Design is a powerful tool. At its heart, it’s about communication (note the root word “sign”). Its main purpose is to inform, persuade, educate, or otherwise communicate a defined message to a defined audience. That’s essentially it.

It may sound relatively simple, but its importance, especially in today’s corporate culture, should not be underestimated. When Microsoft recently unveiled their new minimalist logo, they weren’t just trying to be pretty, they were sending a message about themselves, or, perhaps more specifically, about what sort of brand they have become.

It’s no wonder mega-corporations spend so much money on rebranding themselves or creating a new advertising campaign—it’s absolutely essential in order to stay relevant in the competitive world of branding. Some are even saying that great design is now the future of content marketing with the visual social media explosion that is Pinterest, Facebook, and Instagram.

So what does great design actually cost? Stocklogos recently published an article listing the price tags of several very well known logos. And, as it turns out, the numbers can vary wildly. The semi-recent redesign of the BP logo cost a staggering $211 million. On the other hand, the world-famous Nike swoosh only cost $35. Yes, $35; however, it’s important to note that the swoosh has remained intact since its original creation in the 1970s.

Which of these two extremes is more appropriate? Well, unfortunately, there’s no simple answer. Variables abound: is it simply a new logo or a complete branding (or rebranding) effort? Is the company or organization fully established or just starting? Who is the audience and how big are they? What message is being communicated and how important is it? How widespread are the applications and deliverables? All of these questions factor heavily into what makes great design.

It’s important to remember that when you’re paying for design work, you’re not simply paying for an object (logo, website, etc.); you’re paying for communication materials. So, to answer the question: is great design worth the cost? Well, if it truly is great design, then absolutely. Does it is effectively communicate your message to your intended audience? Does it make you stand apart from your competitors? Is it innovative, captivating, and beautiful? If yes, then not only is great design worth the cost, it’s priceless.