The question I'm most asked? "How much will it cost me for you to design me a logo?", and that's often bluntly asked in the first line of a one line only email.
Sometimes I do get people calling me up for a chat which ends up them asking me how much I charge for a logo design. Due to the way I work it's rarely as simple as just giving someone an accurate fixed price, especially if I have little, or no, idea about what I am supposed to be designing a logo for.
The usual scenario that unrolls once I am asked that question, "How much do you charge for a logo design?", is that I first ask them to take a look and consider filling in my online design brief form that enables the all important brief to be formed as well suggesting they browse my logo design price guide. Although these are guides, they do provide quite a good overall idea of how much it may cost to work with me, and may be the moment they realise I'm somewhat too expensive etc.
Oftentimes I do end up talking to a potential client on the phone whom expresses a clear motivation in wanting to hire the 'right person' for their logo design, as well as being aware of the possible costs involved, but they need some 'help' getting their head around the prices that they have seen on my price page.
I nearly always end up putting that question of "how much?" back to the client because I feel it's important that a potential logo design budget is something the client needs to work out for themselves. The way I explain this is as follows.
I worked up a few analogies that I feel explain the importance of charging the right amount for a logo design, whilst also explaining the motivation, justification and reasoning behind the 'why' as well as the importance of a client understanding exactly what they are supposedly spending all this money on.
We are accustomed to spending money, without thinking about it, on things, like: iPhone apps, coffee and cake, clothes, gadgets and we often do so without regard. Yet the the moment we need to buy something really expensive and important, something that is not as easily "blindly justified": a need rather than a want, we have to sit down and take stock of a few things which usually means regretting all those app's we have bought recently, any cool mid price gadgets £250-£500, and other non crucial 1st world desirable item that has mysteriously eaten into our savings at the expense of putting more cash into our pension.
I like to think that my analogies help to provide the client with a real world comparison that allows them to view the idea of a logo design budget as something that is important, valid and worthwhile.
An 'expense' that they could be 'almost' excited about, not viewing it as a burdening drain on their cashflow much like we might do with: car insurance, car repairs, household utility bills, house repairs and other unexpected yet expensive drains on ones finances.
How it Works
Once I am asked the question of how much a logo design will cost, and I have bounced it right back to them, I will then follow up with a few nuggets of wisdom. It's all about providing the context, some much needed real world comparisons that makes the digestion of having to work out a budget a little easier to make, as well as justify.
I'll typically start by explaining: "As with many things in life we often have to sit down and work out how much we want to spend, or can spend, or have to spend on something really important."
Then I'll hit them with my analogies.
Analogy One: You are saving up for a much need holiday, one that will definately break the bank, one that is needed due to your constant hard work over the years. You'll have a pretty good idea about: how much is too much, and how much is not enough as you go through all your other expenses and outgoings.
This holiday is really important to you, so you make a determined effort to try and afford the best you can, whilst not totally breaking the bank. You'll quickly have a figure in your head that may need some justification on your behalf, but ultimately you know that it will be worth the investment and drain on your bank balance.
That budget, although definitely steep, is still one you are 'mostly' happy and excited about spending given the positive effects it will have on you, or just worry about the financial fall-out when you get back. The holiday blues is no real mystery in most cases.
Analogy Two: Your car of 7 years, that has served you well, finally gets to a point where it's no longer financially viable to fix all those MOT failures, even though it may still have years left in her could you indefinitely throw money at her.
So the time comes where you have to sit down and think about a new car budget. It's going to be steep, but you'll instinctively have a good idea about how far you can stretch yourself with this expensive, yet perfectly justifiable replacement.
Assuming you don't go crazy stupid on some loan, or other form of credit, you'll likely buy yourself a car that, whilst hurting your bank account, will provide you with many more years of happy motoring.
A car is typically expensive, yet it still creates that passion and excitement that can help numb that can financial sting.
Analogy Three: Your one bedroom studio loft has served you well over the years, but now you have gotten your girlfriend pregnant you'll need to expand your living quarters considerably!
As with Analogy One & Two, once you have crunched all the numbers, added your joint salaries, minused the outgoing and baby orientated expenses, you'll come to budget that will, hopefully, provide you with an adequately sized family house for 3+.
