The Ultimate Logo Design Cost Guide

January 3, 2018

Ah, the age old question of logo costs. Logos are a vital element of your brand identity and are usually the most prominent part of it.

They’re the culmination of everything about your brand. It’s personality, values and tone. Colours, fonts, shapes, space and psychology all combine to visually represent everything about your brand in a quarter inch of space.

That takes skill. That takes effort. That costs money.

But how much?

By the end of this article, you’ll know all of the options available to you for getting a logo created, what they involve, when best to use them (or not!) and to satisfy the entire point of this piece – how much each option can cost!

The problem of choice

The problem with logo design however, is that there’s almost an infinite number of ways to get one created – all with a completely different cost attached to each.

The top results on Google throw up a huge number of dirt cheap DIY logo generators. Fling $5 at it and it will spit out something it calls a ‘logo’.

Design contest sites range anywhere from $200 to $2000.

Then there are a million and one different freelancers and graphic designers out there that range from $50 to $5000.

And to top it all off, you then get the big design agencies that can go into the tens of thousands!

Talk about confusing the balls off people! No wonder startups end up settling for one of the ‘top’ Google result options or worse yet – doing it themselves! (note. Don’t do that. Please don’t. You’ll thank me in the long run)

So the problem ends up being ‘how much does a logo cost?’, but ‘how much should I pay for a logo?’.

‘What’s the right option for my business?’

Great logo design isn’t done on the cheap

Logos are small right. They look simple enough. Small and simple things are usually cheap – because we all think that we can do them. Because it looks like 10 minutes of work went into it.

We can’t.

It takes years of study and anywhere from 10 to 30 hours to create truly unique, engaging and meaningful logos. There’s an entire process that needs to happen including briefs, proposal, research, idea generation, sketches, feedback, revisions, delivery etc.

A logo isn’t just about design. It’s about a relationship. A complete understanding of everything your business is and does, and how to represent that with flair.

Logo design isn’t an expenditure. It’s an investment.

If you’re like me, your MS Paint skills might be pretty adept at stick figure scenes, but that won’t translate well into a stunning logo for your business (trust me, I’ve tried it).

Online logo generators. Same. There’s no love, care, skill or understanding there.

Great logos don’t come for free (or cheap).

But they don’t have to cost the earth either.

It’s all about choosing the right option for where your business and brand are at.

So, why does the cost vary?

Let’s get into it!

Here are the top 10 things that will affect the cost of your logo design.

1. Brief quality and involvement

Have you given a clear indication of what you want? Will you be on hand throughout every stage of the process to make sure it runs smoothly or more hands-off until the end? Each can have an impact on the length of project.

2. Logo style

Are you looking for a wordmark only, logo icon or a combination of the two?

3. Logo complexity

How intricate do you want it to be? Will it include highly detailed illustration?

4. Urgency

When do you need it? Today, tomorrow, not bothered?

5. Type of designer

Student, freelancer, boutique agency, multinational?

6. Price per hour

Anywhere from $20 – $100.

7. Workload of the designer

Can they fit you in? How much do they really want your work? If they’re stacked, they’ll charge more.

8. Desirability of the designer

If they’re hot and in demand, their prices will reflect that.

9. Location of designer

Those from India are much more likely to charge less than their US or UK counterparts for example.

10. Copyright

The designer will always hold the usage rights to their designs unless they’ve explicitly transferred in over to you. This can double the cost in some cases. But can be worth it. If you’re building to sell your business, you’ll need be able to sell the logo along with it!

Let's have a look at all of the options!

Still it a bit woolly and vague? Still none the wiser?

Yup.

And it’s for this reason that so many people get confused about this!

So let’s make it nice and simple.

Here are all the options you have available to you, how much they roughly cost and when you should ideally be using them at what stage of your business…

You (or a mate) - Free

I really don’t recommend this option, unless you (or your mate) are a well established graphic designer. But as you’re reading this article – I’ll assume you’re not!

You’ll have this ‘great’ idea in your head (which you’ll be blinkered to without any real creative thought based on proven design principles), and you’ll get cracking in Paint or Photoshop. You’ll spend hours fiddling. And it will look like shit.

Please don’t waste your time – there are better ways of using your time for your business. Your time is precious!

Online logo generator / maker - <$50

And we’ll add sites like Fiverr in here, as people on there that offer logo services for under $50 will themselves just be using a logo generator for your project!

You’ll get stock imagery, fonts and icons, that have nothing to do with your brand’s personality or values.

To be honest, it’s slightly worse than doing it yourself as you would have actually spent money on it.

Again, don’t bother. If you’re serious about your brand and business, do it the justice it deserves and don’t go near these.

Offshore freelancer - $100 - $250

If you pay peanuts, you’ll get monkeys.

I think that saying’s pretty apt here.

You’ll be dealing with someone with little to no knowledge or experience with logo design. You’ll get a few generic concepts using stock icons and fonts. You’ll get what you asked for, no what you need!

