Are you wondering how much you should budget for your graphic design needs? If you’ve heard stories about outrageous costs, we’re here to bust the myths.
In this article, we’ll go over the true graphic design price and the factors that affect it. We’ll help you understand the most commonly used pricing models so you can make a smart decision.
Table of Contents
What Is Graphic Design?
Graphic design is the art of visual communication through the use of text, photos, illustrations, symbols, drawings and color. It is used to create a message that can be easily understood by an audience.
Graphic designers take an idea or concept and develop a graphic design strategy to communicate it visually. They consider factors such as color theory, typography, image selection and visual hierarchy when designing for print or digital media platforms.
Graphic Design Price: Available Pricing Models
Graphic design pricing models typically fall into three categories: hourly, project-based and retainer.
Hourly billing is the most common, where clients are charged for the total time spent on a project. For example, a designer might charge an hourly rate of $50/hour and estimate that a specific project will take 10 hours to complete.
Project-based pricing is based on deliverables, so clients pay for specific pieces of the project—such as logo design or website layout—rather than the designer’s time.
Retainer agreements involve paying fixed monthly or annual fees for access to the designer’s services for an extended period. This model is usually recommended to businesses that need ongoing support with a variety of projects over a longer period.
Generally speaking, graphic design outsourcing is the best option for organizations looking for a budget-friendly solution. Read our guide on how to choose a graphic design agency and outsource with confidence.
Graphic Design Cost: Average Hourly Rate
The average hourly rate for a graphic designer varies greatly depending on many factors, but we’ll get to that later.
On average, however, a skilled graphic designer living in a major metropolitan area can charge anywhere from $30-75/hour for their work, but you can learn more about their fees at the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Freelancers' average prices usually fall at the lower end of this range, with hourly rates starting at $25.
Agencies, on average, charge $50 per hour for junior designers. Seniority raises the price as senior designers cost between $75 and $150 an hour. Note that established agencies may charge significantly more.
If you want a more specific rate, you can browse through our directory of top graphic design companies and ask them for a quote.
Payment terms are also important to consider when setting an hourly rate—some designers require payment at the time of service, while others prefer to bill upon completion.
Factors That Affect the Hourly Rate
The cost per hour for graphic design depends on several factors, including the experience and skill level of the designer, the complexity and scope of the project, the type of services needed (such as printing or web design), the duration of time required to complete the project, and any additional costs such as licensing fees.
Experienced designers may charge higher rates due to their knowledge and expertise in particular areas, while new designers may offer discounted rates to gain portfolio-building experience.
In addition to their professional fee, designers may also require upfront payments for materials or software needed to complete the project. Additional fees may be incurred depending on the scope of work and how quickly it needs to be completed.
Pros and Cons of Hourly Pricing
Choosing to pay or work hourly has its pros and cons. On the plus side, freelancers and clients can always agree on a specific rate for each hour of work, providing flexibility in pricing for short and long-term projects.
It also benefits freelancers by compensating them fairly according to the time they take to complete a project and doing so in an organized manner as they simply need to log their hours while working.
On the flip side, it could be unpredictable if there's no clear scope of the project or changes made during its progress since client requirements may change and more time may be needed than initially discussed.
Similarly, it could create challenges between freelancers and clients when agreeing on an hourly rate since different countries have different rates regarding the cost-of-living standards.
Graphic Design Price: Project-Based Pricing
Project-based pricing is an approach used by professional graphic designers to charge clients for their work on a project-by-project basis.
This pricing structure enables the designer to accurately assess the scope of the project and its associated costs, ensuring a smooth workflow and a more predictable budget for both the client and the designer.
The process begins with an initial consultation between both parties before developing creative briefs and running through detailed estimates.
The project-based billing method is prevalent among freelance graphic designers. It allows clients to know exactly what they are paying for in advance. Plus, it gives designers a more stable income base, since they can estimate how much money will be generated from each job.
Since projects are priced individually based on their requirements, this allows designers to build relationships with their clients over long-term projects rather than single jobs. It also gives freelancers increased flexibility when responding to new requests or urgent needs, as they can determine a price for each task without needing to provide an overall quote for a large project that may take days or weeks to complete.
