As a self-employed graphic designer, I have generally always sought jobs that I could handle efficiently with great skill while getting fairly compensated for my expertise. Logo design was never a niche for me even though I can confidently say I can do it well. The trouble with logo design is that clients typically think a basic design is worth as low as $50.

Every now and then I’ll get a logo request from an existing client or referral. In just the past few months I have been requested to design seven logos, and I quoted each one fairly (in other words, at a substantial price) according to the clients’ goals, my expertise, the time and research I expected to put into each logo design, and the quality of design I knew I’d be able to deliver.

With that, I noticed something interesting upon closing each project that I find worth mentioning: My clients closed on a very basic design that took me fewer than 5 minutes to illustrate.

So one could easily look at that scenario and say that if I charge $50 per logo design, I could easily make huge profits on this kind of work.

Unfortunately, many clients only have the end product in mind. They typically don’t consider the lengthy protocol that goes into achieving that end product. And if they have seen the websites, then they often consider the “benefits” they could get from cheap online logo foundries. One of the more attractive “benefits” is that they get various mockups all submitted by different designers. From my own experience, I can easily identify a problem with that: The more designers you have, the less their compensation becomes, the less “into” the project they are, and the more shallow the research and the visual communications, if either of these exist at all. Sure, the client may get various styles of design from which to choose, but that doesn’t mean a single one of the designs works visually or remotely portrays the client’s business or achieves the client’s branding goals.

I recently did an experiment to see what I would get. I hired two $50 different logo foundries to come up with some mockups for me. They asked a few creative questions, but nothing about my business goals. I received a total of 10 unique mockups and they were all amateur, lacked vision, and had virtually no potential. They even ignored my creative requests. Imagine all the business I could have lost as a result of terrible branding if I had been a real client.

Anyway, this past week I designed a logo for a client. After spending hours doing research and drawing up a bunch of ideas, I threw in an additional sketch as a 30-second afterthought. And you know what happened? My client loved it and chose it… no modifications needed whatsoever.

Let’s not mention the hundreds of hours of education and hands-on experience, plus the cost of the software and additional business overhead that it takes me to do a good design job. Had I not spent hours building a relationship with the client, researching his client industry, learning about his business, and spent even more time drawing out different visual concepts while taking the time to care, then I may never have been able to sketch out that perfect, timeless final concept.

In terms of excellent design, this kind of process is necessary. So if you were to do the math (and I’m not going to disclose my own numbers) then I’m actually making a reasonable profit – not a huge one – but I’m certainly not giving away my work for cheap. That is why a “high” price comes with good logo design.