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SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy And The Race To Space

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People are looking to the stars again — even though they might just be looking for Elon Musk’s midnight-cherry Tesla Roadster that’s somewhere in orbit between Mars and the asteroid belt. The successful launch of SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket, which sent that car on its potentially billion-year journey, has everyone scrambling to get their rocket program on the same level as SpaceX. What does the Falcon Heavy launch mean for the future of space travel and the possibility of a new space race?

The Falcon Heavy

On Feb. 6, Elon Musk and SpaceX celebrated the maiden voyage of the Falcon Heavy. This miracle of engineering was launched successfully at 3:45 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, powered by a whopping 27 Merlin engines — nine inches each of the side booster rockets, and nine more in the center core.

The two booster rockets successfully separated and landed almost simultaneously at Landing Zones 1 and 2 back at Cape Canaveral in a mind-blowing feat of synchronization — if you haven’t had a chance to watch the replay of this landing, you should. Go ahead, we’ll wait.

The third core, which was supposed to land on the autonomous droneship Of Course I Still Love You about 300 miles off the Florida coastline, didn’t fare as well. According to the post-launch press conference, the core didn’t have enough fuel to reignite all three of its engines for its final landing burn. It hit the water at about 300 miles per hour — hard enough to take out two of the engines on the droneship.

If the cameras on Of Course I Still Love You weren’t damaged in the crash, we may be in for some spectacular crash footage in the coming weeks.

It’s not a great loss, though — Space X wasn’t planning to reuse any of the cores from the Heavy’s maiden launch. The two Falcon 9 boosters that landed successfully are Block 4 style rockets — the ones that will be used for future Heavy launches will be Block 5.

Despite the spectacular failure of the center core, the launch itself was a complete success — pretty good for something Elon Musk was expecting to explode before it even made it off the launchpad. As Musk put it, “Crazy things can come true. When I see a rocket lift off, I see a thousand things that could not work, and it’s amazing when they do.”

Now that it’s off the ground and proven its viability as a reusable heavy lift option, the Falcon Heavy is much cheaper than any other currently available options. “At $90 million per launch, it’s the cheapest heavy lift option available,” said William Ostrove, a space industry analyst. “The Delta IV Heavy, for example, typically costs $350 million to $400 million per launch.”

The Future of SpaceX

Now that his Roadster is traversing the solar system, what is next for Elon Musk and SpaceX?

In the short term, the next big milestone for SpaceX and for the Falcon Heavy specifically is to get certified by the U.S. Air Force to carry secure and government payloads. The Falcon 9 received this certification back in 2015 and has since carried several military and classified payloads into their places in orbit. The next flight for the Falcon Heavy is scheduled for June for the Air Force — and depending on its outcome, it could be the flight that qualifies the Heavy for military and government contracts.

Next year, in addition to continuing to develop the Falcon Heavy, there are two more projects on SpaceX’s plate — Crew Dragon and the BFR.

Crew Dragon is an upgraded incarnation of the currently used Dragon capsule, but instead of just hauling cargo to the International Space Station autonomously, Crew Dragon will be outfitted for carrying astronauts into orbit and beyond.

This will likely become an essential part of the space program, or at least in getting America’s astronauts to space, especially with the current administration’s plan to defund the International Space Station by 2025 and hand it over to private investors, shifting that funding toward the goal of putting humans back on the Moon.

The BFR — short for Big F*****g Rocket — is designed for use a lot closer to home, at least to start. Once completed, the BFR will be even larger than the gargantuan Falcon Heavy. A BFR with a capsule could potentially turn a 12-hour airline flight into a 30-minute hop around the globe. It could also change the way we look at travel to the Moon, Mars and other planets, as well as facilitating asteroid mining to allow us as a species to take advantage of the resources in the rest of the solar system.

Experts estimate the BFR, once it’s off the ground, could turn space into a multi-trillion-dollar industry — currently, space travel is worth about $300 billion.

The New Space Race

The U.S. hasn’t really been in a “space race” since the 1960s, when we threw everything at the wall to see what would stick. This grand idea resulted in the Apollo program, and we sent men to the Moon for the first time. During his Falcon Heavy post-launch news conference, Elon Musk set forth a challenge: “We want a new space race. Space races are exciting.”

