Dear John:

How much is my business logo worth?

—Rahim, Toronto

Logos on their own have very little value. For example, in 1971, Phil Knight paid Carolyn Davidson $35 to create the Nike "Swoosh" logo. Today, global brand consultancy Interbrand ranks Nike No. 25 on its list of the top 100 most valuable brands in the world, with an estimated value of more than $13 billion.

But it wasn't the $35 logo that made Nike valuable. It was the years and billions the company invested to make the logo so meaningful to its audience that customers demonstrate a willingness to buy—often at a premium over similar nonbranded gear—products with the Nike logo emblazoned on them.  

The Nike logo—and the entire brand that it embodies—has become valuable because people have demonstrated a willingness to purchase (and repurchase) the products that feature the logo.

So when estimating the value of your brand, focus less on what your logo might be worth and more on quantifying your customers' repeat purchase rate. If you can demonstrate that your brand drives your customers' loyalty, then your logo, brand, and customer list may indeed be the most valuable part of your business. 

John Warrillow is the author of Built To Sell: Creating a Business That Can Thrive Without You, which was released by Portfolio/Penguin on April 28, 2011.