One of the age old questions that clients ask and designers can never answer straight away, and it gets awkward and frustrating but trust us when we say that we are not trying to stall or play tricks, it’s just that each project is unique and so asking how much for a design or a logo or a website is essentially just like asking how long is a piece of string. Nevertheless we are going to attempt to give a rough guide, and explain how costing in the industry works.

Conversations and communication are key

First things first, before you say ‘I would like… how much will that cost?’ It helps massively if you have a budget and a brief! (conveniently we have an article on what to include in a brief) But don’t worry if you don’t we can help you to figure that out. Secondly, although we can follow a written brief and instructions to the best of our abilities, words can be misinterpreted or points can be left out. It’s so important to have a meeting or conversation to discuss the project, to figure out the specific details, and really gauge and understand each other. Once we have all of this information we assess the cost factors and come up with an accurate quote.

Design cost factors

There are lots of things that factor into the cost of a project, time is one of the biggest, in our industry time really is money some studios will charge between £75 to £100 per hour, some may charge a day rate.We have to consider how many hours it will take, or will it take more than one person to complete the job? Also how much time do we have before the deadline? If there is a short turnaround then this will increase the costs as it means working overtime. Try to avoid this if possible, the sooner you talk to an agency about an idea the better. We can offer our expertise and insight about how to get the most out of your time and budget.

Like I said before, each project is different, but a rough time guideline for our services is:— Fashion films/TV ads depends on booking in filming days, availability of studios, models, etc., but filming is about 1-2 days then editing can take 1-2 weeks including any revisions.— Animation at least 4-8 weeks.— Branding can take anything from a few months to a year or more depending on the scale of the business.— Illustration depends on the scale. A full page ad could take about 2-3 days including initial sketches and revisions, also depends on the complexity of the design and if any research is needed.— Graphic design/layout, a single page could be a day depending on revisions. A look book could be a few days to a week, photo editing will increase the time spent. A brochure could be a couple of weeks depending on how many pages.

If you go over the original agreed amount you will be charged extra so it is a good idea to be really clear and certain about what you want at the start of the project, or if you have any concerns early on make sure that you voice them.

Last minute changes to text or music etc. are not always just a ‘small’ or ‘quick’ thing, especially when it comes to video or animation.

There is also the matter of materials and resources, for example filming may require the hiring of a set, hair and makeup, lighting, etc.Finally there is the application of the project. In other words how is it going to be used? This question will decide the licensing and rights.

Licensing and rights management

Designers, illustrators, film makers and photographers… pretty much any creative inherently owns the right to anything that they create. This will factor into costs for projects such as logo design or creating a brand identity because it is something that needs to be trade marked and have unlimited uses, therefore you need to buy the rights. Paul Rand famously charged Steve jobs $100,000 in 1988 for the next computer logo. He had the reputation to be able to do this and the expectations were undoubtedly high!

Advertising projects or layout design is different because there is a limited usage, so the work would be licensed out for a specified amount of time, in a certain area, and for certain types of media. For example just a spot illustration could cost between £200 – £300, a full page ad in a magazine or newspaper could cost £750 – £1000, or a cover could cost £2,000 – £3000,  these are average figures for print media. The usage costs in magazines and newspapers domestically and internationally for a year could be + £4000 or all print, digital and broadcast for one year could be +£10,000 on top of the design fee (These are just rough figures, they can vary between different agencies).

It’s always good to have an idea of how the work will be used, i.e. TV, web, magazine, etc. and for how long.

Do’s and don’ts

Don’t try and lower the price by saying it will be ‘good exposure’ we’ve all heard that one before, it does not go down well.Do know what you want. Include definable outcomes or ROI in your brief so that the designer/agency knows what outcome they are working towards.Do remember you get what you pay for. Good work with a quick turnaround will not be cheap, a cheap price and good work will not be quick, but a cheap price and quick turnaround will not produce good work.Do remember to be honest and upfront about budget, most agencies will break up the payments into each stage of the project. But if upfront costs are too much then it never hurts to ask about paying in instalments. If you both want the business then it makes sense to figure out a way to make it work.

Investment not Cost

A lot of people can be shocked by the cost of design and creative work when they first hear it, but when you break down the time spent and the value it creates it’s actually quite reasonable. It’s important to remember that anything that adds value or contributes to the brand and brand awareness is an investment not just a cost.

The more consideration and strategy the better return you will see.

Designers and agencies that charge more are providing skills and expertise that you won’t get for a bargain rate, everyone knows that if you pay for something on the cheap then you have to be prepared to pay twice. Ultimately the benefits of using experienced professionals outweigh the costs.Of course if there are any projects that you are thinking of we are always happy to chat over the phone to give some initial ideas on time and costs.Thank you for reading! Please let us know if you found this helpful or if you have any questions in the comments section below.