Should Branding Cost, and Why?

Let me start by saying, there is no hard and fast rule to what design should or shouldn’t cost, other than not a $100. There are LOADS of things that factor in… so let me break the ones down that I see come up often:

How well the person knows their business.

I want to start with this one because in my mind, this can be a huge point of difference. There are many designers that are under selling themselves. They haven’t done their research and “crunched the numbers” to know exactly how much money they need to have coming in and going out to stay afloat. It pains me to say I especially see this in female designers. I find they often under sell themselves mainly out of habit and whole heap of other problems society has placed on them to believe they are only worth a number that is unsustainable…

This also goes the other way. Companies that know their target market (The person they’re trying to sell to), have a unique product, know the rate they need to charge to not only operate, but pay themselves at the end of the day, you’ll find them starting in the $1000+ range.

This is where my company sits. I have calculated out (as should every business owner) exactly how much it costs to run my company including overhead (rent, bills, software, equipment, marketing, etc), average time spent on the project, cost of employees, insurance and being able to pay myself. This is how I’ve priced my packages. Anything less and I wouldn’t be able to have a viable business and unfortunately, the latter of these two types of businesses will find that out the hard way.

Education and Experience

It’s no secret I am NOT a fan of Fiverr, 99Designs, etc. More than anything it’s because it makes a mockery of the industry. Not ALWAYS, but many times those designers have no actual experience or education in design. They’ve downloaded Illustrator, played around, watched some Youtube videos and BAM! they’ve decided they’re good enough to make a living from it.

I have a 6 year, $150k+ Bachelors degrees from DePaul University and Columbia College in psychology and photography, both of which have significant impact on my work. I have a Certificate IV from Shillington College in graphic design and have been running my business for 2 years, with countless hours designing brands. I worked hard for this. There are hundreds of designers with this similar long-haul story, and that’s why they can charge more than $100. We know what we’re doing because we’ve put our time, our money, our lives into this. We charge accordingly. You’d never ask your doctor for a discount and you’d be worried if they only charged you a $100 for your operation, think of us the same.

What’s being offered.

It’s really important to weigh up what you’re getting and if it fits your needs. AT MINIMUM your take away from the project should be a logo and a branding board or really, no matter the cost, you’re at a loss. (See past posts on branding boards: http://hardcopycartel.com.au/branding-boards/) Ideally though, you should be getting a logo, submark, branding board, business card, and email signature. You should also expect at least 2-3 concepts with a minimum of 3 changes, 5 max. (People think they want unlimited, but unlimited is over whelming. You hear unlimited and your brain will always be telling you “but what if you tried this font or this or this…” and it can go on forever. Limits are good for you. It stops your brain from fooling you into thinking it could always be better.) You should expect a starting price point of minimum of $1000, but max $5000 but that’s if they’re well known, have awards, well established, and/or have a very special skill set.

You might be thinking “but I want this really simple…” Nope. It’s never as simple as it seems. If at the end of the experience you get a design you love, in a timely fashion and you have those basics you need to get rolling, then it’s worth every penny. Keep in mind though, if you’re being offered the moon and stars for the price of a flat white, strap in because it’s going to be a hell of a frustrating, time-consuming ride. And if you’re offered a logo in exchange for your first born, it better come with a house of gold.

What’s going on behind the scenes

After your designer gets the brief from you (a detailed understanding of what you want), they do research. They’ll look at designs similar to what you’re looking for, they’ll research symbolism and meaning, colours and meaning, fonts and if they’re fitting… they’ll make mood boards (putting images together to get an over all feel) of fonts, colours, the feel of you, the feel of your ideal client, the feel of your business etc. All this of course takes time and is factored into the price, but isn’t something that’s ever shown and talked about directly to you. That though, is where the magic is happening and is a crucial, but timely/costly, step that you absolutely want to happen.

Conclusion

At the end of the day, designers are running a business, so it should be expected to cost accordingly. Designers should be respected and thought of as highly as your accountant, lawyer, business advisor… At the same time though, designers should respect the client and price what they know to be true and fair. Them’s the rules (my rules anyway 🙂 )

Here’s a meme that likes to make its rounds on the interweb that feels fitting for this post: