Your marketing budget


Why you should plan for, and be open about, your graphic design budget

Your budget matters. It is important to you, since neither you nor your business is made of money. You may not be aware of what your budget is, but you know that how much you spend on graphic design services and marketing efforts affects your bottom line. Your budget is also important to the graphic designer or local design firm you are looking to hire. Knowing your budget ahead of time will help the designer formulate a plan up front of how they will address all your marketing needs. Why would you expect to enter into any purchase—whether it’s material or service-oriented—without a predetermined budget?

Determining your budget

So you are a small business owner, and you just don’t know where to begin when planning for a marketing budget. One of the most common questions asked of me at the start of a project is “What does it cost to do a website?” (or a logo, brochure, business cards… you get the picture). The answer is: It depends. There are many variables involved in any graphic design project.

Start by looking at the scope of your project. Do you need a complete marketing package? Logo, full website (how many pages? Is it an e-commerce site?), brochure (how large of a brochure?), stationery, etc.? Or are your needs much smaller: a single postcard? A website landing page? The amount of work will of course affect your budget. The larger the project, the more hours it will take a designer to complete, and therefore, the more expensive it will be.

Next, what’s your deadline? Are you in a rush? Need a logo by the end of the week? Expect to pay more for a quicker turnaround.

Finally, think about what you will need beyond just the graphic design of the project. Does your project include something that needs to be printed? There will be production costs involved. Will you need copy written (or edited) for your project? Do you need photos taken of your products or whatever you are advertising? Will you want to include stock photography or illustrations in your piece/s? Do you want your website to be editable by you (are you creating a blog? you’ll need a content management system). These are just a few variables that will affect how much you should be ready to spend.

Matching your budget to a designer

Are you on a very tight budget? Chances are you’d be better off hiring a freelance design expert. A design firm or marketing agency will have overhead costs (such as rent for office space, worker’s comp, and unemployment insurance) that a freelance designer won’t have. So the freelance designer can charge a lower hourly cost, or charge less on a per-project basis.

Have a larger project and a generous budget? A design firm may better suit your needs. They will have more resources and a larger pool of creatives that can manage your project and get it done faster. You may even have a designer or art director assigned to you. So that designer is focused only on your project, whereas a freelance designer will likely be juggling your project, as well as other clients.

Why be upfront about your budget?

A designer needs to know your budget ahead of time. It builds trust and open communication between yourself and the designer. A good designer or design firm will spell out for you what is included in their estimate. Beware of a designer who simply tells you your logo will cost $X, and doesn’t tell you anything beyond that. How many options will you have to choose from? How many rounds of edits does this get you? What will you be supplied with at the end of the project? These are all variables that you can negotiate with a designer to find the price that fits.

I believe graphic design and marketing are all about problem solving. The challenge is how can I, as a designer, supply you, the client, with the best and most effective graphic design solution to your unique situation? A large part of that is finding the best way to work within your design budget. And the only way I, or any other freelance designer, can do that is knowing from the start what your graphic design budget is.