I need a corporate identity - are budget logo companies a good option?

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Although there are many instances where budget logos are a great money-saving option for start-ups, there are certain risks that can end up costing more than you save.

The main question to ask yourself is how these companies are able to charge so little for their time. When a design agency undertakes a corporate identity project, it is a time-consuming task that requires intensive market and competitor research.

This will tie up at least one designer for a couple of days, and is all done to ensure youve got an identity that gives you the best chance of success.

Given that most agencies charge an hourly fee, this is a process that doesnt come cheap (although most will have a set price for corporate identity, with the research being included in this time). With that in mind, how do budget companies offer this process so cheaply?

Aside from the fact budget logo companies will usually only conduct limited market research, they cut costs by falling into one of two categories.

The first category is crowdsourcing, which (in this instance) means they ask a bank of designers to either vote on their preferred design, or to contribute design suggestions.

This leads to design-by-committee – resulting in bland, generic or awkward designs that wont help your company stand out at all.

But its the second cost cutting measure that could be the most costly to you as a start-up – the use of stock images, clipart, clichéd ideas and generic logos. This has a range of implications that could impact greatly on you.

Reputation – there is a limited amount of stock images and clipart pictures out there, and even fewer that will be relevant to your industry.

The upshot is that electricians tend to end up with screwdrivers, lightbulbs or wires, plumbers with wrenches or pipework and so on, making it hard to differentiate between several businesses in the same niche.

Although that may seem a fairly minor point, what if one of these similar looking competitors has a less than glowing reputation in your industry? If your potential customers have seen the logo of an untrustworthy workman on something like Rogue Traders, then sees your van driving round with an almost identical logo, how are they to know youre not the guilty party?

So while youll save initially, those savings could soon disappear in lost custom.

Cheapening your product or brand – high-value products and image based industries rely on having a quality look that simply cant be relayed with clipart imagery. Take the electronics industry – Sony and Samsung, and to a greater extent the like of B&O and Loewe, couldnt charge high prices for their offerings if they had a budget-looking brand.

Again, you may save money initially. But if a cheap brand would affect your bottom line, youll lose more than you save.

Legal risk – although stock image libraries are a great source of pictures for your collateral, most of them have policies that state their images cannot be used to create logos.

This is fairly common knowledge so most budget logo companies should know this – but is it worth running the risk of picking one that doesnt?

Not only will you have possible legal fees and fines, but youll also lose your corporate identity and have to start again.

Theres also the legal risk from other companies – in the same way that theres a danger of ending up with a logo that harms your reputation, theres also a danger your logo uses elements of a competitors branding.

This may be because of the use of clipart and stock images, or it could be a by-product of their lack of market research – but either way, it leaves you open to legal issues.

So are they right for me?

There is a place for budget logo companies – if youre a one-man firm, are you going to gain anything by spending hundreds or thousands on corporate identity? If youre a small business, is it best to get up and running with a basic brand and revisit this later when you grow?

You simply need to ask yourself whether it would be worth your while to invest in a quality corporate identity.

Theme Group
www.themegroup.co.uk