2 reasons why clients will always expect to pay R99 for a logo

…well, some clients not all.

First and foremost graphic design is not coming up with ‘acceptable’ and ‘nice-looking’ designs, it is a very important form of communication that have an enormous impact on our lives and decisions we make.

It cannot get any easier to be a graphic designer. Nowadays most people declare themselves as graphic designers, simply because they can play around Microsoft Word.


As graphic designers are paid to come up with creative design solutions and we then use design programs to execute the ideas, softwares don’t come up with ideas for us.
Being fluent in Microsoft word doesn’t make you a professional writer, right? Then why do some people title themselves graphic designers just because they know their way around a design program?

Ok maybe your sister’s neighbour’s mother-in-law’s son can play around a design program, he’s not a graphic designer. He’s just a son who can play around a design program. Do you disagree? Ask the young man what the following is cmyk, kerning, serif, bleed, vector, dpi, resolution and no, design doesn’t have its own new year’s resolutions.

Most people and sadly this includes potential clients are clueless on the ‘behind the scenes’ stages of developing a good professional logo. They estimate or rather judge the project’s worth based on the complexity or simplicity of the final logo presented.

Sure we all can redraw Apple’s logo in under 5 minutes, but that’s not how long it took the designers to get to the masterpiece Apple has today. On their logo the apple is a reference from the Bible story of Adam and Eve, where the apple represents the fruit of Tree of Knowledge, with a pun on ” byte / bite”.

Even though the Apple logo evolved in 1998, they still kept the shape of the apple with a bite. Apple’s then President Mr. Janoff called the logo “…the most expensive bloody logo ever designed…” One of the major reasons for Apple’s success is their awareness and respect for the importance of investing in design, be it design of their products or the design to sell their products, advertisements, packaging, website etc.

A professional designer will always research the company, its products, competitors and potential clients and then conceptualize an appropriate design.

Before a designer even touches their computer, they should have completed two very crucial phases, research and brainstorming.

Two phases which some clients doesn’t think of when they decide whether we’re worth what we charge or not.
I think of the two phases as foreplay, how good or bad a designer does them affects the outcome of the project, simple as that. Investing more time on this ‘foreplay’ ensures better ‘outcomes’, and more time equals a heavier bill that the client might not be willing to carry.

I ran into Businesslogos, a website that sells logo design services. Their gold package promises 26 unique logos to choose from with unlimited revisions. All for R1990.

They also sell pre-designed logos.
How do you answer to a brief that doesn’t exist, as yet. Ok, let me try to make this question easier: How possible is it for one to answer to a question that has not been asked yet and still be confident with their answer?


It’s companies like these that degrade the design industry.

Design is a service not a product, so there no such thing as a ‘bargain’, if you want the best then be prepared to dig deeper into your pockets. Good designers don’t come cheap. We all respect the fact that we can never get a Range Rover for the price of a Golf but yet some people still expect good designs for close to nothing.
Personally I don’t offer design packages designs, I think selling clients packages and pre-made designs is simply being impersonal with the client’s project, period. As I was taught that a design should be ‘custom made’ not fitted.

A potential client once said I’m quite expensive, they know some guy from some internet cafe who designs logos for R 75, and I just acted surprised and said ” …oh that’s so nice he’ll definitely save you a lot of money… ” and left the client to go get their R 75 bargain.

Should I have educated the client? I disagree. How do you teach someone to value something? Explain the importance of a professional logo? Well, that’s arguable, if they didn’t know the importance of a a professional logo then why did they want one in the first place?


The two reasons I think why clients expect to pay designers peanuts:

Apart from the fact that most clients are still not prepared to invest in design as a valuable marketing aspect, I hold companies like BusinessLogo, Biz-Logo, Logoworks and Logomaid accountable.


Because of the latter graphic design is underrated. But I believe:

-Design design made you choose some product over the other.

-Design draws your attention a thousand times daily.

-Design sold your product.

-Design once changed your emotion.

-Design gave you an instruction without saying a word.

-Design is an investment not an expense!

-Design is powerful.

  • Mokokoma Mokhonoana Said:

    That’s quite sad, sometimes even design companies are being unfair to designers.

