Trusting My Gut

Today I asked a local designer I admire to design a logo for me. We talked about the project, styles, colors, and possible future work I would need once the original design was complete. After about ten or fifteen minutes I asked him for a ballpark estimate of the cost and turnaround time.

Which question do you think he answered first? You guessed it. In about ten days I’ll have some preliminary designs. As for costs…. well that’s a little more complicated. He tried to figure out what kind of client I’d be, while I tried to get him to name his lowest, see-you-around-town rate. When he finally gave me his per hour rate I thought, I can work with that. How long could it take, right? Then he mentioned that will a project like mine he could spend five hours, or he could spend 40. Depending.

Can you say sticker shock?

I have wanted a logo for a while. I want it to be decent, good even. First, I enlisted the help of two different friends, who happen to be graphic artists. All I have to show for it is one not-even-close design and a couple of people who don’t return my messages. I offered to pay, really I did. I even said, give me a ballpark. Then I signed up for a couple of crowd-sourcing design sites. The first one never could validate my membership. The second had prices near what I’ll be paying for what I perceive to be a more personal approach.

So I told this real designer – this professional – that I would definitely have to stay in the five hour zone. I felt a little sick even at the thought of this, but I figured I could always call him back later and back out if I couldn’t keep down my evening meal. But I’m okay. I feel better already. What I’m going to pay him is nothing compared to the peace of mind knowing that in a couple of weeks I’ll be smooth, logo-ed writing machine.

You get what you pay for. Let’s hope.

  • Ryan

    Have you considered running a contest over at SitePoint? You set your price and then let designers from all over the world compete. I’ve found that it is almost always the best way to go.

  • Hiring “by the hour” work, especially creative work, can be mysterious. However, you are in control of a lot of that cost. It largely depends on how clear of an idea you have to start and how much a pain in the ass you are during the process. It reminds me of the old mechanic’s sign that says, “Labor rate: $20/hour If you help: $40/hour”.

  • Greg Morse

    I’ve always wanted to try I was very impressed by the business model and the services they offer. I haven’t personally tried them though.

  • Here is a logo design service that I have had success with.

    Also, I would try your friends again.

  • Drea

    I had a nightmare experience with a web designer. She got all her money, but refused to do any revisions because she said I was marring her artistic integrity–even though it was MY site. I think clear expectations and reviewing every scenario in advance helps. Do we get to see your awesome logo once it’s done?

  • Coming from another Graphic Designer they should be able to give you a more accurate estimate than that. I do logos for a flat fee. That doesn’t mean they are cheap b/c they are not…but I know about how long it takes me to put together a logo because I’ve been doing it long enough.
    “Design Contests” are a joke!! They don’t care about your business, there is no personal touch, and you’re going to end up with some $25 piece that any 2nd year design student could put together. The same is true with any of these “online design teams” they’re not going to take the time to find out what you want and what is best for the market that you’re in. They’re going to say “Oh, you want a pink bunny next to a blue tree?” perfect here you go.
    This is your logo! The heart and soul of your business! The first thing that anyone doing business with you is going to see. And it’s going to last for years. Don’t be cheap! Take pride in your business and have pride in the “Brand” that you’ve spent so much time and effort developing!

  • William Bingham

    Cheaping out on your logo is a BAD idea. A logo is much like buying a house. You are going to live with it for a long time, it may even outlast your brand itself. Coca Cola did the right thing. The whole company was design based. Don’t trust it to a friend, don’t take the low ball. Get a REAL marketing firm who won’t give you a price for a piece, but wants your business for life, and has staff designers to do the grunt thumbnailing and research to determine how to present you best. It’s not trial and error. But it’s not a science either. Finding someone who knows how to create an element which says the right things and endears itself to a market, is not cheap or easy.


  • While logo design is incredibly important for any business, it’s also important to work within your budget. There are several great options available for small businesses that are looking for an updated, professional logo that communicates something about their business.

    I think it’s really important to find someone who has a style you love, or is flexible enough to go back as many times as it takes to get it right. If they use a style guide and ask lots of questions to determine the look you’re after, then you’re headed in the right direction.

    As for pricing, this can vary greatly. A lot of designers charge hourly, but just as many offer fixed rates for their work. I charge a flat rate of $1250 for an original logo design. I offer clients unlimited revisions based on an initial 6-10 concepts. We talk about the design styles they like and don’t like, and then 2-3 days later I provide several initial concepts for review. Then we talk some more about what’s been created, and we move forward from there. I have had clients fall in love with the first versions, and had some go back 8-10 times to get it just right.

    It just a matter of what works best for the individual client. I’ve been able to do this by refining the process down to a point so that communicating ideas about style is much easier than before. It really just comes down to someone who can listen, and then take your ideas and create something that you love.

  • Thanks everyone! Who knew the topic of logos would spark such conversation. I’ll be sure and keep you posted on my progress. Wish me luck!

  • As I designer, I can tell you it really does vary that much in terms of time for projects. One of the most critical factors is how much you want changed/revised. Usually, we estimate for a couple of revisions–if you like the first copy, then the price will be much lower (5 hours), but if you and the designer just aren’t meshing, then the price can rise exponentially as you go through revision after revision.

    Also, be sure that you get *vector* or editable work as the deliverable. This always frees you to have another designer make any adjustments down the line.

  • PS

    Its funny to me to hear people in one line of work speak so cluelessly about another.

    What’s not funny, Lela, is that the blame lies on both parties in this ‘logo’ transaction.

    The role of a good designer is to educate a client about what they are getting into. Not simply name a price, and be haggled with.

    The role of a good client is to be proactively involved in the situation.

    You think you just want a logo. A little colorful thingy next to your business name. You should be more interested in the value of your business offering, your position in the marketplace and how this colorful thingy will help any of that.

    Then you can put some value on this logo of yours.

    If you don’t at least do this you will find you are guaranteed to get what you pay for, but not what you had hoped for.

  • Hi Lela,

    I’ve found out about a new service that has a very unique approach to design (including logos). It’s called – I’m planning on doing a mention of them in a vlog I’m working on for my site. It’s one of the better ideas I’ve seen come down the web 2.0 pike and addresses a lot of the guesswork we have when working with a single designer. Specifically you see the submitted designs before paying your money and you alone set the dollar amount you want to pay. – Julian