Undercutting: A Bad Design Ethic


Kyle (DQubed) originally posted the following as a 'Design Station' poll and discussion thread on XBiz' Cosmic Village message board system. While initially focusing on the price of logos and the worth of a designer's time, the issues raised transcend these questions and apply to anyone who works as a 'creative' in this or any other field. Read on:

Almost any logo should be worth more than $69. I see a large trend in the design community abroad to undercut - not that undercutting is bad, because it helps get people the business they need - but an established company like k-factor.net should not be offering logos at $69, period. Not unless it's some quick job for a guy who doesn't care and doesn't have time to deal with caring, and if that's the case, then why would he bother getting one designed?

My point is that there is a general value, in any given profession, of a persons' hour - varying with experience. now most graphics designer's hour should be worth at least $30 (low level). I know designers who's hour is worth $150-250+ and these guys make me look like 'Fisher Price.' Now every logo design process should have a certain amount of communication between the client & the designer: things need to be expressed - especially the client's expectations for visual communication. When the client doesn't know how to express these things, it's the designer's job to get it out of them. Sometimes this process takes 30 minutes, sometimes it takes hours - and those hours should be counted! I hope it takes more than 2 hours to design a logo, because there should be a number of logos on paper before even 1 is made on your computer. Now this doesn't go for everything - I've done logos that only take me a few hours to come up with and to get done, but these were rather simple logos that didn't take a lot to express. Either way, that logo is 'WORTH' more than $69 as it represents a company - and that burden alone is worth more than $69...

Really, it should take at least a day to develop a logo from concept to design, and we're just talking about a logo here, not a company branding/identity project; that's a whole lot more valuable. But a stand-alone logo should be treated the same way. So let's say a logo takes 1 day to design: 8hours x $30/hr = $240, and if you want to give someone a deal, then charge them $200. That's cheap, and I'll never design a real logo for only $200 - you can hold me to that! Did anyone see a beautiful mind? "In any given situation a person should do what is best for themselves... and what is best for the group." In this situation, the group is graphics designers abroad. It's bad business for people to offer things like logos and time for less then it's worth. I see some people undercutting like crazy, and people designing for next to nothing. Some of them are good designers, some are great designers, and some probably shouldn't even own a copy of Photoshop. What it all boils down to is if any person calls themselves a designer, then they should be working at the level of a designer...

What it all boils down to is if any person calls themselves a designer, then they should be working at the level of a designer, and understand what it means to work, and what it means to put in your time, and how important it is to keep learning. They should take time to understand the aspects of design and what it involves, on a regular basis. I purchase design books monthly and constantly go through design magazines so that I understand what is happening in the world of design.

The bottom line is that nobody should be designing a logo for $69: it's bad for business as a whole, since it makes people expect to pay as low as $69. I'm going to stop here, but Iwould really like to see what sort of responses I get to this:

And many thoughtful responses were forthcoming! If you would like to read the thoughts and opinions of some of the communities top designers, or you would like to participate in this discussion yourself, then click on the link below: