Logo Design Love

For graphic designers and all who love logos.

The cost of a Saul Bass logo

“My biggest sale using this approach was the Rockwell International logo and subsequent branding, which paid the Bass firm more than $2 million in fees over two years. Continental airlines paid us about a half million.”
DR BILL HAIG

Quoted from imprint: Would you buy a logo from this man?

I asked Bill (who worked alongside Saul Bass) about those costs and about the specific deliverables involved with each project. Here’s what he told me.

Continental Airlines

Continental Airlines logo Saul Bass

“I was the account manager and had a separate design team of 16 working under me. As an example we created a whole new approach to Continental’s City Ticket Office as well as the check-in desks and pre-board waiting areas.

Bruce Burdick was called in to work with us, and it sure was revolutionary in 1968. We created a whole new easy-to-read timetable format. Then there was the plane stripping with the golden tail, all the print material, uniforms, signage… it goes on.

Continental Airlines livery Saul Bass
Photo by Phillip Capper

“I remember the logo and plane marking design was $30,000. We did a photo logo identification evaluation (old logo and junk branding) of all their station’s public contact including print stuff. That was $10,000.”

(Continental Airlines Wikipedia page.)

Rockwell International

Rockwell International logo Saul Bass

“Rockwell’s logo was $90,000. When North American Aviation and Rockwell Standard merged they had 24 divisions and each division had its own unique jobs. When the logo was being designed we consulted on naming and renaming several divisions to fit into a workable nomenclature system.

“Unique jobs included the Boston Gear division, for example, that had a packaging design project for all its gears. Aero Commander had sales offices. We did a modular signage system for all divisions. We worked on a stationery and business card print job for all divisions at one printing location, then shipped everything to all divisions. We created a graphic standards manual as we went along. We came up with special coveralls with a large logo on the back for better TV viewing for the Roketdyne division guys at the historical first moon landing.

Rockwell International logo Saul Bass
Photo via the Rocketdyne Archives

“We did a fleet of 30 private aircraft markings. And it goes on and on until we finished Willard Rockwell‘s private deck of playing cards.

“We were billing about $75,000 to $90,000 a month and I was supervising about 50 separate implementation jobs each month as account manager. It’s hard to break out the specific fees for each segment.”

(Rockwell International Wikipedia page.)

It’s rare when we get to see what the top players earn(ed) for their work, so many thanks to Bill Haig for sharing his knowledge.

You can visit Bill’s website Powerlogos Design and read the book he co-authored The Power of Logos: How to Create Effective Company Logos.

From the LDL archives: “This is what you need — a magic dot.

Logo Design Love: A Guide to Creating Iconic Brand Identities, second edition

18 appreciated comments

  1. meredith

    At first I was a little taken back by the cost but when he began to explain what was entailed then the figure became much more reasonable. It’s not like they just did “a Logo” or even a brand identity package. This would have been a huge job and just the research of all the published collateral and uniforms etc would have taken hours and hours. Guess I won’t be bidding on any global corporation jobs any time soon…lol lol..

    Thanks David …I just wish there was more on this topic …would be a really interesting read and I have to give credit to the project managers on these kinds of jobs…what a responsibility!

  2. I need to start charging more :)

  3. When you consider the longevity to some of his branding schemes it does have its value. Look at how long some of those identity systems were in place and relevant.

  4. Are those numbers accounting for inflation? If not, they are not as useful to make comparisons with today. For example, those $30000 in 1968, equal $198116 in 2012. (As big a number as that is, it’s still less than a big branding firm today would charge an airline company for a rebranding effort).

  5. Ram0

    why does it look like daewoo?

  6. I can’t help thinking that it was a little easier back then. If I made a logo like this today it would look like a cliche :-) I’m not saying it’s bad, it’s nice and simple.

  7. I can’t imagine the grind that it took to get to this simple identity. I say we should all assign the appropriate value to our work and stop undercutting ourselves and our industry. Yay Mr. Bass!

