The difference between the $100 logos, $1.000 logos and $10.000 logos
Published by Nela Dunato on in Branding, Graphic design
How much is a logo design worth? How much should you expect to pay for professional design services? Is it really true that you get what you pay for? This article answers all of these questions, and more.
Here’s a conversation I’ve witnessed many times.
“My designer quoted me $600 for a logo. Is this a fair price, or are they ripping me off?”
“That’s way too much. I can recommend someone who can do it for $50.”
Discussing logo prices is a minefield because people can easily become defensive. It’s not my intention to belittle anyone whose budget can only afford them low priced logos, nor to convince anyone that they should buy a more expensive logo. I want you to be aware of what you’re buying. I want you to have realistic expectations of what your budget can afford you, so you don’t end up disappointed because you didn’t get what you wanted. There’s a logo for every price point, and there’s a good reason why they cost as much as they do.
People outside of the design industry who don’t understand the nuances behind logo design are legitimately confused by the prices. Logo prices vary wildly, from 5 dollars to millions of dollars. What’s the deal? How can the same thing cost $5 and $5 million?
That’s the point—it’s not the same thing.
While this topic is a lot more complex than I can cover in a single article, I’ll simplify things a bit and divide the typical logo ranges in 3 tiers: the low-end ($100-$999), the mid-end ($1.000-$9.999) and high-end ($10.000+). I’ll explain what happens at each of these levels, and why it costs as much as it costs.
First things first: What is a logo?
In order to qualify as a logo, a graphic must satisfy several conditions. It must be:
- A vector graphic, blown up to any size without any loss in quality.
- Clearly convey meaning even when scaled down to the size of a stamp or an app icon.
- Suitable for use in a variety of media (print, digital, engraving, embroidery etc.)
- Unique—there are no other businesses using the same graphic.
If a graphic fails one of these checks, it’s not done to professional standards, so it cannot be considered a real logo.
Logo design for a holistic health coach
The shapes remain recognizable even when scaled down, or converted to a single color.
$5 “logos” are not logos
The reason I’m not even considering Fiverr gigs a part of the legitimate logo design industry is because the results you get from those gigs are not logos. What you typically get are plagiarized graphics placed on a white background (if you’re lucky), which makes them literally useless for any practical purpose.
So let’s move on to actual logos. What’s the difference between low, mid and high end logo design services?
The main difference is the process
When I said that $100 logos, $1.000 logos and $10.000 are not the same thing, what I meant is that the process used to get to these logos differs. While the result might appear similar to an untrained eye, the work that went in it is of a different order of magnitude.
I’m not even talking about the operating costs here.
A legitimate business pays taxes, their own healthcare, bookkeeping fees, expensive professional design tools and equipment. People in the Western Europe, North America, and Australia have higher costs of living than those in Eastern Europe, South America, Africa, or most Asian countries. All of these conditions factor into the designer’s rates—someone might be able to offer the same level of service for a lower price because their operating costs are lower. (That’s why my services are cheaper than that of an American or a British designer with a comparable level of skill and experience.) But let’s put that aside for now, because we could be here all day analyzing spreadsheets.
Before we get into the process thing, I’d like to point out one other difference that’s rarely discussed in the design circles.
Logo price also depends on the client
The value of the logo is not solely in the designer’s work: it’s in your company’s potential to profit from it. A corporation that will display the logo and brand to a large audience and earn profit in millions every year should pay more for a logo than a non-profit or a small family business.
Non-profit organizations and local micro-businesses have lower budgets and don’t expect a big return from a rebranding project. Designers often decide to lower their price, or even offer pro bono services in order to meet the needs of their less profitable clients.
Businesses who are serious about using design to gain more customers and be perceived as a premium brand are willing to invest more money, because this investment will lead directly to higher profits.
Two different companies may pay a different price for what can be considered the same amount of work, and this is not unfair: it’s called value based pricing. If the logo will help you get more customers at a higher price point, this translates into profit. Designers who help you achieve that deserve a piece of that pie.
