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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

3-Part Payment

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

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.

You can get a sense of how I present my prices by viewing my logo questionnaire. I have also tackled the subject of budgets in: Ask For A Budget-Try To Avoid Quoting Freely

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.

Realistic

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.

Really Stuck?

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.

To Conclude

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.

Still Stuck?

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.

Trust

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.