Mcbranding…Brought to you by HP

Computer and printing giant Hewlett Packard has made an explosive entrance to the branding scene recently with the launch of Logoworks. Although the company strictly refers to it’s services as “logo design,” and avoids any claim to directly offer “branding” services, the homepage tag-line is suspicious—“Get a Logo, Then Brand Your Business”—meaning, we give you the logo, you do the rest.

Perhaps the reason for the Logowork’s hesitation to use the B-word lies in the cut-rate nature of their services. Just 99 dollars is all you need to get started—for that nominal fee you get to view 10 original logo concepts, 2 of which you can own for an additional 200 bucks. This bait- and-switch upgrade to the 299-dollar “silver package” gives you 2 revisions of the logo and correspondence with 2 designers. There are several price packages offered by Logoworks, the most expensive of which is called the “Agency Start-Up” package, which consists of 10 logo concepts, 4 designers, unlimited revisions, business cards, stationary and a 3 page website—all for $2999. Essentially, this package includes many services provided by a branding agency, but for far less money. A real branding agency could-would-should charge 5 times as much, or more, for the same services.

So how does Logoworks charge so little?

Their design team consists of “40 in-house” designers at their headquarters in American Fork, Utah, as well as “even more freelance designers from around the world.” Could “around the world” be a euphemism for India, perhaps?

Much like the famous McDonald’s tag-line “Billions and Billions Served,” Logoworks boasts of having created logos for “over 45,000 clients” so far.

What Logoworks is doing for branding, Wal-Mart did for commerce. One can argue that outsourced, mass-produced brand design cheapens and devalues the creative process—eroding the personal relationship between business and brand agency, while stealing business away from “real” branding agencies by offering a cheap “knock-off” product for a fraction of the price.

However, a counter-argument, or positive spin, can be made—Logoworks helps get really small businesses off the ground. Later on, when profits have accumulated, they can be re-branded by real branding agencies. The point can be made that McDonald’s didn’t eliminate fine dining by offering cheap meals—people will always find time for fancy things, branding included. In this respect, Logoworks can be viewed as a hatchery for future branding agency customers.

Whether Logoworks is seen as detrimental or constructive, it is yet another example of a once exclusive trade or product being transformed, repackaged, mass-produced and discounted for mass-consumption.

2 comments for “Mcbranding…Brought to you by HP

  1. April 2, 2008 at 10:02 am

    Lainie-

    Thank you for taking a few minutes to write about Logoworks. Many in the design community seem less interested in really considering what Logoworks is, than trotting out a laundry list of “evils” that we are unleashing on the design world. I appreciate your more balanced approach.

    I hope you will allow me to add some context to your post.

    We do indeed have a large group of designers working in-house. In addition, there are approximately 200 designers in our community spread throughout the world. These include designers in Texas, Ohio, Washington, Illinois, Sweden, Poland, Great Britain, Mexico and about 15 other countries. We do not have any designers in India or China (though we might consider both if their portfolios warrant it). Of these designers, more than half have 10 or more years of design experience. Over 80% have more than 3 years of experience. Almost all work day jobs for other companies (usually ad agencies, magazine design departments, or internal creative departments) and do a few projects for us on the side. These are good designers who do good work.

    Most of the work we do is logo development. Generally our clients are very small companies that don’t need brand platforms or environmental graphics. They are car wash owners, real estate agents, landscapers, and other business people with almost no marketing budget. They need a good logo for their business cards or a store sign. For those that need it, we can also help them design websites or put their logo on promotional products or apparel.

    In general, these are small businesses that would never consider the cost of working with an ad agency or brand consultancy. They simply can’t afford it. If it were not for the value they get at Logoworks, they would make do with a logo created with Microsoft Word and their favorite font. While some may decide to rebrand their companies in the future, we believe the quality of work we deliver will stand the test of time. Our work has been recognized by several award shows (including AIGA) and our designers have been featured in publications like Logo Lounge and the Secret Life of Logos.

    Yes, we offer very low-cost logo packages. Our $99 offer is not a bait and switch. It basically removes the risk for our customers to see what we can do. If they don’t like the first round of concepts, they pay nothing more. If they do like the concepts they receive, we continue work, and they pay the balance of the amount due. That’s it.

    There is no doubt the design world is changing. Our hope is that we are serving new design customers–providing a service they wouldn’t have received otherwise (due to cost or lack of resources), and helping them grow their businesses successfully.

    I’d love to continue the discussion. If you have additional questions or comments, please email me directly. I’d be happy to respond.

    Thanks for the opportunity to engage in the discussion.

  2. April 2, 2008 at 12:48 pm

    Thank you for taking a few minutes to write about Logoworks. Many in the design community seem less interested in really considering what Logoworks is, than trotting out a laundry list of “evils” that we are unleashing on the design world. I appreciate your more balanced approach.

    I hope you will allow me to add some context to your post.

    We do indeed have a large group of designers working in-house. In addition, there are approximately 200 designers in our community spread throughout the world. These include designers in Texas, Ohio, Washington, Illinois, Sweden, Poland, Great Britain, Mexico and about 10 more states and 15 other countries. We do not have any designers in India or China (though we might consider both if their portfolios warrant it). Of these designers, more than half have 10 or more years of design experience. Over 80% have more than 3 years of experience. Almost all work day jobs for other companies (usually ad agencies, magazine design departments, or internal creative departments) and do a few projects for us on the side. These are good designers who do good work.

    Most of the work we do is logo development. Generally our clients are very small companies that don’t need brand platforms or environmental graphics. They are car wash owners, real estate agents, landscapers, and other business people with almost no marketing budget. They need a good logo for their business cards or a store sign. For those that need it, we can also help them design websites or put their logo on promotional products or apparel.

    In general, these are small businesses that would never consider the cost of working with an ad agency or brand consultancy. They simply can’t afford it. If it were not for the value they get at Logoworks, they would make do with a logo created with Microsoft Word and their favorite font. While some may decide to rebrand their companies in the future, we believe the quality of work we deliver will stand the test of time. Our work has been recognized by several award shows (including AIGA) and our designers have been featured in publications like Logo Lounge and the Secret Life of Logos.

    Yes, we offer very low-cost logo packages. Our $99 offer is not a bait and switch. It basically removes the risk for our customers to see what we can do. If they don’t like the first round of concepts, they pay nothing more. If they do like the concepts they receive, we continue work, and they pay the balance of the amount due. That’s it.

    There is no doubt the design world is changing. Our hope is that we are serving new design customers–providing a service they wouldn’t have received otherwise (due to cost or lack of resources), and helping them grow their businesses successfully.

    I’d love to continue the discussion. If you have additional questions or comments, please email me directly. I’d be happy to respond.

    Thanks for the opportunity to engage in the discussion.

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