Selling a logo to a business who did not ask for one

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10

One of my projects in college was to recreate a logo for a local business.

The professor picked the business and I do not believe the business owners know about it. Since my logo has won several recognitions, I thought it would be cool if the actual business would use it.

Since they did not ask for a new logo, how would I go about asking them if they would like to buy it?

I do not want to come out sounding like a cheesy business person trying to sell something or offend the owner if perhaps they are the one who created their original logo. I am having trouble with the wording in my letter to them.

Ann

Posted 2016-03-16T02:59:23.943

Reputation: 256

7Do you think the company would actually benefit from a new logo? You're asking them to make an investment, so would they make more money off it? I'm assuming your professor rewarded you because of the design quality, but that's does not necessarily mean that changing the logo is a good decision businesswise. Keep in mind that good design is probably not their goal, but just a means to do what they do.marcvangend 2016-03-16T10:07:45.153

12At this point in your career, there is significant value to you in having a real business use a logo that you designed, as opposed to it just being a "concept piece". As @marcvangend points out, there are real costs to the business in changing their logo - probably much more than their fee to you. But if they go for it, that's a real win for you when you approach other businesses with your creative ideas. So find a way to work with this business to make it happen! Even if it means taking a lower price than you may want.Michael Geary 2016-03-16T10:32:36.073

4Agree with @MichaelGeary. Go for it. There is just as much to learn from selling a design as there is from selling a design as from creating it.marcvangend 2016-03-16T10:57:52.790

5If you do approach the company, I hope you'll update this question with what actually happens!Scribblemacher 2016-03-16T12:11:37.000

3This idea has all of the markings of a cold-calling salesperson. Even though your intentions are pure just make sure to consider it from their point of view; "This person has created a logo for us without asking, what's their angle? Am I being worked? Can I sue them for doing this?" Just be careful, that's all :)MonkeyZeus 2016-03-16T18:18:50.303

1Thank you all for your comments. marcvangend, wouldn't all businesses really benefit from good branding? No matter how small they are? You mentioned that "good design is probably not their goal." I suppose because being a designer that is hard to believe, but I understand what you mean. As for if they would sell more of their products with a nicer logo, hmm, that's hard to say. They are a mail order business and sell at the local farmer's market. They sell honey. That said, I know I cannot ask for much, price wise.Ann 2016-03-20T06:20:37.070

If you have found any of the answers below to have answered your question please make sure to mark it as the accepted answer. If the answers do not answer your question please make an [edit] seeking clarity.DᴀʀᴛʜVᴀᴅᴇʀ 2016-12-21T02:36:34.950

Answers

48

There's many good answers for this.

One thing I can suggest is to simply present the logo to the real business by explaining it the same way you did here! The fact that your logo got a lot of attention already is something that might be appealing to that business.

This way, you won't feel like you're judging their logo; you're simply presenting them some work that was already done and you're offering them the opportunity to actually update their logo without having to go through all the process of actually creating one! That's kind of a good deal already and a huge time saver for an entrepreneur. They don't even need to search for a designer!

Regarding the price, it depends on your goal with this; that logo is already done and kind of served its purpose. Logo prices can vary greatly from one designer to another and also depends on the size of the business who will use it. Some business feel okay with paying $300, others will find a Fiverr $5 clipart perfectly fine, others will prefer the +$1000 budgets. If your main goal is to make money, then try the $600-1500 range. If your goal is to see your logo being used in real, then try to get something between $200-600. The worst that can happen is this logo will not be used in real and will remain a part of your portfolio.

My approach with this (since the logo is already done) would be to write to or even better call the company to get an appointment to meet the boss. Don't send the logo in your letter, keep some mystery and give yourself the opportunity to meet the boss and present your own concept. I think a phone call is more efficient or even visiting the company to get an appointment might get you faster results than a letter.

