Good design is like a good burger.

September 12, 2015

Author: Angela Noble

Author: Angela Noble


We make custom designed logos, websites, and email marketing campaigns. We’re often asked if sites like 99designs and pre-made WordPress or Squarespace templates are negatively affecting our business. The short answer, not at all. The long answer is… a bit longer.

Templates are great… sometimes.

Let’s imagine you have a hand-made soap business that you just started and you need to get a website up — a pre-designed template might be your best option. You’re not a designer, but you are computer savvy enough to use a pre-designed template to put your self-made logo, your product pictures and descriptions, and your email address and phone number in the template so anyone interested can see your soap products and contact you to buy some.

This is a perfect use of a template; it requires very little money and time to get something “good enough” online — and get your business off the ground. We would never want to charge someone in this situation thousands of dollars for a custom designed, super awesome website that they simply do not need at this stage of their business.

Jump ahead three years later to when your artisanal soaps are bringing in tons of profit and you’re ready to pitch to retailers such as Whole Foods. Now, a more professional logo and a more functional, custom designed website might be needed. You now have the capital to spend on it and can justify the expense knowing a professionally designed logo and website can make or break a deal with big retailers — and allow you to showcase and sell your products online bringing added ROI. The value we’ll provide to you in this case will be equitable to the cost.

And not every website or logo is the same cost — it depends on your specific needs.

For example, the websites we create range in cost from about $5,000 to $50,000.

A small business that’s only a couple years old and is making modest profits likely needs a simple solution to meet their business goals — it’s not extremely difficult or time-consuming for us to create, so it’s a lower cost to the client.

A medium sized business that is well established will likely need a much more complex solution (e-commerce, backend databases, login functionality, etc.) and will therefore be more work and time for us, and subsequently be higher in cost to the client. The value these websites provide to the respective businesses is equitable to the cost.

Cheap logos are okay… sometimes.

In terms of sites like 99designs where you can have about 30 logo options for $299, the same thing is true. Despite our objections to crowd-sourced design, or contest/spec work of any kind for that matter, if you’re okay with an “okay” logo designed by an amateur designer (maybe you’re just starting out and that’s all you can afford), then great. The value the logo provides to your business is equitable to the cost.

When we give someone a quote for a logo and brand identity package that’s in the thousands of dollars, sometimes we’re met with a reaction of “…but I can get tons more options for a fraction of the cost on sites like 99designs! Why should I pay you so much?” Simple — the quality.

Quality is expensive.

Think of In-N-Out Burger. You can get a cheeseburger for about $2. And it’s good! I love In-N-Out! Now consider Burger Lounge. Their cheeseburgers are more like $8. Also a great burger. So what’s the difference? Burger Lounge is four times the price!

How is Burger Lounge still in business selling burgers for four times as much as In-N-Out? Are they four times better? Well, their beef is single source and grass-fed, they have a fluffy, artisan bun, their cheese is organic, their ketchup is organic, and their onion, lettuce, and tomato are super fresh. So yes, the value of their product is equal to the cost. They aren’t losing any customers to In-N-Out or backyard barbecues.

I recently went to The Patio on Goldfinch, a local restaurant in the San Diego neighborhood of Mission Hills. They have a burger there called the 30 Buck Chuck. That’s right, it’s $30! That’s fifteen times the price of In-N-Out. It’s a giant 10 ounces of blended filet mignon and kobe and prime rib patty, plus Iberico ham, huntsman cheese, a sunny side up duck egg, frisée, and heirloom tomato all between a black truffle butter brioche bun! Sign me up! That burger is 15 times better than In-N-Out! The value is definitely equal to the cost.

The cost of our services can be viewed the same way. It takes a lot of time to design a custom logo, website, or email campaign that meets the business objectives of our clients. More than that, it takes skill and talent to do it well. The skill, talent, experience, and time we put into each and every one of our projects increase the value — and cost — to our clients.

The value of a well-designed website or logo that achieves business objectives should be equitable to the cost.

Sometimes a self-made logo (free for the person creating it) is good enough when you’re transitioning from a hobby to a real business or just want to test out the waters with your business idea. Sometimes an amateur-designed logo for $99 is the best fit. Sometimes spending $1,000 on a professionally designed logo for an established mom and pop business is a reasonable next step for the business. And sometimes a $10,000 brand identity package for a profitable corporation is a great business decision. Mega corporations spend millions, sometimes billions, on updating their logos.

If a million dollar logo or website won’t have more than a million dollar return on investment for your business, then it’s probably not the right fit.

The key is to determine your specific business needs and decide how much value a new logo or website will provide to your business — and then find a provider who is a good match.