Clients, friends, and colleagues often ask me how much do I charge for a logo. The answer to that matter, for a lot of people, is the bar to measure my value (or the value of my work and/or agency). So if I say a number that is too high I scare them away or give them the perception that I am being arrogant, but if I price myself too low then they think that I’m not good enough. And these are not even real numbers, but numbers that the receptors have only in their minds based on their company or brand, their budget, and what they think a logo should cost. And if you say a number, then they ask you for the hours: ‘Well, how many hours does it take to draw a logo?’, ‘How much is your hourly rate?’ ‘What if it takes you less time?’. If you work on design or marketing you already know there’s no way hitting the bullseye on this matter, so why keep trying?
I don’t charge for a logo and I'm not saying that you shouldn’t. I don’t charge for the logo because I put so much value on it that if I try to explain why they should pay so much for it, they walk away. They want to know how many hours but the reality is that sometimes a logo can take a couple of minutes and others can take a year. Most marketing agencies will try to sell you a rebranding and change your logo right away because a logo and a visual identity are ‘tangible’ assets that the client can perceive right away. Changing the way your logo looks, your brand colors, and your primary fonts won’t change the course of your business in a dramatic way, I’m sorry to tell you that. And if someone promised you that, well, that isn’t true.
I don’t charge for the logo because for me the logo is the last stage of a larger process that creates a real impact on a business. Before I even draw a line for the logo, create a mock-up or whatever, I dive into the company and the brand from every point of view possible: client, owner, employee, retailers, distributors, manufacturers, etc. I spent time analyzing the product, the way the brand speaks on different channels their tone and voice, study the way the logo touches every ‘asset’ of the company, use the client’s product and their competitors, get obsessed with their competitors as much as my potential client, and once I know the product, the brand, and the people behind it inside out, then I start creating. Creating the logo? Not yet. Creating a strategy. First, do we need a new logo or this is just a whim? Is my client’s money best invested in a new rebrand? Why do I believe that this needs to be done at this stage and not later on? What’s the level of change where my client feels comfortable? How much can we push that? How is the client going to feel about this change? How much is going to cost to reprint and redesign all the materials that the logo touches (letters, envelopes, folders, packaging, website, social media, email headers, etc)? Is it going to be just a facelift of an actual change in the way the brand looks, talks, and connects with its audiences? How risky is it to take this step for the client? And for my agency?
Then I start visualizing the logo on every context company asset. I need to make a logo that works and feels natural in every space. I need the company to take care of this new logo and know how to use it. I can’t expect them to know all this and also I can’t expect them to ask me every time they want to use their logo if they’re doing it right, so I need to give them a document that shows them and teaches them how to use them, but more importantly, so they feel that their logo belongs to them and not to me. This is the logo of your company and this is your holy bible, this is your brand guidelines. We find the issues and how to fix them, we identify the problems in your communication plan and we provide a solution. The logo is just a piece of the puzzle and without the rest is just that, a tiny piece of an image that I can’t see or understand.
Now I have set the ground for me and my team to start with the creative process. We know exactly the company’s goals, their brand’s aspiration, and their audiences; we know exactly the usability expected for this logo and we have set the structure on their brand guidelines, we understand what is at stakes and the risk behind this project. Then, I let my team have fun with it because I know they will do a killer job, that’s why they work with me, they’re the best on what they do and they want to prove it on every project and they received all the information they need to do it.
So I tell my clients that I don’t charge for a logo and sometimes, I even give them a logo for free. You want an image to represent your brand? Here, there you go. Was this the right one? I don’t think so. Is this going to cost you more money in the future and make you generate less revenue in the present? 100%, but this is what you wanted, right? A cheap logo will cost you a lot and it will never represent the brand the way you want it to be. I charge for the research, the strategy, the work put on the brand guidelines, and the designs that come after. I show them why they need all this and not just a logo but an entire brand refreshment and how this is going to create a real impact on their brand and the way it connects with their audiences (employees, costumers, shareholders, etc.) and generate a boost on their numbers because, at the end of the day, that’s what they want to hear. They don’t want to pick the best option or the cheapest one, they want to pick the ones that give them more security, less risk. I can promise that to them and they can trust me now because I explained to them my process and how much value I put on getting it right. They get it. Now I ask them: well how much do you think that your logo is worth?
P.S. If they don’t get it, we are not ready to work together because I can’t work with people that are worried about how much it cost me to do it instead of the value that we’ll provide. And that’s ok. You know your value and you’ll find someone that does it too.