While Status Forward has never billed a client anywhere near $46,000 for a logo, we would argue that such a sum might not be quite as absurd as the segment that broke this story would make it out to be (and we’re not just saying this because we want to design you a $46,000 logo).
First, look at the client. This logo is meant to serve as a unifying mark for the identity of an entire state. No– that doesn’t mean Tennessee will be replacing their famous 3-star flag; flags and logos are completely different things meant to serve different purposes. The new logo and overall identity will be used for all kinds of official government materials from employment handbooks to stationery, websites to apparel. This is a far cry from an annual ‘Run for Charity’ that needs a logo to put on t-shirts and water bottles– it’s going on everything.
Some might argue that the new logo is boring-looking or lacking in imagination. These people might have a fair point, but before proclaiming that the logo should be more exciting or decorative, understand the sheer number of things, big and small, this logo will need to go on. Will it look as good on a lapel pin as it will on a street sign? What will this logo/sign look like in 10 years? One would think it foolish to design anything overly ‘trendy’ for a mark that’s intended to be used for many years to come (we’ve all seen old houses with hideous, peeling wallpaper).
We can speculate that this was one of many concepts that were generated for this project and for some reason this mark was the one they arrived at. We can only hope it wasn’t the result of a design-by-committee situation where a panel of 50 state employees bickered over and rejected different brilliant ideas brought to the table by the firm hired to create the logo only to arrive at this generally bland, un-offensive solution. That’s a discussion for a separate post, however.
Finally, there’s that eye-popping, 5-figure number. In many states, times are lean for public spending with program and service cuts being in vogue. While government services are seeing their budgets slashed, it’s easy to look at $46,000 and be disgusted even though it’s a relatively insignificant amount when you’re dealing with the budget of a state that 6.5 million people call home. To put things in perspective, consider the following: In 2011, the average cost per year, per inmate in Tennessee prisons was just over $23,000. The cost of this logo, that will be used on seemingly countless things moving forward, is roughly the same as keeping two people incarcerated for a single year.
The man being interviewed in the news segment about the new logo boldly proclaims ‘a fifth grader with a computer’ could make as good of if not a better logo. Perhaps this fellow has a point, but what he fails to realize is that the $46,000 is not payment for this single logo that a capable designer could reproduce in 15 minutes– it’s for the countless hours of research, concept iterations, potential applications and meetings that go into arriving at this logo and the comprehensive brand-identity guide that is furnished at the end of the project. It takes a lot people and a lot of of thinking to create a document that explains to state employees how to use a new logo on everything and anything to ensure consistency throughout all deliverables in all departments. Show us a fifth grader that can handle all of that and we’ll gladly eat our words.
Your business or organization’s, brand is one of its most valuable assets (arguably the most valuable in many cases). Don’t believe us? Ask Pepsi who spent $1,000,000 to create a new logo and brand style guide in 2008. A logo is an introduction to one’s brand– a symbol that shows people they are at the right place, whether that place is on a package or a sign you drive past going 50 miles an hour. Some logos are transcendent marks that help define their brands (see Nike) and some are simply accessories. It is reasonable to look at the new State of Tennessee logo and say ‘this is not visually appealing to me’ but to call a state wasteful for investing in a mark that will be so widely used for what will likely be a long time is missing the point.