They most certainly are — and Musk isn’t the only billionaire with his eyes turned toward the stars. Jeff Bezos, the mind behind Amazon, is also throwing his hat into the ring, as is Richard Branson of Virgin Galactic, Tory Bruno of the United Launch Alliance and the Sierra Nevada Corp.

Bezos’ entry into the space race is his company Blue Origin — he’s launched and landed his New Shepherd rocket multiple times, even before SpaceX managed a successful landing, though all his flights were suborbital. Bezos was planning on his first space tourism launches in 2017, but that fell through. Musk and Bezos regularly launch friendly barbs at one another on Twitter, but when it comes down to it, they each support the other’s endeavors.

Virgin Galactic, headed by Richard Branson, has been trying to make it into orbit for a while now, and has even started selling $250,000 tickets. Unfortunately, Virgin Galactic has hit a few roadblocks, namely the explosion of the space plane during a test flight in 2014 that killed the copilot of the flight.

The United Launch Alliance (ULA) is the mind behind NASA’s Space Launch System and the Delta IV Heavy rockets. Bruno and Musk are butting heads on Twitter, but Musk isn’t worried. He’s actually said if ULA can launch a national security mission before 2023, he’ll eat his hat — with a side of mustard.

The Sierra Nevada Corp. (SNC) is one of the most exciting entrants in this space race. Their space plane, dubbed Dream Chaser, completed its first successful suborbital test flights in 2017 and recently landed a contract with NASA for an ISS resupply mission in 2020. Musk might have some stiff competition if SNC can manage to nail this launch.

SpaceX might be the first one out of the gate, but they’re not the only game in town anymore — and that’s exactly how Elon Musk wants it. “I think it’s going to encourage other companies and countries to say, ‘Hey, if SpaceX, which is a commercial company, and it can do this and nobody paid for the Falcon Heavy, it was paid with internal funds,’ then they could do it too. So I think it’s going to encourage other countries and companies to raise their sights and say, ‘We can do bigger and better,’ which is great,” Musk said at the post-launch press conference.

The Falcon Heavy launch was history in the making, and being able to witness this launch is an amazing feeling. You can expect SpaceX to continue to push forward in their quest to find new and innovative ways to explore the solar system, but they’re not the only company we need to watch anymore — they’re just the only ones with rockets in the air. Elon Musk may have provided the spark to start this new space race, but he’ll have to come up with some amazing innovations to stay on top!

And if this launch has taught us anything, it’s that we need to keep looking at the stars — and believe crazy things can happen.

Kayla Matthews is a tech journalist and writer whose work has been featured on The Week, VICE and MakeUseOf. Read more posts by Kayla on productivitybytes.com.

Business

Top 10 Ted Talk Presentations Using Engaging Visuals

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Are you wondering how to make use of visual graphics for your presentations? Here are the top ten Ted Talk presentations to inspire you: 

#1 The Beauty of Data Visualization

If your job description includes presenting data, facts, or statistics, you need to check out David McCandless’s Ted Talk presentation. It’s best to strategize how your data appears in your presentation without giving audiences an informational overload. According to David, information is supposed to be beautiful. If you want to convey that sentiment to your audience, you need to choose how you visualize your data. 

So, to visualize a vast amount of data into one stunning visual for your presentation, you need to keep in mind the following:

  • Clean 
  • Sharp details
  • Easy to read

Besides the requirements mentioned above, you need to keep your colors, fonts, and design cohesive. Make sure that each slide is easy to digest at a glance. It’s crucial to portray data into simple figures instead of overcomplicating it. 

#2 A Darwinian Theory of Beauty

Throughout philosophy, professor Denis Dutton’s talk presented beautiful visuals sets of live drawings that follow his words. It’s essential to note that Dutton took his viewers on a visual journey as the illustration feels alive.

It’s an interesting approach, although it can be pretty labor-intensive as it showcases intricate details. However, this approach helps immerse your audience with your presentation. 

#3 Bitcoin. Sweat. Tide. Meet the Future of Branded Currency

Consistency is always king when we talk about presentations. If you want to keep track of what you’re saying, keep your presentation consistent in terms of: 

  • Style
  • Layout
  • Color Palette
  • Typography

It’s essential to note how Paul Kemp-Roberston takes advantage of the color scheme to deliver compelling slides. 

