This is the most common question a brand designer gets asked, because money is often the most important factor when a business decides they need a new logo and in desperate need of a logo designer. And I have to inform you from the start, I will not be able to give you a concrete amount of money you SHOULD spend on a logo design. But don’t click away! What you can get is an understanding of why there’s such a wide range of pricing for logos, and how to determine where on the scale you should land. So grab a notebook and pencil and get ready to dive into the world of logos, designers, and prices.
You are the X factor.
Most people believe that the price they should pay for a logo design will depend on the who they hire. And it’s absolutely true that different designers charge different prices. Like any trade, you wouldn’t expect a novice to be charging as much as an expert with 20+ years of experience. But even if you compare designers with similar experience or skill, you’ll still find a range of prices. There’s no industry standard pricing structure for logos. All you can hope for are some broad ranges.
Which is why I can confidently say, you are the x factor of the equation. How much a logo should cost depends on you, the client. But before that can be fully explained, we need to agree on what a logo is and what it does.
A logo is an identifier.
At its most basic form, a logo is a mark that identifies your company. It tells people that something belongs to you, that it’s a part of your business. But it’s also much more complicated than that, if it’s done well. A logo should convey something about your brand. It should tell them what to expect. And not in a loud, shouting way, but rather a subtle way that the casual viewer might not even realize.
For example, the Toys ‘R’ Us logo identifies the company. But that could’ve been done by typing out the name in Times New Romans and slapped it on their storefronts and merchandise. And then whoever passes by knows that the store and the things in it belong to Toys ‘R’ Us.
But nothing about Times New Romans looks like it belongs to a kids’ toy store. Which is why a logo needs to do more than just claim ownership of something. So by making the letters fun, unique, and colorful, it’s telling people that they can expect a kid-related store.
This is why the design of a logo is important. Whether it’s a wordmark or an icon, the look of your logo should speak to your brand, or the feeling you want people to associate with your company.
There’s books upon books of how a logo is effective in this way, but that’s for the designer to worry about, and that’s why you’re paying them! So for all intents and purposes, we just needed to be on the same page about what a logo is so we can figure out how much a logo costs.
It matters how much a logo matters to you!
So back to why you’re the X factor of logo pricing. If you believe that a good logo won’t improve your company that much, or it won’t help you at all, then a logo costs $0 in your mind. There’s no value to you. But if you believe that a good logo design will set you apart from your competitors and drive more customers to you, then a logo could easily cost $50,000 to you in increased revenue!
This is why there’s such a range for the cost of a logo. Some people put a $5 value on a logo because they don’t believe logos matter much. But a business like Pepsi put a $1,000,000 value on their logo when they underwent a redesign. So it depends on the client to determine how much a logo should cost.
Could a logo have a lot of value?
You’re probably asking yourself, “how much value should I put on a logo then?” It depends on your knowledge of what a logo does, how branding works, different marketing strategies, and more. Before you start panicking about having to do a deep dive into a whole industry, don’t worry! You really just need some cliff notes. At the end of this post, you’ll find some links to additional articles about logo design and branding.
But for now, you can just take my word that a logo can have a ton of value for any sized business, and at the very least, it’s not something that you can afford to ignore. A good way to determine how much value you should attribute to a logo is the stage of growth your business is in. By breaking that down, you can get a sense of what budget you should be setting for hiring a logo designer.
The Startup – If you are in the fresh stages of launching a company, one of the first things that will make you feel legit is getting a logo design. It’s what you’ll share with friends and family to signify that you mean business. But for most startups, funds are limited, and it’s hard to justify spending a large amount of money on a logo. Especially since success isn’t guaranteed, and money is usually better spent on other resources. So spending under $100 isn’t insane or foolish, it could actually be a smart move. Now, it’s important to clarify that you won’t be getting a good logo design for $100. (And to better understand what a good logo is, check out this article!) But you’ll have something to suffice until your company grows to a stage that warrants investing more in an effective, quality logo. If you already are sold on the value of branding and have faith in the success of your startup, it could be well worth investing more money into your logo from the start, because it could save you money having to “rebrand” down the road and you’ll receive the benefits of looking professional from the start.
The Mom & Pop – This is the company that has been around for a while. You might only have two full-time employees, but you’ve proven that the company is stable. At this stage, you’ll be outgrowing the DIY or dirt cheap logo design that you’ve had since the beginning. Now is when you’ll especially have great benefits from a logo that makes you look legitimate, because you are! Expect to spend $900-$3,000. This will get you a logo designer that has been around the block and know what they’re doing. You won’t risk getting stolen work, like at the places that offer logos for $10. The logo should be custom-made specifically for you, not some generic template that a designer drops your name into. You’ll really just get the logo, probably not a full identity system, but it’ll still be a step up from where you were.
