The Elusive Sasquatch
Hey. Can you do something for me real quick? Open up another window. Then go to Google. Type in "How much do I charge". Auto-complete will do its thing and start returning the top searches as you type. Wait, what's the second one say? Well odds are you haven't actually done it, so I'll just tell you. It says "How much do I charge for a logo". And why does it come up with that? Because it's one of those questions that no one can seem to give a straight answer to, like "where do crop circles come from?" or "What happened to the Mayans".
When I started working out my pricing structure I did tons of research. It was all over the place. I found good designers who were selling themselves short. I found subpar designers who were charging a minimum price that was 3-4 times what their work was actually worth. I found some so-called "designers" who mass-produce rubbish and charge you next to nothing for it...which is still too much. And I found some who just seemed to get everything right. And from all that I worked out that neither hourly or fixed pricing work for me. No two design projects are alike, so why price them that way?
The reason pricing for design is so difficult is because so many people don't actually know what's involved. Take this one for example; the new logo for the World Trade Center. You might like it. You might hate it. You might look at it and say, "I could do that"...but could you really? For as simple as this logo looks, it's actually packed with symbolism and took quite a lot of research, thought and planning to produce. It has what every good logo should have; personal meaning. Having said that, it also was part of a branding package that cost over $3.5 million. That seems a bit excessive.
A lot of folks think "draw a pretty picture, add some text, voila!". They don't see the research, the brainstorming, the concept development, the design rendering, the licensing, or anything else that's involved behind the scenes. They also don't take into account that a good designer will set them up with everything they need for future use rather than just emailing them a JPG and leaving it at that. When it's all said and done, that's a lot of time. How much would you charge for that much time if it was your business? I can guarantee it wouldn't be $100.
So, since I've been thinking about this topic, I've decided to do some work on the site this week that will help give people a better idea of what to expect in terms of cost and the design process in general. I know I hate going to a site and seeing a "Contact us now for a price!" button rather than just being able to see how much the damn thing costs (yes, I'm looking at you, Harvey Norman). So I figured I should have something on here so I don't contribute to the problem. Hopefully it helps.
Unfortunately, there will always be those think think they should be able to pay next to nothing for good design work. So if you are one of those people, then I hope the visual aid below helps soften the blow of harsh reality.