Branding for start-ups | Small business branding advice
Your business logo is one of the few things in business that is unquantifiable. It can be seen as an essential element to your business, a luxury or just a basic necessity.
One thing is for sure, though, every business regardless of size needs one. It is also a business element that is not frequently bought. So, for a new start-up or a further step up for your enterprise, where do you start for a professionally designed logo? What can you expect for your money?
My following guide is based on decades of branding experience and extensive research within the branding community. In principle, as in life, you really do get what you pay for.
It is a rough guide, but it should give the first time or infrequent buyer a reasonable level of expectation for their investment. And you must see your brand or logo as an investment. It won’t change your world overnight, but if approached correctly, it will undoubtedly give you the foundations to grow your business in the best possible way.
NOTE: The following guide is based on the assumption that your partner, neighbour, best friend or a member of your family is not a good, competent graphic designer specialising in logo design. Although ‘mates rates’ in business are not always a good idea and frequently lead to personal or relationship issues when something goes wrong.
There are countless exceptions, so this is only a guide in principle.
£0 – £100
At this entry-level point, you pretty much get what you didn’t pay for.
Unless you are a part-time ‘just having a go’ start-up, this level is hugely unrecommended. You will probably get an off-the-shelf, bog-standard logo, possibly poorly executed and definitely with very little input from yourself. You are probably better off doing it on your own and then treating yourself to a new pair of shoes or a nice meal out.
This approach isn’t so much cutting corners, more so cutting out entirely the importance of your most valuable business asset. Try to avoid at all cost (obviously up to £100!)
The usual culprits:-
• Someone you met in the pub or a party
• A friend of a friend
• A friend’s dog
• Online logo makers
• Low-end web, digital marketing companies
• Students who can use a computer
• Anyone who can use a computer
• Anyone who’s got a Facebook page
• Online freelance sites
• Templated online logo design sites
Nothing to see of any business value here, move along now, please.
£100 – £500
At this level, certainly the higher end, your investment is becoming a little bit more serious. At the higher end, you are no longer a customer, you are now a client. What you should expect is a competent logo that is reasonably well-executed. However, unless you strike it lucky or you have more design work to give them, the chances are you will get a logo that looks very familiar and probably not that clever.
People remember clever logos. It’s worth noting at this level of money you could well get a very good designer, but their time and input would be limited. Expect to get what they want to give you.
The likely candidates:-
• A decent freelance designer you met in the pub or a party
• A friend of a friend who is a recommended designer
• Students who did a design degree and can use a computer
• A semi-retired designer who can use a computer
• A small local ‘do it all’ design agency
Someone ready to go but on a very tight budget or if you have an existing logo that might need tweaking or refining.
£500 – £1000
You’re serious about your business, and although you are on a budget, you want all things done as well as they can be. You appreciate good branding can help your business.
The guilty parties:-
• A good freelance designer that has been recommended
• Students who did a design degree and have won awards
• A semi-retired designer who has identity experience
• A reasonably sized local branding design agency
Someone who wants to do things properly but is on a tight budget.
£1000 – £5000
This is pretty much entry level for a well thought out brand identity. You should expect insightful research, a positioning process, name generation and all the identity tools to implement and control your brand. You should expect a clever identity that is probably better than all of your competitors’ identities.
• A good, experienced, freelancer specialising in branding
• A decent branding studio with branding experience at a good level
Someone who wants to do things properly or an established business in their next stage of development.
At this level, you get high-end experience and specialisms. Designers will be striving for award-winning uniqueness as well as delivering expert advice and consultancy. Your identity should get a lot of exposure in the online global creative community.
Making their statement:-
• Award-winning well-known freelancer
• A well established ‘known’ provincial branding agency
An established business who are used to commissioning high-end branding.
£10,000 – £100.000
For these budgets, particularly the higher end, you would be an experience brand identity buyer. You will know the branding industry well and expect ground-breaking work from the finest brand designers around.
This level would also include workshops, testing and an implementation programme.
Providing the evidence:-
• A well established London branding agency
A big business or well-funded start-ups who will pitch to top-end branding agencies.
At this level, you probably would not be reading this. You know where to go.
If you have any questions or queries about this article please get in touch.
© 2019 c eye (Gary)