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The $100 Logo: A Lesson In Value

by TJ Barranger (TJ on Google+)

As a designer, I hear it all the time from potential clients:

"I'm starting a business and I need a really great logo. What can I get for, say, $100?"

The short answer is, next to nothing. But I want to be more helpful than that. After all, your project is special (or so you tell me), and it would be an important addition to my portfolio (which is already full of artwork for which I've been fairly compensated, but I digress). So let me at least entertain your query. Granted, if you're asking such a question, you've either grossly underestimated how much capital you need to start your business, or you're trying to take advantage of a hard-working professional. But let's assume the former and proceed....

If you really want a logo for a c-note, I suppose I or any designer could draw a neat little picture of just about anything you want. But remember, you're expecting to pay less for my work than you would for someone to answer the phones or man the cash register for a day. So the question you need to ask yourself as a business owner isn't, what do I get for my hundred bucks?—it's what don't I get for that price?


In order for me to give you a bargain basement price, we'll need to cut a lot of the frills, like in-person meetings. I simply can't afford to get into my car, drive an hour to your well-furnished office (you only pay $100 a month for that, right?), and actually discuss your project with you. I may not be able to take your phone calls, either.


Since you only have $100, and you need to get the best possible picture for your money, I need to get right to drawing. So we'll need to skip that time-consuming research process. No worries, I'm sure whatever I whip up will be perfectly appropriate to your industry and your customer base, and won't look anything like what your competitors are using.


We're on a shoestring budget here, so once I've drawn your logo, I won't have any time left over for changes to the design. But don't worry; I'm going to nail it on the very first try. After all, I'm a professional, which is why you offered me such a princely sum for my services in the first place.


In order to put all my effort into creating the best $100 picture possible, I won't have time to do any typographical work on your company name. That's OK. With the money you're saving on design, you can afford to do that part yourself. Of course, if you really need me to do it, I can just throw some text into the design for you at the end. You like Comic Sans, right?


Once I've finished your design, I'll send you the final artwork as a scalable vector graphic (SVG) file, and you can convert it to any size or format you wish. You do have the time, equipment, and skills to do that yourself, right? No? Well, I suppose I could export the graphic to a JPEG for your website header. Hmm...what's that? You want to include a smaller JPEG in the footer, too? And your printing/embroidery vendor needs the artwork in EPS format for your company shirts, hats, and business cards? If I had an assistant, I'd have him get right on that for you. Unfortunately, some of these admins charge over $500 a week for their work. Can you believe that?

So, when do we get started?

The above article represents the sarcastic rantings of an over-caffeinated designer, whose frustrations are shared by thousands of colleagues around the globe, and who has opted to alleviate the stress associated with said frustrations in a creative and constructive manner. It is intended to be a tongue-in-cheek look at the design process. The persons and events depicted in the preceding narrative are (mostly) fictitious, and any similarities to actual events or persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

TJ Barranger is a branding and publicity consultant in the Baltimore, Maryland area with a background in business communications and online content management. He specializes in assisting small business and non-profit clients. Agree/disagree with this article? Share your comments via e-mail: