You’ve just started out on your own as a sole trader, or maybe you’re at a startup company and need a custom logo design to get the brand up and running. What do you do if your budget is limited? How do you sell yourself to the world?
There are a multitude of options for you to consider, from hiring a professional logo designer to using online services or logo design competitions. Some are good choices, others not so much, but we’ll get into that.
I get a lot of quote requests through my site from startups and small businesses looking for budget logo design – I hesitate to use the term cheap logo design as it could be interpreted as cheap-looking or of poor quality as supposed to cheap prices. Unfortunately I have to turn most of them down, which can be hard, but if you’re looking for a custom logo design for your budget of £50, may I suggest thinking about your business acumen and understanding of how time equals money? Hopefully not coming across as a snobby graphic designer, the point I’m aiming towards is that there are alternative options to hiring a professional logo designer when you’re on a tight budget.
So what are these options?
1: Design your own Logo.
If you have no money whatsoever to invest in your brand, as many don’t, you could design your own logo. The advantages of this are that it will be free, personal and as long as you’re not working with clipart or generic templates, it should be unique. The disadvantages are that you will require specific software to design your own logo in digital format – I recommend finding some free logo design software as supposed to shelling out a few hundred for something you’ll only use once.
If you’re going to design your own logo, all I can suggest is to keep things simple. As simple as possible. Don’t try to show off your newly acquired skills through fancy effects and 3D Wordart, I promise you that if the stylisation is central to the design, it will look dated in no time as trends change. It can be as easy as searching for a nice font on myfonts.com and using it in a colour that works for the message you’re trying to convey. Remember, not all successful logos need to have an icon or symbol to make them memorable.
2: Use a Logo template
There are a lot of sites that offer custom logo templates for sale as a one-off, so when you purchase it, you are the single owner. This is a better idea in that you will still come out with a custom logo, rather than a stock icon or template hundreds of other businesses are attached to. These templates can range in price from £5 to a couple of hundred, be sure to find out about the designer – are they professional? Is this logo listed for sale elsewhere? What is the rights you have to use the logo? Does the price include personalisation? These questions all need asked before purchasing.
The advantage of this for a smaller business is that you get to see the ‘final’ logo design before buying it – as long as you can imagine your company name alongside it, you’ve got a pretty good idea if it will fit your needs. The downside to using a logo template for your business is that it wasn’t designed for you, it was created for a fictional practise that you’ll be putting your name to – however, if this doesn’t bother you then it’s not a big deal.
I personally have a custom logo design shop where very affordable logo design templates are listed for sale. They are all created by me, and include customisation to your needs when purchased – as I said before, the logo is then removed once purchased to retain exclusivity.
3: Run a logo competition – a.k.a. crowdsourcing.
A touchy subject amongst designers as a whole, leaving a somewhat split audience whether crowdsourcing is good or bad for businesses. All morals aside, if you run a small part-time company with minimal turnover, maybe a non-profit organisation or church, running a logo competition is a good way to get a selection of logo concepts to choose from on a shoestring budget.
Bear in mind that those who regularly submit logos to these competitions are likely to be amateur graphic designers, children or bulk-submitters who spend between 5-10 minutes on the design to get as many submissions as their time allows. There is a lot of copyright and trademark infringement on these sites (even if the owners claim no knowledge) so be wary that the logo you select may have been stolen or copied from someone else. It happens all the time.
I do need to point out that I don’t recommend running a logo design competition, not simply because I’m a logo designer, but because the results are rarely worth the money spent – if you have a limited budget, spend it wisely. It’s like firing arrows blindly at the target, if you’re really lucky, one may hit – but it won’t be a bullseye.
4: Hire a graphic design student
Try building a relationship with a young, up and coming design student or a graphic designer who’s new to the industry. Their prices will tend to be much lower than the average since they’re just starting out themselves – another good reason, they’ll understand where you are coming from with the financial side of a new business.
When I started out, I was and still am exceptionally grateful to the clients who trusted me with their brand. With a limited portfolio I knew I had to do more than just deliver, I had to over-deliver in every way. Find a young designer with passion and determination and speak to them, let them know what you need and you’re on a limited budget – I’m sure they’ll be only too happy to assist.
Don’t ask them for a free logo design, or work for publicity / future potential work – it’s a bit disrespectful.
5: If none of these appeal… increase your budget!
Okay, you can’t afford the multidisciplinary design company with the stunning, global portfolio, but a freelance graphic designer can be very affordable. You can always use a temporary logo placeholder for a month or two until you have a more respectable budget (over say £100) when you can then return to finding the designer for the job. Be up front early on, let them know your budget for design, what you need and they’ll tell you if it can be done.
Do not underestimate the importance of a solid logo design for your startup business – it’s the face of your company, the first thing they will see and the image they’ll remember. A poorly designed, generic logo will be forgettable, certainly off-putting as it diminishes your professionalism. Spend whatever budget you are willing to invest wisely and it will pay off in the long run.
Everyone has a budget for business investments, whatever they may be, and your ‘brand’ is one of the most important. Work out how much you can realistically allocate to the logo design and spend it as sensibly as you can. My recommendation is to try and build a relationship with a graphic designer before falling into the bulk, cheap logo design pitfalls of the many online services.
If you intend to grow from a small business and be successful for years to come, having the relationship with a professional graphic designer will be an asset – alternatively, if all you need is a simple graphic for your personal blog then by all means try out the crowdsourcing options or design your own logo. If your startup doesn’t work out, then you haven’t wasted too much money.