The alternative to value based pricing is usage licensing, which depends on where the logo will be displayed:
- Locally, nationally, or internationally?
- In print, online, on physical products, on TV?
- How large is the audience that the logo will be shown to?
All of these factors matter, because as the owner of the copyrighted work, the designer can decide under what conditions their work may be used, and negotiate the project fee accordingly. Usually upon full payment the designer transfers some of the rights to the client, namely the right to apply the logo design to various media. Before this transfer of rights is complete, the designer and client both need to be clear how the logo is to be used, and how much that is worth in usage fees.
Now that you know the other factors of logo design prices, let’s circle back to the main topic of this post: the differences in the design process.
The $100 logo design process
$100 is the least you can expect to pay for a decent logo, though by First-world standards that’s still cheap.
I have two explanations for how it’s possible for designers in developed countries to charge $100 per logo and still make a living:
- They’re not full-time designers.
- They create 10-20 logos per month.
If someone has a second job that’s paying the bills, or is still in the university and their life is funded by parents and student loans, it figures that they won’t value their services as much. They don’t need the money to survive—they can afford to put a ton of work into a project and only get a fraction of what they deserve.
If we’re talking about a full-time designer that’s still somehow managing to make a living off of $100 logos or cheaper, you have to wonder: how much effort are they able to put into each one? If you know your logo is just one of half a dozen they’re working on this week, can you be confident in the quality of what you’re getting?
When the designer is forced to rush through a project, they have to cut corners.
There is no way logo design can be optimized like a factory and be done in a few hours every single time. Creative process doesn’t work that way.
Typically, the first thing that suffers is research.
Design research is the first step in the logo design process. It’s an essential step, because logos are not created in a vacuum—we need to establish what’s already present on the market, and how to differentiate from your competitors. If we don’t do that, the results will likely be a generic cliché that’s already been seen a thousand times.
That means that the designer has to work based on client’s input alone, and jumps quickly into the creation process. Such process might involve:
- Asking clients for design direction (favorite colors, fonts, symbols, mood boards etc.).
- Creating several variations quickly and offering the client to pick their favorite.
- Refining the chosen option based on client’s input.
- Sending the final logo and the invoice.
This can realistically be done in a day or two, so it explains why the price is so low. The question is, do you want to put the symbol that will represent your company for years to come into the hands of a student, designer with a second job, or a designer who is juggling many other projects alongside yours?
The $1.000+ logo design process
For $1.000 or more, you can get a pretty good design solution, provided that the designer has plenty of experience and adheres to professional standards.
A complete logo design process involves the following phases:
- Researching the client and the competition.
- Setting the design direction (through the use of a design brief and/or a mood board).
- Creating many design concepts.
- Refining concepts with the most potential.
- Choosing the concept that best communicates the client’s values and brand message.
- Presenting the logo proposal to the client (with examples of everyday use).
- Revising the logo based on feedback (optional).
- Preparing multiple color and composition variations of the logo.
- Designing the branding guidelines.
You can see there’s a lot more involved in the mid-end design process than it is in the low-end. A single project can take anywhere from 30 to 50 or more hours to complete. The project can last between 2 and 6 weeks, depending on how many projects the designer is working on at a time, and if there are additional graphics included with the logo.
The phases of my logo & brand identity design process
Experienced freelancers in the US and the EU will typically fall into the 4-figure dollar price range, but there are also freelancers charging 5-figure rates.
Is a mid-range logo design project in your budget?
Next, at the 5-figure range and beyond, we have branding agencies.
The $10.000+ logo design process
The high-end logo design process follows a similar structure as a mid-end one, with one key difference: it involves a team of designers and marketers.
Instead of one dedicated professional, you get 2, 3 or more, all working to make your project a success. Since there’s more people and resources involved, you’re getting a lot more done:
- The research phase is more thorough.
- More designers equals more ideas.
- Design may involve active participation of the client or a customer focus group.
