Asking a brand designer how much you should pay for a logo may not seem like the best person to ask, especially if you're trying to save a buck. You might expect a designer to respond, "What's your budget?" as if they're in a quick-draw duel where the first one to flinch wins. Or they might say, "It depends." (eye roll)
But the truth is - it does depend. It depends on the talent you're hiring.
When I began my design career over twenty years ago, opportunities for paid branding projects came slowly. While finishing up design school, entrepreneurial friends and family members would ask me to design a logo for their new business. I'd happily (and nervously) accept the project without thinking much about what I'd charge, just happy to have an opportunity to help and to use my skills. The "client" would tell me the general idea of what they wanted and what their vision was for the company. We'd agree on a nominal fee for my time, and off I went.
I'd get to work designing several concepts and collecting feedback for refining and tweaking until we got to the final result. Sometimes this process took only a couple of revisions. Other times, the client would change their mind halfway through, or their spouse would suggest a new idea, and we'd start all over. By this point, the $500 I would make off the design would've been less than minimum wage for the dozens of hours of work and re-work. They paid for my time. It was heavily discounted due to my lack of experience.
I was an order taker for my clients. Why?
Most entrepreneurs aren't sure how they want their brand to look or sound. They've made a career or business honing their own skillset- pouring concrete, developing financial plans, performing spine surgery, etc. Most business owners don't understand branding any more than I know how to perform a root canal. My job as a brand strategist and designer is to educate business owners on the importance of branding.
20 years later, my process for branding has changed. Instead of just asking what the client wants and designing around that, I start by focusing on their business, their goals, customers, and the challenges they're facing. These are questions that only the client can answer. Once we've established who we're trying to attract and serve with this brand, we can develop a style that matches the organization's personality and culture. From this conversation comes ideas about attracting, retaining, and engaging with your customers. Clients are typically very excited by the number of specific strategies that arise from the workshop that they can implement right away to grow their business.
This workshop is called CORE. During this program, we work to establish the core of the brand's identity before creating a style to match. This workshop's end products are a logo, a brand style sheet or guide, and messaging for use in a website, collateral, and sales pitches. The workshop and cost of developing the brand range from $2,500 - $10,000.
Can you get a logo for $500 now?
Yes, of course, you can. Dozens of design websites allow you to create an out-of-the-box logo in 10 minutes. If that's all your budget can accommodate, I get it. I've been there and don't judge. (Well, maybe a little.)
If your budget is small, start with planning out how you'll provide direction to the designer or automated logo website about the voice and feeling you'd like to portray (trust, enthusiasm, sex appeal) and how your customers will find you (referrals, online, storefront). This plan will help the designer build a brand around your target audience, not just your personal preferences.
What will you spend to rebrand?
You might also consider what you'll be willing to spend to redesign your brand once you have the budget to invest in developing your company's style and messaging. Since I started Harrison Creative Group, I've helped several companies rebrand for multiple reasons:
The look and feel was dated and unprofessional because a friend or family member created it using clip art
The brand no longer fits their company culture and values
They changed their name and needed a name and professional brand to match their new goals
Two years ago, a former coworker who started a boutique agency needed a logo and was very budget-conscious. I happily took the project to design the logo. Two years later, I have redesigned the brand after a productive workshop to identify the core audience's needs and how we want to communicate with them.
So, when asking how much you should spend on a logo, consider this:
What is it worth to your company to develop a brand that accurately portrays your value and purpose?
What is it worth to have a unique professional brand that is as distinctive as you are?
What are you willing to invest in a brand that will provide income for you and your family for years and years to come?
Or, what are you willing to spend in a couple of years to start over, and build your brand with a solid foundation?
A wise man once told me, "Cheap is dear in the end." Translation- you always get what you pay for.
About the Author
Stacey Harrison is the lead brand strategist and designer at Harrison Creative Group and has provided creative direction for healthcare, industrial, and financial services brands for 20 years. She started Harrison Creative Group in 2017 to serve businesses that need a professional brand image on a budget.