Clearly, buying a house, is no where near the same league as a holiday or buying a car, but the overall emotions are similar in that you are looking to spend the most you will ever spend, yet still be excited/nervous about doing so.
Investment vs Burdensome Cost
I chose these analogies because they demonstrate that not all things we choose, or need, to spend our money on will be easy decisions to make. We do so because we ultimately know that the longer term advantages are clear, and this provides the much needed sense of justification and rationalisation that can otherwise drown us in guilt, cause significant doubt, if we have not done an adequate job of analysing all the pro's and con's.
A logo and identity design, at least for many clients that I work with, could well be for some new business/product/service in the pipeline. This client has clearly had to make a number of important strategic decisions to even get this far, not to mention the personal and emotional cost that starting a new business can have on you.
They'll likely be throwing every single ounce of personal energy and motivation, all their collective focus, energy, faith, eggs into one basket, into this 'thing', that is ultimately designed to earn themselves an income.
An income provides us with the opportunity to buy that much needed holiday, that new car or family home. A new logo and identity design is something that deserves to be regarded as an investment into the success of your future, rather than a drain on your wallet.
Yet, and very unfortunately, the logo and identity is often the last thing to be considered. This is not always a massive practical problem for a designer, but it invariably ends up being a financial problem for the client due to dwindling financial resources. Then it comes down to finding a logo designer who's logo design prices meet with the clients expectations, and this is when the fun can start.
Sitting down and thinking about how important and valuable a new logo and/or brand identity will be to you is not so dissimilar to the analogies above, and in many cases deserves, maybe, more priority than: a 2nd car, or that 3rd holiday this year to Aspen.
I really do find that explaining that a logo design budget being viewed as being a worthwhile investment, rather than a burdensome cost, can to some clients, make the difference to how they approach the sticky issue of: how much to spend on a logo design.
As a designer, it's not just about having to sell yourself, you also need to be able to sell the end result, the promise and excitement of a logo along with the cost involved to someone who will placing a heck of a lot of trust in you.
A car they can see, a holiday they can imagine, a house they can also see, but a logo design? They only have your portfolio which is of things past. Just something to keep in mind.
The subject of logo design pricing and deposits seems to be lingering and changing/evolving the more I get into being a self-employed logo and identity designer. I have written about this a few times before over the last few years mostly as a result of some steep learning curve and bad experiences.
The last time I wrote about this was Payment structure advice for larger logo design budget where I laid out how one could offer a few payment/deposit plans depending on higher project budgets, and any perceived risk of non-payment that could/has come about for one reason or another.
It's simple not always possible, or even fair to the client, to ask for full payment up front. I think I started out determined that every client should pay the full amount up front after I got burned a few times in the early days of being self-employed. My feelings changed end of 2010 to early 2011 which is where I started to try to be a little more flexible with payment as well as covering my own back.
We all have our different methods for logo design pricing, and I now feel that there isn't always a one-size-fits-all. Some clients you just know are good for it so you want to be more reasonable and flexible especially if it's a large value project where asking full payment or even a 75% deposit just sounds damn unreasonable.
So here we have more on client logo design pricing and deposits; an update from me to you.
For the most part I have simplified the process, but still cover most of the usual fears and concerns, but without appearing too unfriendly, unreasonable or stubborn.
Full Payment Incentive
First of all I have a section on my proposal that clearly states that if a client wishes to pay the full amount upfront then this of course would be most welcome, and that this generate them a 3-5% discount off the total proposed price.
The wording appears harsher than it usually ends up being as I feel it sets the upper tone of my expectations. If the client wishes to proceed then we can usually find a happy medium for the deposit and final payment which I will now describe.
You can download my proposal template as basis for you to create your own one from: Logo Design Proposal Template for Download
I have touched on the 3-part payment before but this is a slight variation which has worked really well over the last 6 months. This is not the only method I use as I do like to retain flexibility as well as calling situations as they occur, but for the most part I employ this method.
Let us say we have a logo design project for about £1000, and we are now wondering how to approach the issue of how much deposit seems fair and reasonable for this particular client. Let us also assume we have spoken to the client, and we get a good overall sense of trust from them as well as a sense they will be fun to work with.
Based on this we do not really want to force on them full payment up front; unless of course they like the idea of the 5% discount. We do still want to protect ourselves from the worse case as we don't always know how a project will pan out, and there are often times when external influences, not at first envisaged, can cause considerable problems for both parties.