Depending on the scope of work and the type of service needed, projects can cost anywhere between $100 to $15,000.
Factors That Affect Project-Based Pricing
Before settling on a mutually agreed price, everyone involved should assess the scope of work, consider the timeline and resources needed to complete it, and then calculate the cost.
There are a lot of factors that determine the end price, such as:
- The complexity of the project
- Desired turnaround time
- Size or scale of the project
- Client's budget constraints
- Requested revisions during development
- Additional services such as copywriting or printing services required
- Existing assets provided by the client (if any)
- Designer’s location
If you’re a graphic designer, you can charge a higher price if you have a lot of completed projects in your portfolio. To make the most out of your past experiences, learn how to make a graphic design portfolio to get as many clients as possible.
Pros and Cons of Project-Based Pricing
The primary advantage of project-based pricing is that it allows designers to better manage their workload by focusing on one project at a time. This way, they can free up their schedule, allowing them to devote more time and energy to the task at hand, which is a win for the client too.
With this type of payment arrangement, the designer can determine the scope of work they will be able to do within a certain budget, which may help in avoiding any potential cost overruns.
However, project-based pricing can also be risky. There is no guarantee that the client will be satisfied with the finished product, and it may require further iterations or additional work that wasn’t planned in the initial agreement.
If a particular project doesn’t turn out as intended due to unforeseen circumstances such as changing market trends or technical glitches, the designer could end up being paid less than expected. Similarly, the client might risk losing his competitive advantage.
Graphic Design Price: Retainer Agreement
Retainer pricing is the practice of upfront payment by a client, before receiving the graphic design services. It works well with projects that require ongoing support or when clients need regular design work.
It involves breaking down the project into blocks of time that can be worked on over a certain period. For instance, designers can work 10 hours a week with a certain client for a monthly retainer rate. During those 10 hours, the designer has to be on call at all times.
Some weeks might be busier than others, but if you have a retainer agreement, payment has to be made even if there’s no work. The retainer rate varies from one designer or agency to another, and it’s impossible to give an estimate. That’s why it’s important to explore as many options as possible and get a quote from each.
Factors That Affect the Retainer Fee
The retainer fee for graphic design can vary significantly depending on numerous factors, including the designer's experience, the complexity of the project and the size and scope of the client's needs.
Designers with more experience can typically charge higher rates due to their extensive knowledge and creativity. Projects that require specialized expertise or unique designs will also cost more than more straightforward projects.
Larger projects with multiple tasks and deliverables tend to attract higher fees as they involve a greater amount of work. Clients who demand higher-quality graphics, faster turnaround times or exclusive rights to designs will generally pay more for these services.
Retainer Agreement: Pros and Cons
Retainer agreements can be beneficial for both the customer and the graphic designer.
From the customer's point of view, it offers predictability in terms of cost, a dedicated resource for them, discounts, priority service, tailored workflows and fixed long-term costs.
On the other hand, from the graphic designer’s standpoint, retainer agreements offer stability and long-term income that is otherwise hard to come by when working on a project-to-project basis. It also creates an ongoing relationship between the designer and the client, promoting trust and consistency.
However, there are some drawbacks to retainer agreements.
These contracts may be limited in regard to pricing flexibility or new opportunities since fees are usually set upfront and cannot usually be modified later on.
Furthermore, deadlines may not always be feasible due to unforeseen circumstances like technical issues on the designer's end—this could strain relations between parties if not handled properly.
Note that there are different types of graphic design so, it’s only logical that they come at different prices.
Below, we’ll go over the two most common types and discuss how much each cost.
Product design is the creative process of envisioning and developing a physical or virtual product that meets the needs of users while respecting the product design principles. It covers everything from industrial designs such as vehicles, furniture and home appliances to interactive items like websites, computer applications and software programs.
Product design also involves researching user needs to create features that enhance usability, productivity and convenience to improve customer satisfaction. Additionally, designers must assess materials and production methods for their products to make them economically viable.
There are different product design types, such as system design, process design and interface design. But, why is product design important?
