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Derek Kimball

Thanks for reading my blog. I'm a graphic designer who specializes in logo design and brand identity. If you'd like to receive periodic updates to useful design resources and writings, subscribe to the newsletter.

All stories by: Derek Kimball
35 comments
  • Jeff Morreale

    A good well thought out logo usually takes me 20-30 hours, sometimes 40. I can come up with a good idea within 4-6 hours, then I spend at least 2-4 hours to searching through over 200-500 fonts in my library and on my fonts. Then I spend a good 10 hours on variations of my original idea until I refine it to a few different choices. I clean those up and proof it to the client. Then I spend 4-8 hours on the final choice to refine the shapes of the design, and adjust the typography of the font. I really don’t think anyone who spends 4-6 hours on a logo does any of these steps.

  • DesignBuddy

    Thanks for the comment Jeff. Your logo creation process is very similar to mine…20-40 hours, and a lot of time messing with brainstorming, sketching, choosing proper typefaces, refining and so on. Yeah, it’s not possible to do all this in just a couple hours…at least not done well. It’s easy to spend 4-6 hours just on communication alone (design brief, phone conversations, emailing back and forth). And for projects where the client wants many concepts to choose from, even more time can be spent.

  • (ki joung kim)-korean

    hi~i’m koean brand designer. i can’t speak english very well but i like a this discussion. i think that designers have to management skill in speically logo design part. before the logo design we think about poroject cost. if the logo price $1000, we spend time 1 hour or 2 hours. if the logo price $10,000, we spend more time ..

    when i desinged low price project i spended at least 1 hour i don’t type research & image research. but in case of high price project i spend time for a long time such as the comparative brand researching, brand audit, market researching, visal concept development strategy, image & type researching, refine etc.

    finally, spending time is not important. how spend time is important . and if who want to me design in low price i tell them is your brand is cheap? sorry my english very short.^^ have good day!

  • DesignBuddy

    Hey Ki Joung Kim…No worries on the english…your reply makes complete sense. I couldn’t agree more. The difficulty or scope of requirements for a project definitely plays into the cost and time spent.

  • Tatyana

    Looks like I found relatively recent post! I enjoy reading your articles, no matter how old they are, but I hesitate to reply to something from 2 years ago.

    I agree, there is no way one can make a logo in less than 10 hours. Like you can’t make a baby in less then… you know the drill.

    I wonder, however, what do people expect when they order a $20 or $5 logo?
    I had a recent survey on the subject how much money people are willing to spend on their logo. The average answers came as $300 or less. Maybe it is because they are not sure. They are dreamers. They want to have a business, but they might not have all it takes.
    People have ideas and take risks, but it does not mean they have resources.

    Also, there is not “google search results” on the average logo prices. Most likely if one is searching for a logo, she will find some ridiculous promises. But I am guilty myself. I wanted a blog posting for $5!

    I actually tried to order a blog post from a writer on Fiver.com. I asked him to write a few sentiences about graphic design. I got back a document that made me laugh to tears. It started like this: “graphic design is a very good and correct way to express yourself…”

  • DesignBuddy

    Thanks for the comment and kind words Tatyana. Your survey showing the average client wanting to spend $300 or less seems on par with my findings/experience as well. This obviously makes it a difficult task of convincing many prospective clients that spending much more $ is in their best interest.

    I think many in the market for a new logo are conditioned into thinking they can get a good logo for just a couple hundred dollars..because that seems to be an average price amongst the “design it quick, charge less” providers that seem to be most prevalent.

    Since I do spend more time on my designs than most designers, I have to charge more. Some clients only consider price and there’s no chance in convincing them of the benefits. Some however do see the benefits and understand that a stronger identity that is timeless, good looking, versatile, appropriate, memorable and unique will help them establish a stronger brand, attract more attention, stand apart from their competition and ultimately increase profits.

    I’ve always found it shocking how so many business owners are willing to invest tens of thousands of dollars into every other element of their business, yet set aside only a couple hundred for the look and message. Especially considering that often times their logo is the first thing a new customer sees. A make or break deal.

    Haha…yeah good call on scrapping the $5 copy. That’s funny, I get emails all the time from overseas writers offering blog article writing for my design blog; yet they know absolutely nothing about design.

    Thanks for stopping by and sharing your input Tatyana.

