The most expensive logo ever created might also be among the cheapest.
I’ll explain why in a moment. First, though, let’s understand why this is a difficult question to answer.
Contrary to popular misconception, logos are not created in isolation. At the major corporate level, they almost always form part of a complete branding exercise that includes research, logo concepts and design, complementary design assets, a brand identity system that showcases implementation of the logo in every possible use (including stationery, web, signage and packaging), colour palettes, typeface guidelines, and an exhaustive style guide that provides in-depth rules about how the logo should be used in various scenarios.
The brand identity/style guide alone can be a pretty sizeable document…I have worked with clients whose style guides run well over a hundred pages.
Then there’s also the research cost involved with ensuring the logo doesn’t infringe any existing trademarks. There have been numerous instances when corporations have had to fight legal battles or been forced to pull a logo after it has been implemented. In the most recent high-profile instance, the Tokyo 2020 Olympics logo had to be scrapped over charges of plagiarism.
So which is the most expensive logo ever created?
I believe it is the Nike logo, which was famously designed for the princely sum of $35. That was the amount that Nike paid then student Carolyn Davidson in 1971 to create “a stripe that would look good on a shoe".
At today's stock price of $110.73, those shares are worth a cool $3.5 million.