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The Branding Blog

11 Costly Branding Risks You Must Know Before Hiring a Logo Designer


Logo Design Blog

In this guide:

We’ll explain the key risk factors you must consider when it comes to the creation of your new logo and brand assets.

And why it can cost you thousands of dollars if these factors aren’t addressed during the design process.

To ensure a successful outcome that benefits your brand both now and in the future, hiring a great designer isn’t enough.

You need someone who can also fully understand your business, your purpose, your values, your products and services, then interpret all that information into a visual identity that resonates with your target audience.

Key takeaways

  • Your brand is one of the most important investments you’ll ever make in your business, and getting it professionally optimised the right way from the start will prepare you for when you’re ready to scale.
  • There are hidden costs of getting your branding wrong that are generally only discovered when it’s too late. These mistakes require a full rebrand to resolve and can cause reputational damage along with a drastic loss in sales.
  • Being aware of these risks and making sure the brand designer you hire considers them in their design process will ensure you mitigate them and avoid a potential branding nightmare that can save you $10,000’s!
  • There are countless examples of branding going wrong and the damage they cause businesses. Some businesses never recover.
  • The team at Red Kite are highly experienced design professionals who specialise in logo and brand development. We’ve seen it all and our design process is tailored to avoid all of the risks in this guide. We’d love for you to consider us for your project.

Your branding is one of the most vital investments in your business (and this backed up by studies)

Firstly, it’s important to understand:

When you hire a brand designer, you’re making one of the most important investments in the future of your business.

It’s obviously not the ideal scenario to be investing a lot of money in the very early stages of your new business as you’re trying to keep your costs low when starting out, which is why many startups look for the cheapest solution they can find for their logo and branding assets.

But, ironically, going for the lowest cost option will end up costing you much more than if you had invested adequately at the very beginning.

And an “adequate investment” doesn’t necessarily mean a large investment. It just means a reasonable amount to allow a genuine branding expert to have the resources to do the job right.

This prevents them from cutting corners and rushing your project and instead allows them to avoid a branding issue and produce an end result that provides continuous value and impact for the lifetime of your business.

How your business and products are visually perceived by your audience is one of the biggest factors that will determine whether customers recognise, trust and ultimately make a purchase from you.

Whether we realise it or not, design directly influences our purchasing decisions.

Branding and design influences purchasing decisions

There are various studies that have shown this, for example:

But many business owners mistakenly consider their logo and branding as a low impact business activity that adds minimal value to their bottom line, and therefore they think it should be solved with as little of an investment as possible.

After all, why would you invest a high amount of money to solve a small problem?

But the truth is:

Your logo and branding are one of, if not the most, valuable assets for your business and it has a monumental impact on your bottom line.

And when you need to solve a high impact business problem, you need to invest appropriately, or you’ll end up costing yourself much more than you bargained for down the track.

Before scaling your business, it’s essential that your branding is done right. Because when you scale, you don’t just scale the things you got right, you also scale the things you got wrong too.

And solving a branding issue after you’ve scaled is much more expensive than having had your branding done right from the very beginning, at a fraction of the cost.

Remember:

When you hire a logo designer, you’re not just paying for someone who knows how to use Photoshop and Illustrator; you’re paying for an expert interpretation from someone who can fully understand your business, your purpose, your values, your products and services, then interpret all that information into a visual identity that resonates with your target audience.


What are the hidden costs of getting branding wrong?

Tropicana branding disaster

Professional branding can be a substantial financial commitment, especially when you’re first starting out. However, it’s a necessary cost if you’re serious about investing in your business, and one that will pay dividends quickly if done right.

Conversely, getting your branding wrong can be hugely detrimental to your business, costing time, money and even your reputation.

If the identity isn’t right, it can cost thousands of dollars to reproduce any physical materials like business cards and signage with your updated designs, never mind the financial impact of lost sales and damage to your brand.