Then I'd show my logo and would ask how much they want to offer and if they want any revision to it. If the price is less than what you wanted, tell that person it's less than what it's worth. The boss will certainly ask you how much you want. You can mention your price and offer other services to upsell as a way to negotiate (and get more work too). For example, if the boss is interested in other marketing material, you can offer to lower the price of the logo if there's other projects (guaranteed and with down payment) you can work on. If you don't care about future projects then simply shake hands and tell the guy you'll think about his offer. Call a few days later to accept or refuse the offer. That will let him some time to think about it and maybe even fall in love with your logo after getting some feedback from other people too.

And yes you're right, some people do their own logo and are very proud of it. Don't compare your logo with the actual logo when you'll present it. Simply focus on your own concept and creation!

go-junta

Posted 2016-03-16T02:59:23.943

Reputation: 11 952

It's pretty idealistic to assume you can schedule a meeting with the boss in a company that doesn't know you anytime you want. They're usually a busy person so I doubt it's that easy, although it depends on the size of the company of course.Dom 2016-03-17T07:04:21.803

@Dom With the OP's concerns and goals, what might be even more idealistic is to wait for a person from that company to call! I didn't include any cold-calling techniques but lot of people in business do it all the time. There's always a way to find who is in charge of what. Success with this depends on experience, mindset, and sometimes the network helps too!go-junta 2016-03-17T09:44:28.007

1I appreciate your advice! I don't expect the business to pay much since they are a mail order biz and they sell at the farmer's market. But I could be wrong, I don't know how well their internet sales are. This is my first go around in selling a logo. Since the logo is already made, my main concern is not to offend them. I also did not want to sound as if I was throwing my professor under the bus. I guess it's time to search and find my inner business person. Thank you again!Ann 2016-03-20T06:45:19.123

17

I disagree with most of the answers here.

Don't sell the logo.

It just sets you up for a lot of speculative work in the worst of ways. If they do accept it, any customers they refer will expect you to first do some work, or even a lot, before they decide to hire you.

However, since the logo is already made, you've got a rather bad bargaining position. Either you take what they offer, or you make no money.


Go big, medium or home.

You current plan can either go medium, or home.Instead of having a 100% finished project you try to sell, with the chance at it backfiring, up the ante. Instead, treat it as a 10% finished project, and try to sell that. If they accept, you go big, you get a lot more work. If they say, no thanks, but we do like the logo, go medium, and you still get something out of it. If they decline entirely, you go home.

You've now got an additional, far better, possible outcome, and you've raised the initial negotiation perspective.


Show the logo, offer more.

Show them the logo, mention your awards, ask what they think of it, and if they would be interested in having you fresh up their branding. Don't mention selling/giving the logo on its own; if they don't want to hire you or offer you money for the logo out of their own accord, the logo stays copyrighted to you.

Example email:

To keep my portfolio filled with fresh new work, I occasionally take part in design challenges. For one of these, I recently revamped the logo of [yourcompany]. It's gotten a lot of positive responses and several awards; award1, award2, and award3.

If you're interested, we could have a look at refreshing the rest of [yourcompany] branding, and perhaps get the company some extra media attention.

Try not to ask them to buy something, instead offer them an opportunity.


Negotiation and numbers

If they're interested and you're getting down to numbers, look at how long the logo took and how much your hourly rates are. That's how much the logo would cost, normally. Then offer them,if they agree on hiring you for the brand refresh, you throw in the logo for free / as a discount.

PixelSnader

Posted 2016-03-16T02:59:23.943

Reputation: 1 054

13

Your problem may stem from the first sentence: "One of my projects in college...".

In every educational establishment I'm aware of, the college owns everything you create as part of your course, or even just using college facilities. That means you don't own the logo. You can't sell something you don't own.

This is not the case with every establishment, but it might be worth checking what the rules are before proceeding.

Graham

Posted 2016-03-16T02:59:23.943

Reputation: 263

Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.

JohnB 2016-03-18T14:32:59.980

7

You have only one shot. If you offer the logo too expensive, they will say no. If you then lower the price, you aren't credible and they can offer whatever they want.

What is more important? Your logo is used or whether you get paid? Is there a minimum price you want to receive?