- Business naming and taglines are often included in the agency brand design package.
This type of process can last several months. Large companies with so much at stake wouldn’t dare to rush it because if they don’t let the agency get it right, it might cost them a lot of money.
With so many people involved, and all of them giving their focused attention to your project, prices of the agency logo designs practically have no upper limit—they can go up to millions of dollars for big clients like MasterCard, Pepsi, and Airbnb.
Different design processes deliver different results
A “deliverable” is an item that you as a client get once the design is finished. The more money you invest, the more deliverables you get to take home.
With a low-budget logo, you get a logo. That’s it.
With a mid-budget logo, you get:
- Multiple logo variations (color, black, inverse, stacked, horizontal, icon, etc.)
- Brand style guide.
- Additional graphics (optional, depends on how much you’re paying).
- Brand strategy (optional, not all designers do this).
With a high-budget logo, you get:
- Brand strategy.
- Multiple logo variations.
- Brand style guide.
- A comprehensive selection of all the graphics you will need.
- Optionally, brand name and tagline.
I hope this post has clarified why the logo prices vary so much. It’s not that designers are trying to cheat you, it’s that logos are not trivial.
I see logos as the most challenging type of design project there is.
Not every designer can do logos well—it’s a highly specialized skill. I don’t teach business owners how to design their own logos because honestly, by the time you learn how to do it properly, you spend so much time that simply paying someone else would be faster and easier.
There’s no template or “best practice” that guarantees a logo everyone will love. So much can go wrong when an inexperienced designer takes on a logo project (for example, ending up with an unintentionally vulgar logo). The company’s reputation is at stake, because logo is a business tool that wears many hats.
If a logo design project turns out unsuccessful, rebranding will involve even more costs. You’ll need to redesign and print all the promo materials over again, like websites, apps, brochures, signage, vehicle graphics, business cards for all employees… The costs just add up, which is why companies avoid rebranding if they can help it.
Saving money on a low-cost logo today might mean having to invest more money later to fix what isn’t working.
That said, my advice for you is:
Don’t rush into a logo design project.
If you don’t have the budget for what you want right now, save up for it rather than spending money on something you won’t be happy with. And if you choose to stick with a low-priced logo, I support your decision—but please, do your research so you don’t get ripped off by a logo designer.
If you like my work, you’ll be glad to hear that my logo and brand identity design services are flexible when it comes to scope. You can start with a brand strategy, logo and brand style guide right now, and add other graphics as you need them later on. This is a cashflow-friendly option that many business owners choose when starting out.
If you have any questions about the logo design process, contact me and I’ll be happy to answer them—no strings attached. Or, you can ask your question in the comments below.
EDIT: Note to designers on raising your prices
This post is making rounds in the design circles, and I’m very happy about that, because it means more designers will learn how to earn a good living from their work. Several designers have reached out to me to say that they have realized they need to raise their prices after reading this article. That’s wonderful!
You may not be able to raise your prices overnight.
I teach business owners all the time that your price needs to reflect not only the quality of your work, but also your professional presentation. In my article Is your business a bargain bin brand? I described what happens when your presentation is not at the level that we tend to expect from “premium brands”, ie. brands that charge higher fees. You can’t sell expensive champagne in a plain bottle, and you can’t sell $1000+ logos on a free Wix website.
Before you raise your price, ask yourself:
- Are your services already in demand?
- Do your clients recommend your services to their friends and colleagues?
- Is your portfolio filled with high quality logo designs that you’re proud of?
- Do you have your own website on a custom domain that looks professional?
- Does your website contain useful content that helps clients decide whether you’re the right designer to help them?
- Are you regularly getting to know new people who might become potential clients, or refer new clients to you?
If you don’t have a solid foundation in your design business, raising the price alone won’t do you any good. All this stuff we tell our clients—how having a great looking brand will help them get more buyers—is twice as important for you. You have no excuse, you are the designer. If you can’t come up with a beautiful and professional brand presentation for yourself, how can you do that for your clients? Walk your talk.