#4 Are Athletes Really Getting Faster, Better, Stronger?

David Epstein’s Ted Talk presentation delivers facts and numbers with the help of striking visualizations. Here are the visual elements you need to take note of:

  • Consistent design theme 
  • Powerful athletic imagery
  • Striking use of color
  • The occasional pop of colors in a black and white slide

Again, this presentation’s use of color is crucial as it guides the audience’s eyes to relay information. 

#5 Got a Wicked Problem? First, Tell Me How You Make Toast

Sometimes the visuals you display don’t need to fit with your presentation style. In short, presenting a mismatching style is also a way to draw the audience’s attention.

*insert Tom wujec’s drawing.jpeg

However, you need to incorporate at least one or two consistent elements through your slides. Although a unique illustration is a great idea, we still want our audiences to comprehend your slides. Here are some details to choose from: 

  • Color
  • Front
  • Graphic
  • Layout

*insert wujec’s system model.jpeg

Remember to take note of how Tom Wujec executed a perfect balance in his presentation. 

#6 Beware Online “Filter Bubble” 

It’s essential to portray a visual presentation of what you’re saying instead of your speech’s mirror image. Take note of how Eli Pariser showcases various ways how to present his data.

  • Sometimes, all you need is good typography to emphasize your quotes.
  • It’s also vital to portray the concept of your presentation through a minimalist diagram. See how Eli presented “filter bubble” with a playful yet minimalist chart. 
  • It’s also OK not to include information on your slide. Let the image speak for itself as you conduct your presentation and commentary.  

#7 How Art, Technology and Design Inform Creative Leaders

In creating an immersive and engaging presentation, you need to create a graphic that can interact with your speech. Maeda’s presentation incorporates moving visuals with his speech, creating a more immersive experience for audiences.  

All you have to do is combine the following: 

  • Sleek graphics
  • Illustrations 
  • Video footage

#8 Why Do We Sleep?

Russell Foster presents another example of a highly detailed illustration. The presentation scrolls from one image to the next as following Foster’s speech. Each slide does not only complement his words but also acts as a data visualization for specific information. 

Besides his heavy illustrated Ted Talk presentation, he brings in a prop to further help his audience immerse with the presentation. 

#9 Psychedelic Science 

Fabian Oefner begins his talk by saying that an image is worth a “thousand words.” After conveying that, he proceeded by showing a few images to his audience. It’s important to note that Oefner did not use typography in his presentation as he lets his psychedelic images speak for themselves. 

#10 Embrace the Remix

Adding typography can either help or break your presentation. Some people choose not to use too much text in their presentation. However, if you want to insert a text or description into your presentation, look at Kirby Ferguson’s talk. 

Based on the image above, Ferguson likes to combine type plus imagery in his presentation. It’s essential to take note of the consistent color and font type on each of his slides. He also uses a clever technique of “scale and masking” certain elements to draw focus. 

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My Experience With Penji (+25% Promo code) Unlimited Graphic Design Service

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The graphic designer hiring process comes in many forms. Within the past 5 years, unlimited graphic design services became a desirable alternative, offering graphic design work on a monthly subscription. Penji is a Philadelphia-based startup that offers this unique business model.

You can submit as many design projects as you want via their online portal, and they’ll complete your requests one at a time until your queue is complete. This type of service promises to be a great added resource for teams to improve productivity.

Does it sound too good to be true? We thought so too. So, we signed up to see for ourselves.

Quick Summary

As with any service, there are pros and cons. To help with your graphic design hiring decision, we decided to condense what we found in a bulleted list below. Here’s a quick summary of our review of Penji’s unlimited graphic design service.

Pros

  • Easy and quick to create design projects
  • Storage for all my requested designs
  • VERY fast turnaround on most projects. I expected just 1 draft in 24 hours but instead received 3 drafts. Revisions were sometimes completed the same day I submitted them.
  • Helpful features such as a revision tool, ability to invite team members, brand profile, and more
  • Upbeat and direct communication from everyone I interact with
  • A dedicated and responsive account manager who replies within a few hours

Cons

  • Can’t call or talk to designers
  • Best if you have design projects ready to submit
  • Not available as an app

Overall Experience

Penji’s “unlimited” design model is a great choice if you have the right expectations going in. The service is affordable for growing businesses and their output is reliable. However, if you’re expecting to be on-call or face-to-face with your designer, this type of service is not for you.