The most common of which is when a new start-up approaches you for a cool new project with a nice budget for which you start work in earnest whilst committing every fibre of your soul to doing an outstanding job.
Although you have secured a nice deposit you have still invested a lot of time which now exceeds the deposit payment, but the bad news is that the start-up will now not be starting-up as it was a bad idea, or the investors have run away which leaves your client considering the options. My experience is that they just disappear and ignore all forms of communications. That is another story.
Back to topic.
The 3-part solution covers some of the bases as well as covering a few trust issues that the client themselves are likely feeling, but is just a nice average and fair solution.
It is not just the designer who deals with untrustworthy clients; it is also clients dealing with untrustworthy designers.
1st Payment - I typically roll with the following suggestion which is to to ask for an deposit between 40-60%. This allows us to start the project with some cash and a little bit of security.
2nd Payment - half of the outstanding balance, and is made when we have an actual logo concept that is ready to rock. By this I mean an actual idea that the client has approved as the basis for the design but is still needing the polish, refinements, details and flaws to iron out. It's not really enough for some dastardly scoundrel to run off with and get artworked somewhere else. This secondary payment ensures that the client is still on board, has acknowledged their happiness at how the project is proceeding, and gives you the designer, with another cash boost.
3rd Payment - and final payment is the incentive for both designer and client to meet their, supposed, contractual obligations—if you have read my older posts you know how I feel about the utter unusefullness of contracts in general. You now have the clients agreement that the project is on the final stretch. This should give you that final incentive to finish up good and proper to earn that last payment, but also ensures the client remains on board as they have yet to see the totally finished, and polished, idea brought to life as well as being the pass to getting all the vector files.
This method is not fool-proof, and I don't really think there is a totally fool-proof method, as even full payment up front has it's own set of complications and expectations.
As usual I am not saying this is the best way, but I am saying this way works for me and the majority of clients. It certainly feels, to me, a fair and reasonable solution.
Curious to know if you have any other methods you swear by that work well for both designer and client?
Thoughts On Logo Design Pricing
In this article I try to offer up a few pointers with the tricky matter of how much to work out your logo design pricing. Although a very hard set of questions to give precise answers to I will cover a few pointers that will hopefully give you some things to consider.
Pinning down how much to charge really does depend on your own unique circumstances which could include: logo making experience, graphic design and industry experience, quality of portfolio, are you in demand and the sort of client you are typically attracting.
I'm not going to be able to offer up any precise direction on pricing as there is just too much to factor in but I will try and offer up a few pointers.
Fixed Logo Design Pricing Packages vs Flexible Range
I have never been a fan of fixed price packages where you get X amount of initial ideas with X revisions. Logo and identity design is rarely that straight forward and predictable, and I think it's a little wrong to create the impression that it is.
I know there is a place for quickly churned out logo designs but these are less about creating an identity and more about creating a logo minus a more rounded identity. If you want to churn out logo after logo then the fixed package option is easy to manage.
If you are looking to create something with a bit more soul and depth, and really want to explore the heart of a company then I believe there is no room for the churning out of design after design mentality.
Most projects are unique and require different strategies and constraints on your time. They should be not lumped into the same £XXX plus revisions bracket mentality, this is a sure way to dilute the individuality that each project brings.
Ultimately each to their own; it's whatever best suits your lifestyle and working practices. Certainly not saying one way is right and the wrong; this is my opinion and preference based after working and trying both methods.
This article, therefore, is based around my preferred method of working. Offering a budget range and putting the onus on the client to specify a budget. I don't feel it's for me to place an initial value on their needs or wants this should really come from them.
We should of course help and advise with appropriate budgets if asked or where required.
How Much Should I Charge?
I do recommend having this minimum and maximum price range, and leave it to the client to specify how much they are prepared to invest in your services. At first glance it may not seem as quick to sort out as the fixed price option but it is much more flexible if you are looking to earn a fair wage for your skills.
More often than not I think you will be pleasantly surprised. The pessimists will assume that a client will always choose the lowest price when in fact my experience has been quite the opposite.
A higher percentage of clients choose the mid to highest price rather than the lowest. This partly means you don't have to sweat it too much. If your portfolio rocks and you are a nice person then the work will surely come and it will come with an attractive pay cheque.
There are certainly times when the logo design brief has been filled in and the client has selected the lowest price range even thought their requirements are better suited to the higher range.
In these cases all you need to do is politely write back and explain that their brief is more suited to the £1000 budget, and not the £600. Personal experience has also shown me that the client will adjust if they are presented with valid reasons. Sometimes they just can't afford it, or other reasons, then it's down to you if you take the project on or not.
Worth remembering even though it's rather stating the obvious: it's always your choice in taking or leaving work.
All About Me
I think the best thing I can do in this first post on logo design pricing is to talk about my own experience over the last few years. The reason I think this will be useful is that I only started working for myself a few years back.
So until recently I was in the position of having no idea how much to charge because: although I had close to 25 years industry experience in commercial print, design and reprographics I had no experience in working for myself; I had zero designs in my logo portfolio; I was also a complete unknown entity with absolutely nothing to show anyone why they should hire me; starting all over agan with a blank slate usually comes with lack of confidence and trust in oneself.
Taking all this into account I knew that I could not hope to charge a barely reasonable fee, and by barely reasonable anything over a £200. So for some time I would take on logo projects for between £75 to £200 with the odd £300 if I was fortunate to find a cool and generous client.
One needs to be realistic about pricing even if your own personal financial situation is dire. If you have a crap portfolio with no real experience and skint this does not mean you can or should charge over the odds. You ideally need to work yourself up, prove to yourself and others that you are infact worth having money spent/invested in.
When Things Start To Grow
When I first stared The Logo Smith my initial budget range was around £75-£300. This is a pitiful number to look at yet you do have to start at the beginning. I had a mixed bag of clients in these early days with some happy to pay £200-£300 with others' intent on paying £75 to £150.
You just have to take it on the chin at this point but a number of £75 projects in a row IS totally disheartening.
In a relatively short period of time you can start thinking about raising your prices. After a few successful projects: which probably covered a span of 3-5 months, I raised my pricing from £75-£300 to around £150-£400.
Every time you feel you can raise the prices it gives you a boost of confidence and justification in what you are doing.
It is important that any time you play with the pricing you monitor the incoming inquiries. If you are still getting enquiries then you know the price is still reasonable and that people are prepared to pay. A few times enquiries would appear to drop off, not knowing if this was due to the rise or more coincidental reasons, so I would tinker with the pricing by lowering it back down a smidgen.
3-4 Months Later
After another 3 or 4 months I would revaluate the prices. With a healthier portfolio and self-confidence growing I would increase the budget range once again. In these early days of finding your feet it's just about being: flexible, realistic and fair to yourself and your clients with the end goal in site to keep you motivated.
I would have certain goals in terms of pricing and one of these was reaching £500. For me this was a pivotal moment in which there was a "this is starting to feel worth it" frame of mind.
There are a number of benefits to pricing yourself lower as well as pricing yourself higher but they both come with potential downsides. I'll likely tackle this in another article.
Don't Expect It To Be Easy
When you first start out you can't possibly be expected to get it right all of the time and there will be instances when you kick yourself for rejecting a job because it was not paying enough or you raised your prices too soon. It's all part of the process and you will in time get used to not really worrying to much about it.
Just be super flexible with your budget range and be prepared to drop down a level if work has slowed up then raise again once things return to a comfortable level.
The 2nd Year
In my 2nd year of working The Logo Smith I would adjust my base range a number of times but also incrementally rising the higest price every time. The more I was pleased with my own work the more my confidence in my abilities would grow which would ultimately mean being able to justify charging a little more.
I deliberately kept it a slow and methodical process.
I realise it's easy for me to say I had a £200-£500 budget range but this doesn't tell you the sort of work and effort that each project would require. Some projects would be quite easy and some would be challenging, and usually the latter would be a £200 project and not £500.
It was also in this 2nd year of The Logo Smith that I made the feel good shift up to £1000 as the highest rate. I didn't jump from £500-£100 but incrementally going from: £500-£600-£750-£850 and finally £1000. For some reason I skipped the £900 range altogether.
Feeling confident about being able to charge £1000 was a huge personal accomplishment.
Under no circumstances would I rush this process of, hope fully, becoming a logo designer of note. With a background in marketing and advertising I also knew that the best laid plans took time and patience to realise.