  1. Schedule an appointment with the boss.
  2. Tell him your story and show him your design.
  3. Measure his response and ask him if he wants to use the logo and what he like to pay for it.
  4. Negotiated the price based on his earlier reaction.

Think of what you gonna do if he likes the logo but don't want to pay for it. May he use it for free?

Ernst P.

Posted 2016-03-16T02:59:23.943

Reputation: 88

3Isn't this just a summary of go-junta's answer?PieBie 2016-03-16T09:55:56.940

1@PieBie I think go-junta's answer makes a mistake in assuming that this business owner will be interested in negotiating. Given that Ann is offering their work to a business which has not solicited it, it's far more likely that the owner will name their price (or decline to pay), without leaving it open to discussion.recognizer 2016-03-16T15:14:26.950

1And that differs from point 4 in this answer how?PieBie 2016-03-16T15:27:26.377

I would definitely not allow the business to use it for free. People offer undervalue work like this, and the boss might feel like they shouldn't have to pay since the design is already done. For yourself and for others, don't give away your work for free.SuperBiasedMan 2016-03-16T17:17:37.427

@SuperBiasedMan What if the company genuinely had no interest in paying, which I could see in a case like this where the service was not requested. Isn't giving it away for free no different than not using it? In both cases, you make no money. (I'm not a professional designer. I'm genuinely asking)Scribblemacher 2016-03-16T18:26:12.560

2@Scribblemacher I still wouldn't then because it reinforces the idea that logo costs are trivial. That you shouldn't budget for design. In that case it's more about the principle of logo designs having value than about the OP getting money.SuperBiasedMan 2016-03-16T18:49:13.747

Someone had given me the advice that if they weren't interested or not willing to pay, to kind of twist their arm in a sense, that I should mention to biz owner that I wanted to offer the logo to them first but if they don't want it, that I will start to offer it to other businesses. At first it sounded like a good idea, but does it come out sounding like I'm hard balling them?Ann 2016-03-20T07:20:35.840

@Ann I wouldn't do that. A well designed logo doesn't fit every company. You have taken that particular company as study-case. If you threatens with selling it to others, I think it will make your position weaker. If he told you that he like it, ask him why he don't want to pay for it. Otherwise, give him the logo for free and put its in your portfolio. Prospective customers won't know he didn't paid for it and will see they are not the first company you work for.Ernst P. 2016-03-24T08:25:45.943

6

I think the money is a tertiary consideration at best. You did the work for course work. There is NO substitute to having real companies using your work and placing that in your portfolio. (As opposed to having a portfolio full of class projects.)

Don't play around. Give the logo to them (provided they take the time and effort to use it now). Work with them to get it printed. Be involved in the processes. Be professional. Be a pleasure to be around.

Make it clear (with a smile) that this logo is free because it was class work and that they didn't commission it. But clearly point out that you are an award winning designer and expect to be professionally compensated for future work.

You never know the future work you get from them or their friends. They will, without a doubt, talk about you with their friends and business relations. This is an incredible opportunity. Do NOT be concerned with getting a few hundred dollars. Be concerned about building a professional network.

Mayo

Posted 2016-03-16T02:59:23.943

Reputation: 450

2Giving it away for free by default makes it seem less professional to me. If it's valuable enough to them to use then they should be willing to part with some sort of compensationZach Saucier 2016-03-16T15:08:35.197

3@ZachSaucier - except the original poster is NOT a professional. Professionals don't do work for a company on their own and then walk in and say: "pay me." Companies hire me. We negotiate terms and only then, after the contract is signed, do I start my work. The OP is a student. He has an opportunity to have a "real" project in her portfolio. She ought to grab it.Mayo 2016-03-16T15:33:05.903

3@Mayo: Professional sometimes do work at their own risk (and expense) and then try to sell their product to a client that never asked for it. It is quite common in many industries. It is actually the main model of the B2C transactions and very common in B2B transactions. I know it is unusual in the design world, but I don't think it makes a designer (look or be) less professional to do so.cockypup 2016-03-16T17:52:49.867

