Logo Design Love

For graphic designers and all who love logos.

The 50 dollar logo experiment

cheeses of nazareth

Jim Walls, creative director at 160over90, has published an insight of his dealings with 50DollarLogo.com. He was promised six logo designs, unlimited revisions, and a 1–3 day turnaround, but one year on and he’s still waiting for the right identity.

“How are the redesigns coming along? It’s been nearly three months since my last request!”

Read the email conversation between Jim and ‘Abina’ here:

The 50 Dollar Logo Experiment

Somewhat related, and back in August, Doug Bartow published a logo experiment of his own. He spent $825 comparing four online logo design companies, giving them all the same design brief. Worth a read.

Have you had any similar experiences?

Logo Design Love: A Guide to Creating Iconic Brand Identities

46 appreciated comments

  1. While I’m not too impressed by the logos of 50DollarLogo.com, his feedback to them ins’t that great also:

    “So many good things about these logos! But I’m afraid they’re not quite there yet. Can you finesse them?”

    What kind of feedback is that?

    The 2nd article you link to seems far more serious.

    My main advice for logo shoppers would be to check out the portfolios of logo designers and pick one who makes things you like, certainly not the cheapest.

  2. Jimmy,

    You’re right. Jim’s feedback was poor. But then you can also say his feedback was good enough for 50DollarLogo, because no questions were asked. Ultimately, it’s a light-hearted account, not to be taken too seriously, but I do feel a little remorse for the person responsible for the designs — trying to come up with something I don’t think was ever going to hit the target.

  3. Panasit

    If the design firm wants more info, they would/should have asked for them. It’s not required for a client to be smart, to know what they really want, to know how to critique the logos like a fellow designer would critique another designer’s logo. They are just company owners who wants a beautiful identity for their company. Designers are trained in design school to handle irrational clients and situation when they have too little or too much freedom. You can’t really blame the client. It’s your job.

    You know I have met with a lot of difficult situations between clients and designers. Sometime clients don’t know what they want, sometime clients wants something wild while designer wants to play safe, and sometime clients want to play safe and designers want to try something weird. Sometime client all ready have an idea inside his or her head and it clashes with the designer’s idea or principles.. etc.

    I have never heard of design firm just simply don’t do the work.

  4. Ok, you’re right.

    The 50DollarLogo people should have asked more questions when Jims feedback wasn’t sufficient. Just coming up with some more (unrelated) new designs was not what they should have done.

  5. Hilarious. Especially the “religious connection” part had me laughing. Sadly though, I have worked for a print shop where this kind of design would have been given the thumbs up.

    Also, some of the above commentary is a little too serious for this article.

    50dollarlogo proves why sites like Crowdspring is horrible for our industry. Their people clearly don’t have an understanding of what they should be doing in terms of design, and the cheap price/unlimited revisions brings down what we do in terms of cost and quality.

  6. Wow, I didn’t see it coming but I think this is what we were all hoping for. A real life experiment with those 50 dollar logo guys we like to complain so much about (It sucks in a way that Logo Bee didn’t do that well because they are from my hometown of Québec).

    Overall though for me, it comes down to what I said in an earlier comment on David’s personal blog about Forbes calling designers snooty; even if I can see the value from the eyes of the client, you pay for what you get. A logo should cost more than lunch money, whatsoever. I even dedicated a complete post that matter on December 7th.

  7. Wow, I’m not even a little impressed with their logos. And the fact their being incredibly unprofessional just makes me not really surprised by the quality of their work.

  8. Their being “unprofessional”? It’s a bunch of logos for $50. That’s what you get for about $10 a logo. What’s unprofessional is this guy’s wasting of some poor person’s time. I found the whole thing mean spirited and would have serious doubts about hiring someone who would jerk someone’s chain this way.

    Seriously. You get what you pay for. Doesn’t seem to me that this 50 dollar company is going to put any real designer out of business. It’s a different market. It’s the $50 logo market not the $20,000 logo market.

  9. Agree 100% with you Elise. Looks to me as if he got what he expected (and wanted) to get. If you buy a $50 suit don’t expect an Armani, Boss, whatever (I don’t wear ‘em).

