STV, an architectural services firm I have worked at for several years, is approaching its 100th anniversary. That fact alone is pretty exiting – 100 years of service definitely makes a mark for any enterprise. In addition to that, I have been charged with leading the design efforts to create the company’s anniversary logo. As a design manager who values strategic design principals, I dove right in, thinking about this assignment and what approach my team and I should take. I instantly recognized that the task is not as simple as it appears to be, and that there is a price to be paid in any re-rebranding initiative.
Branding has become a very popular buzzword in modern design practices, and branding projects are amongst many designers’ favorites. Designers often propose branding as a strategic solution to many problems. However, they may not realize how much branding or re-branding may actually cost a company.
Identityworks, a website founded Tony Spaeth, who is an independent identity consultant, provides the following estimation: “…for ballpark purposes, in America in 2008 the range of $210,000 to $455,000 sounds about right, for planning and designing a moderately complex institutional rebranding, by qualified specialists.”
The number above only covers professional service fees and expenses. It does not include staff realignment and retraining or implementation, which includes reprinting of all of the company’s collateral, letterhead, and signage. This expense could become unbearable for any company’s budget. That’s why clients, being afraid that it would cost too much, often say, “We just need a logo! – don’t worry about strategy, and we will take care of implementation…” Sounds familiar? I believe that many designers have experienced this kind of attitude on the part of their clients.
That is why, at the end of the day, for our clients and our friends, we mostly create “pretty” logos. As designers we need to make the case for logo design and branding that represents real strategic thought. It is also important as design managers to urge our clients to consider if they need a new logo at all, and to truly examine the underlying issues of their company.