@cockypup That works for resellable products. A webshop platform. Newsletter templates. Tshirt designs. Not for specifically designed one-off products aimed at a single entity. Doing it for free and then asking for money for custom design, is a step below speculative work. Just... no.PixelSnader 2016-03-16T20:42:21.997

1@PixelSnader: By that logic creating a self-motivated illustration and trying to sell it to a customer for single use would be unprofessional.cockypup 2016-03-16T21:00:07.520

@cockypup Selling the exclusive rights to one client, that's fine. Creating an illustration tailored to one possible client, that's dumb - if they don't want it, what are you gonna do? It's about how many people you CAN sell it to.PixelSnader 2016-03-16T22:55:38.033

@PixelSnader If they don't want it or any other services, you move on with your life. No big deal and it's nothing extraordinary to offer services to clients and get a refusal for whatever reasons. In this case, the logo served its purpose already, so whatever the designer will get is an extra. That's up to the designer to decide what he/she is willing to accept. I agree with cockypup, it's not uncommon to give a "sample" in order to sell the whole pie at higher price later, especially when the business CAN afford it.go-junta 2016-03-16T23:21:44.423

@go-junta Doing speculative work in hopes of landing a bigger project, while sadly quite common, is risky and often advised against. (see http://www.nospec.com ) Doing an entire project on "maybe they'll buy it" is dumb if you can't sell to anyone else. Calling a lot of work with no reward "no big deal" is not a professional attitude. This project is different; it's not spec work, but repurposing a practice-piece. The practice was the reward.

PixelSnader 2016-03-16T23:51:34.557

@PixelSnader A sample isn't a whole project, please don't distort my words! "Speculative work" has become a symbol & people just throw it around. It lost its meaning. The irony is 80% of the work most designers do is meant to be used by the biggest "speculative" industry: marketing! Let's not be too snob. What some call speculative work, other call it marketing or sales strategy. One way or another, you will spend money or time to advertise your services. Consulting services & pre-sales are technically speculative work as well as they should normally be charged too! Yet they're still a "bet"!go-junta 2016-03-17T00:04:50.807

@go-junta Marketing is trying to sell many products to many customers. We were discussing artwork specifically designed for a single potential client. If you make one illustration, for only one potential client, and try to sell it; that is the entire project, that is spec work, and that is dumb. Please read the whole discussion.PixelSnader 2016-03-17T00:13:36.897

1@PixelSnader: You are assuming that a project designed with a specific client in mind that does not get accepted has to go to the trash bin, which is not true. In many cases it can be modified and re-purposed for a future client, so it is not time wasted. Particularly for a designer starting their professional career.cockypup 2016-03-17T01:08:28.417

@cockypup Do you even comprehend what you're saying? "In many cases, not all" so by definition there is some lost work. "can be modified and re-purposed" so you put in more hours, and the client gets a recycled design. If you can just up and flip a design, it's not a custom design, it's a generalized template.PixelSnader 2016-03-17T12:13:37.567

1@PixelSnader: I do comprehend what I say, at least last time I checked I did... : ) Anyways, it is getting now into the realm of bickering and word picking, so I am pulling off. Nice debate, though!cockypup 2016-03-17T15:46:06.253

4

I would like to point out that its very unlikely that the company buy the logo from you. There are several problems here, bit mainly this:

The company knows that it is unlikely that you can sell the logo elsewhere. This is especially true if the logo is very targeted. So in this case you have very little bargaining power. Besides as a business model this is like me digging a ditch on a prospective clients property, and then after selling the service. You can all imagine for yourself what happens in this case.

Giving the logo away for free? Not nesseserily a good idea. When it comes to hiring people you want persons who can demonstrate sales. There is no shortage of jobs that don't pay anything. In fact i get these offers on weekly basis. What really counts is the ones that agree to pay a sum that is worth my while. While publicity is certainly a good thing it does not work well in the long run, you can do this once or twice. Until you can live without working dont make habit out of this.