Compared to designing yourself, hiring freelancers, or using Fiverr, Penji is a much better service and value by a long shot. Their team of designers lived up to the promise and exceeded my expectations.

Thinking of trying Penji out for yourself? Here’s a special promo code for Owner’s Mag readers:

Use the Penji promo code “OWNER25” to get 25% off your 1st month.

Disclaimer: we receive a commission when you use the code.


PENJI FULL REVIEW

We put Penji to the test by signing up, requesting a designs, and examining the results. Here’s how it went.

Signing Up For Penji

Signing up for Penji was a relatively quick and painless process. All of my questions were answered in less than 5 minutes by customer support via Intercom and another 2 minutes to complete the checkout process.

Communication with Penji’s Support Team

How fast and reliable a company’s support team is before you are an active customer is a reflection of what’s to come. If they’re unresponsive now, it will only get worse once I’m a customer. I reached out to Penji’s customer support team via their Intercom chat popup and got a response within 30 seconds, which is pretty good. I asked basic questions and the agent seemed knowledgeable.

Communication as a Customer

All communication is done online through Penji’s proprietary online portal. That includes revisions, feedback, and answering any questions my designers may have.

Communication with Your Designers

Penji assigned me 1 designer, Billie, and communication with her was easy. If you have used any messaging platforms like Slack, Facebook Messenger, or Discord, you’d be familiar with this form of communication.

Billie was responsive, attentive, and always seemed to have a positive attitude no matter how demanding my requests were. She had many questions about the projects, which I tried my best to answer as a customer. Though the back and forth took longer than I wanted, I realized she was just being thorough to get the design done right, which I appreciate.

Communication with Your Account Managers

They assigned me an Account Manager, Charmaine, who was very quick whenever I needed something. It usually takes just a few hours for me to get a reply via email from her. When I had an issue with one of the projects, she quickly stepped in and helped resolve the situation.

1. Choose the Right Package

All the packages are laid out with monthly, quarterly, and yearly pricing. Starting at $399 per month for the Pro plan, you’ll be able to make unlimited graphic design requests with a 24-48 hour turnaround. As your design needs grow, you’ll have the Team and Agency packages to choose from.

2. Checkout

The form is straightforward and easy to fill out. Checking out was a breeze and took about 2 minutes.


3. Submit a Design Project

Clicking on the “+ Create new project” button, I’m presented with a visual chart of all the design categories they offer. They offer an extensive selection of options and even the ability to request a custom project.

4. Fill Out the Request Form

Next, I filled out a short form detailing what I wanted them to design. For those of you who hate long forms, this one from Penji is easy to follow and doesn’t ask too many questions. Most of the questions are actually optional so you can be as descriptive or non-descriptive as you like.

My test projects

As a digital publisher, we produce content on a daily basis and always have a need for on-brand graphic design. I created several projects to test how well-rounded Penji is and how they handle both simple and complex requests. A simple banner should be difficult, but can they handle a complex infographic with lots of texts and imagery?

Here are my test projects:

  1. Blog Graphic: Best DSLR Camera Equipment For Beginners
  2. Custom Illustration: Best Vacuum Cleaner Money Can Buy
  3. Facebook Post: Isometric Tech Gadget Graphic
  4. Magazine Print Cover (Owner’s Magazine’s 2020 May Edition

Despite creating four projects, the entire process was quick and smooth. It only took a few minutes to create them and their internal platform was lightning fast. At this pace, I can see myself submitting multiple projects on their platform with ease.


Turnaround Time

I expected at least one draft the next day. What I didn’t expect were three drafts ready for review. To give you a comparison, most freelancers and design firms we’ve hired take several days to submit just one draft.

The designs were surprisingly good considering that it’s the first draft AND they had a 24-hour turnaround. After reviewing, I realized how they did it. Every project had a different designer. I wasn’t assigned just one designer. It was like having my very own virtual design team.