    Why are designers paid a fixed salary? Do we really solve same problems every month? Is our worth determined by the amount of hours we’re willing to spend in the office or the ideas that we give birth to and execute?

    With regards to the R 8k salary, that equals an estimate of R 43 p/h — provided you work for 8 hours daily, weekdays, and we all know that that’s rare in this industry as we work through the night most of the time.
    — On February 21st, 2008 at 2:05 pm [permarlink]
  • the legendary Chakih Spark Said:

    we can never complain enough about the nonsense that’s put out there for designers to live with. i have these similar discussions with my designer comrades on a regular basis. the point here is “to educate or not to educate” the would-be client, in fact, all design unaware individuals out there about what this whole thing we love, and yes, went to school for (some of us). at risk of being more unemployable than I’m already proving out to be, i think fault rests also with the would-be employers. if you visit a website like bizcommunity to search for a job, you come across some seriously ridiculous salary offers. the kind of offers that makes you wonder how anyone can expect anyone to survive let alone live on what they are prepare to pay the designers. 3-4 years experience R8,000 per month. for instance….
    — On February 21st, 2008 at 1:13 pm [permarlink]
  • Kabelo Said:

    Nicely put… I have come across people that can fiddle with Photoshop, Flash and Gimp and they call themselves designers, just like a person who can play with Joomla and Drupal and they call themselves Web Developers, Please!!!!
    — On February 21st, 2008 at 3:11 pm [permarlink]
  • Kabelo Said:

    Touching base on the 8k, and working through the night… The same would apply us Software developers, 1 would spend sleepless night working on a solution for a client and I cannot say the salary is as ridiculous as 8k just depending on how good you are and the level of experience you have, but the trick is to design (which we developers do, believe it or not) first, you will find that it makes the coding part much easier and you have calculated every scenario to the problem and found multiply solutions. So I guess designers and developers are not so different!!!
    — On February 21st, 2008 at 4:21 pm [permarlink]
  • Juba Said:

    Brilliant read and I couldn’t agree more, but still that is a problem that seem to be more prevalant in SA than the rest of the world. I often read on some international designers’ websites on cost guidelines and it makes the prices SA companies expect to pay for your work infinitesimal compared to basic work these designers offer. So if not to “educate” the client, then what are you supposed to do? Leave them be, and let their brothers-friends-cousin who knows what Photoshop is, design their website/logo, and then sit back with an “I told you so” view when they don’t get the exposure/response they wanted when people see the work? Just asking here, not throwing stones…
    — On March 31st, 2008 at 2:57 pm [permarlink]
  • Mokokoma Mokhonoana Said:


    Thanks for the compliment on the article.
    On the ‘educating’ issue:
    I do educate on how I approach projects and design related concerns that the client might enquire about.

    I however believe the client should know the importance of a logo before they even hire a designer, why else would they be hiring a designer if they didn’t know the value of a logo?

    Remember in this article I refer to clients who approaches the designer and expect to under pay for the design services NOT a client out there with no logo and not planning of having any designed due of their lack of knowing the importance of having done.
    — On March 31st, 2008 at 3:50 pm [permarlink]
  • Ruark Said:

    Hey man,
    That is a great article right there. So many clients expect the world from you for the least amount of money, and then if you dont budge, they say “ill get my niece to do it” … and then a month later you check out their site and you cry a little inside.

    … cry and wait for them to get back to you 😛
    — On April 1st, 2008 at 9:23 am [permarlink]
  • Bongs Said:

    Some people are raking hundreds of thousands!

    I came across an article stating the cost of the latest Joburg City logo, it went for more than R40k per letter.

    I just hope it was an honest transaction without any underhand maneuvers…
    — On April 2nd, 2008 at 2:41 pm [permarlink]
  • 10 tips to greater logo design • Mokokoma Mokhonoana || Graphic designer, Art director and Web developer. Said:

    […] Research, research and do more research. This phases does not really entail any design skills but it’s critical as it ensures that you get to know and understand your client’s brand, their products / services and competitors more, which will also ensure that you don’t end up with a logo similar to those of your client’s competitors. […]
    — On May 29th, 2008 at 3:01 am [permarlink]
  • The real bargain of 'affordable' design • Mokokoma Mokhonoana || Graphic designer, Art director and Web developer. Said:

    […] one of my previous article I listed some of the important phases of professional logo design that amounts to a costly quote […]
    — On July 1st, 2008 at 3:12 pm [permarlink]
  • Curvball Said:

    Nice post. I had ironically posted something similiar on my own site a week or so back.

    It is amazing how under valued design is… especially seeing as design shapes the entire world both in visual and function.
    — On August 10th, 2008 at 11:26 am [permarlink]
  • Sifiso Said:

    You would think most clients would possess enough common sense to draw parallels between a good design service and a meal by five-star chef. Sure you can have a decent steak meal prepared at home for a fraction of the cost of a steak meal at the Waldorf Astoria. You can even buy fried steak on the pavement in the city!

    But deep down you know that you would pay for that five-star meal because there is something special about it. And we all want it.

    What do you think would happen to you if you went to a five-star joint, sat down to look at the menu and demanded that the meal of your choice be discounted because your grandma can make it with common supermarket ingredients? You would probably get thrown out in a huff and be banned for life!

    The problem with us designers and developers is that most of us are prepared to bend over backwards just to get a trade. The sooner more of us become stern and turn down cheapskate clients, the more value and respect we will generate for this industry. We will be selling bragging rights!

    Doctors do it, lawyers do it, even plumbers do it. It may not seem so at first, but it pays off down the line to turn down ridiculous demands.

    I made myself hungry. Ciao.
    — On December 19th, 2008 at 7:47 pm [permarlink]
  • Mokokoma Mokhonoana Said:


    The challenge is that most clients never had any experience with a design project, some of them can’t really tell what makes a good design, what to expect from the designer and how important design is to any company serious about their brand.

    In most cases clients settle for few of the first designers they’re able to find and other times there is budget restrictions.

    The challenge from creatives’ side is that sometimes ‘importance-of-professional-design-unconscious’ clients let a couple of designers quote them and then the client chooses the ‘cheapest’ cost estimate. So basically designers are made to compete to be the most ‘affordable’.

    My advice is to never try to win a client on affordability, don’t be afraid to charge what you’re worth!

    “…Someone has to be the most expensive, so it might as well be you. But if you’re going to charge like you’re the best, make sure you are the best!…”

    Thanks for sharing your views.

    *Quote from Andrew Griffiths’s book
    — On December 19th, 2008 at 9:42 pm [permarlink]
  • John Said:

    I can’t believe the Apple logo has been around for over 10 years and only just now I’ve found out that it means more than “it’s an apple”. Are you sure that you’re not just making up that story about the byte?
    — On January 10th, 2009 at 2:20 am [permarlink]
  • Mokokoma Mokhonoana Said:


    Welcome, I’m not making the story up. Below is an extract from an article on the Evolution of Apple’s logo design:

    — On January 10th, 2009 at 10:48 am [permarlink]
  • Kostas Said:

    — On January 12th, 2009 at 3:47 am [permarlink]
  • Mokokoma Mokhonoana Said:


    Thanks for your comment and welcome to my blog!
    — On January 12th, 2009 at 8:58 am [permarlink]
  • Twanet Said:

    I’ve been reading through your site today, found it very interesting, I am a junior designer and am still learning the “tricks of the trade” sometimes I find myself wondering about the role designers play in the world, we have a huge point to prove to become one of “the best” what can one do to accomplish greatness? And stand out from the “business logos” company crowd… Do designers regularly feel confused and inferior?

    Thank you for a very nice and insight-giving website :)
    — On January 16th, 2009 at 12:21 pm [permarlink]
  • Mokokoma Mokhonoana Said:


    Welcome, I’m glad you found my website interesting.

    I believe one of the best way to achieve ‘greatness’ as a designer is to always have the design’s objectives and its intended audience in mind, and make it your priority to create designs that communicates, instead of only focusing on its aesthetics.

    A great portfolio is a good start to standing out from “business logos’ companies, however most clients employ companies like them simply because they’re were the first people they bumped into and because most clients don’t really know what makes a good design and how they should judge whatever the designer presents.

    So ‘design illiteracy’ from the client’s side plays a huge role in businesses like Business Logos still being in business!

