Are cheap logos ‘easy money’ for designers?

Money on a fishing hook

Ask any number of graphic designers worth their salt about designing a brand identity and they’ll more than likely tell you the same thing.

It’s a lot of work.

The time taken to develop a logo can vary greatly from a few weeks to many months.

That includes in-depth research, sketching, refining and developing, client revisions, creating brand guidelines, etc.

Even a ‘quick’ logo design can take days for a designer to develop, which is why cheap logo design services are often the subject of ridicule by the professional design community.

But are professional designers missing a trick by instantly dismissing the clients who just want something cheap and cheerful?

Does every business need a professional logo?

stick figures arguing

Image source.

From time to time I browse a few business forums, mainly looking for freelance job opportunities.

The subject of getting a logo designed repeatedly comes up, which often results in heated discussions between members.

On the one-hand are the graphic designers and others who argue valiantly that you should seek out a professional when it comes to branding your business.

On the other, those who see design perhaps as an unnecessary expense, who often recommend crowdsourcing contests, pre-designed stock logos, or DIY logo makers.

Naturally, I agree with the first group, being a graphic designer myself.

Yet I recently saw a reply from a someone who couldn’t believe designers would turn their noses up at such “easy money”.

They argued that not every business needs to spend hundreds or thousands on a brand identity, and designers should be happily offering budget alternatives to smaller businesses.

This got me wondering, are they right?

A self-employed gardener for example, who charges a few quid cash-in-hand to cut your lawn and relies on word of mouth and knocking on doors to drum up business, probably has no need for a logo, let alone a professionally designed one.

Ultimately their brand identity isn’t what’s selling their service, it’s their reputation and the fact that they’re simply ‘there’, offering work.

If someone comes to you wanting a logo with a budget of, let’s say, £70, should you ignore them, turn them away, or perhaps even lecture them about the value of graphic design?

Or is it worth swallowing your pride, spending an hour or two on a design, and taking their money?

Fluctuations in workload are common for freelancers, and in the end, a cheap logo is still a source of income.

But it’s not just about the money

As a self-employed graphic designer, you rely a lot on reputation and the quality of your work.

Whilst I’m sure I could come up with an expected logo that ‘fits’ a particular business in a reasonably short space of time, it surely wouldn’t be my best work.

I wouldn’t want to put my name to a rushed, unthought-out design.

And that’s exactly what it would be, because low budgets require a designer to work at great speed in order to turn a profit on their time.

If the client requires revisions to the design, that eats into your time.

Then there’s a percentage of the price to pay as income tax.

If the client drags the work out, you could quickly find yourself working at a loss.

Suddenly that £70 doesn’t seem worth it.

Should graphic designers offer budget logos?

Price list

Whilst I understand the argument for ‘cheap’ logos, I suspect the majority of professional designers feel the same way I do about being associated with such work.

Why should someone who normally charges anywhere from £25 to £50 per hour for their time, suddenly drop their rate to please one client who’s just looking for a cheap deal?

And cheap clients are notoriously hard to please.

Plus, value for money is subjective. One person may see £500 for a logo design as excellent value for money. Another may see £100 as way too much to pay.

If designers offered a budget logo design service that was still at a rate that made it worth their time, there would always be those who still see them as overpriced.

Frankly, I think if you’re going to offer a service, you should offer your best and target clients who want the best.

7 Comments

  1. Ryan Murphy
    @
    February 23, 2012

    I usually accept the money, any money helps because the government don’t help me out. :'( But I never put my name to stuff unless i am proud of it. In fact in some cases I often insist on it having nothing to do with me once i have handed it over.

    Reply
    • Paul Murray
      @
      February 27, 2012

      I’ve done my fair share of “don’t mention my name” jobs myself. In fact some older work I’ve now completely disowned because I’m so embarrassed by it! When it comes to ‘cheap’ jobs though, I think there’s two types; jobs that are cheap because the amount of work involved is relatively small, and those that are cheap because the client is cheap.

      If somebody comes to me with a job and genuinely only has a small budget I’ll do my best to accomodate them. If they’re just shopping around for the cheapest ‘designer’ then I’d happily turn them away. Chances are they’d be a nightmare to work for anyway, though asking for a deposit upfront normally chases them off!

      Reply
  2. Disgusting.
    March 5, 2012

    [...] [...]

    Reply
  3. Peter Saunders
    @
    March 10, 2012

    Had to laugh at ‘insisting the work has nothing to do with me once it’s complete’.. i think we’ve all been there! lol not always because it’s cheap and cheerful but sometimes it’s because the client won’t listen to the designer’s advice and the final design is based on exactly what the client wants – which looks awful!

    Anyway, back on topic.. there will ALWAYS be cheap logo designs available. There is a market for it so it won’t go away anytime soon. The good news is, you get what you pay for, so the cheap stuff reflects badly on the company and generally makes them look cheap. Designers will always get offers to produce work for very little money. I think once you drop your rates, it’s very difficult to get them back up. I tend to focus on reaching as many people as possible and making them complete a design brief before any meetings take place. The design brief asks for an indication of their budget so if they want a logo for a budget of £20 or a website for £100 i will know right from the start before any time is wasted.
    Peter Saunders recently posted..What makes a good graphic designer?My Profile

    Reply
    • Paul Murray
      @
      March 10, 2012

      Thanks for commenting Peter. I agree that cheap logos (and cheap design in general) will be around for a good while yet, particularly as many people see design as a product rather than a service. They only want to pay for a final design, rather than paying someone to actually design it.

      That’s a good point about asking people to specify a budget upfront, though I’ve found some people actually reduce their budget because of this. They seem to think I’ll take advantage and just charge them the top end of their scale.

      I’ve seen some designers actually specifying that they only take on larger jobs in an attempt filter out the smaller jobs that aren’t worth them taking. It would certainly save me the time responding to requests only to hear nothing back or get a common “too expensive” email (which obviously I’m not).

      Reply
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