Pricing a logo
This logo information page was inspired by the absolute confusion I see when it comes to online logo creation. I've searched dozens of logo web pages and have found that there is no consistency and more confusion than information. This page is strictly about the creation of the logo alone, no stationary package or implementation guidelines would be included.
I feel the price of a logo should be based on three criteria:
- Experience of the logo designer
- Size & budget of the company using the logo
- Scope and length of the logo usage
I use the three criteria above assuming that the logo design is a standard type of logo. One other factor might come into play if a client were to request a very detailed and complicated logo design that bordered on being a technical illustration. You would have to factor in the extra time to create this type of design.
Below are my further thoughts on the subject and a guide as to what you should look for in an online logo designer.
Cheap logo design
They're all over the Internet - logo designs under $150! I've seen $99 logo designs, $75 logo designs, $49 logo designs and even lower! You will easily find a wide range of prices for logo design on the Internet.
Be careful of cheap logo design offers, some designers may use clip art. A logo design that includes a royalty free piece of clip art cannot be copyrighted. Any company in the world could use the same piece of clip art as part of their logo design. Be sure and check out the designers portfolio. At $49 each, do their logos all look the same? Do 80% of them have block lettering and a swoosh?
Some logo designers charge one flat fee for a logo with no questions asked. Can you imagine Pepsi purchasing a logo design for $99? What a deal! Or how about Bob's bait shop paying $750 for a logo. There goes the budget! All companies are not equal in size, budget and scope.
The confusion doesn't stop there. Some logo designers charge additional costs for extra colors, extra modifications and extra preliminary designs. You have to get your calculator out just to figure the final cost of your logo. Do you really know what you are paying for?
How much is a logo really worth?
How much is a logo design really worth? Ask Coca-Cola, Polo, Nike, The Hard Rock Cafe, Hallmark or any other company that relies on their logo as their number one spokesman. Not every company is as large as these but every company should have a logo that is easy to identify and stands for the integrity of that business.
A logo design is more valuable to a company than a single spot illustration. An illustration is normally used once or used for a limited campaign, whereas a logo is used for years and is placed on business cards, letterheads, envelopes, web sites, vehicles, buildings and products. Do you see the difference in value to a company? A logo has more value than just the hours spent on creating it. It becomes the companies identity.
With that said, shouldn't a logo be worth more than just the time involved in creating it? Professional graphic design rates average anywhere from $30 to $75 per hour. If you see a logo design priced at $125 and that designer charges $50 per hour for design work, do you assume that they spent 2.5 hours on your logo? That price would include the time spent to contact you, the research done on your company and competition, the preliminary ideas, the changes, the finalizing of the logo, the file prep for each different format, sending the logo, billing and allowing you to have all rights to the design. So how much time was actually spent creating your logo?
My conclusion is that a logo is much more valuable to a company than a standard illustration so the price should reflect the added value. Many professional graphic designers would be hard pressed to create a top notch illustration for under $150 let alone a creative, well designed logo. So beware of logos priced under $150, you may get what you pay for.
I personally do not believe that the cost of a professionally priced logo design should be influenced by the list below. These factors are a part of logo design and should be kept under control by the logo designer.
Logo Modifications - If a logo designer asks the right questions, does the research and stays in close communication with the client there should be no need for major changes during the creation of a logo design. Be a good communicator and explain to the logo designer exactly what you want your logo to be saying about your business.
Do be aware though, that there will be those clients that will pick, pick and pick at the design. As a logo designer I do sometimes see the need to limit modifications but it will all even out in the long run. Some clients will need zero changes while others may request ten.
Extra Colors - Printers charge more for extra colors. If a logo designer charges more for a two color logo than they do for a three color logo, get a detailed explanation as to why. It only takes the click of a mouse to add an extra color.
Preliminary Designs - A few choices is good, to many choices is overkill. A logo designer should be able to decide for you the correct amount of preliminary designs it will require to create your perfect logo. Be leary of eight, ten and more initial designs. How much time could actually be spent on each design? If you don't like your first two or three designs you can easily request two or three more.
If you are on a committe or a board, I assure you, you do not want to present ten logos to ten different people. You may never get down to a winning design.