On top of looking like a professional, you also need to show a compelling reason why they should choose you, instead of someone else. That’s the unique value proposition, and in our line of work “I can draw really nice logos” is not enough. Choose a niche, or a style, or some other way you want to differentiate yourself so people will want to pay you thousands of dollars.
It’s not just about the money. (It’s never just about money.) It’s about how you present yourself as an expert, and how you connect with clients. Money is a result of that. If you just change your pricing and nothing else, it might not work because the clients can’t see why $1.000–$10.000 is worth it.
This is a whole different topic that deserves a more in-depth article, but I’ve put the short version here to make sure that every designer who reads this article knows what they’re getting into. For more tips on building a sustainable creative business, subscribe to my newsletter and you’ll get notified about new articles.
About Nela Dunato
Artist, brand designer, teacher, and writer. Author of the book “The Human Centered Brand”. Owner of a boutique branding & design consultancy that helps experienced service-based businesses impress their dream clients.
On this blog I write about art, design, creativity, business, productivity and marketing, and share my creative process and tips. Read more about me...
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Thank you so much for this post. My business is far from the world of design (as are my eyes), so last I hired a brand strategist for my entire website makeover, which was worth all the money and even more.
In the beginning when I had zero clients and no products, I did hire someone on fiverr, and I knew it wasn’t the smartest solution. I’m so happy I can now afford someone who’s so much more professional.
I do appreciate you taking the time to educate amateurs like me about the process of design creation. I will definitely be encouraging people to do their research and pay attention to the process of branding, even if they’re just starting out.
Thank you for your kind words, Elena, and for sharing your story.
I’m delighted to hear that you’re happy with your decision to hire a pro brand strategist for your new website – and it clearly shows!
Great article – and so true (much of it true for any creative type of work). I remember not that many years back when I would charge more the $100 end for a logo – it always took longer than I wanted and yet I feared no-one would pay higher rates.
If you look at the diagram in your post, showing 5 stages of logo design – $100 at minimum-ish wage of $20 per hour – that’s barely an hour for each step if working at minimum wage. (An extreme example) And that doesn’t even account for communication time with the client, taxes, expenses, finding new clients, etc.
The way I like to sum it up is that if someone under-values their own services, then they simply don’t understand how successful business works – and if that’s the case, do you really want to entrust them with your own?
Well said, Simon!
And yes, once you do the math, the problem becomes very obvious – there’s no time for doing everything that’s required in order to make a project a success.
I remember the feeling you mention. Every time I consider raising my prices, I fear that nobody would pay that – and then I’m proven otherwise! Smart business owners know that good investments pay off.
Very useful posts; love the analogies in each case presented.
I think this is a summation of all the conversations we have had over the years on pricing logo design. If you have read, or listen to, many designer interviews—including honest conversation between designers on podcasts like the Futur, Logo Geek, The Side Hustle Project, Design Life, Masters of Scale, The NTMY Show, The Design of Business-The Business of Design, Side Gig, The Honest Designers Show, etc—where designers were asked whether they have a fixed price rate or they go with a client’s budget when giving a logo design price quotation, you will often see the pictures Nela captures here more vividly and resonating.
Looking at the scenarios from Fiverr’s single digit ($5) price quote to the part-time designers’ double digits price quote ($100); and from professional freelancers/design studios’ four digits ($1,000) price quote to a design agencies’ five or six digits ($10,000 or $100,000) price quote all make a perfect sense as Nela clarifies here.
That said, some one-man design studios (like David Airey, Aaron James Draplin, etc.) can charge between $1,000 and $50,000 or even more. Why? Yes, the value of those designers and price on their names over the years is a factor.
Clients should read this.
thank you very much for sharing this post with your audience, and for offering your perspective. I appreciate it a lot!
Great article! Unfortunately, 99 percent of small businesses are run by ignorant people who are too poor to really have a business. I gave up explaining the difference in costs a long time ago, and so thankful for Fiverr sucking up all the lowballers I don’t have to mess with anymore. Very few businesses need a logo–they need to learn how to run their dang biz FIRST!
