Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The 50 Dollar Logo Experiment

Recently I came across a re-post by acclaimed designer David Airey called “The 50 Dollars Logo Experiment”. The post made a lot of noise as it initiated an incredibly intense discussion between design professionals, about cheap design online services.

Here what happened; with the rise of a lot .com design services that somehow hurt the business of a lot of professionals (I am one of them), a man named Jim Walls, creative director at 160over90, a Philadelphia based branding agency, conducted what he called an experiment with one of these online companies (50DollarLogo.com.) to make his point.

Of course, some of the people that felt threatened by these companies embraced the so called study, when others called it outrageous because (and they are right), you cannot compare a high-end culinary experience with Chef Ramsey in one of his million dollar restaurant with a Big Mac from McDonald. That being said, we should agree that the rise of those companies is just a natural consequence of the evolution of a market and it should be enough to invalidate the so called study. However, the experiment does have some value as it highlights some of the downsides of doing business with such companies, startups should be aware of. Believe it or not, yes there are still people out there expecting getting the next Facebook done for $1000.

As Jim writes in his post: “...there will always be good clients who recognize the value of what they’re getting when they pay experts. Likewise, there will always be the pizza shop owners and recent MBA grads launching their next Basecamp rip-off who get what they pay for when they go for the lowest common denominator.”

We all get with the fact that 50 to 80% of startups will fail within their first 18 months of existence. Starting a new business is a risky adventure and owners need to be very careful about their spending and sometimes, it is true that the risk factor is so high that it simply doesn’t worth a $2,000 to $5,000 investment. However, it is important to point out that creating a good logo requires substantial effort and should cost more than lunch money. It involves research, competitive analysis, creative brainstorming, sketches, and finalization based on the client’s and their customers’ feedback.

Even if some people will bring up the fact that Carolyn Davidson in 1971charged only $35 to design the famous Nike swoosh, it is important to acknowledge that she was a student and her hourly rate was $2 (meaning that it took her 17 hours to design something as simple as a Swoosh). The Swoosh as simple as it looks is very meaningful. It represents the wing in the famous statue of the Greek Goddess of victory, Nike and has become one of the most recognized symbols in the world today. Thanks to Carolyn’s research and sketching time.

Still skeptic? Check out this interview Steve Jobs gave about Paul Rand, who charged Steve $100,000 for his NEXT newborn company identity in 1993 http://www.paul-rand.com/video_stevejobs_interview.shtml. Remember that there's a reason why Brad Pitt costs more than Chuck Norris (No offense to anyone).

Bottom line is, when you see an online company based in Sri Lanka that promises six logo designs and unlimited revisions, just know that it is too good to be true. As Jim, the author of the experiment wrote: “…promising six logo designs, unlimited revisions, and a 1-3 day turnaround. Who needs messy things like research, insight, or even a modicum of information about my business, when I can have unlimited revisions? I quickly gave them my information, credit card number, social security number, and bank account routing number, and we were off to the races.” Even though the project was a decoy, one year later; the fake Cheeses Of Nazareth Company is still waiting for the right identity. I rest my case.

See the full yearlong experiment: http://www.160over90.com/blog/2009/02/17/the-50-dollar-logo-experiment/

David Morin B.V.A.
Brand Artist

No comments: