Logo pricing explained
Logo pricing is all over the place. When I decided to freelance full time, I scheduled coffee dates with entrepreneurs, designers, and other creative professionals to pick their brain about self-employment. One question I asked a lot of people was, “how much do you think a logo should cost?”. The answers ranged anywhere from $200 to $6,000 and that was just in Asheville. Some agencies and designers in major cities charge millions of dollars. So why is logo pricing all over the place? Here are some reasons why:
This is the number one thing you should pay attention to when hiring a designer. Some designers will charge $200 for a logo but often times all you get is one logo file. In reality, you’re going to need alternate versions in a variety of formats. Check out the Mountain Laurel Digital logo below for an example of what alternate logo options look like:
The top logo is the primary logo, but that isn’t going to work well in tall narrow spaces or tiny applications like your Instagram profile picture. It’s important that you have options so your logo looks perfect in each application. At the end of a project it takes a few hours just to save the logo in as many formats as possible. I sometimes send over 100 logo files to a client because each variation of the logo needs to be saved in 3-4 different file formats (jpg, png, ai, eps) AND in black, white, inverse, etc. Besides all of your logo versions, some designers and agencies bundle your logo with other marketing materials into a branding package (such as brochures, signage, and sometimes even websites).
Agency vs. Freelancer
This may be obvious, but it’s important to understand the pros and cons of working with an agency and a freelancer. Agencies have to pay an entire staff and are clearly going to have more overhead than a freelancer who works from home. Because of that they typically cost more. The perk of working with an agency is that you have a team of people working on your project. When I worked at agencies we often had the whole team of creative directors, copywriters, marketing strategists, and designers all working on a branding project. When the logo was complete, you then have an entire staff that knows the in’s and out’s of your brand and can help you with advertising, marketing plans, and more. Freelancers on the other hand are going to cost less, but you’re limited to their skillset. For example, I have clients ask me to help them with their social media content or write copy, but I don’t specialize in those areas. I have a handful of wonderful references, but I’m not going to be a one stop shop.
Number of concepts
Options, options, options! Each designer and agency has their own process and number of concepts they present to a client. Some only show one option, but show you how that logo will look on signs, print materials, and many other pieces of collateral which can help you visualize your logo in the real world. Other designers show upwards of 5-10 concepts for you to choose from, but usually in those cases you’re just seeing the logo on white background without any context. I personally believe the sweet spot is 2-3 options and shown in a variety of “real life” applications such as business cards and social media graphics. But, every designer you ask will have their own method and opinion.
Number of revisions
Another factor in logo pricing is the number of revisions. Sometimes a designer won’t even mention this in the beginning, but this is an important part of the process. After the agency or designer shows you all their first concepts, you typically have a few rounds of revisions to refine the logo you like best. I’ve seen some designers offer much higher rates on logo design because they have an unlimited number of revisions. While I think that might be appealing to the client, I believe that it’s possible to nitpick a design to death and it’s a lot more tempting to do so when there isn’t a defined number of revisions. Revisions can take hours and hours so I believe defining this up front is crucial to both the designer and the client.
This is probably another obvious one, but hiring a designer right out of school vs. an experienced designer is night and day. I can tell you that confidently because I was once the designer right out of school that picked up side jobs. At the time I had no clue how to operate a business, I didn’t know how to communicate well to my clients and would spend an insane amount of time on a project because I would find myself researching best practices for hours. Oh, and I didn’t even know that I could control the number of revisions so some projects would last for months! At the end of a project I would send over ONE logo at the end of a project (see #1 for why that’s bad). I’m not saying that you shouldn’t hire young designers, but you’re most likely going to get what you pay for and the entire logo system won’t be thought out the way it should be.
Availability (full time vs. part time)
Another big factor in pricing is whether the designer is working full time or on the side. I’ve had a few clients come to me because they were frustrated that projects were taking forever or weren’t taken seriously because their designer worked a different full time job. They typically cost less because they already get a steady paycheck and don’t rely on side projects to make a living. You can still find wonderful freelancers that are working on the side (or "side hustling" as they say), but just make sure that there is a defined deadline and process because you most likely won't be able to communicate with them during business hours.
Websites such as 99designs and Fiverr cheapen the industry with their competition based approach. On these websites people pay insanely low rates to have multiple people compete for the best design, but only the winner gets paid. These sites are cheap because you’re working mostly with people in India, Pakistan and other countries where $100 may cover their weekly expenses, but what about all the people that were working for free? In what other industry would that be okay? Could you imagine going to five therapists, but only paying the one that did the best job even though the other four spent their time and shared their expertise with you? What’s worse is you’re likely to get a logo that’s been ripped off or being used by MANY companies (see this real life example here). I worked with a client once who used one of those websites and when I asked him for his logo to use on the label design, he only sent me one .png file because that was all he was provided. He then had to pay me to vectorize the logo so it wouldn’t be pixilated in print.
This one is pretty simple. A logo design in Asheville is going to cost a lot less than a logo design in New York City simply because of cost of living. If I was a freelancer in New York and had to pay crazy high rent, I’m obviously going to charge more to cover my expenses.
A lot of designers consider the amount of time it takes them to complete the job when they are pricing their jobs. For me personally, it takes anywhere from 15-20 hours to complete a logo project and that’s definitely a factor in my pricing strategy. Some designers are super speedy and can crank out designs fast (hopefully still well thought out). If those designers charge by the hour then they might be much cheaper, but that’s really up to the designer to determine how to charge.
One thing that many people don't realize is how much research goes into each logo project. Sometimes I spend days researching the clients competition and audience, and brainstorming and sketching before I even open up my design software. Bigger agencies have brand strategists that will hold focus groups that costs hundreds of dollars to organize in order to compile hard data about the client's product or service. Each designer and firm has their own level of research so the price varies, but it's a very important phase that some designers skip completely (therefore lowering the cost).
It’s easy for people to be confused by logo pricing because there are so many factors that go into it, but hopefully this helps you get a better understanding of why it’s a complex topic and why logos shouldn’t cost the same across the board. When you do hire an agency or designer it’s important to ask questions like how many concepts you’ll see, how many revisions you have and what the deliverables are at the end of a project.
Interested in learning more about my process and pricing? Click here to check it out.
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