Thank you Tedly, and I wholeheartedly agree with your comment!
Great designers shouldn’t be afraid of Fiverr – they just need to focus on finding the clients who are willing and able to invest in their business.
Thank you so much for taking the time to write this very informative article! I have this discussion with clients so often, as people do not understand why they can’t “just go somewhere like ‘Fiverr’ to get what they need done!” The research and examples you provided are fantastic and super helpful.
As a fellow designer, I sincerely appreciate your willingness to share and pray many continued blessings in your business endeavors. For jobs where I might be able to utilize your services, personally, I certainly look forward to the opportunity to collaborate with you on projects in the near future.
Hey Real Designer, thank you so much for your kind words! :)
I’m so glad you’ve enjoyed this article.
Sure, I’d be happy to talk to you about a possible collaboration in the future.
All the best to you!
This is a great post! Just what I have been looking for. I’ve been struggling s lot with a logo design and I just don’t think I’ve gotten nearly enough time to work on it and your post justified that. Thank you!
Thank you, Bethany! I’m glad this was helpful in your decision process.
Yes, people are surprised at how much time it takes to arrive at a very “simple” solution. There’s a big difference between “simple” and “easy” :)
This information is exactly what I was looking for to describe what my boutique business has become. I’m forever grateful! Thank you!
I’m very happy to hear that, EWitt! ;)
Thank you for this insight. I had someone ask me for a price list for a logo. People don’t understand that it is difficult to determine a price for a logo prior to talking to the customer to determine what their needs are. I don’t like to quote a price and then the time and effort far exceeds the price. This article really helped me to determine how to approach my client with these kinds of request.
You’re very welcome, Cher!
I always need to have at least a short phone conversation with someone before I can determine the price, and so my ballpark prices are in “starting from” or range format. It does help to get people a ballpark number so they know if they can even afford working with you, but actual quote requires more information.
I put 1o0% in everything I do. I tend to charge in the hundreds because I am somewhat new to design (everyone has to start somewhere) and because of my clientele focus – small and upstart businesses – I want to be affordable, but I still do research and everything in the 1000 range. Yes, I design on the side and have a fulltime job, but that doesn’t mean I don’t/can’t focus on my clients. It means I’m growing and have a niche.
@Morana: You say you are new to design, so lower-end pricing makes total sense. Working alongside of a full-time job is fine, as long as each project gets dedicated time.
I’d love to hear back from you in 5-6 years if you’ve switched full-time to design, and how your pricing has changed because of that.
Thank you very much. This really helped me as a designer… now I know how to communicate with clients!
Thank you very very much!
@Nur-E-Jannat I’m very happy to hear that! You’re very welcome :)
Hmmm… Interesting that there are only positive comments on this article. I strongly disagree with this article and believe logo design is overpriced to hell.
Large companies don’t spend $5,000+ on logos because designers “deserve a piece of the pie.” They do it because they have become bureaucracies with ballooning budgets and little accountability over middle management – so it is easier to simply farm out the job to a higher end logo company that will do everything middle management would have screwed up by going with an independent designer.
On a side note, designers (or anyone else for that matter) “deserves” a piece of someone’s business. The business owners decide who deserves what. And if the designer disagrees, the designer can find a more suitable client. This entire article is self-serving nonsense. Figures a bunch of artistic types would publish something like this.
@Adam: “And if the designer disagrees, the designer can find a more suitable client.”
That’s exactly what we’re doing here. We’re finding suitable clients that value our work as much as we do.
It’s fine if you don’t agree, and are not willing to pay that kind of money – there’s a designer for every budget out there! That’s the point I made with this article, and somehow you seem to have missed it.
this article was very beneficiary to what I’m looking for, but not from the perspective of paying a logo designer, but from being the designer. I am currently a high school junior and am incredibly interested in logo design.