While it may be tempting to opt for a cheaper brand design service, even if it’s just a stopgap solution until you can afford something more in depth, you risk falling foul of the old adage “buy cheap, buy twice.”

Here are just some of the many areas that your logo will touch as you grow your business:

  • Office building
  • Website
  • Signage
  • Social Media profiles
  • Online advertisements
  • Print advertisements
  • Business cards
  • Stationery
  • Posters
  • Brochures / Flyers
  • Catalogues / Magazines
  • Proposals
  • Presentations
  • Sales collateral
  • Videos
  • Staff uniforms
  • Products and product packaging
  • Car wraps
  • Billboards
  • Displays
  • Content marketing assets
  • Email marketing templates
  • Email signatures
  • Exhibition signs
  • Ebooks
  • Webinars
  • Brand guidelines document
  • Directories
  • Apps

Now, consider what it would cost to redesign and replace all of these assets if there was a branding issue that wasn’t noticed until it’s too late.

The rebranding effort would cost many multiples more than your original investment, and you’d have thrown away all the money you invested up to this point.

Plus, even after resolving this branding nightmare, the reputational damage to your business might still take a long time to recover from, if it ever does.

If you spend the time and money to avoid these mistakes now, you will save yourself a huge headache and additional expense down the track as you scale.


Ok, so now we know what the hidden costs to your business are, let’s dive into the risks that will cause these extra costs.

The branding risks

Putting your business in the hands of an experienced, trustworthy and professional designer will give you the best chance to nail your brand identity and ensure a successful outcome.

Working with the right agency will help you to avoid these common branding mistakes that are often made by low-cost and inexperienced designers.

1. Plagiarising from another business

In order to charge clients a lower price, some unethical designers will copy the exact design of a similar business and pass it off as their own original work.

Aside from putting you at risk of legal ramifications, and the reputational damage this will cause, this approach means that your unique business needs haven’t been considered at all. Even if you did use this logo, it wouldn’t perform as well as a bespoke solution.

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Good news! This risk is mitigated in Red Kite’s comprehensive design process.

2. Using unlicensed fonts

Sometimes, an inexperienced designer may use a font in your logo that they don’t realise requires licensing for commercial use. 

This can get you in trouble if it’s discovered by the original font designer, and they may take legal action against you unless you remove it from your logo. Otherwise, you may have to pay a one-off fee or even ongoing lifetime costs for as long as the font is part of your branding.

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Good news! This risk is mitigated in Red Kite’s comprehensive design process.

3. Using pre-designed stock iconography, illustrations or templates

If a designer uses a pre-designed stock illustration, icons or logo templates when designing your logo your business won’t end up with a unique and original design. 

Your logo should be an authentic match for your company’s values, mission and reason for being. This can’t be conveyed when using a premade template or illustration.

Additionally, stock iconography, illustrations and logo templates can be used by other companies which can lead to potential legal issues and conflict over the ownership of the design.

It’s important to invest in a professionally designed logo that truly reflects the values and identity of your business.

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Good news! This risk is mitigated in Red Kite’s comprehensive design process.

4. Unintended symbolism and hidden meanings

You might be surprised how often designs are found to contain unintended symbolism or accidentally depict something inappropriate that sparks outrage.

From inappropriate racial symbolism to inadvertently explicit shapes, there are unfortunately lots of ways for a logo design to backfire and ruin your company’s reputation. 

We’ve put together a few examples of brands getting it wrong in another article.

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Good news! This risk is mitigated in Red Kite’s comprehensive design process.

5. Lack of adaptability for different applications and usage requirements

Experienced designers consider the adaptability of a design, ensuring that your brand looks its best across all touchpoints. 

Cost-cutting designers often neglect this important attention to detail, delivering a single solution that hasn’t been fully realised to work in all applications. 

For example: 

A logo that looks great on a business card might not work well on a website, while one designed in a horizontal format won’t suit applications with a vertical format, resulting in an unprofessional appearance for your brand and a needed redesign of the entire brand down the track.

