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Selling Logo Design: A Psychology for Profit

Understanding advertising, branding and marketing

By Staff

Even for the most experienced visual communications expert, persuading customers that creativity and craft are worth their hard-earned dollars is a hard sell.

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  • Building contractors, long-haul truckers, and restaurant owners know the cost of doing business when it involves things like raw materials and final products, but they balk at paying someone to "dream up an image."

    They know they should understand advertising, branding, and marketing; however, they resist wrapping their facts-and-figures fists around the abstract concept of logo design. But it can be done with strategies that acknowledge this resistance.

    Typically potential customers assume the logo design is a "throw-in" with the signs, the lettering, the stationery, or the advertising purchased. They think of logos like the floor mats for a new car. The first task is to show customers that the logo is the engine that drives the vehicle.

    Ask them about corporations and products in a market specifically different from theirs. For example, what do most people call a soft drink or soda? A Coke. What is the dominant emblem in the cluttered sports equipment industry? The Nike whoosh. What do most people ask for when their sink is clogged? Roto-Rooter. How valuable do they think such recognition is to those businesses?

    By starting with easily recognized successful examples, you have the force of experience to talk about their business identity, branding, marketing, and success.

    The next step is to show customers samples of your work. Of course, you will stay away from any business that might be seen as their competitor. Choose samples that have enjoyed the most success in markets local to the customer. Talk in factual terms of the logos' success and their benefits for the customer. The samples make the concept of business identity more concrete.

    The use of past successful samples also helps in dealing with customers who want a test drive. "What will the logo look like?" is a question that can lead to a lot of work and no money. The samples demonstrate the quality of your work; the volume of samples shows you are a market presence. If they like that work, they can leave a substantial deposit, and you can begin your work.

    "But I'm not sure I'll like it." Suggest to them that it is like someone going into a car dealership and asking to drive the new car for 100,000 miles before deciding whether or not they want to buy the car. Samples show that you have the expertise to the job. They also give you the opportunity to talk about how long it takes to design a logo.

    People unfamiliar with logo design tend to think that inspiration just strikes, and in a few minutes, a masterpiece appears. A sketch of the process-using a specific logo as an example-educates customers about the process, the work, and the time it takes to generate a business identity.

    Be sure to be positive. What works, what turned out, what the earlier customer discovered. Avoid stories that might sound like whining. You want customers that logo design is hard work, but customers have an aversion to tales of sweat, torture, blood, and tears.

    Include a discussion of decisions about cost and design involving such things as colors, lettering, spacing, graphics, and other materials as well as the psychological effect of each decision. Such-and-such a choice usually crates this effect on the public. Use some jargon of the visual communications industry (not so much that customers get that blank look) so they know you are an industry-specific professional. You know what you are doing, and they are paying for that expertise and experience.

    To increase the customers' sense of "getting something for their money," emphasize that they will get floppy disks, camera-ready-art, and other things they can hold in their hands as they leave your shop. Focus on all the signs, vehicles, paperwork, and things that will carry their new logo. Logo design, market identity, and company image will seem more real.

    Point out how many times the logo will be used. How many signs? How many vehicles? How many advertisements? How many pieces of paper? For how many years? Then do the math. Divide the estimated number of uses-be conservative-into the cost of the logo design. For businesses used to dealing in thousands of dollars, fractions of a cent per use usually sounds like a bargain.

    This strategy also should help you to hold the line on your pricing. Sometimes we are so eager to get the job that we will succumb to the urge to offer a "deal." We are eager to please, eager to get our work in the public's eye, and eager to close the sale. You could end up working for minimum wage. If you count the number of times your design will be used, such numbers help you hold the line on "discount logo design."

    Also, once you get into the "discount logo design" discussion, you are allowing customers to infer that you do not really value what you do. Even if they do value the creativity and craft of logo design, customers are more than willing to take advantage of an opportunity to save a few dollars.

    Keep the faith. Even after all of your strategic sales, building contractors, long-haul truckers, and restaurant owners will try to sell you on the idea that "it's just a logo." This is especially difficult to resist if logo design is just a portion of your visual communications business. Resist the mistaken thinking that what requires physical labor is more valuable than what requires creativity.

    As customers hesitate, waiver, and think aloud about paying "so much" for a logo design, remember how long you have been doing design work. You are an expert. You are experienced. You have talent. They are paying for what you know and can do-not just the final product.

    To help keep the faith, recall a particularly long and difficult job. Count the hours and the frustrations. Calculate what you ended up really earning after all that work. Tell yourself that the sign on the building, the graphics on the vehicles, and the advertising all over the community will work because of your logo design.

    Think of yourself as a creative artist, a marketing specialist, and an advertising consultant. What do they get in their spacious offices? What do people earn for building someone else's business?

    Think in terms of the business you are creating for others. Your logo design will be on everything from buildings and vehicles to stationery and invoices. The customers' business will grow, and the people servicing those business will profit more because of your logo.

    You earn your money as a logo designer. Get what you deserve.

    Clarke Systems Architectural Signage Systems Wayfinding ADA

    Volume means profit. The more signs your shop sells the more money you make. But how can your shop increase volume without taking on a platoon of new employees?

    Volume can be spelled v-i-n-y-l.

    By selling, producing, and delivering basic vinyl signs, your shop can increase its volume with minimal investment and aggravation.

    Most customers are not seeking award-winning visual communications. In fact, they usually want signs "that work" as soon as possible for as little money as possible.

    For this market, vinyl signs can satisfy your customers. They also serve you well because they can be quickly and efficiently sold, made, and delivered. By their sheer volume, they produce considerable profit despite the small mark-up.

    Furthermore, your shop can still be a specialist in visual communications.

    First of all, even for customers seeking a "quickie," you can offer a range of originality in your vinyl signs. Establish a graduated price range.

    It costs to list your company in the phone book and you're not sure who you're marketing to. Listing your company in the Buyer's Guide is one great way to market your company to a target-specific market. List your comapny and let the world see you! While you're at it, consider placing your company logo that will allow you to stand out in the crowd.

    Sign up now:

    Offer a lower priced basic vinyl sign, a medium-priced sign, and-of course-the more expensive custom sign. The price increases with the amount of originality customers desire. This way the customers can let you know what their objectives are and what their budget is.

    The focus in the basic and medium-price projects is to produce clean, basic signs easily. Even if a more custom job is requested, you can do this with a minimal increase in effort and overhead.

    For volume vinyl signs, use an easy-to-read letter style and a single sharp contrast. Keep the sign simple. Use clip art for the graphics. Keep the layout on standard forms that are inexpensive and fit your equipment. Stick to the smallest number of variations in lettering.

    The less importing of design into your sign software you have to do the better. Keep everything simple and basic. Conversions, cutting, tinkering, and modifications take time, cost money, and therefore counter the reason for doing volume vinyl signs-increased profit.

    The sooner you can use "snap-to-grid" and "snap-to-guideline" commands to place standard text, art, and other elements in the panel the faster the sign design will be finished.

    When getting the parts of the design to a plotter, try to nest certain colors together and send them to the plotter at one time. Time and vinyl are saved.

    Make a copy of the entire layout. Paste that copy to the right of the original graphic. Nested groups can be created from the new image.

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