First, let’s actually step into your client's shoes and look from their perspective and think about why they buy logos.
1. Why clients buy logos?
Think about WHY does your potential client need a custom logo in the first place?
It may sound like a trivial question to you, but believe me, the answer is very important when you talk about money.
And the answers will vary, because there are different businesses out there and at different stages.
But what’s common for all clients is that they don’t just want a new logo.
What clients really want is what the new logo will do for their business.
So that's why it's important to uncover their objectives, their business problems, or desires of where they want to be.
You will be able to use that later on during the money conversation with your client—that way you articulate the value that the new logo will bring to their business (so they can justify the price to themselves).
So forget about explaining how long it takes, or how much effort you put into crafting your awesome designs—they couldn't care less.
You need to understand that businesses simply face different challenges that they hope this new branding will help them overcome.
Obviously, all clients need a new logo and identity, because they want to establish a presence for their brand—that's pretty clear.
However, there are also other underlying business reasons or marketing objectives that you need to uncover here.
Why do clients buy logos:
Establish a presence
Reposition the brand
Attract new customers
Clients usually want to either validate their idea and get funded or they simply want to grow their business and get to the next level.
For example: There could be a startup out there that needs to get off the ground.
Their objective could be to present their business idea to investorsand raise money.
Or maybe there is an existingbusiness, but their branding sucks—so they need to rebrand in order to convert better.
Or perhaps they're looking to reposition their brand in order to attract new customers.
Or maybe they want to optimize their marketing to get a better return on the investment.
As you can see, there are various reasons why clients buy new logos.
That's why a new logo for one client can be much more valuable than for the other.
On one end of the spectrum, you have established businesses, and perhaps they have a lot of marketing materials that will need to be replaced.
If they go through a rebrand, then they will have to update all of their marketing materials.
This can includeprinted collaterals like business cards, stationery, catalogs and other documents, as well as signage or packaging.
It can also include digital media like their website, social media, business templates, or basically everything the new logo will be placed on.
That's why there is potentially a big risk for them, because if something goes wrong, then they can lose a lot of money or at least time, and in business time is money.
For example: Tropicana paid a total of $35M for rebrand, and then they lost $20M in sales before they decided to go back to the old logo and packaging. The change was too drastic, people couldn‘t find Tropicana in the stores.
That’s why established companies will look for reputable agencies or expert designers because they can’t afford making mistakes.
That’s why they will want to hire someone with a proven track record and a great portfolio.
A designer or an agency that appears as the best fit, someone that they believe can actually do the job and help them succeed.
On the other hand, if you have small businesses, a mom & pop kind of operation asking for a custom logo.
If you look from their perspective, they don’t have much to lose so the value of getting their logo and identity is not so great.
Yes—they may love your great design taste, your style or aesthetics, but most likely they won’t have much to spend on a new logo either way.
This is because they know that if something goes wrong, then they can probably just give it another try with a different designer—no big deal.
For these type of clients, the risk is smaller, so they’re more likely to shop around for the cheapest price.
2. How clients choose a designer?
As you already know, there are differenttypes of clients with businesses and at different stages.
But what’s common for all clients is that they're looking for certain characteristics in a designer or a design agency.
So no matter the size or the stage of the business, every client wants to see certain things before they can make a hiring decision.
What clients look for in a designer:
Fast turnaround time
If you have a nice portfolio, or you were recommended by someone—you'll be the top of mind for them.
If you have a certain industry expertise, or have certain design aesthetics they're looking for—they willsee you as a good fit.
In general, clients also often look for fast turnaround times and good communication skills in any designer or design agency.
Most clients will also be looking for the best value-to-price ratio or at least reasonable price (a price they can justify in their mind).
Now, if you really want to charge fair prices for your logo design work, then you must start looking for clients who can actually afford you.
That's why I would recommend you to get off websites like Fiverrand99designs, because the clients who go there are not the clients who will value your work.
These are usually small business owners who just want to get things done fast and cheap.
So instead, I'd recommend you start off by building a solid portfolio on websites like Behance and Dribbble.
Then, engage with clients who already have an establishedbusiness that makes money, or at least they’ve raised some money.