For starters, it enhances the user experience, improves product efficiency, drives innovation and creativity and boosts brand recognition. Plus:
- 72% of customers were persuaded to buy due to attractive packaging
- 73% of companies gained a competitive advantage thanks to product design
- 50% of organizations say it helped them build customer loyalty
- Effective product design can bring 228% stronger performance on the market
- Consistent product design has the potential to increase revenue and recognition by as much as 33%
How Much Does Product Design Cost?
When designing a product, you can either do it yourself, hire in-house staff or opt for product design outsourcing. The overall product design cost will vary depending on your choice.
For instance, if you feel comfortable doing it on your own, you won’t have to spend a fortune. But you’ll have to invest a lot of time in the product design process—you’ll need to come up with product design ideas and to do so, you’ll first have to research the current product design trends and familiarize yourself with the product design tools. On the other hand, you could spend all that time running your business and focusing on what you do best.
While this is the most budget-friendly option, you should carefully consider whether you’re willing to sacrifice time in the name of saving a couple of bucks. If you feel that time is money, you might want to consider hiring in-house staff.
US-based product designers make an average of $96,768. However, when you’re on the hiring side, your cost will be significantly higher if you take into account office space, insurance and other expenses that quickly add up.
Product Design Outsourcing
It’s probably because of all we mentioned above that 89% of the CTOs plan to outsource product design and development. Businesses can reduce product design costs by up to 60% if they decide to bring third-party help.
Depending on the type of product design, you can expect to pay:
|Project Type||Hourly Rate||Per Project|
|Concept Design||From $45 to $105 per hour||$100.00 and up|
|Product Design||From $45 to $105 per hour||$100 and up|
|Mechanical Design||From $45 to $125||$5,000–$10,000|
|Industrial Design||From $45 to $150||$5,000–$10,000|
|Prototyping||From $50 to $120||$2,000 and up|
Source: Cad Crowd
The top product design companies can be as involved in the process as you need them to be. They can help you come up with a winning product design strategy, develop a prototype product design for you or just assist you with a small project.
To make sure you’re hiring the right match, consult with our guide on how to choose a product design company.
Branding design is one of the most important aspects of branding that refers to the process of creating visual communication materials to establish and promote brand identity. This is achieved by using various tools, such as logo design, typography, packaging, color palette and slogan creation to develop an overall look and feel for a company or product.
The ultimate aim of branding design is to create a unique and distinct brand that stands out from your competition, connecting with customers on both emotional and rational levels. It helps consumers immediately recognize your products or services, build trust in them and ultimately form lifelong relationships.
There are over 10,000 branding agencies, but we took one for the team and compiled a list of the top branding agencies out there and a guide on choosing one. They can help with every aspect of the process of branding, branding design included!
How Much Does Branding Design Cost?
As hinted above, branding design is part of the branding equation. To better understand the cost of branding design, we’ll take a look at how much branding costs.
Typically, the estimated cost of an all-around branding campaign ranges between $11,000 to $70,000. This is what’s included in the price:
- Brand Identity - $1,000 - $5,000+
- Market Research - $1,000 - $7,000+
- Logo - $2,000 - $8,000+
- Visual Style Guide - $2,500 - $5,000+
- Editorial Style Guide - $1,500 - $4,000+
- Brand Book - $3,000 - $4,000+
- Website Design and Development - $5,000 - $30,000+
Source: Charm School
Don’t be alarmed by these numbers—the cost for brand design specifically is significantly lower and depends on various factors, such as:
- Type of brand design service
- Project scope
- Pitching fees
- Number of revisions
- Expected time of delivery
- Experience and expertise
Therefore, the brand design cost can vary:
|Experience Level||Highest Average Price||Lowest Average Price|
If you choose to outsource, you can easily drive the price to the lowest, especially if you need help only with certain services. For instance, if you need a logo designed, you can hire one of the best logo design companies and negotiate a price that fits your budget.
Graphic Design Price: Key Takeaways
Hiring a professional graphic designer can be an excellent investment for businesses looking to create visually appealing and impactful branding materials.
Professional designers are familiar with the best graphic design software and have the experience and knowledge needed to create high-quality visuals. They can meet your needs while also considering industry standards, regulations, compatibility issues and more.
By doing research ahead of time on pricing ranges for different types of projects, you can ensure you’re getting the best value for your money when it comes to design services.