It's a slow burn up the ladder with no short-cuts.
In this 2nd year I scored a couple of significant projects which included Foehn & Hirsch. This project was an awesome catch and would change how I viewed myself in many many ways.
In The Now
Jump ahead a few months to right now and nothing much has changed with how I price up and quote. All that has really changed is that I now don't have an upper limit.
I could one day be asked to work on a project that could take months of hard hard work and this could easily end up costing upwards of £10k. I am now in that place mentally where I can consider this sort of work, and that having no high limit gives the perception that I will charge whatever I feel is fair and appropriate but safe to say a budget generally out of the reach of my usual clients.
It can be tricky to know how to charge one off logos if it's not something you do often. It will depend on what you are prepared to work for, how important the job could be to your portfolio and if you actually really want to do it.
Sometimes I get a sense from some people on Twitter that they would rather not be doing the logo they have taken on. In these cases it would make sense, and be fairer to the client, to be honest to yourself and the client and pass it along to someone who DOES want to do it. As much as you might need the money a logo often needs your full commitment and not a half hearted attempt.
I would hate to think that someone I hired and invested money in begrudgingly did the work. That really would not be cool.
If you do love designing logos but they just don't form a regular part of your working week then looking at the fixed price way of working will provide sound ideas. There are plenty of logo designers who work this way and looking on their websites will show you the price range they work to and also what the deliverables are.
Sometimes a figure just sounds right. I think for a relatively straight forward logo design £400-£500 is the magic number. It's an impossible figure to state as
Anything less and you are running close to the budget perception or that you just don't value yourself as a designer. Which when you are starting out is practically impossible to avoid unless you blog and Tweet a lot to demonstrate how dedicated you are to everything logo design. My willingness to expend so much energy on writing and social media has greatly increased my discoverability on Google etc so I will write more about this in another article.
No doubt that pricing up logo designs can be hard but it does start to come together and more quickly the more your confidence and portfolio grows.
If you opt for my method of showing a budget range rather than fixed a project package then you are allowing for much more flexibility as well as allowing the client a chance to voluntarily show how much they might value good design. A fixed package is the easy option for both designer and client and I also believe the least profitable for some projects.
With the method I employ the prices are there for all to see but also means the client has to think about costs and value which I think is important in terms of the general perception of value in design
Although I have no upper limit I still have a budget option as I do sometimes like to take on quick easy jobs that help break-up a larger longer running project. This is more about keeping a fresh mind rather than a need to always score a high paying project.
I'll be happy to give any more pointers in the comments below if you have any particular questions but please bear in mind it's not an exact science.
Useful Logo Resources
I also have a number of useful logo design resources that you may find helpful in creating logo design questionnaires, proposal templates, copyright templates and logo identnity guidelines and much more.
A couple of times I have been caught out with clients whose business dealings have expired during a logo project for that business. The end result is that I have lost out on a percentage of the total project cost. They may have paid a healthy deposit, but I have generally put in far more hours than the deposit covers.
Typically half way or further, the company hits financial troubles and can't proceed.
Ultimately means you are unlikely to get any further invoices paid, unless you are working with a client who has a fortuitous set of circumstances. The project may just be suspended or it might be executed.
This is a hard situation to fully prevent, unless you have the time and recourses to do exhaustive financial background checking on each client. The alternative is what I always try and do is to secure full payment up front.
As much as some clients have the best set of morals in the world, circumstances like the above can happen out of the blue. Backers back out, something unforeseen in the industry means proceeding would be pointless and any other number of scenarios. If you have put in an exhaustive 2 months work with a 75% deposit, you are still loosing out majorly by not getting that 25%.
The bigger the project the higher the risk for the designer. Again, if you can secure full payment up front, then you are covering yourself. Some clients are more than happy with this arrangement, and I have been fortunate to have worked with many of these myself.
The reality is, asking a client for at least 75% upfront or full payment is NOT unreasonable given the work you are being tasked to do. I can say from experience that full payment is not such a big deal for many clients, so it is worth pursuing hard.
There is the whole 'trust' issue, they don't trust you to deliver and you don't trust them to pay. Can often be a frustrating stalemate. How I deal with this is to just say, 'Look, you came to me. You either trust me to full fill what you want to hire me for, or you don't.' That's not all I say, but it sums up my thinking.
