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September, 2011 Monthly archive

The traditional handpainted sign look has been on the up in the art world for a while now thanks to forerunners such as the late Margaret Kilgallen and Steve Powers, along with the resurgence of traditional yet progressive tattoo styles. I expect this visual style to become much more apparent in more mainstream circles over the next year or two, crossing into both fashion and graphic design circles and likely popping up in use by brands and in formats you perhaps wouldn’t have expected. Other artists of note are New Bohemia Signs and Jeff Canham, and a big mention to the unknown mural and signage painters in India, I’ll let you do the googling there.

I don’t know how many times I’ve been asked “How much do you charge for a logo?”. I guess it’s an obvious starting point for someone unfamiliar and unexperienced in buying design, but it’s also a red flag warning of a possible nightmare client as it’s such a flawed question. I’ve never commissioned an architect, but I can tell you I’m not about to ask one “How much does a building cost?”.

A brand is more than simply a logo, walking away with just an eps file of a logo will get you nowhere. That’s not to say every small company or startup requires a hefty brand manual and an almighty range of marketing material, but what it does mean is that you should be equipped with the insights into what you stand for and how best to position your brand, the knowledge on how to communicate that successfully, and the tools and assets in order to be able to portray it visually. Put in some effort and investment and reap the rewards.

All clients are different, all projects are different. There is no one size fits all job description and so there is no one size fits all cost. Any designer that offers a menu of prices, be it for brand identity or websites costed per page or marketing material or whatever it may be, is almost certainly a rank amateur that cannot possibly be working in a way that will benefit you. Why? Because…

  1. They’ve already skipped asking questions about your company to find out how they can best help you get what you need. Research, discovery and strategy are clearly words that are not in their vocabulary
  2. They are usually bottom of the barrel cheap, so out of necessity they’ll be knocking up the first idea they think of and making it shiny. They rely on churning out a high volume of poor quality work as quickly as possible in order to survive
  3. They’ve set a fixed time limit on how much work they will do and merely want you in and out with an invoice sent as fast as possible. They do not care about your project.

So here’s some advice for clients — Be open, start a conversation and offer transparency to your budget. Holding your cards close to your chest is probably the most ineffective thing you can do. Understand that good branding and design delivers ROI and invest realistically in your business, nobody will be able to help you and nobody worth their salt is going to be interested in working with you otherwise.

You can read more about ‘what’s in a brand’ here.