    I honestly don’t understand your last question. Please rephrase if you can.
    — On January 16th, 2009 at 12:54 pm [permarlink]
  • Twanet Said:

    Thank you for the reply on my message, never mind my last question, just got a little ahead of myself… I am not familiar with a great lot of designers and would like to get to know some people with the same interests as I have, do you have any recommendations? Is there, besides your blog other places I can visit?
    — On January 19th, 2009 at 8:39 am [permarlink]
  • 18 websites that I recommended to a junior graphic designer » Mokokoma Mokhonoana Said:

    […] post is a result of a request by Twanet, a junior designer who kindly asked me to refer any graphic design related sites that he could learn and get inspiration from. I included some […]
    — On January 19th, 2009 at 12:40 pm [permarlink]
  • Mokokoma Mokhonoana Said:


    I just published a post with website links that I believe you will be able to learn and get inspiration from.

    Click below to view the post

    — On January 19th, 2009 at 12:43 pm [permarlink]
  • Twanet Said:

    Thank You very much!! I appreciate it, I am sure this will help me and others to go a long way, I will be on this site daily! :)

    Thank you once again
    — On January 19th, 2009 at 1:09 pm [permarlink]
  • Mokokoma Mokhonoana Said:


    I’m glad I could help! :)
    — On January 19th, 2009 at 1:20 pm [permarlink]
  • The meaning behind 12+ Famous logo designs you will see today » Mokokoma Mokhonoana || Graphic designer, Logo designer and Website developer. Said:

    […] year I published a post demonstrating some of the reasons why most clients will always perceive logo design as a quick and cheap task. There’s a lot of time and more importantly thought that goes into a development of a […]
    — On January 26th, 2009 at 11:59 am [permarlink]
  • Shane Said:

    Good read! I agree, logo’s should be logical, relevant and emotional…how a designer can create something of that nature with a budget of +- R75 is ridiculous. Clients who want to spend a pittance should invest in clip art then they can create as many junk logos with no brand connection all the want!
    — On January 26th, 2009 at 3:40 pm [permarlink]
  • Mokokoma Mokhonoana Said:


    The challenge is that logo designers are selling a service rather than a ‘tangible’ product.

    When buying a product say a can of Coke, you can hunt for the ‘cheapest’ seller, since you’d be buying the same product from Seller B (which will be exactly the same with Sellers A and C).

    I think the problem is some clients aim to employ a service provider (logo designer) using the same methods to look for a product seller.

    In which low pricing is usually the criteria to making the purchase.

    Welcome to my blog and thank you for sharing your view.
    — On January 26th, 2009 at 4:15 pm [permarlink]
  • David Said:

    Careful with how you present quotes “President Mr. Janoff called the logo “…the most expensive bloody logo ever designed…”

    I believe this was in reference to the fact the logo had multiple colors instead of two tone thus it cost a fortune every time they had to re-produce the logo in their marketing material.

    Your making out that it was the design that was the cost which is taking his comments out of context.
    — On February 17th, 2009 at 2:41 am [permarlink]
  • Mokokoma Mokhonoana Said:


    I did some research after reading your comment and you’re right, the directors of Apple where referring to the high reproduction cost as it was:

    “…before the days of reasonably priced process printing and four color logos were an indulgence that few companies could afford.”

    Thanks for your comment, I learned something very important from it!
    — On February 17th, 2009 at 10:16 am [permarlink]
  • Arthur Van Wyk Said:

    This thing is rife in my life

    I have several clients with whom – out of the goodness of my heart – i have shared my software. (when i was still green). these same clients then turned around started punting themselves as graphic designers.

    3 of them actually decided to slap together their own website front-ends and passed it to me just for coding.. and expected to pay less than the originally quoted price

    sometimes you feel it’s the right thing to educate your clients on every aspect of the work you do for them, but most times that is not a good thing.

