How to make your logo design process more profitable

The other day, I was visiting with a fellow designer who commented to me that they had recently completed a logo design project for which they collected very little money. Now, don’t get me wrong, it was more than $5 or some ridiculously small amount, but this designer felt like they should have been paid a lot more for all the work he put into designing this logo.

I agreed with him.

Surely this has happened to you or another designer you may know. The question is, “How do you fix the problem?” This article will help you discover new ways to make your logo design process more profitable. (Or any design process for that matter.) Not every tactic mentioned here will work in every situation, but hopefully the information found below will help you find ways to make more money during your design process.

Step 1: Define success for your design business

Although this may sound odd, the first step in making your logo design process more profitable is to define success for your design business. Do you thrive on good design? money? free time? lots of clients? prestige? What is it that makes you tick? What makes you want to get up in the morning and start designing. This will help you decide what steps to take next in order to make your logo design process more worthwhile.

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Obviously, this article will focus more on individuals who are driven by profits and business success. I’m not saying that these people don’t care about good design, but they also care deeply about making their design business a profitable venture. Defining success for your business is the first step toward your idea of real success.

Step 2: Define your worth

All designers are worth different amounts. Each of us brings unique skillsets, experiences, backgrounds, and goals to the table. In addition each of us value our talents and abilities differently. In order to make sure your logo design process (or any design process for that matter) is worthwhile to you, you need to define your worth. It will be much easier for you to justify charging higher rates for a logo design if you can explain to your client the expertise, experience, background and skills you bring to the process.

In addition, if you are expecting to get paid much more than you are actually viewed to be worth, perhaps this exercise can help you moderate your rates so that you and your clients are both pleased with the cost. After all, many times some money is better than no money many times.

Step 3: Explain the essentials of logo design to your clients

I can’t begin to count the number of clients that have approached me with a sketchbook in hand and said something like “You know how to work Illustrator, right? I pretty much know what I’ll be needing and I just need someone to whip it up for me in Illustrator.” Now first, let me say, there is a place for clients like these. Sometimes, there’s nothing wrong with a client who has this mentality. They are not, however, high-paying clients. So if you are looking for ways to make your logo design process more profitable, you’ll need to educate them.

Explain to your clients how important it is to consider target audience, business goals, and the competition’s logos. Explain that logo design is not a two-day process and involves much more than just drawing a few shapes in illustrator. Help them realize that a logo is more than an image or an illustration, but a representation of the company for all to see.

As your client understands the work that will go into creating an effective logo, they will be more understanding and willing to pay a premium price.

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Step 4: Establish a contract

I can’t stress this enough. One of the most common mistakes I see designers make when it comes to client relationships is not establishing a contract. For some reason, designers fear them. Frankly, I fear not getting paid for the work I do. Establishing a contract that you can both agree on gives you a chance to negotiate pricing, timeline, requirements, etc. before ever getting to work on their project. This means that when they come to you at the end of the project and hope to pay you much less than what you agreed on, you can kindly refresh their memory and collect full price.

Step 5: Put in the hours!

Of course, after you explain all the hard work that goes in to designing an effective logo, you have to actually do the work you’ve explained. This means doing some good research, asking your client the right questions, avoiding common logo design mistakes, and putting in the hours necessary to give your client a phenomenal logo. If you manage your contract well, explain the importance of research and other behind the scenes operations, and then put in the hours, you will be more eligible to charge your client what you deserve for your work.

Step 6: Remember, business is business

Lastly, don’t be afraid to collect the money you deserve. You have worked hard for this client and deserve to get paid for the work you have done. Remember, while you may love designing, you are in business to make money. Sometimes clients try to convince designers that they are doing them a favor by letting them design their logo. They use phrases like “It’ll be a great portfolio piece”, “It will give you some great practice” or “A lot of people will see it so it’ll give you some great exposure”. Don’t let clients smooth-talk their way out of paying you for the services you have provided.

Step 7: Follow up

After all is said and done with this logo design project, be sure to follow up with your client. Let them know that you are available for other design work (whether you are a web designer, print designer, or something else) to go along with the logo you have created for them. Ask them if they have any acquaintances or friends who might be in need of your services, and offer to help them with anything else inside your realm of professionalism.

This will help them realize that you want to help their company grow. It will also implant in their minds that you are always happy to help a client in need. When opportunities arise in the future, they will be more likely to remember you.

That’s it. What else can you add?

That’s essentially the path I follow when working with a client to design a logo. I’m not a millionaire, but I get paid well and on-time. What other suggestions or questions do you have about making your logo design process more profitable?

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  1. Great article, folowing these steps is a good idea and as @Lisa Raymond wrote learn to walk away is also important. Thanks for the tips !