If you need an additional presentation of logos due to a complete change in direction on your part, you should be charged an extra fee. An example would be asking for a yellow duck logo design and changing your mind to a red dog design once the logos are presented to you.
Adding an identity program to your logo is a legitimate cost. Designing the business card, letterhead and envelope layouts are normally a higher priced package. You should receive camera ready files for each design.
A fair logo price
There is a standard reference for pricing graphic design and corporate identity projects. It is Pricing and Ethical Guidelines, published by the Graphic Artists Guild. Any logo designer can purchase the book. A professional graphic designer would have a tough time supporting a family and a studio designing all of their logos below $200.
I'm not going to give exact prices for a logo design because each logo designers circumstances are different. Amateur logo designers charge much less to get their feet wet, but they should slowly increase their rates as they gain experience and creativity.
The standard logo design rates are based on two major components, company size and application or distribution size. The majority of logo designs created over the Internet are created for small companies and individuals with limited application and distribution uses. Fortune 500 companies normally pay much higher logo design rates and use advertising agencies.
An individual or small company with small to average uses should be prepared to pay anywhere from $300 to $1500 for a top quality, professional logo design.
If you have a small budget but like a more professional logo designer with higher logo rates, try to negotiate a better deal. Explain that you are a start up company or that you cannot pay the full amount until a later date.
Providing an exact idea of your logo with sketches might also save you a little money. If you can help the designer save time, you may be able to save money. A very simple text only logo might also be negotiated for a lower price.
If you have the budget and you like the logo designer, pay the going rate. Logo designers rely on top paying clients to make a living. Once established, a logo designer can then begin to negotiate and help smaller mom and pop businesses.
What's included with your logo?
The worst part of paying for a cheap logo is finding out that you were not sent the correct file formats for printing and web. You will then have to pay another graphic designer or printer to create the correct files. Be aware of what file types you will be needing and ask your logo designer what file types are included in their price.
The most common file types needed are AI (Illustrator) and EPS for most professional print jobs. These are vector format files. These files should be in a CMYK color format. Vector art allows you to reduce or enlarge a design to ANY size without losing detail or clarity.
For home use and some print jobs you will need TIFF and BMP files. These are pixel files and should have a DPI (dots per inch) of at least 300 dpi. 600-1200 dpi is best for professional printing. These type of files lose their detail when enlarged but can be reduced.
The last file types you will need would be JPEG and GIF. These are pixel files and are used for web design. They should be in a RGB color format. Be aware that not all colors translate well on the Internet, especially GIF files. Ask if the logo designer used web safe colors. You should receive crisp 72 dpi files for the Internet. A GIF file should be transparent if you do not want a white box around it when displayed on your page.
Be sure and ask your logo designer about your logo colors. Ask them for the Pantone PMS color numbers for each color. You will need this information each time your logo is printed. This insures that you get the exact same colors with every printer that you use.
Will you get your files over the Internet or will you receive a CD? Try to get a CD, it is much easier to take that to your local printer. Ask your designer how long they keep your logo on file in case you lose your versions later down the road.
You should also receive all rights (copyrights) to your logo. Since a logo is a companies identity you will need to own all rights to get a trademark. Ask for this in writing if you have any doubts. When it comes to a cartoon or character logo some designers might negotiate fewer rights or usage's to your logo to help save you money. You can renegotiate all rights and usage's at a later date when you can financially afford it.
Ask for the background on the logo designer you choose, you should at the very least know their name. Do they have a degree? How long have they designed logos? Is this their profession or a hobby? Where is there portfolio? Can you contact their other clients? Can you speak to them directly? With the amount of software available today and the invention of the Internet, any sixteen year old kid can start his own logo design company.
In closing let me say that the information above is my own personal opinion and is taken from years of searching logo design web sites and reading books on graphic design. Some logo designers will disagree with my thoughts, especially the $49 logo designers. The prices and information I have explained here only pertain to the work of graphic designers, not advertising agencies. An advertising agency handles logo design on a larger scale and incorporates an entire corporate identity service. Their logo design rates are many times higher than a graphic designers.
Curtis D. Tucker
Cartoon Logo Designer