Tuesday, March 09, 2010

What designers really charge for

Designer Paula Scher complains about blogs and design sites claiming that some new logos could've been better designed by students. While that may be true in theory (that is, when judging formal elements), actual practice disproves it. In short, logos become great when taken in context.

Logos become iconic over time, through their use and in combination with an overall perception of a brand. They shouldn’t be judged purely as form and out of context, as they are on design blogs, because it takes a period of time for a logo to establish itself in the marketplace, just as it takes a magazine a year or so to establish its personality.

She talks about the Nike logo, which would've failed a formal critique but is one of the best known marks because of an aggressive campaign. Scher, who designed the new Citibank logo, also has this to say about professional graphic designers' huge fees.

I never knew a designer that got hundreds of thousands of dollars to design a logo. Mostly, designers get paid to negotiate the difficult terrain of individual egos, expectations, tastes, and aspirations of various individuals in an organization or corporation, against business needs, and constraints of the marketplace. This is a process that can take a year or more. Getting a large, diverse group of people to agree on a single new methodology for all of their corporate communications means the designer has to be a strategist, psychiatrist, diplomat, showman, and even a Svengali. The complicated process is worth money. That’s what clients pay for. The process, usually a series of endless presentations and refinements, persuasions and proofs, results, hopefully, in an accepted identity design.

Hear, hear. The actual design is easy. It's the convincing and cajoling and negotiating and presenting that costs time and money.

(Article found via Design Observer)

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