As you’re researching how much it can cost to have quality graphic design work, you may feel frustrated by the wide price range. You may learn that a logo could cost anywhere from free to a price tag that’s comparable to a new vehicle. The value of hiring a professional agency may come as no surprise as you learn more about the amount of work that is required to go through a creative brief, discovery process, engagement with various stakeholders, and evaluation of the data collected to strategically choose fonts, colors, and symbolism that resonate with the target audience and deliver the most impactful design. In this blog post, I’d like to explain why it may be wise to invest in a professional agency who’s price tag supports the work of research, discovery, mockups and tests; thus creating a style guide, and implementing a full brand around a logo design.
Brand imagery is not just the face of an organization, but also its voice. Every detail of the visual language is a part of a person’s perception, whether they are conscious of it or not. You may be more aware of these cues at the movies. Small details, like fade to black transitions, subconsciously register as a new day in the story’s timeline. These transitions use our natural perceptions to communicate a clear message. It’s vital to make sure the designs you publish are sending the correct messages as well. An experienced team of researchers and designers will have a mastery of various forms of visual language. A quality graphic design agency may charge more, however the team effort provides access to a panel of native speakers that can review the designs as they are developed. This can prove invaluable as ideas are refined for diverse audiences.
“If you think it’s expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur.”
– Red Adair, Oil Well Firefighter
Another vital benefit of experience is the immeasurable time it saves. Vetted artists have spent their lifetimes learning the most effective and efficient practices to reach project goals. Not to mention the value that years of trial and error holds. Knowing how to resolve common problems can save days of labor. If you chose to go with the cheapest designer you can find, you will likely end up with someone who is in the early stages of learning. This can be beneficial for some projects and some artists as they build their career. However, spending additional hours at a decreased rate can be taxing on both parties as it often requires a lot of energy and rounds of revisions. Where as, if you shell out for a top tier agency, you are guaranteed that someone with experience will have the ability to be attentive to your project every step of the way. When Artists accept low rates, it often means they are having to make ends meet another way, or may need to prioritize larger projects.
Consider it this way: even at a minimum living wage, how many hours can a designer spend on a quality graphic design for fifty dollars? When you add up the time it takes to learn about a client’s needs, translate it into a draft, and refine it after rounds of feedback, thousands of dollars for quality work from an expert team does not feel jarring at all. In fact, Artists who are pressured to accept lower and lower rates in competition with each other also inadvertently lower the industry standard. This can set a dangerous precedent for full time artists and agencies as bills and overhead remain at constant or rising numbers. Even when designers drastically lower their rates to be friendly, it threatens the sustainability of their livelihood.
Operating costs for a quality graphic design agency or even the lone professional may come as a shock to people working in other industries but it gives us access to tools and resources to make the job run smoothly. Graphic designers make a living by creating forward-thinking, modern imagery in a field that lives in a constant state of growth and change. Even the most advanced artists stay sharp by taking classes, studying new approaches, and refining their abilities. Additionally, design software updates so rapidly that many programs have become subscription based and can cost thousands of dollars a year. Freelancers and agencies alike also accrue increasing bills for accounting, communications and organizational software as we evolve into an even more digitized society. Designers also must keep their hardware like laptops, ipads, and stylus pens up to date to meet the evolving technical demands of the trade. If a design agency expects to keep up with competition, office space, marketing and legal bills come into play as well.
It’s important to keep in mind that the vast majority of artists are very conservative in their estimates. They keep their eyes on industry prices in order to maintain competitive rates. Most people that work for small businesses, or as independent contractors make a point to establish positive connections and build long term client relationships instead of relying on mass marketing to generate business. Maintaining reasonable prices sustains a happy and healthy working relationship on both sides.
Misunderstanding often arises between clients and designers when discussing the work hours a project will take to accomplish. For an agency, developing a cutting edge logo entails hours of research, sketching, art direction, execution, internal and external feedback, and refinement. Designing something as extensive as a website from the ground up can add up to months of dedicated work, even with an entire team of experts. Not to mention time spent communicating or meeting with clients and awaiting feedback. What may sound like just an arrangement of shapes, colors and fonts may be the symbol that identifies your organization. Time spent refining them is time well spent.
Different types of designs require different skill sets and perspectives. Your project may require a veteran team at the top of their field, or it could be simple enough to create a learning experience for an ambitious novice. Either way, it is important to understand the advantages that could be afforded to your project with a supportive budget.
– by Anna Nix Reiker