  10. The other experiment discussed is far more interesting and highlights the downfalls of some of the bigger players in the cheap logo market such as Logoworks. Clip art and shoddy vector work galore.

    The first article is merely a mickey taking experiment, the writer knew what they were getting themselves in for. I think it was written for entertainment purposes more than anything.

  11. Panasit

    Now that I think about it, I found the experiments to be quite mean spirited too. It’s like I’m a big name chef, and I go eat at a bunch of small restaurant on the street with cheap price and write a blog about it.

    I’m sure it wasn’t intentional. I think the point is to sort of, lift up the spirits of designers who worked hard to go through design school and create a respectable old school design fir, who are feeling depressed over the new dot com companies that offer cheaply design logos with absolutely no sense of quality that no doubt annoyed all of us.

    But looking at it from a different angle, yeah it is mean spirited. Instead of looking at these fast-food-equivalence-of-logo-designers as people who are stealing our jobs, we should look at it as, the good designers wouldn’t be very much appreciated if there aren’t many bad ones.

    Traditional logo is better than McDonald, but not everyone can afford it, you know?

  12. What kind of sh*t is that? I just cant understand. What he wants from that company? Great service? Or supacreative ideas with extra cool graphics? That guy have seen portfolio of company, quality of work, so he must be happy with these variants.

  13. Anna

    The big point about the $50 logo article is that it wasn’t worth the $50. It’s partially there to boost the spirits of bright-eyed young designers straight out of school, but also to point out to other people that it’s not as convenient and cheap as it sounds.

    For $50, he’s been waiting months, had no communication and got poor results. And don’t even criticize him for his “feedback.” Haven’t we ALL gotten that client that just wants something jazzed up? It’s not the clients job to know exactly what needs to be changed. It’s our job, as the designer, to ask the right questions to get results. If the clients really knew what they wanted, wouldn’t they sketch something on a piece of paper and ask us to trace it? (well, I’ve gotten that request, too.)

    Mean-spirited or not, people need to see these “results” before they waste their money on services like these. There ARE designers out there that work on a one-on-one basis and give personal attention to their clients for under $2000- Especially now, with the world-wide recession! There are so many young designers willing to pour their soul into developing a good portfolio so they can be competitive enough to not have to resort to working for services like those.

  14. Panasit

    There are so many things small business owners have to consider from where to get raw material to dealing with the mafia (that is not a joke) We are all designers here, we know how important a logo is. But people who aren’t designers, they wouldn’t spend thousands of dollar on an identity. They wouldn’t even spend 600.

    So in comes you, or us, the bright eye designers who went to design school, paid 30,000 per something semester tuition, which will probably take us a decade to pay off the loans. Are you going to design a logo for 50-200 dollars? I wouldn’t accept 200 dollars even before I graduated from college.

    They would rather get their 14 year old nephew with Photoshop to design a logo. When I was 14, I designed so many. But that’s what most people do.
    And then you say, these evil logo designers on the net, willing to do it for cheap, with awful qualities, they are tricking the people!
    No they did not. They are just the “14 year old nephew with the Photoshop” for sales for those who don’t have 14 year old nephew with the Photoshop.

    Look, I’ll wrap it up quick. The reason I’m on the other side of the argument is there are two silliness here.

    1) People who are charging 1000 dollars for logo are making fun of people who are charging 50. Write out all the excuses you want: they suck, they trick the people, they are thieves, they lower the standard of our profession, blah blah. It is what it is. You guys are Bobby Flay making fun of McDonald.
    (I’m not going to get into customer services. Courtesy, responsibility, and accountability is not a matter of money, it’s the people).
    McDonald is not stealing Bobby Flay’s clients, and these guys are not stealing yours.

    2) You are calling this an experiment. It’s really not, is it? Everyone know the outcome long before the first email was ever sent. I don’t want to accuse anyone of being bias, some of you might be professors and I don’t want to show any disrespect. But I have a hunch, just a hunch, that even if those guys designed the second coming of IBM logo, the review will still be negative.

    The punchline: they were never really a threat to us. And since that’s the case, making fun of them make us seems very arrogant.