    I be about my business. client – you be about yours.
    — On February 17th, 2009 at 10:40 am [permarlink]
  • Asking for a client's budget: an opportunity to 'milk' the client or not? » Mokokoma Mokhonoana || Logo designer, Graphic designer and Website designer. Said:

    […] could easily say: “ the design will cost you ‘this much’ with 3 revisions ” – but I’m not a fan of ‘design packages’, as I strongly believe every client’s design challenge differs thus it will require a design […]
    — On March 12th, 2009 at 10:59 am [permarlink]
  • Pragasan Naidoo Said:

    I experienced the similar issue but mainly with website design and development in durban. Customers call me up to quote them for a website which I then give them based on what I think would benefit the company and then I never hear from them again. One day I decided to call some of my potential customers back and ask them why they did they not go with me (I quoted them on an average 10 page website). The most common answers I got was

    1. I managed to get a the website done for less than R 1000
    2. I managed to get a free website design I just have to pay for hosting for not more than R 100 pm

    When I queried what the specifications of their website was I found out it was completely different from what I offered in my website brief. This proves that businesses in South Africa (especially small businesses ) who are for the first time going onto the web don’t care what they get as long as it cheap. They don’t know the difference between a website that works and the website that doesn’t. When looking closer I found out that they were lured into taking a cheap website or a free website that really did not fit their business. No SEO, No Contact Forms, Terrible Design. It seems like a company just got someone to sit and do a production line of website packages and marketed it to the mass. When customers wanted to cancel because of bad service they find out that they were trapped in a contract and the free website was not free after all. Most of the businesses that go online for the first time go through this cycle and most get scared to go back.

    On another note I was also forced to go the cheap route because I was losing out to the cheap competitors. What I then found was shocking. If a customer takes a website for R 800 at the end of the day he still expects a R 5000 service. He still asks for those extra iterations on the design and when you tell him that he reached his limit he gets angry and threatens that he would go elsewhere.
    Now imagine if you get 10 customers a month who would come to you because you are cheap. Your work load increases by your costs increase as well. Also if you are used to offering good service and quality work it is hard downgrade. You therefore find yourself offering your customers R 5000 value for just R 800.
    It’s just not worth the effort. Since then I stopped and went back to my old ways. The lesson I learned from this is that price determines your company’s value and worth. Don’t budge for customers on your price. If they want something cheaper point them to one off your cheap competitors and if you are lucky they may learn a lesson and come back that’s if pride doesn’t get to them first.

    If all software, web and graphic design companies in South Africa start marketing themselves by service and not price we would all be more valued. Then customers will be forced to choose who they service provider will be based on the quality of service they offer.
    — On March 14th, 2009 at 1:36 am [permarlink]
  • Mokokoma Mokhonoana Said:

    Pragasan Naidoo,

    Design illiteracy is the root of all this, some clients don’t really know what makes an effective design, effective – so they usually make pricing their major factor when choosing a designer.

    A common mistake I see, is a lot of business people make it their problem when a prospect doesn’t afford what they charge, which tempts them to lower their initial cost estimates.

    Welcome, and thanks for sharing your experience.
    — On March 14th, 2009 at 12:16 pm [permarlink]
  • Briefing questions: Help to gather as much information as possible Said:

    […] also key in helping the designer understand the project scope, which is essential for working out what the designer will charge for the […]
    — On March 26th, 2009 at 12:09 pm [permarlink]
  • Shortest logo brief ever; just don't copy other logos! » Mokokoma Mokhonoana || Logo designer, Graphic designer and Website designer. Said:

    […] the thousands possible design solutions presented by a community — of which, the majority of the participants are not even graphic design students, they just have a copy of Microsoft Word, Powerpoint, GIMP or a trial version copy of […]
    — On May 25th, 2009 at 2:50 pm [permarlink]
  • Student work showcase from University College Falmouth » Mokokoma Mokhonoana || Logo designer, Graphic designer and Website designer. Said:

    […] that’s getting harder and harder to come by in a graphic designer nowadays — since every second person with a computer calls themselves a […]
    — On May 27th, 2009 at 2:17 pm [permarlink]
  • A simple analogy on how much it cost to hire a graphic designer » Mokokoma Mokhonoana || Logo designer, Graphic designer and Website designer. Said:

    […] like I mentioned before, I am not of a fan of design packages. As I believe when practiced, it’s unfair to at least one of the two parties, client or […]
    — On June 1st, 2009 at 7:17 pm [permarlink]
  • Barbara Said:

    When a client says, “I can get a logo off the internet for $_____,” I respond with, “I sure can’t argue with that price. We all know what our work is worth.”
    — On June 17th, 2009 at 3:58 pm [permarlink]
  • Mokokoma Mokhonoana Said:


    The one thing I love about design is solving clients’ challenges and in most cases the size (small) of the budget contributes in making the challenge harder – as you’re required to achieve something with fewer resources.

