Whether you believe it or not, the reality is that some companies have spent tens of millions of dollars on a new logo. For some, it was the beginning of a great new era. For others, it was money down the drain. Here’s our list of the top ten most expensive logos ever, with some extra insight so you can decide whether these considerable investments were worth it or not.
Belfast recently rebranded last year, spending $50,000 on an extremely controversial logo. Although the logo was inspired by the shape of the city, many claimed it looked unprofessional and unspecific. Luckily, the price tag caught a lot less attention than that of the 2008 rebranding. In 2008, Belfast spent approximately $280,000 on creating the city’s new logo, putting the design in the top ten most expensive logos.
Belfast was looking to make the city a go-to for tourists and investors. They wanted to move past the violent history and switch the focus to the future. Lloyd Northover, the agency tasked with developing the new logo, spent months researching to ensure they got the logo right. They understood the need to be cautious, considering Belfast’s turbulent history. They surveyed and interviewed people from all parts of Belfast, and even some from abroad, to ensure the logo struck the right cord.
The result? A heart-shaped B, with Belfast written inside it. The logo was flexible, used in a number of colors and in tag lines such as “Be Vibrant.” However, many complained that the B was not specific to Belfast. And, soon after its release, it was discovered that numerous other brands already had a similar logo out there.
However, people got used to the heart-shaped logo, and now seem hesitant to leave it behind for the new logo.
It is clear that Belfast wanted to ensure they did the logo right, and avoided causing a tremendous controversy by being insensitive to their history. It is, perhaps, because of this that the logo was as expensive as it was. They were paying Lloyd Northover to be cautious, and triple check that the logo wouldn’t upset the people of Belfast.
Was it worth it? That depends. It would have been far more disastrous if they had come up with a logo that alluded to a dark part of their history or was insensitive. So, being a little generic? Probably better.
The 2012 London Olympics captured the attention of audiences around the world, as most olympics do. Records were broken in swimming, cycling, and much, much more. However, something other than the competition and the sports captivated people: the logo. Online, and all throughout the event, the design received intense feedback. People were outraged. The logo was seen as poorly done, and for such a big event, the public was clearly invested. The 2012 London Olympics logo broke a record of its own: it was the most expensive logo made for the Olympics ever and, arguably, the most controversial.
The logo showed 2012 in odd geometric shapes, with the word London in the first number, and the olympic rings serving as the center of the zero. Wolff Olins, the agency tasked with developing the logo for the games, received a considerable $625,000 for the infamous design, making it one of the most expensive logos of all time. So, was it worth it?
Most people seem to think it was money down the drain. The logo was critiqued for being too sloppy and too unprofessional. Whatever the public’s opinion, the logo was done and stamped on everything related to the 2012 Olympic Games. Although it goes down in history as one of the most controversial logos of the olympics, it also secures a spot among the most expensive logos ever made.
Coca-Cola’s logo is famous worldwide, has hardly been changed since its creation, and is often recognized as one of the best logos around. It’s seen as timeless, identifiable, and memorable. So, how does Pepsi compete with that?
Apparently, they invest one million dollars in a new logo to kick Coca-Cola to the curb. The new logo sports the basic colors the brand has always been known for: red, white, and blue. However, the symbol received some modifications: it was tilted, the curves were edited, and the distribution of the colors was altered.
Arnell Group was obviously happy to be making the logo for such an enormous client. But, with such minimal changes, many criticized the price tag of the logo. It was one of the most expensive logos of all time, but people questioned why. A document was released, however, showing Arnell Group’s work during the process. In an astonishing twenty-seven pages, the company delves into the geometry of the Parthenon and the Mona Lisa, conducts a geometric evaluation of the past Pepsi logos, and spends numerous pages playing with the exact variations of the curves. The document ends with a comparison of the speed of light with Pepsi. It’s presented as a scientific paper, evaluating the very nitty gritty of the new logo. Although the intensity of the paper was laughed at online, the result was a logo that was widely accepted.
It’s 1998 when Paula Scher finds herself in a meeting with representatives of Citicorp and Travellers Group, recently merged to create the well-known CitiBank. Her agency Pentagram has been tasked with creating their new logo for the considerable amount of $1.5 million, which is just a fraction of the $10 million they’re getting for an entire branding campaign. It’s a big client, that’s inarguable.
Paula Scher delivers a napkin, with a simple sketch. The meeting lasts ten minutes, and within months, the sketch is everywhere as CitiBank’s brand new logo. Scher took the umbrella figure from the original Travelers logo and combined it with the “citi” from Citicorp. Simple as that. In regards to this logo, Paula Scher said “[…] a lot of clients like to ‘buy process’ and they don’t think they’re getting their money’s worth, like I sold it too fast. ‘How can it be that you talk to someone and it’s done in a second?’ But it is done in a second – and 34 years.”
CitiBank’s expensive logo was a success. It’s recognizable everywhere around the world, and has lasted for longer than they probably imagined it would, but many still criticize that the corporation paid $1.5 million for a sketch on a napkin.
In 1997, the British Broadcasting Corporation, better known as the BBC, set out to rebrand. They were hoping to venture into the new world of the Internet, and to make a coherent identity out of their variety of channels and services. The man for the job? Martin Lambie-Nairn, founder of the creative agency Lambie-Nairn. He set out to create a logo that was translatable on different mediums, and did not lose its identity when on screen. He wanted a flexible design that would allow for a multitude of variations, so all the sub-channels and services could have a variation of the original logo, allowing for one coherent identity. He came up with the logo we know now: three black boxes, with the letters BBC in white in each one. It was flexible, translatable, and did not lose its quality when used on a screen. It was perfect.