  2. From my experience… I feel that contract should be a must. Recently we had a client who kept asking for more and more logo options and at the end simply said that your work is not up to the mark and left without paying a penny!!!!

    Since we have just started out, we should have known where to draw a line. But we learned our lesson.

  3. Hey, by the way, what do you do when you sense that price is a turn-off for someone? Just let them go or how do you try to get past that?

    1. @David Tendrich,
      This may not be the best approach, but I usually bid/quote high and then if there is a problem with the amount, I have a little wiggle room. Also, sometimes low-paying work is better than no work at all. But that’s always a fine line to walk, right?

      Another thing I’ll do is make sure to show them the benefits of having a great new logo. I’ll run mockups of their logo on coffee mugs, keychains, shirts, or whatever they usually have logos on. Sounds cheesy, but many clients don’t get the whole picture unless they see it in action first. It’s similar to buying anything, I think: people are more likely to buy it if they can see it, touch it, use it. Creating mockups is a great way for them to experience the logo.

      Hope that answered your questions. Thanks for the comments!

  4. Hey Preston,

    These are really focused, on-the-ball points. And I think they could apply to literally any design service. I love that your first tip is to define what success is to you, because when I think about it everything everything else builds on top of that.

    A lot of people kind of “freak out” at the prices of great designers and other creative professionals, but this is a solid guide to getting past that resistance and getting more clients.

    Thanks for the insights,

  5. thank you very much D Lee for this type of artical. a great point you have noticed here, some client’s is thinking that the logo design a simple task. we need to make them make them understand about designers research and work behind the logo.

  6. Good points to remember, Preston. I can add one more point to your article, completely based on the discussion between you and Behzad.

    8. Learn to walk away. Sometimes, despite the designer’s best efforts to educate before and during the process, the intentions of the client are made known by the comments of “it will be a great portfolio piece” or “how about a discount”. Discussion along these lines are self-defeating, and convey to the designer this client may not honor the contract, does not fully understand the process and does not care to. I welcome working with a variety of clients, but when knowledge and education gets in the way of the client’s primary concern (money), it’s a battle any designer will lose. Thank them for their time and walk toward your next client, one step at a time.

    Thanks for the post and reminders! How do you get your logo clients? Through word of mouth referrals or networking? If through WOMR, are these people being educated enough by the referer to understand the process, including hours and research, involved to render a competent and on-target solution?

    1. @Lisa Raymond,
      Some great additional comments, Lisa. Thanks! I agree with being able to walk away from the situation if it doesn’t work out. We should obviously be careful not to walk away too early as well.

      As for HOW I find my logo design clients, I would say primarily word of mouth referrals. And I have found that many of my clients need a little education about what makes a good logo. It makes sense, though. When I go to the mechanic, he has to explain the details of it all to me. Same when I go to the printer, the dentist, etc.

    2. @Lisa Raymond,
      What about your clients? Where do they come from? Are they usually educated enough?

      1. @Preston D Lee, The majority of my clients come from word of mouth referrals from clients and people I network with. I have attended networking events and picked up clients, but this is after a relationship has been established through seeing me at the networking events time and time again. Educating them befalls to me, and just today I was reminded again to work on this – a friend of mine from a networking organization saw my online portfolio and was amazed at the work I did! He said he really didn’t understand what I could do until he saw for himself. Lesson learned: the education process should be ongoing, especially when adding new products or services.

  7. Educating them! that is something I simply do not have time for. I am too busy with well paying clients. A Prospect that wants the world for very little is not my type of client and all the educating in the world will not change their mindset. Also logo design has become a cheap dirty business, few designers have broken out of this mold and are now catering to high end clients like David Airey.

    1. @behzad,
      LIke I said, friend, not all of these tactics will be appropriate for every designer in every situation. There are many designers, however, who think a client will be a good one and don’t find out until later that they don’t know the basics of what makes a good logo.

      In fact, I’d say most clients don’t know the basics of what makes a good logo. If you expect them to just know how it all works, I think you’re making a big mistake.

      Have you broken out of “the mold”? What do you do to cater to “high-end” clients?

      1. @Preston D Lee, Fair, yes you made very good points. However I only educate prospects if they have time to listen, if they are looking for competitive pricing then I move on. I have started to break the mold by targeting clients with bigger budget, one way that it has worked for me is my years of experience plus my portfolio and past clientele.

        1. @behzad,
          Good points. I think the difference we are discussing here is CLIENTS vs. POTENTIAL CLIENTS. I rarely try to educate potential clients who are just looking for a cheap design. But when a client has signed on and is willing to pay me, I make sure they understand what they are paying for and why. Nice discussion here, Behzad.

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