It is common practice when first entering the design world to take on small freelance projects for both experience and money. This is a good thing. The need to hone your design skills does not end upon graduation, and higher education being the the financial crushing nightmare it is, making some extra cash to pay off debt is always a plus. Not to mention most employers want to see proof of your skills when deciding whether or not to hire you. Constant work, whether for profit or of your own enjoyment, is vital.
But what happens when your expertise and skill begin to increase but the rate your freelance customers want to pay do not? Taking those freelance jobs can take a good chunk out of your school debt but they can also take a good chunk of your free time. Inevitably there will come a time when you will have to decide between taking any job you can get to pay the bills and denying some of those jobs in order to honor your self worth.
Customers (especially of start-ups and small businesses) often tend to miss the value in creativity. Art is subjective, right? So how much strategy could be behind something pretty like a logo design or business cards? The answer, as you already know, is plenty! The trick is proving that to them. What’s the difference between a $200 logo and a $1,500 logo? This is an argument you will have to be ready for.
So here it is:
A logo is a customer’s first introduction to your brand. You know the phrase, “Start with your best foot forward”? Well, a logo is an outsider’s first impression of who they are. It is the face of the brand. And while people might not interpret a logo as anything other than, “pretty”, remember, professional designers are trained to communicate messages visually, not just esthetically, but strategically.
Logos need to make a lasting impression and need to be immediately recognizable. These are skills designers gain through education and training. This expertise is worth paying for, and anyone who charges $200 for that expertise is indeed lacking it.
Presumably, your client has started their brand because they offer a service that others need. It is also safe to assume that they believe they are more qualified to provide that service as they have had more experience, training, etc. than others around them. Well, that mentality applies to you as well. Only your expertise is to convey that message for them. Beauty may be in the eye of the beholder but designers know the specifics of what makes something aesthetically appealing. While the average person may not be able to explain fully why something is tacky, they know it when they see it. If they see it in a your client’s logo, they’re not likely to stick around long enough to test their service or product.
If good taste in design still doesn’t make those dollar signs seem worth it to your client, remind them what they are really investing in; legality and longevity. Professional designers get paid for spending many hours on a logo for a reason. It takes time to research, experiment, and create something truly original. Don’t think that matters in the long run? It will when another designer or company sues you for copying their own design or logo.
A logo needs to fit everywhere. Your client may have business cards, letterhead and even a website in mind, but they can’t deny their goal is for their business to last many years to come. This means there will be many new places they will at some point want their logo to live. It needs to work on signage, in black and white (on occasions where your full-color logo is not an option), on a new and improved website (trust me, it will happen), t-shirts, bags…seriously, everywhere. Remind your client that a well trained designer knows this and looks at the countless possibilities when designing their logo.
Lastly, their logo needs to be timeless. Trends come and go. Paying less for a logo does no good if it looks dated in a few short years because they went with a trendy font or layout that every design student was playing with at the time. A seasoned designer knows what styles will hold up over time as well as what will get the attention of their core audience.
At the end of the day, you as a designer, have to decide what you are worth, and be strong enough to stand your ground. With 4 years or more of education and a few years of work experience under your belt, is getting paid $200 for a logo design really worth it to you? It may be, but if it’s not, defend your worth. You earned it.