Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Why a logo should cost more than $100.


You see it everywhere. Logos advertised for $99, designers promising unlimited concepts for under $200, and you’ve had some potential clients quickly disappear when you gave them (what you considered) a cheap quote.

After almost 20 years of working in the advertising and design industry on some of the world’s most recognized brands, it amazes me to see what I actually consider the HARDEST and most time consuming of creative projects cheapened in the eyes of the general public and made readily available by designers wearing blinders to what realistic and acceptable fees should be for this type of work.

Of course, I know I will get the usual comments of “what is acceptable is what people are willing to charge” but creating a logo for a new company, product or service should not come with a measly $100 price tag.

Here is my reasoning…

To design the correct look and feel of a company, you must first RESEARCH the company. Who are they catering to? What’s the target audience? What is the look they want to convey? Do they want 3 concepts or do they want 10? Is it a simple solution or will you have to go back to the drawing board 20 times? Studying and learning about your client’s business and their objectives takes time. I’m going to give this part of the project a very modest one day worth of work. One day to visit my client’s business, to research their competition’s websites, to examine their target audience, and to find examples of logos created for similar clients. If I am to charge an industry average of $50/hour, working one day from 9:00am – 5:00pm (with one hour for lunch), I am billing for 7 hours. This is a $350 fee.

Part 2 is the concept stage. I always give at least 3 concepts. Whether you use a marker or you go straight to the computer, it doesn’t really matter how you begin, you are looking at an empty page or screen. Can you simply splash it quickly and spew out creativity? Sometimes you can. If you are creating the logo for a dog walking service, you might start with a dog. But what happens when your client is a law firm or a company that manufactures sheet metal? The first rule of thumb is to avoid the first things that pop into your head.

Creating a great logo is like sipping cognac or smoking a fine cigar. You want to do it slowly. You must appreciate the craftsmanship and the process. I like to come up with something to start, and then I walk away. I do something else. I then come back later with fresh eyes and look at it again. Repeat this until you have something you believe the client will fall in love with that best represents their objective. Then do it two more times for the next concepts. All of this takes time.

Of course, I like to give myself about 2 weeks to go back and forth to the drawing board. But for arguments sake, let’s factor in one day per concept. One day to create and polish one design. So, 3 days in total. Once again, using the 7 hours at $50/hour, this stage would create a fee of $1,050.

Stage 3 is presentation. Are you sending your ideas as a PDF through email or are you meeting with the client? If you are meeting with the client, factor in some additional charges for travel time and presentation.

Stage 4. Everybody’s favourite. The revision stage. Very rarely will you nail something that the client quickly approves. I’ve had it happen several times over the years but typically, there are going to be revisions.

The client showed it to 8 friends and they all had opinions. The client’s spouse wants to see it in orange, then in yellow, then in blue. They love the icon but want you to play around with the font. They love the font but want you to tweak the icon. The logo is great but they wanted something more feminine. The logo is feminine but they were thinking something more cartoon-like. The list goes on.

Truthfully, most clients have no idea what they want and will beat even the greatest concept into the ground because they are indecisive. A decisive client is one that you should bend over backwards for and cater to their every whim because they are few and far between. They are the difference between loving what you do and wishing you could flee to cut the neighbour's grass for a living.

3 more days of revisions and back and forths (again, I’m being modest).

Add another $1,050 to the quote.

Taking all these factors into consideration, you have a quick estimation of what a logo design should cost from an intermediate designer for any small, start-up client.

The quote, taking all of my points into consideration is at $2,450.

This does not take into consideration all the other variables associated with logo design work. Will the logo be prominent on the side of a downtown skyscraper? Will the client want to buy the exclusive rights? Etc. etc. etc.

How you charge and what you charge is up to you. But by taking the time from concept to completion into consideration, the amount you paid for your education, computer and software, your phone conversations, travel, amount of revisions you will most likely encounter, be honest with yourself, how much is it worth?

Remember when you were young, and you practiced your signature over and over and over again until you hit that eureka moment and finally came up with something that defined you? Was it easy? It wasn’t. This is what you are doing for your client.

And it’s worth a hell of a lot more than $100.

Until next time, keep dreaming.