The logo that came out of those rebranding efforts has now been in use for over 20 years, making it the logo with the longest life on screen. Undoubtedly, the black blocks with the letters BBC have become recognizable around the world. So, maybe the unbelievable price of $1,800,000 was actually worth it. Either way, it still finds itself among the most expensive logos of all time.
Hear me out, hear me out. I know you’ve probably heard the tale of the famous Nike Swoosh. “Can you believe it only cost them $35? And now it’s a worldwide symbol!” So, now, you’re sitting there looking at the price I’ve written down and wondering if I’ve gone crazy. I have not. Allow me to explain.
It is true that in 1971, Nike reached out to Carolyn Davidson with the task of creating “a stripe that would look good on a shoe,” and offered a measly $35 for her work. However, in 1983 when they went public with the company, they also offered her 500 shares of the company. Over the years, those 500 shares have become 64,000, because of 2-for-1 stock splits (a lot of them). And the value of those stocks now?
Well, the stocks have been worth around $65 recently – meaning Carolyn Davidson is looking at a sum of about $4.1 million. She definitely deserves it, since the swoosh has become a worldwide symbol, and there’s only her to thank for its creation. So, you see? In the end, Carolyn Davidson left with a lot more than just $35 in her pocket, in spite of the popular tale. In fact, the Nike swoosh has, over time, become one of the most expensive logos.
Although the numbers so far might sound crazy, the Australian and New Zealand Banking Group Ltd took it a step further by spending an unbelievable $15 million on their rebranding, greatly overshadowing Nike’s price tag, even with the stock shares. Of course, this $15 million included much more than the logo (marketing, branding, etc.) but it is still an inconceivable amount and successfully landed them among the most expensive logos.
For a company this large, ensuring they were branded correctly was a priority, and spending the amount they did did not seem that crazy. However, for many who saw the logo, the price tag seemed a bit steep. In spite of such a hefty price, many were upset at the new logo.
The whole process took about two years, and ended with mixed reviews from Australian designers – who claimed the logo was “dreadful.” For $15 million, that’s a bad reaction to get.
ANZ Banking Group
Although you may have never heard of it, Posten Norge must have deep pockets and a lot of clients, because in 2008 they reached into these pockets and pulled out a whopping $55 million for a new logo and marketing campaign. Of course, this makes them one of the most expensive logos ever. Posten Norge has been around for a long, long time and provides postal services in Norway. The new design they went for featured grey and red as the main colors, and showed a circular shape with the words Posten Norge, or simply Posten across the bottom or beside the symbol, depending on the variation. It was a considerable change from the previous design, which featured a horn and a more traditional style. Although many claim the logo was successful, designers have often questioned the need to change logos at all, and have cited that the original was better suited for a postal service company. Its traditional vibe was preferred by designers, and the rebranded logo was seen as too generic and simplistic.
In 2000, Andersen Consulting and the Andersen accounting group split ways and knew there was bound to be a rocky road ahead. After their contract ended, Andersen Consulting Company sat down to create a new name and came up with Accenture, which was meant to represent “accent on the future.” Although the name was heavily criticized, they went ahead with a new rebranding campaign that cost them an estimated $100 million, putting them among the most expensive logos.
Landor Associates created a simple logo for the company, with a forward mark to represent the future of the company. Although the logo may look simple, the process of choosing it was not. Over 50 logos were presented and rejected before the current logo was accepted. The logo, much like the name, received criticism for being ambiguous, vague, and too simplistic.
In spite of instant criticism, the company has stuck with the logo and have, successfully, become a recognizable company in the industry.
Amidst alarming controversy, British Petroleum, known today as BP, set out to fix their image with a rebranding campaign. They began by promising to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by 10% by 2010. They teamed up with Landor Associates for a makeover. Their previous logo looked like a shield, with the letters BP. Many claim the logo was especially bad in times of crisis because it put more distance between the public and BP and made the company seem as if it were on the defensive. Landor Associates decided to keep only the color scheme of the original logo and went about creating a new logo that expressed BP’s new dedication towards green growth.
They came up with a “Helios” logo, which represented a sunflower. The shape symbolized the sun’s energy, while the use of green was used to emphasize BP’s environmental sensitivity. The idea of “growth” represented by the logo was meant to emphasize the brand’s dedication to move past petroleum, as was their new tagline “Beyond Petroleum.” In this way, the brand’s dedication to reducing their impact on the planet came to the forefront of their image.
BP persevered with this logo and used various tools to ensure the public understood their new approach and their message. By 2007, the company was considered the “greenest” oil company. They also saw a 23% increase in retail sales around the world. However, it is important to note that the 2010 oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico greatly damaged the company’s image. Greenpeace even created a logo design contest to turn BP’s logo into an oil spill. Since then, BP has spent millions more on damage control to try and salvage their image and rebuild the trust of the public.
Concluding on the Expensive Logos
Although a list like this is always fun to read, it’s important you take it with a pinch of salt. Most prices on this list were not solely for the logo, but included rebranding campaigns or marketing strategies. For example, Symantec is often cited as having spent the most on a logo. Numerous sources will claim they spent over one billion dollars. However, this figure includes their acquisition of VeriSign, which had very little to do with their logo. There are also a lot of cases where companies refused to unveil how much they spent, meaning there could be some that were more expensive than the ones present here, but we’ll just never know.
Whatever the case may be, we hope you enjoyed our list of the most expensive logos. How much would you be willing to spend? With the increasing availbaility of technology, you should be able to get a great logo design for $199 – $479. This is what a logo design costs on DesignBro.com, where you will find the highest quality online creative talent.