Both logos and brand identities demand the skill set of a visual designer and conceptual thinker. A logo requires an exploration of typography, color, symbology/iconography. Crafting a brand identity requires those important raw materials, as well a search for more meaning and deeper knowledge of what the organization truly stands for. The end goal is to visually represent the brand to attract your "sweet spot" target audience to your brand.
This visual personality is a key differentiator from your competition. This is the representation of an organization's "way." The design concept sets the tone and visual language for longer term marketing and advertising. Without exploring the brand first, how can a logo properly reflect these core attributes?
We recently proposed on a brand identity for a new start-up business. The client asked what the typical range was for a brand identity. After a brief rundown of pricing, the client mentioned they could get a logo done for half the cost by another designer. It's true, you can always find it cheaper (Logoworks.com, for example). But will cheaper be a good long-term solution? Will your customers perceive the difference? Will a less expensive option include the exploration required to do the best job possible? A brand identity is a long-term decision and should be done right the first time -- it shouldn't simply be a logo to stick on your business card or signage.
The cost of acquisition of a brand identity is a bit higher, but the value is easy to measure. The conversation of "who we are," versus "what we do" is an important shift in view. Looking externally is a crucial view -- what your customers perceive is the most important thing to consider.
Our advice: Consider the big-picture value, not simply short-term cost.