  15. Fatima

    Hi David, I’ve been a following your personal blog & logodesignlove for some time now, and I must say I’m very much impressed and influenced.

  16. Nate

    If I can take away one moral of this story, it’s “DON’T BE AFRAID TO WALK AWAY FROM A RAW DEAL.”

    In business and in life, don’t consciously step into a pile of shit.If a person is offering you $50 for a logo and that not reasonable compensation, turn 180° and walk (or run) away.

    I have to believe that in a creative industry, turning a creative service into a commodity item will only lead to self-destruction. The downfall of 50DollarLogo could very well be 49DollarLogo.

  17. well well well… seems 50dollarlogo.com gets their earnings else where…

    Straight from firefox

    “Reported Attack Site!

    This web site at 50dollarlogo.com has been reported as an attack site and has been blocked based on your security preferences.

    Attack sites try to install programs that steal private information, use your computer to attack others, or damage your system.

    Some attack sites intentionally distribute harmful software, but many are compromised without the knowledge or permission of their owners.”

  18. Panasit,

    I agree. Clients, on the whole, don’t know how to critique logos. Giving them pointers to go on, such as relationship between type and symbol, balance, distinction etc., and explaining the effect any difference can have is part of a designers role.

    David,

    Yep, you pay for what you get (9 times out of 10 anyway).

    Thanks to all for the additional comments, on both sides of the discussion.

  19. I think the whole thing is sad. the 50 dollar logo thing and the fact that someone went out of their way to belittle another. I mean why? do you feel a threat with the low ballers? Are they producing work worth thousands but charging only $50 bucks, get my point?

  20. I don’t see the cruelty or mean spirit here. The experiment is valid because some people do need to see that what you get from such sites is crap. The company got paid, even though they did little actual work (can someone please tell me how much $50 american translates into Indian money?). Lastly, I’ve been treated much, much worse by clients. How many times have you had a client give you a name and nothing else? Not even a color they like. Then after they see the first set of concepts they tell you you stink and move on to someone else? That is reality. This is soft in comparison.

  21. @ Trish, WHY? for the most part the only people reading these blogs are designers. If you want to nip it in the but preach to the outside world about you get what you pay for. it’s a lost cause IMO. The designers that are low balling are not reading these blogs, don’t have a clue and are weeding out the clients I don’t want to deal with anyhow. I do not feel threatened and do not see the point in making a deal of it. What did this accomplish?

  22. True, but what you are saying is if a non-designer did this, it would be ok then? I’m pretty sure designers are showing this ‘experiment’ to their clients. And I would hazard a guess that not just designers read these blogs. Certainly the percentage is low of non-designers, but they do comment on occasion and they pass this kind of thing off to their non-designer friends and acquaintances. My biggest issue is that I don’t see how this was cruel? I understand why you would think it a waste of time for a designer to do this, but I don’t see how it ‘hurt’ anyone. I personally don’t feel like the money means anything, it was about the quality of work and customer service. We go on about how bad contest sites are, and give examples, all the time without paying out any money, I would think that is more harsh than this.

  23. I’m finding myself surprised that I’m even commenting, wasting my valued time, let alone spending $50 bucks to prove a worthless point.
    IMO the time it took to go back and forth with concepts was equal trouble to prove what? to Who?

  24. Yes (and I don’t know why I am commenting either), you are right that it was probably a waste of time. My only issue is that I don’t see it as cruel. Making fun, yes. Cruel is a strong word for something so… I can’t even think of a word. Starving your pet to death to watch it die is cruel. This was just an experiment to prove something most already know (at least designers, anyway). It was his time to waste. I hope he does not ask for his money back.

  25. Lets put the logo design to one side for a minute because if you go to their web design portfolio you will see links to work that they clearly haven’t done. For example, http://www.getlondonreading.co.uk/Home – this was done by Kent Lyons!

    This is totally unacceptable and I have informed Kent Lyons, lets hope something gets done about it.

  26. Sorry, pasted the wrong link…

    http://www.50dollarlogo.com/web_folio.php

    The work in their porfolio is not their own.