4. Requesting Revisions

Though the designs were good, I still needed a few revisions. The drafts were turned around usually the same day or by the next day. Their support agent actually told me it will take 24 hours to turn around revisions. The revisions that took 24 hours were typically much more involved.

Overall, revisions were quick. Most came back within a few hours after I submitted them.

My one gripe would be that I prefer to have some sort of real-time chat with my designer or at least have a Zoom call. That’s one thing I like about working with my freelancers. Whenever they were online, we could just have a back and forth conversation to get the revisions across. I can’t do that with Penji.

Built-in Revision Tool

Penji has a built-in revision tool that lets me click anywhere on the design to leave a revision. I found this incredibly useful as it enables me to pin-point what I want to change.


The Results

It took about 1 week to go back and forth with revisions and edits for all 4 design projects. At the end of the week, I received the final drafts for all three. Here are the results of the three test projects.

1. Blog Graphic: Best DSLR Camera Equipment For Beginners

This far exceeded my expectations and will more than do for the blog I’m writing about DSLR camera equipment. I think most designers would probably just stop with 1-2 icons and graphics for this design. My designer decided to add the tripod, three lenses, drone, backpack, and a whole entire stage lighting kit.

I didn’t ask for those, but I’m impressed with the quality of the design. No revisions needed. I approved this project on the first try.

2. Custom Illustration: Best Vacuum Cleaner Money Can Buy

For this project, I asked my designer Kei to do a custom illustration of a man vacuuming his floor. He actually drew it up and sent me a rough sketch first before he started coloring it in. That was an extra layer of care and attention to detail I wasn’t expecting. Needless to say, I approved of his drawing and he delivered this draft the next day.

Revision

Everything in this graphic was hand-drawn and then colored digitally. Like the first project, I couldn’t think of any revisions except asking him to put the texts “Best Vacuum Cleaner Money Can Buy” on the graphic.

He went the extra mile and designed the text to fit the graphics. See for yourself above. It’s details like these that I would have had to harass my freelancer and he would try to nickel and dime me for every revision. Great work Kei!

3. Facebook Post: Isometric Tech Gadget Graphic

My designer Jave’s first draft amazed me because of how much detail he put into this project. I had asked for an isometric graphic with various tech products laid out on an isometric glass plane. I honestly thought my description may have been a bit too vague, but he understood my vision even better than I did.

4. Magazine Print Cover (Owner’s Magazine’s 2020 May Edition)

My designer Billie gave me 3 versions of the magazine cover. I don’t like version 1 at all. It looks too templated. I personally like version 2 and 3 and left revision notes accordingly. The coronavirus image was entirely her idea and I love it.

Revision

This project took a bit longer than the others because my designer Billie had questions and we had a lot of back and forth. I didn’t mind at all since she was asking good questions that I should’ve included in my design request. Overall, I appreciated the extra time she took to understand me and the project better.

About three days later, I received another draft which blew everything before it out of the water.


Final Verdict

All four projects were completed within two weeks and I was impressed with how they all turned out. If I had paid hourly or per project, these would’ve easily cost me well above $1200+ to get done, and probably taken weeks.

With Penji, it took just a few days and I paid a fraction of what I would’ve paid elsewhere. Definitely impressed with both the turnaround, quality, communication, and value this startup has to offer.

But Penji isn’t without its flaws. The service definitely isn’t for everybody.

Who would benefit:

  • business owners
  • marketers
  • agencies
  • creatives with consistent design needs

If you don’t have a consistent need, the bill will start racking up after a couple of months and you won’t see the value in the subscription.

However, if you do happen to fit their target demographic, then there’s no better alternative out there. The speed and quality of their work easily rival other services I’d ever used. For $399 per month, this is an absolute steal.

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Know These Logo Statistics and Facts to Grow Your Business

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We cannot emphasize enough how important it is to build a solid logo whether you have a small business or an existing empire. If it isn’t critical for the company, then why do you think big names spent a lot on their logos and for a redesign? If you are still convinced, then learning these logo statistics could change your mind. Let’s evaluate how much weight a good logo can contribute to your overall business. 

Brand Recognition   

Did you know that 90% of the population can recognize the iconic Coca-Cola logo? Apart from being a huge and long-standing brand, they were able to use the classic red color and the Spencerian script to their advantage. Even if they tweak their logos over the years, they maintained their signature design elements, making it easier for people to identify the brand.  