Also, communication will be difficult, so they won’t be able to truly understand the essence of your brand! How can you expect someone to design something unique, engaging and representative of your brand if they can’t understand what it’s about?

I wouldn’t recommend this option – you’ll get bored and frustrated very quickly.

Design Contest - $100 - $1200

The Marmite of the design world!

Some people swear by them, others hate them with a passion.

I think they have their uses, but they’re far from the ideal.

Hop on to places like 99DesignsDesignHill etc. and you’ll get a really quick and simple to use process. Just log on, set up your contest in all of 10 minutes and watch all of the designs from dozens to hundreds of designers start flooding in – depending on what pricing tier you’ve opted for.

Great right?

The only issue is, about 95% of the designs that get submitted are utter trash. Nothing to do with your brief or brand, stolen from elsewhere or generic as hell! I know because I used one to experiment for the BRANDSANCK logo.

So you need to have a really clear idea of what you want when using these. You need to have experience in dealing with designers, giving creative feedback and directing the design. You need to have a solid design brief.

Don’t expect creativity unless you’re the one that’s providing it!

So use with caution. Don’t get suckered in by their pretty websites and promises of perfection – there are conditions to it all!

Good graphic design freelancer - $300 - $800

A good place to start if you’re on a budget.

You’ll usually get a graphic design student or junior freelancer that’s looking for a bit of work on the side to build their own portfolios.

You’ll get decent quality, but not top work. You’ll get exactly what you request.  It’s usually the service side of things that falters a bit here. Process and time management are probably not their strong points, so they’ll need a lot of guiding to make sure they’re doing what they’re supposed to be doing and by when they’re supposed to be doing it.

They may also not be fully clued up about correct formats, deliverables and copyright issues.

If you want good quality and have experience in dealing with creative design work (briefing, feedback etc.), then this is a good option.

Expert graphic design freelancer - $800 - $2500

The cream of the crop.

These guys will get you something that looks incredible and fits your brand personality perfectly.

They’ll be professional, follow a tried and tested process and be comprehensive about finding out everything about you and your industry to better their design work.

You’ll get a good number of concepts (usually around 10) with unlimited revisions.

No stock icons or fonts.

Beautiful.

This is the option to go for if you’re truly serious about building a brand that’s unique and impactful.

The only slight caveat is finding them. There are so many out there it can become overwhelming. You’ll need to do a lot of leg work up front to find a designer that you like the look of – and then see if they’re available to do your work!

Small agency - $500 - $3000

Essentially the same great service as an expert designer, but with the added benefit of more than one set of eyes on your project. They’ll have a small team of designers and creatives that will pitch in.

Great for looking at it from all angles.

They’ll also have more capacity to take on your project as and when you need them to. Yours will be only one of a select few, to which they’ll give it the time and energy it deserves. They should also be able to help with other elements of your brand identity if needed.

If you want great quality but don’t have the time (or inclination) to look around for expert freelancers yourself, then a small agency is the way to go!

Large agency - $1000 - $5000

These are a funny one.

You would expect that the more you pay, the better you get, but that’s not entirely true here. And usually, they’ll deal with the whole identity package, not just logo design.

Sure you’ll get a very slick, organised and streamlined process, but it can all be very impersonal. If you’re not one of their top paying clients, then don’t expect the best from them.

At the lower levels, you’re more likely to get put on a conveyor belt. Your project will have the minimum of love, care and attention devoted to it, and you’ll get a number of junior in-house graphic designers on it.

You’re more paying for the prestige and big agency ‘feel’ than a jump in the quality of the design work.

Unless you’re a multinational with money to burn, I can’t recommend these.

Best to stick to the expert freelancers and small agencies for a heady mix of design quality and customer service.

The pricing sweet spot of startup logo design

So there you have it.

Logos are a little tricky, not by their nature, but more because of the amount of unnecessary options and advice out there surrounding them.

If you’re just starting your brand or looking to rebrand a small business – and you’re actually SERIOUS about how it’s perceived by the world, then look no further than an expert graphic design freelancer or small agency.

Startups and small businesses should look to be spending $500 – $1500 on their logo depending on their needs. Any cheaper, and you’ll get rubbish. Any more, and you’ll be spending unnecessarily.

Finally, always remember to stay within your price range pay what you’re comfortable with.

There’s no point blowing your entire budget on a logo to the detriment of other areas of your business. Use this as a guide. There is no exact rule. Just an indication of quality and effectiveness.

Here's a little tip...

I’m a huge fan of using great freelancers, but you get the most out of them with a solid creative brief. The more you can prepare before you even contact them, the better their understanding will be and the better the logo you’ll get!

Where are you at with your logo design?

Did you know about all the logo design options available to you? Which one do you most like the sound of and will probably use for your project?

Chime in, in the comments section below.

I’d love to know what you think!