  27. Mr. Airey, I have to say I am impressed and you should give a big round of applause to your followers as the innocent “50 Dollars Logo Experiment” discussion turn out to expose under the spotlight a genuine scam that, to my opinion, “pizza shop owners and recent MBA grads launching their next Basecamp rip-off who… go for the lowest common denominator.” as Jim Walls (the author the original post) describes them, should be aware of (Even if I understand and agree that we belong to the highest stairs of the industry but still… It does affect some of us).

    Brian discover that “…50dollarlogo.com has been reported as an attack site and has been blocked based on your security preferences.

    Attack sites try to install programs that steal private information, use your computer to attack others, or damage your system.

    Some attack sites intentionally distribute harmful software, but many are compromised without the knowledge or permission of their owners.”

    Keith noticed that “…if you go to their web design portfolio you will see links to work that they clearly haven’t done” such as the London Reading Website, and I believe Logo Works should also know that there’s a stunning resemblance between their two websites.

    Good work everyone!

  28. Hi David,

    My commenters are great, no doubt about it, and it’s humbling when so many people spend their valuable time leaving thoughts.

    I’ve been moving house over the past week or two, so haven’t been able to respond as much as I’d like, but thanks to you, Mike, Trish and Keith for stopping over again.

  29. jason

    Man!!! I guess I found this blog just too late….I already made a 99$ payment to 50dollarlogo (50+extra services) last week and have been waiting ever since for one of their designers to just contact me and ask me more information about my logo. I have been going into their website for 3 days now and using their online chat – the same guy everytime (name is Mark I think) and starts of with a “very courteous” wish “yes what help you need”
    I also kept sending them emails at first asking for someone to atleast send me a confirmation email about my order – nothing! Then he says they have already started the work on my logo. I again ask him – don’t you want to know how I want my logo to be – Mark says ‘sure they will contact you if they need more information” !#$@ What more do I ask him?
    I fell for their offer mainly because of the 50$ and the 3 day turnaround time mentioned on their website. I guess I should have done more research about them beforehand. How does someone start work on a design project without any input from the client? Its been almost 10 days now.

  30. Jason, at this point just see if you can get your money back. Please check out these two websites: http://www.IncSpring.com and http://www.LogoPond.com (specifically Forums – Marketplace). IncSpring.com is your best bet for quick turnaround because they showcase original designs waiting for a good company. LogoPond.com is full of some of the best designers currently working worldwide (including David Airey here). Lastly, please check me out at http://www.contemporary-native.com. David and others who post to LogoDesignLove.com are also great designers to contact. I hope this helps you!

  31. Safeer

    Thanks trish. Yes the money is what I am kind of worried about, seeing they don’t even have a number to call on their website or atleast I did not find one. Gives me sort of feeling that it is not even a real company. Anyway all I can do is try for a refund.

  32. Hey LDL,

    Thanks a lot for hosting this great site, it’s very helpful.
    A friend of mine actually got some not so bad logo designs from 50DL which prompted me to try them out. I ordered the 69 dollar package. I’m a Reiki Master, and although I didn’t give them design ideas of what I like, I was very specific as to the feel and a very detailed description of what Reiki is. I told them to lean more towards an Asian/Tibetan/ Modern feel. It really was as if they didn’t even read or understand the details of what I had written. The logos that came back were very amateur and in seeing that I just told them there is no need for me to waste their time or vice versa. Please refund. I have created logos for friends that have been kick ass, but as we all know, it does take time and you must really know and understand what the client wants as well as their personality. Branding is nothing to play around with and if you are in it to play with the big fish, well, ya gotta have big bait.
    Good luck to all.

    Blessings,
    Stephen

  33. I don’t have the time to get into the whole story, but we ended up losing about $60 to this operation as well. Their process is abysmal, work is low quality and the guarantee is worthless. BBB can’t even get a response from them and have closed my complaint, merely noting their non-response. Bottom line: steer clear!