Third as a learning opportunity you have to understand design is not about a cool artwork. Its the ability to bring a clients needs into reality. Did you really cover all their bases?

Finally, it does not hurt to ask. They might like it. But still changing logos is not cheap for a bigger company. It takes time and money to do so. So be prepared to demonstrate ROI on your logo change. Now if you can do that then your set, its easy to ask money if you can demonstrate monetary benefit. In fact if your one of those rare designers that can consistently do this then all doors are open.

joojaa

Posted 2016-03-16T02:59:23.943

Reputation: 36 627

4

It's about the story.

You've told an excellent story so far. Student gets awards from academia. Now you're adding to the story by selling the logo. Selling it is a great ending to the story. Better is getting paid to do other work for them.

But it's not just about your story. The company wants a story as well. Something they can joke about years from now. Changing a logo is both significant and meaningless. So what's important is how it makes people feel.

A logo change will not just suddenly happen. There will be a meeting where it will be unveiled. Someone is going to have to speak at that meeting. What are they going to have to say?

The easiest way to handle the price issue is to sell them on the story. Selling it for $1 can make a good story. Selling it for $10,000 can make a good story. Whatever you do, don't accept a number that sounds boring. The story you both get out of this is worth more than whatever they might pay.

When you approach a member of the company be prepared for a full blown job interview. Be ready to answer questions of ownership. But make an impression. That impression will become the story.

A big part of art is selling it. The story that goes with the Mona Lisa is what makes it valuable.

MagicWindow

Posted 2016-03-16T02:59:23.943

Reputation: 41

Thanks for the contribution and welcome to GraphicDesign! Let us know if you have any questions about how the site worksZach Saucier 2016-03-19T14:42:00.680

Thanks @MagicWindow! I like this aspect. I think having a story behind it will make me feel more comfortable when speaking to them. I have imagined myself speaking/writing to them and because I am trying to SELL myself, I see myself sounding cold.Ann 2016-03-20T07:30:08.340

Try to find a way to have fun with it. Technically, you're both a job applicant and a solicitor. A well worded letter can get you a long way but it's not your medium. Try it first but don't stop there. I have visions of you showing up outside their door with sign that says, "Will work for art supplies" next to their no soliciting sign. Just don't be disruptive. : )CandiedOrange 2016-03-20T15:34:10.903

@Ann take a look at the other graphic design needs the company has. A logo usually goes with a theme. When you sell them the logo show them that you're prepared to make the new logo part of a theme for all their products and promotional materials.MagicWindow 2016-03-25T20:42:57.010

0

It would be a great asset if your logo actually matched the companies image and target audience. That's most likely what will get them to use it also it would have to have a great pitch associated with it if your going to win them over. Best of luck...hope this helps

Re3L

Posted 2016-03-16T02:59:23.943

Reputation: 9

0

The grain of salt: I am not a designer.

You don't explicitly tell us where you are in your career - are you still in college, did you just graduate, did you graduate years ago. The choice of approach may be affected by that. You've had some good advice above. It ranges from get what you can, to set a minimum, to use it as a lever to get ongoing work.

I like the suggestions that include leveraging the logo as a way to get work. One form of compensation would be your being able to point to the company as using your logo. That would be even more effective if they were to agree to cite you as its source - whether on their website, brochures, or tiny print on the logo. As others have pointed out, a large operation, especially one with print media will face considerable costs in changing a logo. Not charging money for it, but getting something free for them in return, might be a more successful approach, and might also be more beneficial.

JKEngineer

Posted 2016-03-16T02:59:23.943

Reputation: 1

What does this add in addition to the other answers?Zach Saucier 2016-03-21T19:53:39.710

The value of using the logo at the business for publicity, rather than income and the possibility of having that value enhanced with the company's cooperation. Also the fact that where Ann is in her career affects the value of any of the approaches.JKEngineer 2016-03-21T22:20:50.407

I feel like those are covered pretty well in other answers :PZach Saucier 2016-03-22T02:10:29.670