Derek Kimball

I'm a graphic designer specializing in logo design, brand identity and print design. If you enjoy this blog, consider subscribing via the "newsletter" in the website menu above. Thanks for reading.

All stories by: Derek Kimball
  • Marc Posch

    Dear Derek. I was reading your article about Logogarden/maid and wanted to share a few thoughts. First, as a fellow designer I can feel your frustration and pain seeing more and more shady online shops popping up, offering $99 logos. However, that’s spilled milk and very likely will not go away, rather increase. They already start canibalizing each other by offering $49, $39 logos all the way down to $5 at Don’t worry about that. What our job is, to be more outspoken about the value you and I are offering. And frankly, offering just “logo design” puts you in the same league as Logo Garden, only at a higher rate. Not a good business model. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not criticizing or downplaying your work (you are very good, indeed), it is just the positioning that’s off – for all of us including myself. If we just sell “food” this doesn’t distinguish between a $2 burger at McD or a Filet Mignon at Chris Ruth’s. And for guys shopping just for a bargain, McD wins, of course. That’s a little bit how I see “logo design”. We need to change the narrative, moving away from design to what design/design strategy does, what a carefully crafted design can accomplish and how design creates assets.. That’s when we become relevant again and our rates are justified. And if I may add, offering a production process, as you do, isn’t really relevant for clients. This is pretty much considered a given. Can you imagine Zaha Hadid or Stefan Sagmeister presenting their work by illustrating a process of “research, strategy, scribbles, revisions..”? Again, it was not my intention to offend you, just sharing some thought I had since I’m in the same situation. Maybe this will start a dialogue. All the best, Marc

  • DesignBuddy

    Hi Marc, thanks for sharing your honest thoughts on the subject; they’re greatly appreciated. I agree with your sentiment on many of the things mentioned, yet I’m torn with certain things. For example, on one hand I think it’s helpful to inform and detour design buyers away from cheap/fast providers, by explaining to them the risks associated (like mentioned in this article). On the other hand, I tell myself “do you really want to be working with anyone who doesn’t have the sense to tell the difference between cheap/fast and something better”.

    I feel it’s my responsibility as a designer to speak out against spec work, crowdsourcing, etc because I see a trickle down effect resulting from this idea that designers should work for free or on the cheap. This may not be so prevalent with very high budget clients you may be use to dealing with, however this mindset/conditioning seems to exist with some of the prospective clients I encounter. I may be preaching to choir here, but I figured it was best to explain why I write articles like the one here.

    You mentioned that displaying me “logo creation process” is unnecessary. Yes, maybe so, but I think it may help some potential clients better understand the time investment required for good design, thus justifying pricing. Would Stefan Sagmeister present something like this? I don’t know. He and Zaha probably don’t deal with many neophytes at this level in their careers, so it’s probably not necessary. As I progress further into higher end clients, I’m sure I’ll have to reconsider my approach to things.

    In regards to your mention that I only offer just logo design, that is not the case. Hopefully my “About” and “Services” pages make this clear. Or were you simply using “you” in general terms?

    I couldn’t agree more with your statement of how important it is to convey our value. For me, I use things like: “benefits of working with me”, “testimonials from past clients”, messages of “how good design can attract more clients”, etc. I also hope that my fair pricing and portfolio help sell themselves. Do you have any specific methods or recommendations for selling your value to the client? I’ve read a good share of books on branding, marketing, sales, etc; yet this remains a foggy area. Perhaps because there isn’t a one site fits all approach.

    Thanks again for the comment Marc. You’ve been in the field longer than most, so it’s a privilege to receive your honest insight. You’ve got me questioning my approach to things, so that’s a good thing.

  • Marc Posch

    Hi Derek. This is such an interesting subject – and discussion. Here in California we say, You can’t change the waves, but you can learn how to surf. What I mean is, the Internet has opened up a market that connects cheap buyers with cheap design. This has taken some business away from us. Now, what we should do is “learn to surf” for a different kind of client, the ones that understand the value of carefully crafted design… they are out there, it’s just a matter of adapting to their thinking and values. They don’t buy the cheapest design, they go for credibility, trust and concepts that promise results. This what I suggest to consider, don’t go for the $2 burgers, shoot at Ruth’s Chris. To answer your question about how to sell value: think about what a client is [really] looking for and ignore the obvious, design, letter, business card, website… those are all just tools. Look deeper, search for where their pain is, the problem they need to solve, and dive right in with solutions. That’s how you move from being a decorator/designer to a [business] partner who solves problems. PS. If you want to read a good book, grab “Icarus Deception” by Seth Godin.

  • Marc Posch

    I could go on and on… I hope I’m not frustrating you. I noticed your “fair pricing”. In my opinion you’re selling yourself under value by stating: “My pricing is below industry recommended rates for an experienced freelance designer.” Why are you lower than industry standards? Is your quality sub standard? And what is industry standard? We are a free market here in the US, where demand dictates the price. Your rates should be twice the “standard” to be taken seriously. Would you go to a cheap heart surgeon? Think about it.

  • DesignBuddy

    Thanks for the reply Marc…no your not frustrating me. You bring up some good points. I agree with you that the “below industry recommended rates” line should probably be removed. I suppose I included that as a selling point (affordability). I can see how it could be presumed that lower than average pricing means lower than average service quality.

    Pricing is another tricky subject. Charge too much and you lose some projects you may have gotten otherwise. Charge too little and you end up working too hard for the money. It’s a fine line I’ve found. One I’m still trying to walk.

    My strong suite is the aesthetics side of marketing…when it comes to sales, etc, it’s still a learning process for me. Anyway, your comments are helpful and encouraging. Thanks for the discussion.

    p.s. I’ll check out that book recommendation as well.

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