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Demystifying Graphic Design Pricing

by Jennifer Stewart | Aug 19, 2011 | BrandingDesign

Have you done research on pricing for graphic design services and come up empty? I’m on the other side of that client/designer equation, but I’d imagine that it seems frustrating and sneaky. Why aren’t designers publishing their prices? What do they have to hide?

Well, nothing really, it’s just that design services have more options than a Chinese menu so asking what a brochure costs is like asking what a shirt costs. What kind of shirt are we dealing with here? American Apparel? Versace? Off the rack? Custom tailoring? Cotton? Silk? You get my drift.

So what’s a client to do for budgeting and comparison shopping? Well, everyone is different, but here’s my recommendation:

  1. Figure out what type of design you need and write down as many specifics about the project as possible. If you need branding, what does that include? Logo, tagline, letterhead, envelopes, brochures, package design, window graphics, signage? Or if you need a brochure, how any pages and what print quantity? Do you need stock photography? Try to hammer out the details of your project so that you know what you need and what you want.
  2. Find for designers in your area by doing an internet search for the service you need (ie, web design, branding, print design). You can also ask other companies whose branding you think is well done for a referral. If that comes up cold check out portfolio sites like AIGA's Portfolio Gallery (click Advance Search to search locations) and Behance.
  3. Scan the portfolios for design and style that you like. Narrow this down to 3-4 prospects and then contact them for a quote, giving them the specifications that you figured out in step one. Just ask for an estimate and let them know you liked their work and are considering them for the project.
  4. The estimates you get will likely be a range or a round number. Base your budgeting off of these numbers. Hopefully one or two of the firms will knock themselves out of the running due to pricing too high or low.
  5. When you are ready to begin the project, take the remaining candidates and ask to meet with them, either in person or over the phone. You can be up front about looking at multiple firms, we're used to it. Find the person that you enjoy working with. Design is a complicated process and it’s best to go through it with someone you enjoy talking to.

Hopefully this demystifies how to get a price for your project. Just make sure that you start this process early. You don’t want to waste all of the project time searching for a designer. 

Jennifer Stewart is the Office Manager and wanna-be organizational psychologist at Modern Species. For more posts from her, click here.

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