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The Client Project Budget: Just one of a few tricky, and challenging, aspects of being a self employed freelance logo designer.

Well OK.

It's not tricky if a potential new client appreciates and understands the value of good creative work, as well as the importance and value of a quality logo brand design, and provides you with a whopping budget that you could almost semi-retire on…

I'm specifically talking about receiving a new work Enquiry, from a potential new client.

For a brief moment you're really excited to get that new enquiry; it may have been a few weeks since the last one, and you're scratching in your pockets for all the loose change you have.

For the first few seconds of reading about this new potential logo design job, you're still excited; it sounds like a really cool and interesting job to design a logo for.

But then…

But then you see their allocated project budget, and a little bit of your soul and sense of self just melts away.

Worth mentioning: this doesn't automatically mean the client doesn't value good skill and workmanship; they could well have the greatest respect for your skill set, but not every client does have the funds that we'd ideally need to do the best possible work.

Then there is the flip-side: the client who expects the world for the smallest possible outlay.

What Do You Do?

So you could just bite the bullet, and do a Proposal for the amount the client has indicated.

You know it's worth more, but maybe things are really tight your end, and you're just thankful for ANY job at this moment in time.

Sure, you still take the job on, but are forever resentful of the client, and this can ooze itself out into the quality of work you do, and that's not always a great thing.

Worse still: you could just turn the project away because you don't feel happy about asking the client increase the project budget.

So is there a solution?

Freelancers: It's OK to Ask a Client for a Bigger Project Budget

It's absolutely OK to ask a client to raise the project budget if you feel that the brief warrants it, especially if you feel you could really enjoy the working on this logo.

In my experience: clients putting down inadequate budgets, for whatever the reason, is quite common.

I've now become accustomed to replying back to the client, with a counter offer on the table.

I don't like turning away any job, so I'll always now ask the client if they have the means and resources, in which to raise the budget.

I'll obviously explain my reasoning to them, so they at least know I'm just not trying to milk-it

It's really very important you can sincerely justify the extra cost to them, otherwise it's just not worth going down that road.

Give the client a Choice

Sometimes their specificed budget is kinda on the line. By that I mean: the budget they have specified is 'OK', but if you were able to have just a little bit more, it would mean you could spend that little bit more time, which you know would be of value to the design process.

Sure, you could do the job for this budget, and you'd be very happy to do so.

However, if they client was able to compromise somewhat, then it'd mean you could spend just that little bit more time: exploring other avenues, adding that final layer of polish, not rushing it, etc.

In these cases I give the client two Preliminary Proposals: the first one has the budget that they initially suggested; the second Proposal has the amount I feel would be a more overall reasonable price.

I don't always send the same worded email, but a recent email I sent went something like this:

 

Hello John
Firstly, thank you for reaching out to me and considering me for your logo design needs, much appreciated. Also, thank you for taking the time to fill in my brief, which I have attached for your records, along with the Preliminary Proposals.

So you’ll see that I’ve actually included two quotes: one for £850, and one that covers the £850 - £1500.
I’ll just quickly explain why:
For a project such as this, and with the information based in the brief, I’d usually be looking to budget closer to the £1000+ range.

When I read a brief, and I feel that raising the budget would be of value, then I do feel it is important to at least mention this to the client.

It’s not so much that I can’t do the project for what the client has indicated; it’s more that I could do a more thorough job if there was more time available to me, in order to do the best possible work for my client.

Unless there is some major discrepancy in the brief and a clients proposed budget, I always try to honour what the client has selected for their budget.

I will therefore very kindly ask: if you do have the means to move ‘upwards' in your initial budget range £550-£850, then it’d certainly be appreciated, and would certainly be beneficial to the project.

I of course understand that this is a big ask, so please be sure I’m not trying to do anything underhand.

I will stress that I am completely happy to do the project for the £850, should you not have the means to increase the budget—If I felt I could not do the project justice, for a certain amount, then I’d not take the project on—but allowing for more would give me the extra time investment I feel this project could certainly benefit from.
Please let me know your thoughts on the above, and If I can be of any further help at this initial early stage, please do not hesitate to shout.

Look forward to hearing from you soon,
Kind Regards
Graham Smith

 

In my experience, the client has nearly always been very happy to increase the project budget, if they are in a position to do so.