  34. brad crowley

    Hired 50 Dollar Logo to design a logo and a business card for me. I paid them $79 and started receiving terrible logos. I didn’t like any of them. You could tell that they were just cutting and pasting from some really bad gallery. Finally I picked a logo, even though I really didn’t care for it and they sent me the logo in several formats. All of the logos were extremely low resolution. I couldn’t use any of the formats for anything. I tried to use the logo for letterhead, faxes, emails, etc, and the quality was so poor that the logo wasn’t even readable. I had several tech support people look at it (not 50 dollar logo) and they said that the logo was too low res. I contacted 50 dollar logo and they tried to fix it, but could not. THEY SENT ME THREE EMAILS that said they will give me my money back, and they never did. Their design work is crap, they are extremely low tech and low res, and they are crooks.

  35. Anna

    50 dollar logo should improve their communication with customers. Forget about several revisions. They will never listen to you. I could not communicate with them even for the first revision. They will keep sending you revisions without listening you. So after 2 revisions of their own ways, I just gave up communicating. I lost 50 dollars. Do not bother cut and paste logos to communicate. They will never read. What kind of customer service is this? Is it because they are out of U.S.? I hate 50 dollar logos. Their web site portfolio looks good. Sounds great that you can get a logo with 50 dollars and endless revision. They will do it endlessly without never listening you. They will keep collecting money from oversees without satifying coustumers. They should be out of business now. Never ever use 50 dollar logo.

  36. Keith Barber

    With respect to people who use/have used the 50 dollar, if you value design and the image your business projects why are you even considering spending such a small amount of money in the 1st place.

    Their portfolio is terrible with nothing that a 5 year old couldn’t do with basic software on a home pc. As I have said before if there is credible work on the website then it is done by a respectable design agency and not by 50 dollar.

  37. Mike

    Hi there,

    Working for a cheap logo design company is really hilarious! trust me guys. i had to work with basic designers who dont have any idea about logos!

    everything is like a mess + most of the clients do not have any idea what they are asking about.

    It is totally crazy! deal with uneducated designers, crazy boss and uneducated clients (I’m not sayin all clients). most of the logos used in the portfolio are copyrighted and designers copy design from shutterstock.com or some clip art + most of those clients prefer those types of logo instead of clean and professional one. :(

    People if you really need a nice logo then please dont jump into those cheap design site!! and please dont let any designer force to design a LOGO in peanuts’ price!

  38. max

    I didn’t like the 50 dollar logo experiment. I’m not a designer who would work for a company like that, but I still feel that it was a morally wrong “experiment”. I wrote my own comments on that website. I know, its supposed to be light-hearted. I just saw it from the poor designer’s view (who had no contact with the client), and realized that the client was being unrealistically hard to please. That wasn’t an experiment, it was an abuse.

    We all know it was crappy design. So what was the point of his experiment? To show customers that if they pay a low price they’ll get crap, thus steering them towards good designers’ services? Lots of people simply can’t afford good design. People really should try to invest in good design, but a lot of them just wont. These are the same people who would have been thrilled with the 1st round received from 50dollarlogo.com. I firmly believe that a lot of people “like” bad design because they see it around them all the time.

    I don’t think there is any way to inform people enough to get them to stop buying crappy design. If only we could teach everyone the golden rule of design:
    Fast, Cheap, Good. Choose 2.
    http://freelanceswitch.com/money/fast-good-cheap-pricing-freelance-work/

    The few people who know what design is worth are the ones who make good clients for good designers.

  39. Mike

    Thanks for the comment max. Well i don’t think it’s abuse!

  40. matt f

    Sure wish I had found this before I ordered from ShiftyDollarLogo.com. I gave them two shots at it, didn’t like their work and then asked for a refund. They wanted to put a “new team” on my project but I declined. Two weeks later I followed up and asked about the refund again. They wanted to give me one last chance to use them and I again declined. It’s now been three weeks and “Dina” (her names keeps morphing) told me she would look into my refund “shortly.” I’ll simply let my credit card company handle it by filing a dispute. I hired a real design company for my logo and really like the new logo.

  41. Thom

    I ordered a logo and 50dllarlogo.com was so off the mark after the first set of logos I went with another company. It has now been over two month since I asked for my refund and they have yet to process my refund. Their site says they have a 100% guarantee, no questions asked, but they asked all sorts of questions and tried like heck to keep working and not refund. Finally they agreed to refund, but have dropped all communications since. The guarantee is a flat out lie.


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