What does this mean for your logo? 

There’s nothing wrong with redesigning your logo, most especially if you want to make it relevant and timely. But as much as possible, keep your prominent design elements. Otherwise, the market might be confused. 

Cost of Logos  

Most people undervalue the work needed to create a compelling logo. Sure, you can get affordable ones online. But the question is, will it represent your brand’s vision and mission? 

This is precisely the reason why you need to hire a professional graphic designer. They don’t just create logos based on visual appeal. There is science behind every stroke and color. 

To date, only 14% of small businesses are willing to spend more than $1000 for their company logo. That’s not entirely bad news. However, this shows the need for more business owners to understand that logo is an investment. 

But let’s make it clear. Paying a huge fee isn’t a guarantee that you will have a good business logo. It still depends on the skills of your designer and how clearly you provided the instructions. Take note that some of the biggest brands like Google and Nike started with cheap and even free logos. So you cannot base the effectiveness of your logo on its cost. 

Graphic Designers for Logos

Since there are more than 500,000 freelance graphic designers online, the prices of logos can be extremely low. This is due to the high competition. Yet again, among the 500,000 designers, only a few can deliver superior output. 

To be honest, looking for the perfect one can be tedious and time-consuming. We would encourage you to work with on-demand graphic design services as they have already selected the best graphic designers for your logo. Take a look at Penji’s business model, where you only pay a fixed fee every month for unlimited graphic design requests. This includes your logo. 

Colors in Your Logo 

At first, you might get too excited to design your logo. You would probably ask your designers to go all out and crazy in terms of colors. But remember that the most effective logos only contain one or two colors. This can be seen from 76% of the leading brands. Looking at the data, they clearly have something in common. And as a startup and medium-sized business, it wouldn’t hurt if you follow their lead. 

In addition, the choice of color is important too. Let’s use Starbucks as an example. They use green to symbolize mother earth and universal love. Lo and beyond, it has become a universal drink. This is where color psychology takes place. 

Now, you might want to use gradient, but the fact is, only 34 companies in the Fortune 500 use the style. It might be too risky to follow that path. 

Symmetrical vs Asymmetrical Designs 

According to studies, people perceive asymmetrical logos as an exciting brand. You can see that transition when Burger King changed their logo. If you are about to build one, you might want to stay away from the plain font view and tilt your text, if possible.  

Using Hidden Messages on Logos 

Many logos have hidden messages. This includes Baskin Robbins, FedEx, and Tostitos. There are two major reasons for doing it. One, this sends a subliminal message to your audience. Another is that it pays tribute to your company’s legacy. Either way, people love solving hidden messages. 

Animated Logo Designs are on the Rise 

Since many people have their own gadgets, animating a brand’s logo seems to be the trend. Just take for example, Google and Netflix. But this takes a different level of expertise. Too much animation can also be a distraction, so you have to use this technique with caution.

Just a quick trivia. This isn’t a new style. Remember MGM Studios’ classic lion? Yet again, it is only recently that companies took the approach.  

When to Rebrand Your Logo 

We’ve already mentioned the possibility of rebranding. But take note that you shouldn’t change your logo just because you feel like it. There should be a strong reason why you would alter the design elements. You need to make sure that corresponding marketing will take place to reintroduce your logo to the market. Here are a few reasons why you might need to rebrand your logo. 

  • There’s a change in leadership
  • Business expansion or mergers  
  • Outdated logo design 
  • Recovery from a controversy

You have to be careful when you are about to redesign your logo. According to logo statistics, those who are highly committed to your brand will take the change negatively compared to those who are not highly engaged. This means you have to watch out for your loyal pool of customers when you plan to change your logo. 

Cost of a Poor Logo Design on Your Business 

In case you are still not convinced about the role of logos in your business, this data might change your perspective. 

Companies with poor logo design and mediocre branding spend 10% more on salaries. 

Isn’t that counterproductive and impractical? 

Conclusion

Learning these logo statistics could help you brainstorm a design that will work best for your company. We also want to enlighten you on how important it is to choose the right graphic designer. If you are to start your logo design project, go back to knowing more about logo statistics and use it as a reference. 

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