I think it's unreasonable to be nudged into conceding a point that is based on nothing but a general lack of trust. It comes down to them doing the right amount of research into hiring someone trustworthy, if they haven't done their research at this stage, what else have they not researched, the finances maybe? And yes, I am also very cynical.
Role play a banker
If the client has issues with this, and the project is big, like 2-3 months big, then you need to take a few other factors into account. Take time to ask some questions relating to their actual business plan, you need to put on a bankers hat here. You are basically offering a variation of a loan, so make sure you cover yourself as much as you can.
Who is backing the business/venture/start-up, how many partners, who has the final say on the logo design, is the funding secured or is it sill up in the air etc. If the latter is 'still up in the air', then that is pause for thought, it's up to you if you proceed, but don't assume that everything will be OK 2 months from now.
From experience, companies that look to have an untouchable idea can and will falter during the process of a logo project.
An interesting assessment can be made from the clients reaction to filling in your logo design brief. If the answers are less than inspiring, if they appear to be struggling to sum up what they do, how they do it, what their plans are etc, then there is a chance that this same 'blank look' affected them during the creation of their business plan. Not entirely reassuring. It's not something to count on, but it's certainly worth keeping in mind.
Trust your gut, if you have a uncertain feeling about the client or more specifically, the business the client is fronting, then listen to yourself.
Keep pushing for at least 75% or full payment up front, you'll be glad you did.
The title is not entirely accurate, but for the purposes of this post it serves a use. This post is to draw attention to a very common situation faced by designers, a client preempting project negotiations by saying "we don't have much money". However, I must also say this, regardless of the budget, if a designer chooses to take on a lower paid job, that designer needs to treat that job as they would a more lucrative project.
The logo design, the visual identity, it's the one thing that represents who or what the business stands for. Of course it's not the only thing and is dependent on so much more, but it's a solid start.
The logo is the one constant in the marketing and advertising armory.
It will be around when the last brochure becomes out of date, when the business moves location, when the website is due for a system wide redesign, when the CEO or MD retires, when staff come and go, when clients come and go, when the Conservatives get back in power...
Yet when it comes to the crunch, the logo design often gets the lowest priority when it comes to the allocation of these critical advertising and marketing expenses. It's easier to part with the business cash when it's about how you are perceived as a person rather than the business.
Let's conveniently and naively forget that the logo represents your company for one moment. Now lets get on board with the true western affliction, lets prioritize on the material things that seem a much better use of the companies coffers opposed to inanimate objects like a logo: the company car you drive, the clothes you wear to work, where you take your own clients out for lunch, corporate outings, the latest leather briefcase and stupidly expensive fountain pen. But it's not just material things is it, the need to be liked and viewed by the community as an outstanding and caring business: sponsoring the local rugby team or ensuring the company name is planted in pretty flowers on that large sponsored roundabout on the edge of town.
And the esteemed logo designer is faced with, "well, the client has a low budget for this."
So here is something to bear in mind, and sorry if this sounds at all patronizing. If the first thing you say when you approach a designer is along the lines of "we don't have much money", you are hinting that you don't value what you are asking them to do for you.
Instead, see if there is another way you can express to the designer, the financial limitations you might have. Not making it sound like a preempted attack to cut costs at all costs is the key focus here. Just being aware of this will help in negotiations, without running the risk of really alienating yourself with the designer from the outset.
The generalised examples and hot air mentioned above are just the varied thoughts that bump around in my head on an ongoing basis.
In rare moments of clarity, the odd thought pops into being. Nothing ground breaking, often consisting of nothing but common sense and reason. As well as the former and latter, they act as a timely reminder to myself and those I may work with.
In writing a letter to a client, the following statement came about. The words gracefully appeared as I attempted to explain and justify my own unique way of working on logo designs. The topic of finances and appropriate budgets necessitated a explanatory communication, and thus...
"I like to think every logo, if it's purpose is to represent a company of which you [the client] are relying on to earn money from, should be well considered and well thought out."
That sentence was in reply to a situation where the brief presented was disproportionate to the budget. In other words, big needs, small reward. A common situation for many designer. I felt this sentence aptly conveyed a more diplomatic and considered response.
Will tackle this subject in more depth soon, just felt obliged to state the above. It's a solid angle of reasoning and explanation. :)