  8. “I can’t help thinking that it was a little easier back then. If I made a logo like this today it would look like a cliche :-) I’m not saying it’s bad, it’s nice and simple.”
    - Tino Cordes

    Well, I don’t think it was easier, I rather think that the lack of computer-based-design-tools at that time made a huge selection who went into design and who didn’t. Graphic design was mostly hand made and it had to be all printed… just think what kind of machineries, tools and techniques you needed to make a good logo like that.
    Nowadays with all that vector graphics and fast macbooks with brilliant displays, of course work like that seems to be a cliche.

    And yes, the paychecks seem to be quite satisfying for that work. :)

  9. A team of 16 people will be charging more for a logo than 1 person. Consider the overhead they have. There is no comparison, but a single designer can still output the same kind of quality and charge for less. Most large companies only wish to work with larger design agencies, I may be wrong but majority tend to go that direction.

  10. Very pleased to stumble across your website this evening. People pay the prices associated with other big ticket items in other industries. So why not ours? The logo is a critical part of a brand’s identity- there’s no reason we shouldn’t be compensated handsomely for producing spot-on solutions.

    Thank you very much for your efforts behind this site. Kudos!

  11. Logos are a commodity, like anything else, you sell it to the right buyer for the value you set as its worth.

    Given the future of an entity and all the places it has to go; a long journey reaching to many, it is worth its weight in gold. Why fellow designers sell short our skills and craft on cheap websites shows no understanding to the value in the life and business of a brand’s identity.

  12. So with the Rockwell logo, they deleted three lines and rotated it 90 degrees ;)

    In all seriousness though. Identity goes way beyond the logo as we all know. A common. Misconception when you hear X logo was 90,000 etc?.

    No one seems to question an accountant. He’s only doing maths with a calculator lol

  13. Joe

    These designs are the origin of all the rip offs we see. The rip offs were a testament to the solid nature of these solutions.

    Graphic design used to be a specialty. But with its growth and the use of computers, any schmuck can call themselves a designer with little or no training. We see total crap solutions done for major corporations all the time. Look at Pepsi, the Gap, London, et al.

    But architects have a process to become licensed and generally charge more. Advertising charges in a different way, bringing in millions and millions of dollars for much the same work a design firm might do.

    Designers do need to begin to charge more. People get design (again) and we need to bring that to our pricing

    I also think designers should not be tested and licensed as much as architects BUT there should be some basic hurdle young designers should be given so they could put some extra letters after their name and use that as a selling point and a true qualification. Older designers, especially with BFA or MFA degrees in design and/or a decade or more on the job, can just be grandfathered in.

    Accountants, plumbers, lawyers, doctors, hair dressers, massage therapist, lactation specialists, and many others have at least a basic hurdle before practicing as. Why graphic designers are so afraid to do something similar, remains a mystery.

  14. What impresses me most about logos for big corporations is the designers perseverance in selling a design idea.

    Pencil or illustrator; the amount of time spent convincing people far outweighs design time. I think that has not changed very much.

    Good post, thanks.

  15. Ryan

    would be interesting to know what Paul Rand was charging on the same day…

  16. Mimoza

    Hello everyone,

    As a new graphic designer / freelancer how much do I have to charge for designing a logo that requires 6-8 designs based on a creative brief that they will send to me? I need some help as I am not familiar with the prices.

    I’m looking forward for your advice.

    Thanks,
    Mimoza

  17. I am the guy who worked with Saul Bass and shared the cost information. I was on his management team in the 1960s and supervised the Continental Airlines and Rockwell projects among others. I read all the above comments with interest. Rather than saying something here, please dialog with me using my email address: bill@haigbranding.com. Then I will write a summary and submit to David.

  18. S Kent Rockwell

    I was on the Board of Rockwell International when this was presented to the directors and we were advised that the total cost was about $300k. At the time, I thought it was expensive. Today, having rebranded four other public companies, (currently ExOne), I can state that the impact of a good rebranding program is quite important and the logo and colors are relevant considerations and worth the expense in creating an enterprise persona.


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