The total hours a designer spends on creating a logo can vary drastically. Likewise, the price you pay can range from next to nothing to the absolutely insane. Some logo designs have fetched up to $100 million...
On the other end of the spectrum, you can go to some freelance marketplace websites and find designers willing to create a logo for as little as $5. You might immediately think that those logos must be horrible or just some copy and paste clip art - but you would be wrong. I have seen some really nice logos produced for as low as $10.
So, what should you expect to pay when contracting with a local graphic designer?
You should expect to pay a minimum of around $85 - $100/hr for a quality designer. Of course, it is not uncommon for an agency to charge much higher hourly rates; or a local freelancer to charge less. Most designers will give you a total estimated cost for the project with some built-in options and additional charges for ongoing revisions.
What you may or may not get for your money...
If your business is in the startup phase or you want to re-brand an established business, you will most likely begin the logo design process during a discovery session. This is not the same as an in-depth session for marketing strategy but it does contain similar elements. These sessions can really help you nail down your personality as a business, who you clients are, and the styles that might be most appealing to them. Even an abbreviated version of this process can be really helpful in developing a logo.
While not necessary for logo design, logo concepts can be influenced by a stylescape that are created during a branding process. A stylescape is a collection of images, fonts, color palettes, textures, patterns, etc. that communicates a particular look and feel for your business. Your logo should be consistent with the overall style for your brand.
At a minimum, your logo designer should do some preliminary market research to ensure they don't inadvertently design you a logo that is similar to your competitors or local businesses. Many businesses use the same local geographical shapes and colors for their logos (i.e., Vermont businesses often use Hunter Green). You want your logo to be unique and stand out from a crowd. (1 hr)
This can be part of a discovery session but most often this is just something a designer will do if they are given free reign to design a logo without your input. I often just start jotting down words and images that I associate with the business. From there, I start putting some ideas together and may even write out a logo description before a solidly formed logo image comes to mind. (1 hr)
I always start off by sketching ideas with pencil and paper. It’s much faster to sketch out several different versions of a particular image or different ideas altogether. And, it's usually pretty obvious to determine when something just isn't going to work. (1 - 2 hrs)
I often refer to the creative process as the X-factor. The 1.5 million dollar CitiBank logo was sketched on a napkin in 5 minutes. On the other hand, if a creative block sinks in (and it happens to every designer) it can take days or even weeks for a truly original idea to surface.
Creating the vector graphic drafts on a computer can happen fairly quick if the design was sketched out well. However, I often find that it takes me some time to get it just right in electronic format. I can spend hours tweaking lines ever so slightly back and forth comparing which placement feels better. More often than not, and after taking a break from looking at the canvas, more subtle tweaks come to mind and I’ll explore those as well. This extra time spent can help to deliver the best version of a logo (1 - 5 hrs)
The extent of revisions you have to request is most often related to whether or not you and the designer are on the same page. Communicating with each other effectively is a part of the process as much as crafting the actual logo. Two rounds of revisions is fairly common to make small changes such as color choices or minor style changes and is often included in the base price. Anything beyond contracted revisions will be added to the bill at an hourly rate. (1 hr)
Once you have approved the final logo design, your designer will produce a variety of files and formats for you to use. While most of this is mechanical, it can often require a little more design time depending on your logo. For example, I always create full color, white and a dark version of every logo. Sometimes, the monotone versions require some minor tweaking to ensure they don’t lose design features in a one-color version. (1 hr)
While it's almost impossible to give a one-size fits all estimate, here is what i consider to be the minimum time that should be spent on creating your logo:
Market Research: 1 hr
Mindmap: 1 hr
Sketch: 1 hr
Electronic Draft: 2 hrs
Revisions: 1 hr
Production: 1 hr
Total Time: 7 hours
At an average of $85 - $100/hr that comes out to: $595 - $700 for the minimum cost to create a logo. Sorry Citibank, I think you overpaid.
Final thoughts. If you are a new small business just starting out and really want to get the most out of your brand - I would expect to pay no less than $1000 for your logo and engage in some form of discovery session. A large company that engages with a full team at a design agency can easily run into the tens of thousands. If you have some ideas of what you want for a logo but are willing to give a designer some room to work with it - a fair lower end price is probably between $500 and $1000. If you need a designer to just turn your very specific idea into an electronic format I would still expect to pay a few hundred dollars.
Of course, you can always go to a freelance marketplace and get one for $5 or, if you have the money, spend a cool million at the design agency of your choice.
At Arctype Creative Design our goal is to serve small businesses and non-profits without big budgets. With that in mind, we do our best to price our services at the lower end of the spectrum and offer logo designs starting at $249 and/or $50/hr.