  • Gertie

    Hrmm. Wow! Some of my favorite logos have been designed in 20 minutes (plus an hour conversation with the client about their business). I wouldn’t call myself a logo guru or expert; it’s not my strongest skill. But I think sometimes we get lucky, and other times we have to work at it and develop it. Depends on the day, the weather, the temperature of my coffee, or how passionate the client is about their business. ??

  • DesignBuddy

    Thanks for the comment Gertie. I agree that sometimes a good logo concept can come quickly, though 20 minutes leaves no time for exploring further (possibly better) options…it leaves no time for researching against possible logos that may look just like yours…it leaves no time for choosing appropriate color schemes and type stylings…it leaves no time for exploring unique ideas or highly illustrative designs…and it leaves no time to consider how the logo will work as part the client’s overall identity/brand. None the less, I’d love to see some of these 20 minute logos you refer to. Thanks for stopping by.

  • Gertie

    Let me be clear: I LOVE your work and I admire the graphic designers who can spend dozens of hours on a logo. I am envious! :) Unfortunately, we’re in a time where everybody needs a website (and a logo), and they need it NOW, and for cheap. Just in my family (parents and siblings) there are 6 websites for hobbies and side businesses, plus 2 web design websites plus our family website. That’s crazy! I work in volume, so I just can’t dedicate that kind of time to a logo. Don’t get me wrong–I love working with logos that have been created “properly!”

    The speed of business has increased. Things are changing on a 3 to 6 month basis. I’m seeing more and more of my clients ditching parts of their business names, or adding–as they acquire new businesses, expand service offerings, or slim down and focus just on their strong suit. If a client has to go back to the logo drawing board every time their business changes–that could get spendy. Can those dollars be better spent elsewhere?

    I’m seeing many business owners getting bogged down by their logo and website. They think it needs to be perfect in order for them to sell anything. This is simply not the case! I was doing a search for etiquette classes for my daughter. I inquired with 6 horribly made websites, and then I found a GORGEOUS website with a logo to die for, and that was the one site I never made any inquiries of. Print marketers see this, too–it’s often the ugliest flyer that gets the best response.

    I’m not saying we should make things ugly on purpose! Just that there may be more to the bottom line than the logo.

    Here are some logo reviews of 20-60 minute logos (built in the last year):
    expresscoloretc.com >> This client didn’t ask for a logo redesign for his new website, but I insisted. He loves it, it’s now on all his print materials, and it has been instrumental in his business expansion!

    rxforthegrievingheart.com >> This is a side business for this grief therapist. Her entrepreneurial brain moves a million miles a minute so she’s gotta keep a budget for the NEXT big idea!

    allautobuyers.com >> I agree this one could use some more development, but considering it’s a start-up and the business owner doesn’t really know if it’s a viable business, there wasn’t time/money for that!

    actresstraci.com >> Thank God we didn’t put a lot of energy into the LAST logo. She had a name change since her site went up, and we just switched everything to her new last name “Fox.”

    truckeemeadowswindowcleaning.com >> This was another one where I insisted on a new logo for the new website. This company has just been purchased by another cleaning company, and now we’re working on combining the two businesses/logos.

    I would love to see these logos redeveloped by a logo pro some day, but for now the budget is going toward new staff and bigger buildings. OR–there is no budget yet! lol :)

    Thanks for listening and sharing! :)

  • DesignBuddy

    Thanks for the in depth reply Gertie. You make a good point about how it sometimes doesn’t always make sense for small startups who haven’t established their true identity yet (and are on smaller budgets) to spend lots of money on their logo, aesthetics. For them, it’s probably best to hold off until they’ve established a stronger footing.

    Thanks again for your input…I appreciate the conversation.

  • Joe

    A year and three quarters late to the party – but wanted to give my feedback. I’m sure designers will be coming to this post for a while.

    First, I work a lot like DesignBuddy does. I can spend 4-8 hours on conceptualization – sometimes more. I usually spread it across a few days to sometimes a week. It’s all about finding that idea that makes it happen. It can’t be generic. It can’t be something from Pinterest. My best (and usually favorite) logo marks (and visual identities) usually are a correlation of historical research, architectural and industrial design research and, of course, the research into the field the client is in. Unless there is a rush job (which pays too much to turn down), I spend at least three weeks on an identity. A month+ is primo. When that amount of time works out, I’m able to step away from a week or so and come back to make final decisions. If it was a higher profile client or if the client was paying as such, I would spent 2-3 months probably on the identity. The logo may be in development 80% of that time – but it’s really a whole process project.