The reason I came across your article is because I am currently designing a logo for my dads upstart company, and it may be my first real leap into the designer field. That leads me to my question of how should I charge for my design? In your article when focusing on mid-end designers you directly called out designers like me, and while it was helpful it would be great to hear back from you as to how much I should charge, and maybe get a few more specifics directly. I have spent a good deal of time on this logo, but obviously don’t expect anything near five figures. I’ve had my own ideas on how to make money from this, for example charging a smaller initial fee then asking for a percentage of each product sold with my design… but I don’t know if that is efficient or even professional, given my age, and lack of experience in the business side of design.
If you could respond whenever is convenient that would be so awesome, I look forward to hearing from you.
I’m glad you’ve found this article helpful!
I have a policy of not telling other designers how much they should charge, so I can’t give you an exact number. I don’t have enough information to do that, even if I wanted to. The fact your client is your dad’s company is a complicating factor. And it seems like you have already completed the design, before agreeing on the price with your client – that’s a backwards way to do it.
Royalties from sold items are not common in the logo design field. I’ve only heard about it being done in art licensing for publishing and merchandise. I’m not saying it’s a necessarily a *bad* idea, but it’s kind of out there.
You have to decide for yourself what’s the number you’d be happy with. You know now what the realistic range is, but the prices I’m quoting in this article are for professional designers with some years of experience. If this is your first real-world project, charging as much as someone with 3-5-10 years of experience is a stretch. Many design students do their first jobs for free – I’m not saying you should do that, just adding it for perspective. Who knows, maybe your dad’s company would be happy to pay you the money they would have otherwise spent elsewhere.
My advice is to chew a bit on all the information you’ve gathered on designer rates and go with your gut. It’s your first job. The reference alone is way more valuable than money this early in your career.
I’m sorry I can’t be of more help, but the kind of thinking you’re asking me to do on your behalf is quite tricky, and it’s not something I’m comfortable doing for other people. (I’m not comfortable doing it for myself either, but I have to!)
I wish you the best of luck!
Wow, thank you for responding so quickly. I totally respect your policy and I’m sorry if my question implied I wanted an exact price, I was looking for more of an estimate, and if that falls under your same criteria I apologize again.
I really appreciate your response and insight. I do have the final design, and I suppose I am a little bit confused as to how the order of charging for a logo would go. I have the final design, but am still working on finalizing it digitally, it is not currently in my dads possession, but we have agreed on the final design. So what you were saying is that most experienced designers come up with a price up front then give the logo once it’s finished?
I agree that a reference would be very beneficial, and that it would be a great start, and I don’t want to sound greedy or ambitious, but it’d be cool to be paid for something I designed. With my dads company being an upstart and he’s waiting for the patent and… the logo dun dun duuuunnnnn, I wouldn’t charge the amount a 3-10 year designer would, I was thinking about between $50-$100 if that.
Thank you again for responding to me, and I apologize if it sounded like I was asking more of you than I had meant.
Hey Dominic, no need to apologize, it’s OK to ask!
Normally designers state the fee before signing the agreement and starting to work. That way, the client knows whether they agree with the price, or they need to look further for someone who’s in their budget.
We don’t want to spring a price as a surprise, because what if the client doesn’t want to pay that much? We’ve spent all this time working on a solution we can’t sell to anyone else. If the client tries to haggle, we can either agree to the lower fee, or refuse to give them the logo, and then we’re out of both time and money. When working with someone who is not your dad (and has no incentive to remain in a good relationship with you), there’s too much potential for things to go wrong if all the conditions are not spelled out in advance.
If the logo is of good quality and practically usable (meaning, the business will be using it for at least couple of years), $100 is not too much to ask even for a student. And as you gain experience and work on more projects, raise the price a bit with every new project, and eventually you’ll get to a livable wage :)
P.S. Dominic, in case you’re wondering “how do I determine how much to charge before I’ve done the work?”, welcome to the fun and confusing world of pricing intellectual services :) That’s something you learn through experience.