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Good news! This risk is mitigated in Red Kite’s comprehensive design process.

6. Misrepresentation of your products, services and ethos

On a subconscious level, the look and feel of a brand will spark emotions, memories and desires in your audience. 

Notice the subtle changes in how you think and feel when looking at a prestigious, luxury brand logo like Rolex or Gucci versus how you think and feel when seeing the yellow McDonald’s arches, or trendy Nike sportswear. 

Comparison of the branding between Rolex and McDonalds

If your business is all about luxury, you don’t want to look cheap. 

If your core company value is empathy, a skull and crossbones design won’t resonate with your target audience.

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Good news! This risk is mitigated in Red Kite’s comprehensive design process.

7. Having inconsistent design and tone across your materials

An inconsistent design and tone across all of your branding materials can confuse and alienate consumers.

A brand's tone should be consistently applied across all communication channels, including social media, website content, and advertising. 

The inconsistencies in branding also lead to a lack of trust and credibility, as consumers may not know what to expect and may become confused and hesitant about taking the next steps with your business.

In order to effectively connect with and engage consumers, it’s important for your business to be clear and consistent across all your branding materials and marketing channels. This is what will establish a strong and cohesive brand identity that resonates with your target audience and gives your customers the confidence to engage with you.

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Good news! This risk is mitigated in Red Kite’s comprehensive design process.

8. Not considering your intended target audience

It’s important to consider your target audience during the creation of your brand and identity because the way brands are perceived has a significant impact on their success.

A brand that resonates with its target audience will be more effective in attracting and retaining customers, while a brand that fails to connect with its audience may struggle to gain traction.

By considering the preferences, values, thoughts, feelings and behaviours of your target audience, you can tailor your branding to more accurately align with their needs and interests and create that emotional connection.

Building a strong connection with your potential customers is a key factor in developing brand loyalty and achieving success.

Without any consideration for your target audience your branding will be ineffective in communicating your company’s message and positioning to the people you most want to reach.

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Good news! This risk is mitigated in Red Kite’s comprehensive design process.

9. Not providing brand guidelines or a usage document

Brand guidelines and usage documents are really important because they help to ensure consistency in the representation of your brand.

These guides outline the specific elements of your brand, such as the logo, fonts, and colour schemes, and provide guidelines for how they should be used correctly. 

By having a clear set of guidelines, all team members and any external parties, such as marketing agencies or partners, can easily understand how to effectively communicate the brand.

Consistency helps to strengthen a brand's image and makes it more recognisable to consumers. Your brand guideline document will also help to protect your intellectual property.

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Good news! This risk is mitigated in Red Kite’s comprehensive design process.

10. Jumping on the latest trend bandwagon

Following the latest trends when designing a logo might seem like a good idea but it can backfire on your business as trends can quickly change, leaving you with an outdated brand.

A professionally considered logo should be able to withstand the test of time and will still stand out from the crowd even as new trends come and go.

Consider the simplicity of the Apple logo from 1977. 

The Apple logo changes from 1977 to 2017

This logo is able to withstand decades of changes in culture and trends because they kept it simple. This allows them to make minor updates to their look and feel while still maintaining the original shape and design.

By having the same logomark and only changing the colour and style over the years they lower their risk of backlash from their loyal customers, unlike the brands in the examples we provide in another article.

Aside from the obvious benefits of having a timeless logo design, it can also save your business thousands of dollars over the lifetime of the company as you won’t need to perform a major rebrand every few years to stay current.

Getting a thoughtful logo produced at the start of your journey will solve countless issues in the future as you grow.

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Good news! This risk is mitigated in Red Kite’s comprehensive design process.

11. Trying to appeal to all audiences

It’s always tempting when starting a business to try and cater for as many people as possible in terms of your marketing, messaging and service offering.

But many renowned marketing experts will tell you this is a bad idea, as trying to appeal to everyone ends up with you appealing to no one.

