5 affordable ways to get a logo for your business

By April 5, 2019 Branding
5 affordable ways to obtain your first logo and visual identity system, when you can't pay for a professional designer yet

Almost every time I attend to a networking event and tell others that I’m a graphic designer specialized in branding, I get the same question: “Can you make me a logo for $100?”  

Of course, sometimes the other person says a different amount, anywhere between $0 to $200 or even asks if we could “barter services”In the past I got pissed off by these questions – in way that involved a long rant to my husband when I got home after the event. “Why is that no one sees the real value that a designer puts into her work, but they are happy to leave hundreds of dollars at their hairdressers for a quick root retouch?”  

But over the years I realized that I was unjust.  

There are all kind of needs in a business – as I’m experiencing during my own journey too. Some people would happily give $2000+ for a brand identity design project so that they get a beautiful logo and color palette without ever touching Adobe Illustrator. Others have to use this amount for something else… When you have a business, there’s always a million reasons to spend your money: bookkeeper, office rental, equipment, conferences, online ads, etc. 

So, what if you are at the very beginning, you want to get a logo for your business, but you can’t afford a professional to design it? In this post, I’ll go through different options that can work for you. 

Money VS TIme

Before we dig in, I have to clear two things. First, no matter which method you choose, you’ll have to invest either a bit more money or a bit more time into the logo design process. 

What does this mean? 

Outsourcing to a professional graphic designer or agency can cost you anywhere between $1500 to $5000. You’ll take part in the process when answering questions from the designer and reviewing initial logo options. The time you’ll spend on the project will be a few hours. 

On the other hand, if you decide to save on money and create your logo yourself, you might have to invest a lot more of time. Time for learning the design software, time for learning what colors fit well together, what fonts can you legally use for a logo, etc. You’ll still have expenses too, $100-$200 for buying fonts, stock photos and stock illustrations 

The main point here: what you save on the money, you’ll spend on labour. And while you’re working on your brand identity, you won’t be able to work on your products and services.  

In other words: the two methods will cost you the same at the end. The question is, what can you afford more: paying with your time or paying with your money? 

When you’re a beginner with not many clients and sales, I suggest investing time. Learning a design software and design aesthetics will benefit you on the long run. But if you have steady sales, or you’re fully booked with higher hourly rate, I would outsource the process because your time is way more valuable when you spend it with the clients. 

LOGO VS VISUAL IDENTITY 

The second thing I have to clear is that the logo on its own is not enough. Sure, it’s the first thing people see when landing on your website or getting your business card, but it’s not the only visual element of your brandIn fact, if your only goal is to get a logo for your business, you’ll soon run into limitations. 

Your website needs much more than just your logo: brilliant copy, consistent looking colors, fontsphotos, icons, etc.  

In fact, all the content you create (let it be a product or a social media post) will need more visual elements than just your logo. 

What I recommend you is to aim for more: build a visual identity system (also called brand identity system). This is a package of visual elements that will help you create consistent looking content on all platforms. The elements can be: 

  • Your logo 
  • Your brand colors 
  • Your brand fonts 
  • Other supporting graphic elements: patterns, textures, illustrations, icons, stock photos (or your own studio shots) 
  • Templates for your social media posts 
  • Templates for documents (workbooks, e-books, covers)
  • Templates for presentation slides
  • And even brand music tracks and videos

You don’t have to create them all at once, but you have to keep in mind that you should not stop at the logo.  

Now let’s see the different methods to get a logo and visual identity system for your business. 

#1 - BUILDING IT YOURSELF 

The first, and most time-consuming option, is to create everything yourself. This can work for you if you know Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop or if you always wanted to learn to use them.  

It’s also an advantage if you have trained eyes for graphic design aesthetics 

You also have to be tough in decision making and define clear deadlines. I know from my own experience that you can spend an entire life-time on perfecting your own logo. You have to draw the line somewhere and say, “this is done, I’m not touching any pixel on this anymore”.  

The good thing is that this process requires the lowest financial investment so you can start it even when your business is new. 

Required tim​e 

Can take several weeks 

Required budget 

Minimal. You’ll definitely need to pay for software and the fonts, stock photos which start at around $10 / item.  

Quality of end result 

Depends on your capabilities  

Pros 

- Most budget friendly option 
- Can be a really rewarding process, if you like creative tasks

Cons

- Can take very long 

- Perfectionists might get trapped in a never-ending design project 

Where to start 

- Go and check related logo design tutorials on Skillshare 

- Give clear deadlines to yourself 

- Ask some trusted friends to give feedback on your design 

#2 - USING PRE-MADE TEMPLATES 

This is a relatively new method that gotraction thanks to online marketspaces like Creative Market.  

Pre-made templates are design files that already include well aligned fonts, colors and graphic elements, you just have to swap the text to yours and voila, your logo is done. 

The good thing is that it’s very easy to work with these templates as the creator already made most of the work for you. And in many cases, these templates are made by seasoned professionals with a good eye for details. 

On the other hand, there are some difficulties. Finding the right templatetakes time. Also, you can get very generic end result when using templates, especially if you buy the super-cheap mega template bundles – everyone else buys those… do you want to get a logo like everyone else?  

The best way to find the right templates for you is to look for designers with a specific style that suits your brand. It’s even better if this designer has a collection of matching templates, for example one template set for your logo, one for your presentations, one for your Instagram posts. This way, you’ll be able to create your whole brand identity system in no time. 

Last but not least, these templates often include free fonts – because the seller doesn’t want to force you into buying an additional font. And free isn’t always good when it comes to your logo. Many free fonts are only free for personal use, not commercial use. In addition, some commercial fonts aren’t allowed to be used in logos.  

Before you purchase, ask the designer about the fonts and read the license terms. 

