The Cost of Good Design: Is Expensive Always Better?


You get what you pay for—or so we are told. Many business owners assume that they cannot afford to have the sort of logo and/or brand that they need to find international success. However, in our traversing around the internet and from observing 1000s of brands launched, we have found that there is little relationship between the quality of a logo and its cost. Some of the best designers can be found at bargain rates, while some of the more expensive ones don’t seem to be worth even a fraction of their cost. Here are a few notable examples.

Cheap but Wonderful Logos

The Nike Swoosh ($35). This logo has been in continuous use since its inception in 1971 and is considered one of the most recognizable marketing images on the globe. With a dynamic checkmark modified to give a feeling of movement and speed, it’s hard to think of an image being more recognizable or simpler. All things considered, we’d say Nike got quite a good deal.

Twitter ($10-15). This social media network logo design may not have the staying power of the Nike Swoosh (yet) but it is recognized all over the world despite the company’s relatively young age. Not only is this logo a cute representative of the business, it also fits in well with the overall culture of tweets and sharing. All at a price that your kindergartener could afford!

Overpriced and Undervalued

London 2012 Olympics (£400,000). This logo design been the center of much controversy, but just about everyone agrees that it wasn’t worth its cost. The blinding colors are nothing less than painful and don’t relate at all to the classic Olympic brand. Further, no one would know what the numbers say unless they were told in advance. The bottom numbers look like they are being crushed beneath the top ones. We just can’t think of enough negative things to say about this logo design. A design student could have done better for the cost of an espresso.

Pepsi ($1,000,000). This is a recognizable beverage logo design, but it isn’t very different from the one that it replaces. One million dollars seems like a high cost for a little ‘tweaking’. It seems like this could have been done in house for a fraction of the cost, and a global agency like Pepsi surely has the staff to spare.

So if you can’t choose a logo designer by cost, how do you choose them? The best way is generally to look at the portfolio. There will be many companies with designs that look ‘okay’ and only one or two that really strike a chord. That logo design house that resonates with you is probably your best match. You need a designer who shares your values and your sense of style, one who can understand you. After all, you will be the one living with the logo design on a day to day basis. Don’t think that cheap is best, but don’t be fooled into the assumption that more expensive is better. Our examples show just how wrong this idea can be.