Your branding and marketing is successful when you connect with a specific persona who is trying to solve a specific problem, and you’re able to show them your expertise in solving that problem for them.

This builds a huge amount of credibility and trust for your business because you’re known as the expert at solving that particular problem for that type of customer.

For example:

If you were going to hire a lawyer to help you with a car accident claim, which option would you feel more compelled by?

Option 1: A law firm that has 30 legal services listed on their website, with a small amount of information, a handful of reviews and a low number of success stories relating specifically to motor vehicle claims.

Or:

Option 2: A law firm that only specialises in motor vehicle claims, whose entire website contains comprehensive information about all types of road accidents, with all of their reviews and case studies being from customers who they helped with that particular type of claim.

For the vast majority of people, they would choose Option 2.

Appealing to everyone means you’ll alienate most of your potential customers because they don’t feel like you fully understand them and how to solve their particular problem.

When it comes to your branding, it’s even more important.

Don’t fall in the trap of thinking you have to be everything to everyone when it comes to the look and feel of your brand.

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Good news! This risk is mitigated in Red Kite’s comprehensive design process.


When branding goes wrong

Women's network branding disaster
Source: Yahoo News

It happens!

Branding can go wrong and cause reputational damage followed by all the expenses that come with a rebrand.

There's a few different factors that determine how big of a brand risk you will have and the scale of the damages and cost it will have:

  • The size of the business/organisation.
  • The existing brand awareness in the market.
  • The number of assets, marketing materials and physical locations the logo is used.
  • The size of the existing, loyal customer base.

A brand new business who is yet to scale, and who currently only has their logo appear their website, for example, will be able to rebrand and resolve their branding issue at a reasonably low cost.

However, a business that has already scaled, or who has placed their logo across all of their assets will have a much more costly rebranding exercise.

Let's take a look at some examples:

In this article, we look at some of the most famous examples of when branding goes wrong.


How can you avoid these branding risks?

The most effective way to mitigate the risks that come with branding is to put in the time and research in the early stages to carefully select a professional brand designer and avoid the cheapest options you find (they are not cheap when you consider the risks of having to rebrand later!)

We'd highly recommend you avoid:

  • Super cheap logo marketplaces (such as Fiverr).
  • Logo crowdsourcing contest platforms (such as 99designs or DesignCrowd).
  • Your friends or family members who "have previously done a bit of design work" but are not highly experienced brand designers.
  • Fresh design graduates with no real-world experience.
  • Free "do it yourself" logo makers.
  • Purchasing or using a free logo template.

We'd also ask that you consider working with our team at Red Kite.

Our team is highly specialised in logo design and branding and we have a comprehensive design process which helps to mitigate against all of these branding risks.

To find out whether Red Kite is the right choice for your branding project, request a free quote online or give us a call on 1300 383 146 and we’d be more than happy to discuss your project with you!


You can trust Red Kite to avoid these risks

Check out what Rob from TrussCorp had to say about his experience working with us!

Rob from TrussCorp
Rated 5 Stars on Google

Working with Chris has been a pleasure and the results are spectacular

TrussCorp employed the services of RedKite to help us with a complete re-brand of all our material over the last six months. Working with Chris has been a pleasure and the results are spectacular. We could not recommend him more highly. His skill, creativity and speed are all amazing and he couldn't be more accommodating or helpful.

Rob - TrussCorp

Client Testimonial

Read next: 7 Red Flags to Avoid When Choosing a Logo Designer (And 20 Vital Questions To Ask Them)


Lee Wallis, Marketing Manager at Red Kite

Lee Wallis

Marketing Manager

Lee brings over 15 years of design and marketing experience to Red Kite, with 4 of those years spent running his own digital agency. He spends his time developing content, guides, tools and resources that educate our clients and help them grow their businesses through branding and marketing.

Branding & Logo Design Australia & Beyond

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