    Of course, I have other work that I fill the time with as well. So it’s not like I’m 24/7 into one single client. I prefer to work slow though – quality over quantity. In the end I’m not making 100 logos for $50 a piece. Instead I’m looking at clients with long term relationships, continual business, and who are quality, generally on time paying customers.

    I don’t understand Ki Joung Kim’s comment about $1000 = 1-2 hours. That sounds like a higher demand designer in the city. My hourly puts me at just over a tenth of that budget. However, I usually bid by the project anyway. If the client had $1000 for a logo mark, which is very doable (it’s just above my minimum for an identity package) – I certainly wouldn’t only spend 1-2 hours on it. To me that’s unethical. I’m not a lawyer. I don’t charge $500 an hour. Nothing good is coming out of 1-2 hours – even when you think there is something good.

  • Derek Kimball

    Hey Joe, thanks for the comments. It’s nice to hear from designers like yourself who work with a quality over quantity mindset. It’s the only way to offer any real investment to clients. And for those who see the difference in quality, they’re willing to pay more.

    Yeah, I have no idea how Kim’s making $1000 for just 1-2 hours. They must be working with big time clients to make that kind of money. Way beyond my pay grade, that’s for sure. Anyway, thanks for your insight.

  • Christian Champagne

    Great stuff! Loved the read here. So much I can relate to.

    Hey one thing i’d be very keen to know from some of the more experienced designers here is in regards to benchmarking before you commence on a logo project. Just curious.

    In my experience I have actually found it to be quite counter-productive in the creative process. Unless your company has the same name and business model as someone else making comparisons is often nonsensical. I feel that one needs to look at the content you have at your disposal and go from there in the design process.

    Nothing more annoying than a client who says they like the VW logo and want you to do something similar in Real Estate ,when their company name is Bob Smith’s Reality World!!! Christ!

    Anyone else agree?

  • Derek Kimball

    Christian, I’d have to agree. It is pretty annoying when a client asks to have their logo look like someone else’s. It just never works. Logo creation is an organic process that works best when not stifled with many restrictions. Saying “I want my logo to look like this” just makes no sense. I still like to ask my clients what some of their favorite logos are… just to get an idea of what styles they prefer. Ultimately the client’s tastes and the designer’s tastes shouldn’t be a factor when it comes to logo creation, but I’ve found that even the best designs won’t sell if the client doesn’t like them. Thanks for your comment.

  • Christian Champagne

    Thanks kindly for your reply to my slightly off topic question Derek! =)

    With regards to time spent on logo design. Yes i Wholeheartedly agree to most here that anything less than 10 hours is getting hard to do anything of quality.
    Especially for someone who would rather turn down a job than do something crap quickly. Very rarely do i spend less time, than more. You really need to make the job a labour of love and feel it, to do it well. If your not in the zone, or not in sync with your client the whole experience can be like pulling teeth.

    For the most part since i started my company back about 4 years ago I have pritty much had good experiences with my clients. I think with many designers we may often assume or take for granted that the client can read our minds, or would think logically about this process. Quite often however this is not the case. They do not understand the process, how timely it can be and how little things can make all the difference in the world should they decide to change something midway or end of the design process.
    I think this is something I need to work on also. I would not like to overload new clients with tons of info, but it sure may save from wasted time also in the long run.

    Font hunting is also something that takes up a ton of time. I have built up quite a good font library over the years and find that this in itself can make things even harder, too many to choose from =) Or then scrolling through myfonts.com for hours on end looking for that something special =)

    Then you add in the emailing, chats etc which can amount to enormous amounts of time. So for me I would say more to the count of 20-30 hours would be realistic for most of my projects. In my pitches for new work i also do make mention of this, and wondering if it may even scare of potential customers when they find out how much work it can be. It is the truth though.

    There are all kind of people out there. I think if they have the mindset that a quality timeless logo can be born in 2 hours, then I think it also says a lot about them, and how their whole company is going to be built and run into the ground. Most likely they’ll have website from a ready made template that will look exactly like this http://www.novolume.co.uk/admin/resources/template-01-.png =) I personally would rather not work with such a client if possible.