People who are serious about their business and understand the value of getting a quality logo and identity.
Because if they don’t, then good luck charging even fair prices for your work.
Just remember, the project must be important to your client and they need to see the value in what this new logo and identity can do for them.
So the trick is to focus on talking about solving your clients' business problems, or getting them where they want to be.
Or on the opposite, you can talk about avoiding mistakes or potential pitfalls they’ll run into if they choose to work with an amateur.
They simply must see the value of working with you—you need to portray yourself as the best fit or the least risky option.
3. Determine your minimum rate
We’ve gone over why clients buy logos and how they choose a designer.
Let’s discuss what you need, because I’m sure that as a designer you have some expectations as to how much you would like to get paid for your logo design work, right?
So stop pricing your logo designs just based on your gut feeling and then lowering the price as soon as the client says “it’s too much”.
And start by figuring out what the number is you absolutely, positively won't go below.
Do some math, and find out how much money you have to make each month in order to cover your bills.
And not only that, but you'll also want to make a profit, right?
What I mean is that you need to cover all of your expenses, cost of living, mortgage, rent, electricity bill, phone bill, etc.
Also, all the subscriptions like Adobe CC and so on, your food and medicalexpenses—just add it all up and figure out your number.
And then with that, determine how long each project usually takes you to complete.
For example, I live in Brooklyn, New York, and it’s pretty expensive out here, so I need to make at least $12k a month, and the identity projects I work on usually take at least a month to complete.
We always start with the strategy the first week, and then we sketch and design logo concepts next week.
Then, in the third week, we put together a brand identity presentation and perhaps we do some revisions afterwards.
And then in the 4th week, we deliver the logo package together with other assets like illustrations or icons, plus of course the style guide.
So the types of logo design projects that I work on usually take a month to complete, from start to finish.
Obviously, I can’t take on projects for less than $12k because it wouldn’t make sense for me financially.
That's why my minimum level of engagement for logo design projects is $12k, but it doesn’t mean I always charge only $12k.
Matter of fact, I will want to charge as much as I can (value-based pricing).
My minimum rate is just there to remind me that I can't take on projects for less than that $12k, no matter what.
Once you have your number figured out, then let's talk about different pricing models.
4. Choose your pricing model
Basically, there are two pricing models: either charging for time or for deliverables.
Since logo design is a service, you can charge per time just like any other service provider would, right?
Think about dentists or lawyers, for example—they charge an hourly rate or a monthly retainer, and you can do that too.
You can give your clients your hourly rate or a daily rate, but there’s a problem with that.
This is because charging by the hour or by the day will penalize you for being efficient.
What if you have a lot of experience in designing logos and you work way faster than a regular designer?
In this case, why would you want to charge for your time when you can charge for the deliverables?
That's why another, and perhaps better option for you, is to charge a flat rate per project with clearly defined deliverables.
This option is not ideal either, as clients tend to abuse young designers that work on a flat rate basis.
Designer who don't know how to handle clients who ask for endless revisions or extra deliverables (without revising the quote).
That's why you need to protect yourself and define the scope of work properly—specify what is and what is not included in that flat rate.
Do they really need just a new logo or maybe what they really need is a full brand identity system that comes with a style guide?
How many concepts will you present them with and how many revisions are included in the price?
Logo design projects can be unexpected—clients often say:
"I just need a new logo".
But then, during the process, all of a sudden they realize that they need much more than "just a logo".
They usually also need brand guidelines describing how to use that logo, brand colors and typefaces.
And perhaps they would benefit from some other extra graphics and visuals like brand illustrations, or icons for example.
So that’s why it’s better for both the designer and the client to figure out the scope of work first, and then put a number on the deliverables.
That way, you’re not getting punished for being efficient like you would if you charged for time.
However, another option is a combination of both.
For example, I usually start with a paid discovery session that costs $2,950 and takes a week.
I productized my workshop—you can buy it on my website.
Then after the workshop, I usually create a proposal with 3 fixed price packages—if this is a bigger client.
But if it’s a small business or startup, then I keep them on that $2,950 per week retainer (my minimum).