Saturday, May 31, 2008

How to Compete with FREE!

Over the past few weeks I've been observing a common situation that continues to get the blood boiling among Graphic Designers world-wide: Logos done fast 'n cheap!

A company I have an association with tried their hand at using those cheap logo factories on the web. You know the ones that promise a logo for a few dollars and a limitless number of versions until they get your approval. Well, the owner of this company wanted my opinion on some of the samples they submitted. Most were pathetic from a design perspective but a few were interesting. But the bottom line for me was none hit the mark because they just didn't get it. They were not designing to communicate a brand message they were just designing a compelling graphic.

Another case was a discussion on David Airey's logo blog LoveDesignLogo relating to pricing of logos and the feeling of many designers that cost reflected quality. It was a spirited discussion. But all of this boils down again to brand. If a lead views you as too expensive for them, then your brand has no value with them. That is not to say that your brand is bad, it is an unknown quantity to them. All they have left is commodity. You leave them no choice.

Graphic Designers will always have this disagreement because their individual and industry brands are weak. They have been reduced to a commodity. If they were to concentrate on their brands and develop a compelling positioning strategy, the discussion above would not rile them so.

For myself and logos, I compete with free and still come out on top. Many times I have seen companies use logos done for them by local publications or printers just to get their business. I still have customers who want to pay me substantially more to work on the brand image. Why - because I give them a compelling reason to do so. It always astonishes me how many start-ups, pay little regard for their brand images, opting for the cheapest possible solution. That's not to say that high price = high value.

It's been pointed out that Nike paid $35 for their swoosh and now look at them. This isn't a case where the company was a success because of the logo but the logo was a success because of the company. The point isn't your price really, it is your brand. I could design a logo that communicates a brand and charge nothing. That doesn't make that mark any less effective.

It's all about your brand. Are you an expert in your field? If so, and if your message is compelling you can rise above price. Customers will value the relationship and their ability to profit from it. You get to charge fairly. What price you charge is of course up to you. The goal is to have a customer respect your price because they value your brand and want what you can offer them.


Anonymous said...

Amen Ed!

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Sorry for offtopic

Ed Roach said...


Thanks for the compliment, (even off topic). I work very hard at blogging.

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