroughly, and utilizes the services of a professional designer with a proven track record of collaborative efforts, may initially be a bit more expensive than originally expected. However, the realistic investment in the image, and future success, of one's business will be more than worth the cost when done right the first time.

This bLog-oMotives entry originally appeared on my "Designs on Business" blog at

© 2007 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives


Samuel John Klein Portlandiensis said...

I saw the trajectory of some of that case-studyism before you got too far with it. There are so many things in life that work out to "pay someone for quality work now or pay someone to bring you up to speed later" and for some reason people don't think that there are costs in time, energy, good will and money in "settling" for something early on that will have to be re-engineered later ...

The time money and effort spent in getting an ideal logo up front, if someone did the analysis, I'm betting is going to be a lot less than the expense of the same in revising and reprinting collateral and re-educating your audience later on.

That sort of analysis would be mad interesting ...

Stephen Tiano said...

So then I guess it's best to steer clear of the place with the sign that said "40% Off Logos Today" that I saw Friday on a sign in Petaluma, CA, huh?

WDesign said...

Well written I must say.