As owner of Davies Media Design, a Marketing and Graphic Design consultancy and solutions company, I have seen a lot of projects started with horribly unrealistic budgets and expectations in mind. The worst cases appear on sites like Odesk or Elance, where people set their own budgets and fish for graphic designers that are both willing to perform under these budget restrictions and have a respectable portfolio. When companies can’t find the right people at the right budget for the job, they get frustrated with the process and find their marketing projects have stagnated. Today I will help you in setting a realistic budget along with realistic expectations for your projects so that you can get the look you need at a fair price and move on with your marketing efforts.

A good start for setting project budgets is to know the market rate of the professional you are trying to hire. If, for instance, you want to hire a graphic designer to design a logo for you, you need to know the average hourly wage rate of a graphic designer and how long the project will take. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the mean hourly wage rate of a graphic designer in the U.S. for 2014 is $23.85. With this in mind, if you set your budget for your logo design project at $5 (like I’ve seen a lot of businesses do on Odesk), you are saying that you expect a respectable designer to spend a total of 12 and ½ minutes on something that will be representing your entire company for the duration of the logo’s use. To put this into perspective, Coca Cola has been using the same exact logo since they incorporated the business in 1892 (122 years ago).

So what is a good budget for a logo design? Design Quote has a Logo Design Cost Calculator that takes into account a variety of factors for coming up with a price range for such a project. It gives you three different price ranges, including one if you are using a Design Firm, Freelance Designer, or Student/Offshore designer. I selected the following factors, all of which are very realistic and somewhat basic:

  • I have an existing company name. 0 Hours

  • I want a logo that people will probably notice. 10 Hours

  • I want multiple versions of the logo for use in different media. 4 Hours

  • I want the colors of my logo to relate to my corporate identity. 3 Hours

  • I want a color scheme to keep all my branding consistent. 5 Hours

  • I would like to see 1 concepts 3 Hrs/Per

  • I need a finalized logo in 3 weeks. 6 Hours

The total cost range? $500 to $2,673 depending on whether I use a student or a Design Firm. This may be way more than you were expecting to shell out, but truthfully it’s a lot more realistic than $5 and you have to keep in mind that this design will represent your ENTIRE COMPANY and be printed on EVERYTHING that you do. At Davies Media Design, we typically charge $125 for a logo design in full color that can be scaled to any size and used for print or digital media. You also receive information for the colors used so that you can use them in other elements of your business.

Want to try it yourself? Learn how to design a logo in GIMP, a free graphic design software, on our YouTube channel.

If you aren’t getting a logo designed, but rather need something like a brochure or business cards designed, take the market wage rate of a graphic designer and multiply it by how long you think the project will take. A tri-fold brochure may take 15-20 hours to complete, putting the price range between $357.75 and $477. Business cards are about the same, although at Davies Media Design I usually charge between $150 and $250 for business card designs depending on whether or not you already have a logo.