Professional Visual Identity vs. Hip Logo Design

Where do I begin with visual identity?

Visual identity design in a cultural industry shouldn't be underrated, but sadly it is. Sometimes businesses, especially startups and small businesses, believe that just because something's cheap (and I use that word purposefully), it's better. On many occasions, the decision to use cheaper services is a common sense budgetary decision. Sometimes it's out of necessity. Sometimes small businesses believe they can achieve the same results with or without a professional corporate logo by a professional designer.

This is a prime example of backward thinking. With the design industry pumping out shoddy work for low digits, we all have to take stock and separate the good from the downright terrible. Let's take a look at one fundamental type of project in the modern design industry - logo design.

Designing visual identity right... the first time

Like I've stated in previous posts about professional branding, there are designers who actually care about the work being produced and those who just want high volumes of junk work to make their living. While I understand their desire to do quick, inexpensive work to make a living, I do not believe in providing cheap work to clients just to reach monetary goals.

Logos are the same as any other job - if it's worth doing, it's worth doing right the first time.

Krispy Kreme Professional Visual Identity
Apple Professional Visual Identity

What's a professional identity?

Research is key for creative work because it allows the designer time to provide due diligence to the client for the sake of creating a brilliant solution. Professional logos are cleverly innovative, demonstrate professional craftsmanship, display marketing superiority, and above all else, maintain marketing relevance. They speak to their audience.

Creating a logo that's relevant to the marketing and customers of a company is a good logo. It means the designer and the client developed a solid product through hours of critique and transparent communication methods that are pivotal in a creative project. The result tends to be a mark or logo that customers relate to and understand. This logo is recognizable, promotes trust, and accurately portrays the company for which it was designed.

What's a hip identity?

Hip logos meet the marketing needs of a particular date in time. While their marketability is invariably apathetic for a very short period, they're just not created to stand the test of time professional companies need in order to stay relevant in the modern market. These logos usually result in loads of cleverness and kitsch coupled with an enduring lack of meaning should the client succumb to keeping the logo for advertising purposes.

Many hip, cool, rad logos are developed at low prices ($5 - $300) with little research, time, or professional diligence. A lot of this work, it seems, comes from users on huge websites such as Etsy, Fiverr, and other companies whose patrons promote top of the line creative services for extremely low-rent prices. Etsy is a handmade products eCommerce platform, and Fiverr is a marketplace for $5 creative work. Five bucks. Really?!

These companies can't control the quality of work their users produce. Low budget projects like these can be failures in disguise for the client and wins for the creators. The creators make money by offering low-thought creative services that don't solve client problems. These would-be designers deliver cheap solutions to larger problems that could very well end up causing the client to lose business to respective competitors down the road. That's right! Your competitors know an unprofessional logo when they see it, and they'll capitalize on it, every time.

The bottom line for identity design

The bottom line for visual identity projects is that you need to research with professional creatives, not without them. Have a professional explain their visual identity methodologies so you know they'll listen to your needs and honest critique. You're going to get a logo that represents your company's best interests and not the interests of someone's need for $5 projects. Don't think that just because something's cost-accessible it's cost-effective. Usually, getting work that's hip is, in fact, cost-defective. Even though you don't notice for a while, an unprofessional logo can be the bane of your corporate existence.

Consult a professional designer for your logo design project. Let people on Etsy and Fiverr do what they do best - creating cheap logos that are irrelevant in six months to a year.