What’s your logo design budget?
Recently the Australia Nation Brand Council spent $10M to have our logo re-designed. It seems like a whopping amount, but it is actually within ballpark figures of how much it costs large, established companies for a logo re-design.
To answer this question properly it’s important to understand how much value your logo brings to your brand and business. Given its purpose to represent your brand in any forum or platform it is a pretty important business asset. However, budgets for logo design vary from business to business, from startups with smaller budgets to larger enterprises with more to spend.
The cost of your logo should reflect the lifetime value of your brand, not just its current value.
Irrespective of how much money you’re willing to spend on logo design, the lifetime valuation of a brand or business is what really determines the value and therefore cost of a logo.
For larger established brands, it’s clear they'll have built significant brand value over the years so their logos will have higher tangible value compared to a younger company or startup. So big businesses should definitely invest in their logo designs. But what about younger companies?
How much should startups pay for a logo?
Keeping in mind that startups will naturally have a smaller budget, you should still consider the potential lifetime value of your brand. This is especially so for startups aspiring to unicorn status where their lifetime and value could be as large or larger than existing big brands - think Instagram and Spotify.
If you're a startup, think of the amount you are likely to spend on Marketing for the lifetime of your brand. These are all the instances your logo will be used. So whatever you spend on brand awareness, engagement and conversion you don’t want that Marketing spend to be brought down by a poorly designed logo.
What is good logo design and why is it worth so much?
Logos are attached to so much emotion and sentiment. Just this month Australia’s Nation Brand Advisory Council appeared to have made a misstep in their update of the Australia Unlimited logo.
There was huge public outcry from locals for this new logo when the old version isn't even widely used locally in Australia. This was heightened by confusion about the new Australia logo replacing the iconic Australian Made green and gold kangaroo.
One comment on the new logo was that it looks like a coronavirus or the NBN logo and doesn’t “connect with what most people would consider to be Australian”.
It would seem like the $10M spent on this has ended up in a bad design job. Even worse that the design was done by a leading creative agency, Clemenger BBDO Sydney.
Let’s breakdown whether this logo is worth $10M and what is good logo design.
Your logo design isn’t meant to communicate everything
The most common misconception about a logo is that it is meant to communicate everything about your brand, when in fact a logo is simply one, nonetheless very important, visual element in your brand’s identity.
Keep it simple
Think of your logo as your company’s signature, and like a signature it’s used primarily to identify a person. In the instance of a logo, it identifies a brand in whatever context you might find it. It’s not a substitute for your "About” page, nor the rest of your website. Unlike these other sources of content, the purpose of a logo is not actually to communicate your brand values or what you do. According to logo design expert Ivan Chermayeff the less it says the better! It is meant to act simply as a visual “mark” of your brand.
Australia’s new logo
So, does our new logo represent Australia? The Advisory Council explains,
“Our proposed nation brand mark balances a literal and abstract interpretation of a wattle flower. Co-created with our Indigenous design partners Balarinji, the mark is embedded with a cultural richness and graphic voice that speaks distinctively of Australia.
The hearty resilience of the wattle has come to represent the enduring spirit of the Australian people.
It speaks of warmth, expanding ideas and horizons, with the pollen-laden stamens radiating a sense of energy and dynamism.”
So there is clear connection to Australia in its reference to the wattle plant, which has always been distinctively “Australian”. It has after all been on our coat of arms for over a century.
Great logos endure
One of the great masters of logo design, Sagi Haviv of Chermayeff Geismar Haviv, talks about how the best logos endure time, trends and platforms. In fact, the compliment he gives great logos is that they are “slap-on-logos”, meaning it can be used anywhere, on any platform and it will still look good. This takes great skill and experience to design this level of versatility in a single design mark.
The designer’s challenge is to create simple yet distinctive marks
For this simple mark to represent your brand for its lifetime it has to stand the test of time. Just as you don’t swap or change your signature with new trends or fads, nor should your logo have to be “updated”. This is where simplicity transcends aging trends.
The true price of a great logo comes from how well your designer can solve the problem of finding the right balance between abstracting your brand to a simple design that is still distinctively the mark of your business and no other. Sagiv talks about the 3 criteria of timeless symbols being: Appropriate, Distinctive and Simple and the challenge this poses even for experienced world-renowned designers like himself.
The verdict on Australia's new logo
$10M is a lot of money that might have been better spent elsewhere, especially in our current COVID-world. However, as we know now, good logo design is challenging and doesn’t happen overnight. So when Clemenger BBDO won the contract back in January 2019 for this redesign, it’s unlikely they would have ever imagine it would be likened to the virus from an precedented world pandemic.
Good logos don’t have to be universally liked.
Some of the most long-lasting logos were hated at first, such as the current Chase Bank logo which was radically different when it first came out in 1961. It’s withstood the test of time and multiple mergers and acquisitions.
What's important to make the new Australia logo worth $10M is that it:
- won’t look dated in a few years, and
- has easy application by being able to be quickly recognised on any platform - online, digital, on billboards and on packaging, irrespective of size and colour.
BUT is it still worth $10M?
Given the average marketing spend for most businesses is 10% of it’s revenue, $10M is a small amount compared to the $35 Billion in revenue Australia generated from exports in May 2020.
Ultimately, the biggest downfall of this logo is the timing of its press release. In our COVID environment, large spending not related to health will appear frivolous, and trade both locally and overseas has slowed significantly with wary consumers. Given the amount of emotion a logo can incite there potentially could have been a better, more upbeat, time for its release.
At Kuriet, our brand mark of two circles is also an abstraction. It's a signature of our holistic view of marketing: balancing the art of storytelling with the science of data analytics. By no means do we expect people to interpret this abstraction. Instead, we'd rather you read our about page!
If you’re struggling with your logo designs and need help with visual branding reach out to us, we’d love to chat and work to help you design the right logo for your business!