    Its also interesting how many people start the process completely wrong. They go and build a website, and then want a logo that matches the site. So your basically designing them a logo to support the look of the site =) Talk about strong branding eh =)

    I am really hoping in the next few years time that clients begin to wake up and realise that even though there is a template for pritty much everything these days
    nothing beats real quality design. Pritty much everything looks the same in 2016! Generic and cookie-cutter! And if you want to separate yourself from the rest of the pack you would be wise to have a realistic budget in place, and invest wisely in a good designer.

  • Derek Kimball

    Christian… thanks for sharing. I’ll second your mention of the importance of letting prospective clients know about the time involved before agreeing to a project. Some folks think because a logo is just a simple little graphic that it can’t be too much work involved.

    In my project proposal I provide an overview of what a project entails. I mention about the time required for things like research, communication, concept exploration, font and color selection, revisions, presentation of designs, preparing files, and so on. In my experience, letting the client know these things allows them to better understand what their investment entails.

  • Hafiz

    Hi

    I have done logos as quick as 30 minutess to as long as 3 days.

    For me, it is not how much time I put into it, but it depends on the A-HA! moment when something just sparked and you work right into it. I always follow with my creative flow, and not force myself to be creative or different. It’ s about seeing things from different angles. Thus, sometimes I could complete a logo within 30 minutes,. Yes, more time could be spent to refine it, to check if it clashes with other logos, to see if font type can be replaced, but I am probably a confident person and who follows with my instinct. If my logo happens to look like yours, it is mere coincident. If we can live with it, good, if not then simply move on. I am consistent with my approach regardless the amount my client is paying me. Even if it is a $5000 job, I may be able to complete it in 30 minutes.

    Thank you.

  • Derek Kimball

    Thanks for the comment Hafiz. Yeah, it’s definitely a nice thing when the “a-ha” moment happens. Congrats on getting $5,000 logo projects. That’s quite an accomplishment, especially if you’re a freelancer.

  • Hafiz

    Hi Derek,

    Thanks. It’s all based on luck to get five figure paying clients. I have done $50 logos too, which took a month. Client didn’t know what she wants and keep changing concepts. I tried to be nice but after a month, I told her to finalized and got paid $50.

  • Joe

    Hey Hafiz,

    A-ha moments are great. But, personally, I never stop there. When I present an identity to a client, …. yeah, I know which one is the one (out of 3-5 that I might offer). Actually, I really only bring forward the other options in order to show the client the directions I had been working in and, in essence, why the ONE is the right one. Again, I love the A-ha moment – but I don’t always find that to be the best answer. I recently just did an identity for an educational based app where I had an A-ha moment and I thought it looked great and everything. It keyed in to a lot of what was going on with the UI (which I also was doing). But, besides the fact that the client had a few issues with it (the first time I’ve ever had that happen, btw), as great and as seemingly meant to be as it was, … it just wasn’t the right solution. The right solution was actually a little more boring. The reason is because the identity actually needed to be something less catchy and … perfect, really. If used, it would have damaged the app experience overall (the UI/UX is all about being in an environment). So we chose something that was more about it’s accompaniment with the logo type.

    To me this is a great example of not just making “cool shit”, as a lot of “designers” like to say to be edgy. It was more important to meet the requirements rather than go with the A-ha answer.

    Just a thought.

  • Hafiz

    Hi Joe

    When I mentioned the A-Ha moment, it does not necessarily be a complex one, it could be as simple as just a letter. This A-Ha moment is not possible without understanding the brief and speaking to the client. The A-Ha moment design MUST meet these requirement. We must be able to see things in different perspective, only to open up the creative channels in our mind. It’s God sent, just like music. When you receive a melody in your head, you don’t allow any distraction and translate it in its original form. I apply that to design as well.

  • Hafiz

    Have you ever tried looking at your screen or canvas and see the design in ur mind? That;s the A-Ha moment. Then you must translate it in its original form to your screen or canvas without any distractions. It’s magical and always turn out right.

  • Derek Kimball

    Hafiz… I know what you mean by the agony of having a “quick” project go on forever, even if you think you’ve presented them with superb work. You mentioned having a $50 logo last a month. I know every designer has their own way of working, but I’ve found it best to at least put a work hour limit on project pricing. So for example, if you have an $800 logo project, you stipulate a max of “x” amount of work hours, that way you’re not stuck working 50 hours on what should have taken less than half that.

