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Is the 5 Dollar Logo too Good to be True?

Absolutely, but that doesn't mean startups on a budget have no options. Discount design services can be useful for businesses that aren't ready to build a long term relationship with a marketing partner. The average cost for a budget logo is anywhere from $10 - $50, which should still be doable for even the smallest of business. However, the decision to invest any amount in graphic design and marketing, whether it's $5 or $5,000, should be done deliberately. Before making the decision to hire a faceless freelancer from the internet, consider what you’re going to get.

If it’s cheap and fast, it won’t be good.

Not to sound too pretentious, but design is more than craft, it’s an art. Anyone can use the designer's tools, and with a little help from stock graphics, knock out a quick logo that won't break the bank. Cookie cutter logos will get the job done but they’ll never stand the test of time. In order for a designer to make work that adds value to a brand, they need time to get to know who they're working for. It’s best to think of design like this as a product, not a service.

Something else to look out for when hiring a freelance designer, especially if you're going through a second hand service, is fraud. It’s not uncommon for designers to start from stock graphics when turning around work in a hurry. In and of itself, using stock graphics is not a problem. It becomes fraud when work is pulled lock-stock-and-barrel from someone else and passed off as original without the slightest alteration. When choosing a designer, look at their whole portfolio. If some of the work doesn't look as polished as the rest, especially if it’s ostensibly made around the same time, there’s a chance they’re trying to pass off someone else's work as their own.

If it’s good and cheap, it won’t be fast.

It’s not impossible to get good work from anonymous freelancers on the internet. A lot of professional, talented designers work freelance. It will take some sleuthing to find the one that’s right for the project, but it’s absolutely possible to find “the one”. There are services just for establishing relationships between freelancers and clients with reasonable monthly budgets. There are trade-offs going with a service versus going directly to a freelancer, for instance, the reliability of a monthly plan versus having direct access to the designer.

However no matter how a freelancer is hired, good design takes time, and the first thing that’s going to get cut to save money is that time. With most services, their cheapest plan only offers to work on a single project, for a single brand, and at best, provide for a single round of feedback per day. This is going to gum up the works and slow down the process. As for freelancers working on their own, they typically charge by the hour, and/or by revision, with a premium set on rush jobs. When you want designers to work for the absolute minimum, you’re going to be on their schedule, not yours.

If it’s fast and good, it won’t be cheap.

Truisms aside, for every “you can only pick two” option we’ve discussed there’s a high price to be paid. This is just the option where that high price is measured in U.S. dollars. If you’re willing and able to put up the money, you won't need to search long and hard for the right graphic designer. For just a few hundred bucks a freelancer can turn around an original logo virtually overnight. Okay, not over night, more like in under a week. Money can’t buy everything and there’s still plenty of downside here to consider even if you have a sizable budget.

The best way to get good work fast is to establish a relationship with a freelancer, or an agency. This isn’t actually fast, at least not taking the long view it isn’t. But individual projects will be completed a lot quicker if the same designers are working for the same client, over and over. This cuts back on all the time spent searching for the right person, revisions take less time, and it’s an all around more pleasant and value added experience for everyone. Because a good logo is more than just an original logo. A good logo comes from an understanding of the brand, and that’s something you can’t just buy.

There is no such thing as cheap, fast, and good, not in logos and not in life. The up and coming graphic designer right out of school looking for exposure and willing to work for next to nothing is a myth. While there’s no reasonable way to get the right logo for your business for just $5, there’s absolutely a way to get the logo you want if you’re willing to accept the cost.