The Branded Business – When you start caring about your brand, you’re moving into the bigger leagues. Your company is steadily growing, but the roadblock is your brand. A brand is the feeling or promise people associate with your company. So every business has a brand, but not every business controls their brand. When you realize that you aren’t controlling your brand, you’ll be ready to invest some serious funds into your company’s look, feel, and voice. And the return on that investment can be massive. (Check out this article on brand positioning to get an idea of that return!) You won’t be looking for someone who’s just cranked out a few logo designs, you’re looking for a designer or agency who has in-depth knowledge on branding, strategy, identity design, logo design, copywriting, and more. For a visual identity, expect to pay at least $5,000. For a full-blown brand rehaul, it’s easily starting at $10,000, depending on all the deliverables.
The Franchise – This is when you start wondering if you’re really considered a “small” business. You could have multiple locations, or a large amount of employees on your payroll. You’re very well-established and have had steady growth for years. At this point, if you’re looking for a logo designer, you’re looking to undergo a “rebrand.” That’s a little different than a small business tossing out their DIY logo design for something more serious. You have a logo that people associate with your company without being prompted. You probably have that logo on countless uniforms, coffee mugs, business cards, and tradeshow booths. So it’s not just a matter of tossing out an unrecognized logo and replacing it with something better. You’re pivoting the look of your company and you want your loyal customers to follow with you. This requires a lot more research, planning, and stellar execution. There’s also a much higher risk if it goes bad. (Think of GAP’s failed rebrand a few years ago, i.e. a multi-million dollar failure.) If you’re at this stage, the range of pricing you could expect is very wide, starting around $30,000 and ending who-knows-where. It would all depend on the intricacies of your company, the deliverables, the timeline, your location, your market, and the agency you hire.
* There’s too many variables in each stage to cover, so these ranges should be viewed as a starting place for having a reasonable expectation of how much a logo costs.
But how do designers know what to charge?
While a few designers operate solely on value-based pricing, meaning the quote they provide is heavily based on how much value the client will get out of the project, it’s not a universal thing. Most designers can give at the very least a ballpark figure of how much a logo design would cost for them to create. So how do they come up with that number?
This is important to understand, because while the value you put on a logo should determine which level of investment you should make, you’ll still get a range of prices when you start shopping around for designers. And there has to be a reason some designers independently decide to charge $50 for a logo design and some charge $5,000. So let’s look at a few factors of how designers price their services.
It takes time to make a logo.
The first thing most designers consider when pricing out any project is the time. We simply couldn’t survive if we don’t bring in enough money to cover bills, and the best way to make sure we can do that is by making sure the hours we spend working are being fairly compensated for. This is also a great way to get a read on the quality of the designer you’re hiring.
While logos need to be simple designs to be effective, it doesn’t make them simple to make. In fact, it’s more difficult to make a logo that’s simple than one that is crammed full of detail and information. And it takes time to get the creativity flowing! So, for even the experienced designer, a logo design isn’t a quick project. Therefore, if a designer wants to be fairly compensated for the time spent on designing a logo, they can do some easy math to determine a good price.
Let me pull back the curtain a bit. For one logo, I could expect to spend 10 hours on research, sketching, building the concepts in Adobe Illustrator, rounds of revision, and exporting the final designs into usable files. To compensate for my experience, knowledge, skill, overhead, and paying taxes, I want to make at least $100 per billable hour. (Designers will come to different hourly numbers based on various factors, but you can expect a mid-weight designer to charge between $70-$100, but could be up to $200.) So for a logo design, charging anything less than $1,000 would risk not meeting that hourly rate. And there are additional factors that would add to that price, like the number of concepts provided or the turnaround time.
So for a designer offering a logo for $50, if they value their time, they can’t invest too many hours in making the logo before they end up making mere dollars to the hour. The price that a designer gives you for a logo can tell you how much they value their own skills and experience. And if you want to receive an effective logo, and have a good experience of hiring a designer, it’s best to avoid the low-end of the price scale. You might think it’s the more cost-effective route to hire the lowest charging designer, but 99% of the time, it will end up wasting your time and costing you more in the future.
It takes skill to make a good logo.
If everyone could do it, then you wouldn’t be here wondering how to hire a logo designer! Like any trade, becoming a good logo designer takes time, practice, knowledge, and experience. Someone who is a freshman in design school will not be able to design to the same caliber as someone who has 10 years of experience in the field. And this difference of skill level influences the pricing of a designer’s services.
Having a more experienced designer provides other benefits for you as the client. They are better prepared to guide you and your company through the process of getting a logo design and building a brand. This is factored in when calculating their price, because they are providing more value than just some designs. The best way to understand all the value an experienced designer is offering is by looking through their portfolio, case studies, and any written content like blog posts. This will give you an idea of the level of skill, knowledge, and experience the designer has and can help you in deciding which designer to hire for your project.
So how much should a logo cost?
To sum up what’s been covered, there are two areas to consider when determining your budget for a logo. Evaluate how much value you expect to receive from a logo, and decide what level of designer you are interested in hiring. You’ll also want to decide what kind of deliverables you’re looking for, (i.e. what are the end results of the project.) If you just want a logo design, it will cost less than if you want a full visual identity system. Talking with a designer about your company and your goals can help them guide you in what the best options are.
If you are interested in learning more about logo design, branding, and hiring designers, here’s some other articles to check out: