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How Much Does it Cost to Hire a Design Agency?
One of the most common questions we get at Fusion Media is about pricing — and for good reason. There are over 5,500 ...
One of the most common questions we get at Fusion Media is about pricing — and for good reason. There are over 5,500 digital advertising agencies in the United States, and they offer a wide range of services, specialties, and pricing structures.
How much is your design project going to cost? The TLDR answer is, it depends. If you’re bargain shopping, check out the many design marketplaces where you can shop for a logo, template, or even a freelance designer at fire sale prices. On the other end of the spectrum are top global design firms, who rightly charge astronomical fees for inventing and reinventing the most famous brands in the world. At Fusion, we’re somewhere in the middle, with deep experience on some of the world’s biggest brands, but with a culture that is so ROI-driven, our rate card may surprise you.
This blog will walk you through the kinds of work we do and give you some examples of what to expect in terms of pricing. But first, let's clear up one big misconception:
If you were a fan of Mad Men, you’re well aware of the traditional agency pricing model. 20th century advertising agencies developed concepts, produced print and broadcast advertising, and bought that media on behalf of their clients for a handsome 20% fee. That doesn’t really happen so much anymore.
At Fusion, we don’t make broadcast commercials, but we do offer design and advertising for some of today’s biggest brands. While we still occasionally bill on media spend, we also offer a number of different pricing models to suit the diverse needs of our clientele. Each project is different and pricing depends on a number of factors:
Common Cost Factors
1. Complexity of the Work
The number of deliverables always affects cost, but so does the entry point. Are we maintaining a campaign or executing a brand that already exists, or are we starting from scratch? The more complex the services, the more we recommend investing in a Discovery Phase, which in addition to producing insight, can help determine the ultimate scope of the engagement.
2. Scale of the Client
Small businesses will pay less than large enterprises. Scale and value are not necessarily the same, but the dollar value of the work to the business is taken into account.
3. Process and Time
Our process consists of seven steps: Align, Discover, Brief, Create, Deliver, and Reflect. The needs of the project determine the time investment in each stage. We know that to succeed in the Creation and Delivery, we often need to invest in Alignment and Discovery. This could involve qualitative and quantitative research, working sessions, and other material costs.
Sometimes work comes to us as a request for a certain deliverable, but in Discovery, we learn that a different direction is required. This is okay. This is actually great. When you have a partner who can help you clarify your strategy, you stand a much better chance at reaching your goals.
When you hire a good agency, you are paying for expertise and experience. Well-trained art directors, writers, and knowledge workers have the background and skill to create value and meaning for your brand.
6. Cost of Materials
Materials may include photography, licensing, and outside services as required.
Types of Design Deliverables & Estimated Costs
Keep in mind that the ranges we present are rough guidelines for some of the work we do most often:
|Logo||$2,000 - $5,000|
|New Brand / Identity System||$15,000 - $90,000+|
|Brand Extension||$5,000 - $50,000+|
|Video||$8,000 - $50,000+|
|Social Media Visuals||$2,000 - $20,000+|
|Investor Relations (Annual Reports, Sustainability Reports)||$20,000 - $80,000+|
|Interactive (Digital Kiosks, Sales Enablement Tools, etc.)||$5,000 - $40,000+|
|Environmental Branding (Interiors, Wayfinding, etc.)||$2,000 - $20,000+|
|Collateral (Email, Presentations, Print, etc.)||$2,000 - $20,000+|
As you can see, the cost factors contribute to a fairly wide price range for each deliverable. It’s also important to remember what Fusion brings to the table. If you’re shopping on price or looking to cut corners, Fusion is probably not a good fit. If you’re looking for brand communication that will grow your business, our rates are extremely competitive.
Additionally, most deliverables tend to be part of a larger campaign, event, or package, rather than à la carte. In larger projects with multiple deliverables, volume savings is built in. Pricing for UX and Events is outside the scope of this post, but will be covered on our blog in the future.
Ways We Bill
Fusion primarily bills for design services by the project. We estimate the hours needed to create the required deliverables, and provide a range. The formula is straightforward:
hours + materials = your cost.
Our all-in hourly rate for enterprise clients averages $250.
Some projects require ongoing services over a stretch of months, or may involve an extensive Discovery Phase or Agile development process. For these ongoing scopes of work, we offer monthly blocks of hours at a reduced rate, currently $200/per hour.
Some Questions to Think About
Talking openly about pricing is still a bit taboo for most agencies, though some are starting to do it. There’s certainly nothing keeping you from googling other agencies who also publish their pricing. In fact, we hope you do. Some will charge more, and some will charge less. We think the most important questions to ask yourself about a design agency are:
- How does this agency’s capabilities match up with my particular design challenge?
- What sort of value can I expect them to bring to the table?
- Whose process am I most comfortable with?
- What are the consequences if I select the wrong partner?
If your answers point you toward Fusion, we would be delighted to chat about your project. If your answers point you elsewhere, we hope our POV on pricing helped put you on the right path.
If you're still not sure what your next move is, we recommend starting small. Most agencies will happily offer you some kind of exploratory session or consultation, so you can get a sense upfront of the culture and talent you'll be dealing with — without committing to a statement of work right away. Fusion offers a free BrandCheck™, which will give you top-line analysis and recommendations to consider. More importantly, it will give you a sense of our culture and how we work. There’s no obligation, and everything to gain. Book yours here.