In this post, I will highlight my methods and reasons for dealing with new clients, budget issues and the often tricky ‘how much will the logo cost me?‘ scenario. It is something I have been asked a number of times on Twitter, and from my own experience, it is a frequent occurrence.
This is how I work, and this may not be for everyone. All I do know it works for me, and it’s something I am constantly tweaking and revising. I am not saying, ‘this is how it must be’, because we all work differently. But given the fact it works, I feel the need to share that with you. Feel free to criticize, agree or whatever.
For the purposes of clarifying the basics, please head over to my online quote form, and familiarize yourself with what I have written on this page. It does seem a lot of text, but it’s all necessary if you are to be armed with the relevant information to help your client. By reading it, you will also see first hand how I deal with the ‘first contact’.
This is usually when a potential new client approaches you either directly or via your website, asking about a new logo project. Typically, it will start, ‘How much will it cost?‘ or any number of variations thereof… ‘what do you charge for logo design?’, ‘I’m starting a new company and need a logo to do this and that, how much will it cost?‘, “I only have £100, can you design a logo for that?” And so it goes on.
Feeling the pressure yet?
Immediately the onus is placed on you to then provide an almost instant, firm answer without knowing anything about the client or the business.
Time and time again, I hear of designers feeling pressurized at this early stage by the client, almost overwhelmed with uncertainty. It can be made worse if you are desperate for work, or keen to not loose this one client etc. It can be a shock to the system, you begin to doubt your own rates, you almost feel obliged to offer a discount even though you know nothing about them. Possibly you don’t want to scare them off with a adversely high first quote, so you purposefully undermine your own morals, by coming in at a stupidly low quote.
Throw it back
I have discovered, from painful and repeated failures, that the best and most productive way is to place the onus back on the client. This can be done quickly, smoothly and fairly.
For me, it comes down to what they are prepared to pay or better yet, invest in their valuable business identity. It’s not for me to come up with some random price.
Whats your budget?
Ask the client what budget they have for marketing, advertising and such like. Not in so many words, but you are hinting that if they have not even thought about it, then they need to do so.
This is important, put the onus back on the client.
You wouldn’t approach an architect with ‘how much to design me a house?‘, and based on those few words, expect the architect to come up with a firm price. You would expect to have to provide the architect with information, house styles, size, ideas, thoughts, price ranges before getting anywhere near knowing the cost. It’s pretty much the same idea for a logo or brand identity project.
Ask them what value they place on this new business of theirs. How much or how little are they then prepared to ‘invest’ in giving the business the turbo boost it needs to make a successful and meaningful impact.
The logo, the identity is the entry to their business. It sets the mood, it determines how people will react, how people will view and gauge this new business. There is no denying it, this is important stuff.
Don’t allow yourself to be pressured into coming up with a meaningless and cheap quote. If the client is unwilling to name a budget, you need to try and walk then through the reasons why not doing so can be problematic for the end result. Or use the above ‘architect’ example as a close comparison.
You need at least a rough idea of their top limit.
The budget gives you some of the information you need to decide if the job is worth taking on. The other important aspect that goes with this is the ‘brief’, but I will cover that in another post. But I will say, if they provide a detailed brief, and it’s clear a lot of work is involved, but they only state a budget of, lets say, £200, then you know you have your hands full. Either they are seriously trying it on, or they genuinely do not know the value of design. If the latter, you can help them at this point, by explaining the true value and importance of investing a fair and decent budget. You can do this by the online form.
Help and advise
As the designer, we obviously know how long time things take, the need for research etc and therefore the value of what we do is easily measurable. But never forget that for non designers, this is likely to be foreign turf. So don’t allow yourself to rush off the deep end and assume every client is ‘trying it on’. Its more than possible that given some help and advice, they will see that they will need to invest more than they had originally thought. Not everyone can know everything. Just like I have no idea the true worth of an architect. I have no doubt I would be astounded at the costs involved to hire a experienced architect, or to hire a city lawyer.
For this reason, I found that offering ‘first contact’ by telephone or Skype can really smooth things for some people. The form may just be a blur to them, or they need some upfront verbal advice first. This is worth considering. A verbal chat is more confident inspiring to a lot of people. The idea is that they read the information in the quote form first, before calling. So they are at least aware of the process and the various costs involved.
At this point, pointing out that a budget needs to be worked out becomes easier, it’s not so unexpected and they are less likely to put you on the spot.
The online form
Incorporating an online form in my website, has been the single most important improvement of my work flow. This acts as a filter, it weeds out those that really have no desire to pay ‘fair’ prices, it informs people of the basic principles of logo and identity design. It helps put my prices into context.
It saves me time, and it saves me a shit load of stress.
The online quote form puts the onus of the logo design cost back onto the client. Not you.
The form gives information, it educates as well as guiding the client through the process, getting them to think of aspects of the logo and identity design that they may have had no idea of. If they can’t be bothered to fill it in, then would you really want to work with a client who clearly does not take it seriously. Likewise, a client who fills in the form, spends time with the answers, and allocates a fair budget will allow you to feel comfortable taking the project on. You know that even at this early stage, the client is on your level, they seemingly understand or at least appreciate good design, and how much it costs.
And this all means you have not had to deal face to face with the ‘how much does logo design cost?‘. The form does the educating and raises awareness of the design process involved.
I have had clients admit to me, that prior to filling in the form, they were thinking of only spending say, £250, but once they read the form, had to stop and think about the questions, realised how low that initial sum was. Ultimately they came away happier and more confident about working with me, even though they ended up spending more money.
Its not fool proof
People will still try it on. I have various logo packages, as I try to cater for all budgets and needs where possible, but it’s under my control, not the client. Occasionally, someone will fill in the form, clearly spending a long time over the answers, needing a full identity package, but knowingly choose the cheapest package I have, £165. On these occasions I send them back an email, politely explaining why there is a small problem. This gives them the option to re-think and re-consider.
It’s important that you try and steer the subject of costs and budget back onto the client. It is a fair and reasonable expectation after all. It is their business, not yours.
Try not to be fobbed off with ‘I just don’t have the funds right now to invest in a logo design.’ This really is not your problem. Their lack of funds should not become ‘your’ problem. If you allow yourself to be hoodwinked into taking on a cheap paying project that involves lots of work and research, you yourself are being screwed financially. This just leads to all sorts of problems further down the line.
Only the client can reasonably place a value on the business, the importance of a solid identity. The budget determines how committed they are to it, which ultimately determines how much time ‘you’ should be allocating in working with them. I usually end up working more hours than I quoted, but that’s just me, I choose to do so.
I am not saying that any client with a small budget should be ignored, far from it. That’s why I have set up numerous packages for this very reason. I choose to offer both fixed rate ‘budget’ packages for those that are financially limited, as well as the more involved’ tiered budget pricing for the real meaty projects. Even here, I am setting the pace so to speak, it’s on my turf, therefore, less nasty surprises.
The online quote form is really worth considering if you want to avoid this type of scenario. You are the designer, they are hiring you. Presumably they are coming to you because they like what you do, so that can only translate to one thing. They need to pay you.