The price of a famous logo
Design taxi recently ran a piece on the price tag for various famous logos. It asks whether we think the design’s justify their costs. I think it illustrates an evergreen truth of identity design – it ain’t what you do, it’s what you do with it. For example, the Nike swoosh famously cost $35 and one often hears that this was a bit of a steal. Personally, I think it was a fair price for a mark that in its original manifestation was pretty crude. But what has been done with the logo since, by generations of teams and agencies, has created something priceless. Of course, this subsequent work also carried a hefty price tag to implement.
Similarly, the price comparisons on the list show up the perennial myth about what things cost, because implementation and design costs are not clearly defined. So, Coca Cola was ‘$0′ and Accenture was ‘$100,000,000′. I guess that a hundred million is actually a far lower price tag than Coke have actually invested in implementing their identity over the years. As is always the case, the core design tends to have a pretty reasonable price tag, then the really serious billing and potential costs begin.
Which leads me to a thought – surely the ‘best value’ an identity can offer is if it can be rolled out creatively and effectively but also cheaply. In other words, smart and imaginative ways to implement design is where the real design challenge (and value) lies. Yet, in my experience with identity projects there is often a sense that once the ‘big idea’ is cracked then the project tends to become more process driven and system led. Perhaps Accenture might have saved themselves a few tens of millions by driving creativity through the fine tuning and roll out of its new look? To declare a prejudice, I have always thought the Accenture mark was the design equivalent of pressed chinos (e.g. tries to be interesting, but is actually really, really dull) which is an impression not worth giving at any price.