Every now and then I take the time to give my two cents to any question a fellow graphic designer might have via a LinkedIn group that I’m a part of, i.e. Graphic Designer Lounge. This time around, the question is about what should you do when a client uses one of your designs without your permission. Here is what I said based on my own experiences.
When it involves intellectual property (IP), it is imperative that your client understands that any logo design or mark has to be considered in the pricing of the project. In some instances there are people who have zero knowledge of the implications of using IP without having paid for it. In your particular instance I think your client assumed because he paid for the business card design with an accompanying image, perhaps in his mind he now feels he would automatically become the owner.
I think going forward, it is always important to have clarity on the expectations of your clients when it comes down to graphic design projects. You want to ensure you are both on the same page and all the questions that need to be asked get asked to avoid situations like these. Part of your job as a graphic designer is to educate the client.
You need to ensure that clients understand that brand development begins with a logo design and everything else (business cards, letterheads, brochures, etc.) are built on this. A logo design should be treated as a separate project altogether and the charges be made accordingly. This ensures that once you have gone through the logo design process with any client and all native files and file formats (Jpeg, GIF, TIFF, EPS, etc.) is completely handed over.
So the question got asked via linkedin — “How do you charge your client? By hourly or project? What’s the advantage. and disadvantage?”
From my experience in the last 10 years, I’ve been low-balled, burned and short-changed by customers. Lessons learned.
I find that for any graphic designer (especially new ones) it is best to charge by project at a set price. This does two things:
1) It protects the interest of the graphic designer
2) It demonstrates to a client the value-added and worth of graphic design
In some instances, I have done logo design projects that take me a full two weeks to complete a design from concept to digital reproduction (in Adobe Illustrator) and other moments where it took me a few days, because of how fast inspiration came to me. In the latter instance, if I had charged hourly I would have been on the losing end.
Finally, what most graphic designers forget too is that you should not just be compensated for your labour, but more importantly for your IDEAS that translate into intellectual property (IP). That right there is priceless.
Today I spent some time helping one of my friend’s son with his sketch of Slinky from Pixar Animation Studios’, Toy Story.
At first he had a struggle drawing the character and kept saying that he wasn’t all that good. But once I showed him that most cartoon character were made of shapes (circles, ovals, etc.), lines and curves, he got some of the basics completely.
It reminded me of how important it is to teach and after seeing the result of the “young grasshopper’s” sketch it made me realise that I’m not that bad a teacher.
We should always make the time to share our creative talents and maybe in doing so, we’ll help to shape another future talent. Children are never too young to learn.
Fun Fact: I first held a pencil at 3 years old and I’ve never stopped drawing since.
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Recently I was asked by another graphic designer how much he should charge one of his customers for a logo design. Below is an edited version of what I told him.
I have three (3) different rates based on small, medium and large scale businesses with the last two (2) coming with perks like a ‘stationery package’.
For start-ups or small businesses I currently charge a reasonable rate that does three (3) things:
1) It is a good and fair price for a new graphic designer and
2) It makes people see the value-added of having a logo design and
3) It communicates to people that a logo is not a mere ‘commodity’.
You have to evaluate each client and what they say their budget is because you stand the risk of being “low-balled” since people will always try to negotiate the lowest possible price. You need to establish your price and let them know what that figure is. If they ask for a “discount” let them know you do not give discounts, but you might be willing to “not include” a specific charge in the overall cost for let’s says “online research” or “development of concepts”. This makes the client see the value of your work.
In this particular instance, as you said, you might get ongoing work from this client so that’s something you can factor in when you think about charging him. But establish a fair price and if anything you can offer this client a lower price if he says to you it’s too much. You will have to look at how low you’ll be prepared to go. Sometimes a little bartering is good where he can give you something else of value for you taking off a specific cost off the overall price.
In the end, you have to know what payment you would be comfortable with.
Fun Fact: The price for logo design is not just for labour, but more for IDEAS.
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Having a winning idea is fantastic and your entire goal, like the world’s fastest man (Usain Bolt), is doing the following three things:
1) Avoiding false starts;
2) Getting out of the starting blocks very quickly;
3) And pushing at top speed to get you across the finish line.
This in itself is quite a feat and even for legends like Bolt it doesn’t always go according to plan. Anyone remember the 100 metres in the World Championships in Daegu?
Bringing an idea from concept to fruition takes exceptional discipline and determination. It requires vast amounts of iteration. Speed often times tends to get overlooked.
When both speed and iteration are combined, it allows you to experiment and fail fast. Each quick attempt and each possibly successive failure, allows for lessons to be learned and increase knowledge and experience in the development of your idea. I found this out for myself when I created my graphic t-shirt line under my brand ‘phresh phashion™’.
Without putting in hard work, even an idea that has the potential to be great has already failed because you failed to test its worth.
Your imagination is only good for conjuring up ideas; you will have to bring those ideas to life, literally and that requires a winner.
Are you a winner? You’re more than welcome to leave a comment or question and I’ll be sure to reply.
Fun fact: I’ve sold 37 t-shirts and made USD$900.00.
If ever there was a time when I truly believed in ‘personal branding’ it would be now after my own firsthand look.
Just this month I had the wonderful opportunity to visit the winery and vineyard of Norman Hardie (owner and brand) in picturesque Prince Edward County, Ontario, Canada. I know what you’re probably thinking, “the name doesn’t ring a bell” and to you I would say I didn’t anticipate it would. However, one of the important take-aways from my meeting with “Norm” is that his entire brand is a reflection of his personality and that is the secret to creating authenticity.
From the simple yet classy and memorable logo design, to the wine glasses etched with his logo to the packaging and decor. Attention to detail is not spared. Mr. Hardie also explained that selling wines is more than just that, it is about making an experience for its visitors and this they’ve done perfectly by adding a selection of delicious pizzas. People love to create memories.
How does anyone build their names into a brand and make it a success? Well, I think the answer lies in first creating a logo that captures who you are now and who you aspire to be in the future and your business ethos is a reflection of that.
I plan on doing two things going forward, applying as much as I learned from Norman Hardie and finally revisiting this lovely winery and vineyard for the wines and pizzas.
Fun fact: I’m really a beer drinker.
To find out more about Norman Hardie, visit the website: http://www.normanhardie.com/
“Keep It Simple, Stupid!” is an approach I firmly believe in especially as a graphic designer. Simplicity always seem to trump complexity when it relates to impact. For this reason I felt it was important for me to share this story and this amazing product that is impacting and changing our world for the better.
This inventor has stumbled on an idea that in retrospect appears so simple, it seems as though anyone could have created it. However, I would not agree with that assumption since she’s the only one who has ever conceptualised, patent and developed it into an actual product.
Meet Kavita M. Shukla, the Inventor and Founder/CEO of Fenugreen. She’s described as “a pioneer in the movement towards sustainable, active, natural food packaging”. I think she definitely deserves to be called a “pioneer” solidified by her mission of “Fresh for ALL” and business model that promotes ‘corporate social responsibility(CSR)’ through its “Buy a pack, give a pack” campaign. After you watch this TEDxTalks video via YouTube, you too will that this young inventor is truly a pioneer.
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