Required tim​e 

Can take 1-2 weeks

Required budget 

Medium. You’ll have to pay for the templates ($19 - $39 / set) 

Quality of end result 

Depends on the quality of the templates that you purchased 

Pros 

- You’ll need less software knowledge.  

- You’ll invest less time and can reach more beautiful end result if you purchase templates made by professional designers 

Cons


- M
any of the available sets lack supporting tutorials to show you how to modify the templates 
Some pre-made templates can result in generic looking logos 

Where to start 


- G
o to Creative Market. You’ll find pre-made logo template sets in the Templates/Logo category. 
Choose from those sellers who have collections of products in the same style, so that you can build your whole system easier 

#3  USING DESIGNER CUSTOMIZED PRE-MADE TEMPLATES 

This method is very similar to the previous one, but instead of customizing the template yourself, the designer does it for you. You can find a lot of these products on Etsy. 

When you purchase the template, the designer asks you to give her your business name, tagline and color preferences. Then, in about 1-3 days she customizes the pre-made logo template with your business name and colors and sends it to you. Sometimes you can get 1-2 rounds of revisions. 

I found that this method can work well for logos but not so much for your whole brand identity system. I couldn’t find products that covers all aspects of your visual identity beside the logo.

Required tim​e 

Can take 1-2 weeks

Required budget 

Medium. You’ll pay around $50-$100 for a template that the designer customizes for you 

Quality of end result 

Depends on the quality of the templates that you purchased 

Pros 


- You won’t need 
software knowledge.  
You might get revision options 

Cons


- Most of these products only cover the logo design, not the entire brand identity system
 

- Finding these products are quite cumbersome 

Where to start 

Look around on Etsy – I found most of these templates on their site 

#4 - CROWDSOURCING 

Crowdsourcing design sites let you post your design request as a contest. Multiple designers answer with their concepts and you can pick the best contestant’s work at the end. The two advantages are that you can pick from many designs and that these services are quite cheap (between $200-$500, or even less). 

My fellow designer friends will hate me for bringing up this option. Why? Many of thesay that crowdsourcing design sites take our jobs and give them to people in developing countries for far lower prices – which devalues the whole graphic design industry. 

It might be true, but I don’t think that this is the real issue for you 

Examining the matter from your perspective, I found that the bigger problem is cultural difference. What’s defined as beautiful and relevant in one country (or even one state) can be completely different in the other end of the world. Just think about how a wedding looks like in the US and in India. If you are a wedding organizer in New York, your idea of a perfect logo for your business can be very different from what a wedding organizer in India would prefer. Both designs can be beautiful… but for different target markets and not all of the designers on these crowdsourcing sites will be able to understand your market. 

Another issue is that the form you have to fill when submitting your design contest is way too generic. You’re also limited in how you can communicate with the participating designers. This leads to dozens of generic, mediocre concepts that you have to go through. 

As this Forbes article exclaims, the experience is more like shopping in Walmart – a lot for cheap but not always the best quality. 

You can still be lucky and find a designer who has a magical fifth sense, understands your culture and business and works in the exact style that you’re looking for. Just be prepared to go through a truckload of mediocre work ‘til you find him. 

Required tim​e 

Can take a month but you don’t have to invest design work. 

Required budget 

Medium, between $200 - $500 depending on the site 

Quality of end result 

Depends on the designers participating in the contest. Lots of mediocre design and maybe a few really good ones.  

Pros 


- Everything we’ll be done for you, no need to know any software
 

- You can get a unique logo if you’re lucky 

- You can pick from several concepts 

Cons


- You’ll have to go through lots of generic
 concepts 
Your communication with the designers is limited 
The designers won’t know your business well enough 

Where to start 


Make sure that you are very clear on what you want. Make a badass creative brief, because the better inform
ation you can give to the contestants, the better design concepts you can choose from 

The most trusted crowdsourcing design sites to check out are 99Designs and Freelancer 

#5 – AFFORDABLE OUTSOURCING OPTIONS 

Finally, good old outsourcing.  

This will give you the most customized end result that reflects your true mission, vision and values.  

As I mentioned at the beginning, outsourcing your visual identity development can cost a lot. You might not be able to afford it when you’re new in businessBut there are some ways to make it more affordable. 

WORK WITH STUDENTS 

You can provide valuable learning opportunity to a student in graphic design and she will likely charge less. But be prepared that students might not have a refined work process yet. They might not provide a contract or clear deadlines. If you find these to be important for you, you have to push for them.  

You might also have to lower some of your expectations regarding the end result. Not because the student you’re working with is lazy or untalented. She just doesn’t have the experience yet.  

BARTER SERVICES 

I personally don’t like this option, only because every time I came to face it, the barter offer wasn’t something I needed.  

The key to successfully exchange your services to a designer’s services is to offer her something that she really wants and needs just can’t afford yet. 

If a designer says, “no thanks, I’m not interested”, don’t take it as an insult and don’t push furtherIt doesn’t mean that your offer is badit’s just not relevant for the other person. 

PAYING IN INSTALMENTS 

Most designers offer a payment plan for bigger projects, so you won’t have to pay the full price at once. This is optimal if you know that you can get the required money in the close future. 

MADE FOR YOU TEMPLATES 

It’s also possible that a designer only creates the basic elements of your brand and makes templates for the rest. You still have to pay a higher initial price, but on the long run, you or your team will be able to use the templates without hiring the designer again. 

WHICH METHOD WOULD YOU CHOOSE TO GET A LOGO? 

Finally, I’d like to hear from you. Which method would you choose to get your first logo and visual identity system for your business? 

Any alternative ways that worked for you in the past? Please don’t hesitate to share them in the comments. 

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