A recent discussion has popped up on one of the video forums I frequent. A couple of the members have each posted a set of new logo options they had developed, and they were asking for input from the community. Nothing big there. Except, these logos were developed at two different online logo contest sites, Logo Sauce and Logo Tournament. The amount of money they were paying: $250 and $350 respectively.
The question arose from another forum member whether this approach cheapens their brand? Should something as important as your logo be left to any old graphic designer out there willing to make a logo for a few hundred bucks? An excellent question. For what it’s worth, here’s my take.
A LOGO DOES NOT A BRAND MAKE
First and foremost, a brand is so much more than just a logo. Or your website. Or your business card. At it’s essence, a brand is a feeling that a person has when they come in contact with any part of your business. It’s an overall experience. You communicate and build your brand in every interaction a client has with you. So, it’s too simple a question just to ask if one should spend a lot of money on a logo. A better question is, “how much are you investing in your whole brand experience, and HOW are you creating it.” With that in mind, here are three points to consider regarding logo creation (IMHO):
It’s the process, not the payment: how much money you’re investing in a logo is less important than the process in which you are developing it. Do the designers you’ve hired have a good understanding of your business, your brand, your clientele, and their interests? Are you developing this logo in a vacuum, or are you doing it in conjunction with an entire campaign (e.g. website, collateral, copy, etc.)? I think in general it holds true that, you’ll get what you pay for, but depending on your business, the amount you’re investing in the logo part may not be as important as other parts. Which leads me to point #2.
In this business (weddings), the mark doesn’t matter: oooh, this one may raise an eyebrow or two. But I contend that for businesses which cater primarily to brides (as these two videographers’ businesses do), the actual visual mark they create for their logo is probably one of the least important aspects of their brand. Here’s why. I believe a memorable logo is best suited for products or services where there is frequent and repeat business from the same client, or if that logo helps the product/service stand out in a sea of competitors. When you’re driving down the I-5 from San Francisco to L.A., your stomach grumbling from hunger, you want to quickly notice those “golden arches” in that oasis of fast food restaurants. When you’re shopping in your favorite athletic store, you want to quickly find that Nike “swoosh.” When you’re walking down the cereal aisle and looking at the hundreds of options, you want to quickly zoom in on that big, red “K.” Or, if you’re in the market for a new car, and you see a sleek sedan from the side, considering how much alike auto bodies are nowadays, you want to see that “blue and white checker patten” and know from seeing it the quality of the car. In all of these examples, the associated marks drum up feelings and thoughts about the product instantly that help in you making a decision.
Now, if you’re a wedding vendor like a photographer or videographer, chances are, that client is only going to hire you once. Sure, some of them may hire you again for an anniversary or birthday, and many of you may also do portrait photography which definitely could be repeat business (and even then it’s their experience with you the first time that’s making them come back). But on the whole, with respect to those of you focused on weddings, that client is only going to hire you once. Therefore, I contend that having a memorable and powerful logo is not as important as the other parts of your brand experience. (Note: I’m not saying it’s NOT important, I’m saying it’s not AS important). Which segues into point #3.
Edify the experience: with respect to a wedding-oriented business, I think the entire experience in dealing with your company is way more valuable than a cool logo. From their first encounter with your brand on your website, to their meeting with you or telephone calls, to the experience on the wedding day–all of these are the facets of your business that will have the greatest impact on whether a prospect hires you. Maybe even more so than your actual work. (I’m sure that comment won’t sit well with some of you. 😉
SO, WHERE SHOULD YOU DROP THE DOUGH?
Given the three points above then, spending a few hundred dollars for a logo isn’t necessarily a bad investment, nor an unwise marketing move. Again, so long as you’re paying close attention to points #1 and #3. If you are in the wedding business and you’re going to spend some serious moolah on your brand, I suggest putting it in the following experience edifiers:
- Website: if you’ve been paying attention to this blog for the last few weeks, you know how I feel about this. A unique website which creates a great visiting experience for your prospect will be one of the best investments you can make.
- Environment: where you meet with your prospects, whether it’s studio or your living room, is a significant part of the brand experience. Invest in furnishings and details that will make your prospect know feel like they are getting star treatment.
- Collateral: the quality of your business cards, stationery, and any other marketing materials you pass along to a prospect will have a huge impact on their buying decision. Especially if you’re in any kind of creative business like photography, videography, floral design, etc. If your business cards are cheap and flimsy, what does that communicate about the final product your client will get.
- Packaging: it goes without saying that how you deliver the final product is huge. Everything from the case you put that final DVD or CD in, or the album the photos go in, to the way it’s wrapped, what you include with the final product in the shipping box, etc. Make a statement. Especially considering that if you give your client multiple DVDs/albums, etc., that’s more people being exposed to your brand.
- Project/Customer Management: invest in a customer relationship and project management system that will allow you to deliver optimum service to your clients. Whether it’s remembering little details of their wedding (because you typed notes in your system); or sending out b-day cards; making it easy for them to sign a contract; giving them the ability to see the status of their project; or enabling YOUR team to stay up to date so you can deliver the final product on time. Programs like ShootQ, Basecamp, and Highrise are great for small businesses.
- A Video: (you know I had to say it. 🙂 ) A well crafted video, that is unique, and communicates who the real YOU is, will endear prospects to you and your business, will increase the efficiency of the selling process, and can be used as a viral marketing tool to work for you even while you sleep.
I will go so far as to say that as a wedding vendor, if you’ve done all these other things right, it doesn’t even matter if you have a logo mark. So, if you can get a decent looking one that fits your brand and then only fork out 2 or 3 Benjamins for it, that’s pretty good business if you ask me.
One last note: Nike paid just $35 for their logo (even adjusted for inflation, that would be only about a couple hundred dollars or less today). What makes that logo as powerful and meaningful as it is today is due to all the other experience-edifiers in which the company has invested through the years. Food for thought.