    You may very well have something like this in place. I just wanted to propose the method if you hadn’t considered. When I first started out I didn’t work this way and found myself doing unlimited revisions for certain clients who took advantage of “unlimited revisions”. I put an end to that very quickly. That’s not to say I never go over on allotted work hours without charging, but there needs to be some safeguard in place. Again, you may already work this way… I just saw your mention of spending a month on a $50 logo, and figured I’d chime in.

  • Christian Champagne

    In regards to last message even something like this can work quite well

    The prices listed below are for custom logo design projects. When considering pricing, please understand the many expenses required to offer a quality design service (taxes, education, pricey font and software licensing, computers, calibrated monitors, and a variety of other business expenses).

    Level 1 Logo Project (375€-500€): Tailored to small businesses and entrepreneurs needing a quality, custom logo design. A good deal of time is invested into a logo project, including time spent on: research, communication, brainstorming, digitizing, revisions, presentation, file preparation, etc.

    Level 2 Logo Project (500€ – 1000€): This price range is for more difficult projects that require extra work and time investment. For example: highly illustrative logos, or projects that involve more branding consideration.

    Level 3 Logo Project (1000€ and up): For companies requiring a more extensive approach. For example: creating a brand identity, in-depth research requirements, greater number of logo concepts required, design by committee.

    Level 4 Logo Project (less than 300€): If all you’re needing is an existing logo revamped, or if you have an idea in mind and need it brought to life, your project may fall into this category. I’m also sometimes willing to accommodate smaller budgets by reducing the amount of concepts I typically present, or if you’re project is a simple one. Please understand that a normal custom logo project that requires a lot of time investment will fall into one of the other sections here.

  • Derek Kimball

    Hi Gracia. Yeah, I’ll never understand the quick and done approach. It allows no time to actually learn the customer’s needs, which results in generic design work. I’m glad you’re taking the thorough approach.

  • Joseph Snodgrass

    Gracia,

    I think there are two issues that come into play when “designers” think that a logo can be done in anything less than 15 hours.

    1. The perception of what is “good” is clearly wrong. This is something real designers and college level professors even need to educate better about.

    2. The perception of what design is is also clearly wrong. This is a problem with college graduate students (bearing in mind that graduating from a graphic design/visual communication design program outside of some of the primary schools like RISD, MICA, some of the Chicago based schools, etc., isn’t exactly hard to do). But this is probably more a problem with “graphic designers” who did not attend school at all. Is it possible to be a good designer and not attend college for it? Absolutely. But I would guess that <5% of those people are actually any good, 85% of those people THINK they're good because they can mimic trends, and 10% of those people are complete garbage and are probably people like air brush artists that also do "graphic design". Out of all graphic designers in the business today, I bet less than 10% can fully describe, understand and utilize the basic gestalt principles and elements of graphic design.

  • Julian

    I agree with you. The designer should spend more time in research and development to make sure the concept they come up with works across all items that the logo will be printed or placed on. Thanks for sharing!

  • Keronite

    Almost a day sometimes. Actually this question make me remember about a client who wanted a logo to his market but he only give me a half hours to finish it, I say “I’ll try”, then he waiting for me 15 minutes, looking at me when I’m browsing to find a concept, then he start bitching around me, he tell me that I dont even know how to design. I dont wanna make some argue so Im starting make whatever I can imagine, Then its about 45 minutes after that, I almost finish 70% (not including coloring), but he said he got no time for waiting anymore, so he leave, he gave me 10$. for that and say I dont even fast enough and not professional. I really wanna punch his face.

  • Derek Kimball

    Hey Keronite. I feel your pain. I’ve also dealt with people like that when I first started out. Those type of clients are typically found with low cost design. As we improve our design skills, we increase our pricing, which ultimately weeds out the bottom feeder clients who expect something for nothing. I’ve found that clients willing to pay $1,000+ for a logo are much more appreciative and understanding than those looking for a $50 design.

  • Billy Searle

    Hi Derek, I’m very interested in your survey! Do you have a link to the outcome? I am doing a study to do with a review of the graphic design process and would love to see the results.

    Thanks
    Billy

  • Derek Kimball

    Hey Billy. It appears the link I provide in the article no longer links to the survey. I’m pretty sure LinkedIn got rid of their polling capabilities awhile back, which may be why the link no longer exists. Not sure why they won’t at least allow older polls/surveys to be resourced, but unfortunately it appears that’s the case. Seems pretty dumb that they got rid of the option to begin with because it was a useful way to get many replies from a relative audience.

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