I’ve spent years tracking my time so now I know how much it takes me on average to complete a project, depending on the number of deliverables (logo variants, number of revisions, size of branding guidelines, additional graphics, consulting sessions…) and when the client tells me what they need, I can calculate it with reasonable precision. Don’t worry about it for now, but when you start working professionally, it’s something you’ll need to figure out.
Thank you so much again, Nela, this helps so much, I really appreciate the time you took to respond to the best of your ability, and helping me out. It was great getting to converse with you and learn a bit more about the ins and outs of the whole process.
Before, I was charging only $10-100 per logo after reading and know how to charge and which client how much. I am getting a good response and value of my creativity. Thank you for a career-boosting suggestion and article
Thank you, Pankaj. We all start by charging too little, especially as students. The important thing is not to stop there :) Your work is worth so much more!
I worked for many businesses and we already pay as much as we possibiliy can on a logo design. Usually that price is in the higher region of £8,000 to £10,000. Cheap logos are not good.
thanks for sharing your experience.
That figure is within the norms for Western Europe and North America, and an established business should factor that into their budget.
I really enjoyed your article! I am noticing plenty of interest in my design work but I am having a truly difficult time with gaining customers due to my logo pricing. I have been in business for over a decade and have raised my rates throughout the years. My logo design pricing range from $200.00 for a basic logo to $530.00 for logos with more revisions. The conversation flows smoothly up until I give a logo price quote and then I either don’t hear anything back or I get a “I was able to get it cheaper somewhere else” or “it is not in my budget” response. At this point I am at my whits end and not sure if I need to adjust my pricing as I am losing out on new clients and work.
Thank you for your comment, Lizzy! I’m glad you’ve enjoyed this article :)
As you’ve seen for yourself, not all interest is made equal.
If your fees are a deal-breaker for these folks, it simply means they are not your clients. I have many articles on “ideal clients” and “dream clients” on this blog, so I recommend that you read a few to see how you may improve your approach to attract your RIGHT clients.
If quoting the price usually bombs your conversation with prospects, I’d say you need to be more up-front about your fees from the start. I know your instinct may be the opposite – to hide your fees – but that’s only delaying the “moment of truth”. You want to know the truth as soon as possible: are they your right client or not? That way neither of you will waste any more time.
I know stating how much you charge can feel awkward, but it gets easier and less emotional with practice. I’m a big believer in stating your package rates or minimum project rates on your website and other marketing materials. That way you will for sure get less inquiries, but they will be qualified inquiries, from clients who are prepared to pay your rates.
Also practice how to respond to the question “how much you charge?” in conversation, and even how to offer up the information yourself if they didn’t dare to ask.
No one likes to hear that we’re “too expensive” and it can mess with out self-esteem. But your prices are totally reasonable. Good logo design really cannot be cheaper than that. It’s specialized creative work. You have over a decade of experience. That is not too expensive!
But for some folks it is simply out of their budget, and that has nothing to do with you.
I personally don’t want to pay for an expensive phone or a brand name handbag, but there are plenty of people who do. Phone companies and luxury bag companies know how to reach their target demographic who will spend a lot of money on their products. They don’t care that I think their stuff is overpriced.
Us designers also need to be smart about reaching business owners who understand the worth of a logo for their business, and have the budget to pay our rates. That’s called marketing and sales. Focus on this. It’s not easy, but really what alternative is there, to accept working for whatever anyone is willing to pay?
You deserve better.
I wish you all the best.
Yeah, sorry, I’m going to have to disagree on this one. You should never charge a customer by what they might do with the product. Who cares if they make a million dollars or nothing at all. You sell a logo design (another thing I take issue with, but more on that later) and the customer can decide what they want to do with it – your job is done, you’ve been paid. Now, on this last point, I really take issue with designers wanting to be paid for their work, but still retain ownership over the design. This is just wrong and I see it everywhere in design. What makes design any different from other tangible products? Unless you specifically lease a design, the ownership changes hands when you get paid. period. Imagine a designer asking IBM not to use their logo in a certain way – I don’t think so.