    I’m open to trying to work within the client’s budget, but when they start giving me the “we can get it else where cheaper” speech — I let go of the prospect.

    I’d rather work with a client that values design and my expertise but has a tiny budget than someone who affords me who is only developing a logo for the sake of having one.

    Thanks for sharing your views.
    — On June 18th, 2009 at 10:31 am [permarlink]
  • Bob Said:

    If a client tells me they can get something cheaper elsewhere, I don’t stop them. More often not they come crawling back, and end up paying more than they would have in the first place.

    I am here to offer a quality service, not a CHEAP service!.
    — On July 3rd, 2009 at 2:39 pm [permarlink]
  • Christian Said:

    I can get the feeling of real designers out there. But you should also know that there are also best marketer out there in the business, who doesn’t pay much attention to how the logo’s look, etc. But they rely on their way to attract their market through other marketing attractiveness other than logos. Hence, you’re right that logos can be important to interprete company’s product and services.

    As a marketer I only set up my strong products on trying to reach clients, stay in the business through my marketing strategies. A logo to me is like the rules I need to follow in displaying the name of the company with a nice design logo, I’m not expecting to get clients out of logos, I have that inborn skill to sell.

    As designers you should you understand that every business has its own market or otherwise all those companies that were mentioned here would not have started their R75 logo design. Just only understand your tagert market and stop pointing fingers at others.

    Check your comments and your thinking you can’t push someone into buying your services by criticizing others who are trying to stay in the business. What are you into business or what? You might as well start a new development in media I’m sure your paper can sell just like a daily sun. People love gossip! LOL!
    — On March 28th, 2010 at 1:52 am [permarlink]
  • Mokokoma Mokhonoana Said:


    Though I understand your standpoint, I think we share opposing views as to what the role of a logo is to a brand. A logo mainly serves as a tool used to visually identity a brand that it represents, and it can not really be used to ‘market’ a business — It would be a bit unrealistic to expect a logo alone to win you a client.

    I think it is of no use for me to comment further as I disagree with the premise that “…a logo is supposed to sell…” which all your commentary is based on.
    — On March 29th, 2010 at 12:18 pm [permarlink]
  • Andrew Bui Said:

    Good thinking.
    — On September 28th, 2011 at 9:19 pm [permarlink]
  • Ilse Venter Said:

    I have rarely come across a designer in my 20 years of designing who can amaze me with a stunning Logo design. I find that designers just copy ideas from Logomaid and tweak them a bit. I once met a designer about 25 years ago that really amazed me with his intricate Logo designs that was well though through. i just cant remember the guys name. Sorry all… :-)
    — On November 6th, 2013 at 7:35 pm [permarlink]
  • Carl Said:

    Hi There,

    Thanks for the great article..

    It saddens me that the fact of the matter is no client stumble across or attempt to read this article. I’m very certain that 99% of the people who have read this article are probably designers or the like.

    There is no turning back with the fact that clients will always under mind design and under pay.

    I’m a Graphic Designer and I constantly find myself having to try justify to people why designs cost an X amount.

    I didn’t study for many years and get a Bachelors Degree for nothing!

    You don’t tell a Doctor how to do his job. Why do that to Designers?

    We are both experts in our fields, yet people think we are all stoners who float through life trying to screw people over with a few 30 second doodles.


    Thanks for the article though.
    Reminds you that you aren’t the only designer who feels this way..

    Sorry for my spelling if I spelt anything incorrectly.. I’m a Designer, not a Copywriter hehe

    — On January 19th, 2014 at 6:07 pm [permarlink]


With this writing I strive to initiate a dialogue, thus, sharing your points of view on this writing is encouraged and will be highly appreciated, whether it supports my points of view or it is of an opposing standpoint. I reserve the right to make adjustments to grammar and spelling mistakes, and to edit or delete comments that are offensive to any of the contributors of this writing.