It’s a generally accepted principle that you get what you pay for. When then, do people believe that graphic design in general, logo design in specific, should be any different? Let’s dissect..

I’m all for a bargoon. The Mrs. is a master at bargain shopping with an almost supernatural ability to fill up a shopping basket with all sorts of treasures for a minimum amount of spendage. But when it comes to professional services, even she realizes that the old adage is ultimately true – you get what you pay for. Which brings us to the idea of budget design services, and a few comments on the screen grab above (pinched from this thread on Scriptlance, a web and design bidding service that seems to be setting a new low over rival elance). Over the past decade, the graphic design industry has, to a large degree, become democratized with the advent of design software, the internet and a ton of folks hanging out a shingle advertising themselves as designers. That, naturally enough, has had downward pressure on the cost of design services, a fairly predictable result of market forces. Supply and demand is also a factor, and there’s a glut of folks called themselves designers, some a few seconds after they’ve downloaded some cracked copy of Illustrator or Photoshop. Trouble is, being a designer is not just having access to the software – it involves years of training and education, coupled with a natural ‘eye’ for design and an element of inherited talent. Design software is but a tool – easier to use perhaps than the old-school rubylith overlays and ruling pens – but a tool nonetheless.

You usually get what you pay for.

Now, take a look at the bid request above – a budget of $10 to $40 for a corporate logo? That’s going to buy a lot of time and effort.
budget-logo-design-job-detailsIt goes on. They require samples sent in with the bid, so we have to audition for the $10 first. Definitely wants original logos,  a ban on logo templates (even with a budget of $10, they want us to know they have standards.) Definitely no clip art. Hmm. Not exactly a king’s ransom, but no-mind. What’s the big deal? If they can get someone desperate enough to cough up a logo for $10, why shouldn’t they? Market forces and all that, right? Not really. The concept of human decency notwithstanding, what exactly does ‘citywide’ think they’re going to get for $10? A well thought out design? Please. A series of well-developed concepts to choose from? Hardly.

“How much time would you be willing to devote to anything for $10? A few minutes? Quarter of a hour? As hard as it may be to believe, the same goes for any designer or design firm.”

How much time would you be willing to devote to anything for $10? A few minutes? Quarter of a hour? As hard as it may be to believe, the same goes for any designer or design firm. Further, how can anyone present a series of logos that ‘looks’ professional, without spending the multitude of hours it takes to research the appropriate industry and market, develop some workable concepts and turn those concepts into presentable form?

They can’t.

They use material ripped off from other sources or use frankensteined bits and pieces from other, not necessarily appropriate, projects. Sorry to burst ‘citywide’‘s bubble – there really is no other way.

The unavoidable consequences of cheap.

It could be argued that you can always find someone to work under any conditions. But it should be painfully obvious to anyone that this type of, ahm. budget, equates to some poor ‘designer’ ‘cranking out’ an ungodly number of logos in an extremely limited amount of time, just to make a living wage. Well-researched and effective solutions (the basic concept of a logo in the first place) goes out the window. I find it hard to fault the so-called designers who inhabit such low-ball cesspools.budget-logos-screen-2Hell, at many times during my checkered career, I would have pounced at the opportunity to bid on logos for ‘quick and dirty’ cash. I’d have been thrilled to ’slap together’ a logo – taking a half hour or so – for $10, $20, or the princely sum of $40. I’d also have understood the math – crank out 10 of these puppies and I’d bank up to $400.

Fair enough.

But even then, I’d have factored in that these were ’shake and bake’ solutions – not carefully constructed logos that require thought, R & D and effort, the true cost of which is time. Sometimes lots of of it. I’d have had a library of ideas that I’d come up with previously (and, considering the amount I was being paid) would have been tempted to ‘dip’ into in order to crank out a few more $25 logos. You know, to pay off the mortgage, or purchase that new iPod (actually, in those days, it would have been a Walkman.) Would any of these designs been my best effort?

Hell no.

Would any of them be featured in my logo design gallery for the times I was looking for a ‘real’ job. Not on your life. At best, it would have been considered a money-making hobby. How much does a logo cost? It varies. But it has to cost more than $5 or $10. Because as the article at that last link illustrates, it doesn’t make any sense if it didn’t. There’s short cuts being made.

Market forces works both ways.

As long as the internet is used to bring designers and clients together, there will be folks like ‘citywide’, who figure that by dangling a few bucks on a bidding site, they’ll attract somebody, probably some kid, that’s foolish enough to shell out some design work, even a logo, for next to nothing. The simple result of market forces leading to budget design. Alas, ‘citywide’ doesn’t realize that he’s also being played for a fool – with effort that is commensurate with what he’s paying, with designs that are slapped together or pinched from somewhere else. Though I must admit, it’s difficult to drum up any sympathy for his scenario. More on this kind of stuff in our logo design buyer’s guide.