Feel free to disagree, John, but this is a factor every designers and artists’ guild I’ve researched has placed in their pricing guidelines for members. The size of client (number of employees and annual turnover) as well as the size of market (local, national, multi-national) absolutely matters. There are even project pricing formulas and calculators available. See for example the Graphic Artist’s Guild Handbook of Pricing and Ethical Guidelines.
I don’t know where you live so I can’t speak to legal rights in your country, but in the country I live in, moral rights of authors are inalienable (whereas commercial use rights may be sold). The author has a right to forbid any kind of use that would negatively impact their reputation, until their author right expires long after their death. That’s not an opinion we can agree on or not, it’s literally the law.
“What makes design any different from other tangible products?”
Design and other creations that are subject to copyright law are different from physical objects. Let me explain the difference with an example of a fine art painting.
I painted an acrylic painting. At the time of finishing the painting I own two assets: 1. the physical painting and 2. the copyright to the *image*. The canvas itself and the rights to use the image are two different types of property, which I can sell independently.
1. Some person named Jane can buy the canvas and hang ii on their living room wall.
2. A publishing house may purchase the exclusive right to use the image on a book cover and pay a licensing fee to use it in one print edition of 1000 copies.
Jane is not allowed to reproduce the image anywhere in print or in digital media without my permission. She’s not allowed to make copies of it. She owns the physical canvas (a tangible product) that she’s allowed to re-sell to someone else, even at a higher price than I sold it to her for. But she doesn’t own the copyright (the “image”).
The copyright remains mine, and I sold some of the rights to the publishing house. The publishing house cannot sell the copyright to any third party – that’s how the law works.
Another example: an architect designs a home for a buyer. The buyer owns the house, but they don’t own the design of the house. They can sell their home to anyone for any price they wish, but they can’t grant rights to other people to build their house based on the same blueprints. The blueprints are protected by copyright which remains with the architect.
Intellectual property rights are a separate category from physical ownership. That’s why copyright expires some time after the author’s death, whereas land, buildings, money, furniture, sculptures and paintings can be inherited for generations without ownership ever expiring. There are different rules for each category.
I suggest that you research the copyright law in your country or consult an IP lawyer before you get involved in any design projects because these are the basics than any creator and consumer has to understand.
Thank you for the highly informative, comprehensive post! You do get what you pay for, to a certain extent. What I’m finding very difficult is to find someone in the middle price point who’s actually providing a mid-range service. All I’m finding are designers/agencies that charge $500, with 24h turnarounds, and whose logos look just like the $5 crap from Fiverr. Stuff that was clearly put together with pre-made shapes from AAA logo builder or similar. While I’d love to hire a premium service, I’m just starting a small business and really can’t afford more than $600 at this time. Unfortunately, finding a $600 service whose quality is actually worth that much is proving impossible, even being willing to wait weeks for the right result. Do you have any tips on how to find what/who I’m looking for? I’d be super grateful!
Thank you, LG! I’m glad this post was useful to you :)
That does sound very frustrating!
I’d suggest that you ask around if anyone knows a graphic design student that would like to take on this project. $500-600 is a decent fee for someone who is still in training (plus it’s a portfolio-building opportunity), and if they’re talented and dedicated to the job, the result will likely be much better than you’d get at a logo mill.
If there’s a local university, maybe you can get in touch with a professor and see if there’s a way for them to connect you with someone. There is probably a way you can look up current students on LinkedIn and Behance using advanced search. For example here: https://www.behance.net/search/users
I hope this helps, and that you’ll find the ideal designer for your project – good luck!
Wow Nela, really appreciating how well you have explained all the points. But some clients expects $1000 logo and just pay $100 would love to hear from you how to deal with them?
I don’t deal with clients like that, because no one can pay me less than what I ask. Clients know my fees before we start. If it’s out of their budget, they go elsewhere.
The key is to just say “No” to cheap work.