Buying A Logo On The Internet

It’s a jungle out there. Here’s a survival guide

Over the years, the online design marketplace has become a fiercely competitive one, as more and more firms compete for an ever-shrinking bit of the marketplace. That’s generally good for you, the client, as it offers a wider range of choices, and forces designers to constantly strive to improve their pricing, customer service and level of work. A Darwinesque “Survival Of The Fittest” deal. Despite the claims of many graphic design purists, it’s now the case that you now, for several hundreds of dollars, can have what used to cost thousands. Or tens of thousands. To this day, and according to the Graphic Artists Guild (GAG) you should be paying anywhere from $2,000 to $10,000 for a corporate logo at a traditional design firm (at least according to their annual GAG Handbook: Pricing and Ethical Guidelines.) While logo designers love to quote this as a pitch, it should be pointed out that this suggested pricing reflects a brand ‘build’ not a simple logo treatment. It does, however, give you an idea on the competitive forces at work – all free market and capitalism at its finest.

“Truth to tell, some design ‘purists’ are heavily critical of our business model too. Our pricing and “flat rate” packages tend to fly in the face of GAG philosophies as well..”

A cynical race to the bottom.

On the other hand, this heated marketplace has led other firms to develop business practices that are designed only to cut their costs, so that they can feature spurious claims on their web sites. Many of these companies are more interested in search engine quackery than the design process itself. That’s not to say that you can’t still get a decent logo from folks using these techniques to market themselves. You probably can. And this isn’t a “bash the competitors” hit piece. Truth to tell, some design ‘purists’ are heavily critical of our business model too as our pricing and “flat rate” packages tend to fly in the face of GAG philosophies as well. It’s just that as a newcomer to the online logo design business, you may not know what’s going on ‘behind the scenes’.

We do.

1) Unlimited Revisions.

Unlimited revisions on any design project are a myth. Nuff said.

2) Project (or Account) Managers.

Sounds all business. One small problem – Project (or Account) Mangers are to keep you away from your designer, not to help you communicate with them. Your designer probably isn’t in the same building. May even be in a different country. The Project (or Account) Manager is man/woman in the middle.

3) The 100% money back guarantee that isn’t.

At lot of these websites (particular ones using a design contest format) boast a 100% money back guarantee. Trouble is, when you read the fine print, it’s always less a service charge. Here’s the deal. You pay for the ‘package’ up front. If you don’t like what the firm has produced, you get some of your money back. They keep a small portion, usually to pay for design time that went into the project. That’s called a limited guarantee and is fair enough. Doesn’t look as impressive as ‘Your Satisfaction Is Totes 100% Guaranteed!” in a star burst though, so you’re presented with the edited version. We never thought clients were naive enough to fall for it, so we never bothered.

4) Logo design ‘review’ sites.

The logo design niche is a small and specialized industry. So why would anyone pay to develop a web site, hosting and maintenance of same, to feature a bunch of supposedly unbiased reviews of logo design web sites. Answer? They wouldn’t. All (yes, that means all) of any so-called logo review websites can be tracked back to one design firm or another (while they don’t make it easy, we have our ways.) How can you tell who’s behind the ‘review’ site? That’s easy. The site or sites that get the highest reviews. Used to be one around that included reviews of two websites, both owned by the same company that ran the review site, as the very best of the best. Better than Landor. Better than Pentagram. Better than everybody. Oddly enough, we were also featured as one of the ‘top ten’ companies (thanks very much guys!) for a couple of years, but dropped from a 4.8 (out of five) stars, to a 3.8 (out of five) as ‘punishment’ when I wrote a hit piece exposing the practice. Bottom line – the only people interested in ‘reviewing’ logo design sites are people who own one. And that, alas, renders the usefulness of any reviews moot.

5) Free logos that aren’t very free.

The latest marketing ploy to lure people to “logo maker” web sites. Oh, it would be nice, for you the client, if this were true. After all, it presents a No Risk Solution. You’re probably a little nervous about parting with your hard-earned cash, especially over the Internet, for a service that you’re unfamiliar with. All of which is fair enough. Seeing your new, freshly conceptualized logo before you pay for it, certainly sounds good. Though, if you’re nervous to begin with, it should concern you that you still have to supply these guys your credit card details when ordering your supposedly ‘see before you pay’ logos. They’ll claim that it’s to verify your age – not true – or that it’s to validate your identity – also not true. Alas, the pitch is only half of what it appears. Here’s the deal. What they’re doing is taking your project profile and rooting through their archives to find rejected designs from old projects, to see if there’s anything that even comes close to want you’ve requested. Not exactly custom work as advertised. You take a look at the material presented and if you like any of it, you buy (and they just happen to have your credit card number on file for those ‘snap’ buying decisions.) If you don’t, no biggie. See, here’s the thing..

6) Rejected concepts can still be nice. They’re called “Morgue Files.”

All this logo generator, template logo, see before you pay nonsense could be a pretty cool way of doing things – if only these guys would be up front about it. Turns out your

“Free logos. Do not pay before you see a logo you like!”

is more like

“Do not pay until you find something you like from our pile of rejected logos.”

That doesn’t sound quite as enticing. In the industry these ‘rejected’ files are referred to as Morgue Files – we have thousands of them. Alas, we don’t really have the heart to pass them off as original custom work to unsuspecting clients, so we give our Morgue Files away for free.

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