This not only makes the project more attractive, it also helps establish some honesty and openness with the client, which I feel is really important.

It's the way you ask

Obviously, this only really works if you ask nicely, and justify the rationale behind the request.

It's important to ensure the client doesn't feel they are being 'coerced' into raising their budget, but that they full understand the value and positive reasoning behind paying more for your creative services.

If you ask nicely, then you really have nothing to lose. I don't think a client would ever begrudge a designer from being open and honest, especially if you provide them with options.

If you have any questions on the above, then please feel free to leave them in comments below.




This post is just a little primer on Logo Design Copyright, I'll cover it in more detail in a forthcoming post.

The topic of Copyright seems to leave some folk quite baffled, but in actuality, the important basics are pretty straightforward.

Not to say copyright in general is straightforward, but it can be a nasty messy business when designs clash, ideas are borrowed etc.

The very action of designing something/anything unique means the creator has the copyright; an exception to this is if you copy, steal or plagiarise a design! On it's most basic level, copyright of unique visual design is automatic, and originates with the designer.

Thus, any unique logo that I designed for a client will have automatically had copyright assigned to it, and to me. Everyone of my unique logo designs and more detail brand identity projects, in my portfolio, started off with it's copyright belonging to your's truly. I didn't need to register it with any fancy office, I didn't need to sign any documents, or use my blood to create an unbreakable moral seal.

One can help define Logo Design Copyright (ownership), by adding the immortal words: All Logo Designs © Copyright 2014 The Logo Smith, or something along those lines.

This simply helps advertise the fact you are claiming, staking your ownership, of anything that is appended with that text. It's a way of clarifying when a unique design was created, and who is taking ownership, in the case of a dispute: such as someone stealing, or simply accidentally coming up with a very similar design.

This is when blogging (then quickly submitting it to Google and Bing etc) about that cool new logo design, and submitting that logo to various popular online portfolios, all help define who and when something was created, and greatly aids in any possible copyright clash as they all provide times, dates and clarity on who was there with that design first.

Transferring Logo Design Copyright To My Client

Transferring any Logo Design Copyright is simple, and yet I see instances where clients are almost extorted out of further money in order to obtain full Logo Design Copyright copyright of a unique design they have paid a designer to create. I have covered this topic in a previous post: Logo Design Ownership: Make it Easy For Your Client To Own The Logo

As a logo designer: it's an obligation to ensure your client ends up owning the the copyright of the logo you have designed for them, and this includes any additional brand identity elements and visual assets etc.

The transfer of the existing copyright and ownership, as the creator, isn't done automatically, and neither is it a 'given' when invoices are settled, and designer and client part ways. It's a process that has to be initiated by the designer, or suggested by the client.

Transfer Copyright And Ownership To The Client

In order to transfer existing ownership of the logo design, to your client, you simply sign a written statement/contract, that states you are transferring all ownership and copyright to the named party, in this case your client.

For example, I have a Transfer of Copyright form that I sign and send when the project is all completed, and not likely to be subject to any last minute changes.

Once you do this, you no longer have any claim to that design, so if you want to ensure you are safe to showcase the logo and brand identity visuals in your portfolio etc, that this is agreed before signing over ownership.

This is something that actually could be briefly covered in your Logo Design Proposal, so at least the client is made aware of how they can obtain full design copyrights and ownership before proceeding—I think I will a actually update my Logo Design Proposal Template to include this soon!

Conclusion

As previously mentioned, this is a super quick primer on the initial aspects of copyright in logo design, and it's by far the end of the story. However, it should be enough to give you some peace of mind that you don't need to hire a lawyer to simply copyright your own logo design works, and that transfer of copyright and ownership is just as straight forward.

The real challenges come with: Trademarks, Registered Trademarks and aspects of supposed Copyright and Ownership of non-unique works, this is when epic battles are won and lost in the courtroom.

There are various online services, such as: http://www.copyrightservice.co.uk/ and http://www.uktrademarkregistration.co.uk/ that help you to register a particular copyright and/or trademark, but they are often subscribed/premium services that assist you in times of conflict, but they are not compulsory. If a copyright/trademark conflict occurs, these services can help pin-point original ownership, and they can also provide legal advice and other services, but you'd still end up having to hire a lawyer in the worse case scenarios. But if you want extra peace-of-mind, then it does no harm (other than your wallet) to use one of them

 

 






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.