How much does it cost to hire a graphic design agency? (Websites, Branding Print, Infographics)


April 22, 2019


October 3, 2019

Design doesn't have industry-wide fixed costs for certain projects. But, you’re likely reading this because you’re considering hiring a Chattanooga graphic design agency and I want to make the quoting process more transparent for you. So, first I’ll discuss what factors impact a quote and second I’ll discuss average price ranges for 5 common design projects.

Pricing Considerations

When a design agency puts together a quote for a project, we adjust the price based on a number of factors:

  • The size of the client. Agencies distinguish between three tiers: (1) global or national clients, (2) regional clients, and (3) local clients. As a client ascends those tiers, so too does the pricing. In other words, if you’re a local Chattanooga business, you should expect fees substantially smaller than an international business. 
  • The expertise of the designer. Many agencies employ graphic designers with a range of experience. The more senior a designer, the more we'll charge for their work. For local clients, agencies typically charge $50 per hour for junior designers and between $75 and $150 per hour for senior designers.
  • The complexity of the work. A good example is the difference between designing a brand new website and making tweaks to a website through ongoing maintenance. Most agencies will charge less for ongoing maintenance because it’s not nearly as complex.
  • Estimated hours to complete. This one is a little tricky because very few agencies quote a project simply by tallying how many hours we think it will take and multiplying by an hourly rate. But, our time investment is still a consideration.
  • The value you’ll get. Ultimately, design is a service industry (hence our name -- Serve.) The service we provide is to help your business overcome its challenges and grow. Thus, quotes are often impacted by the potential value you will receive from the completed project.
  • Cost of materials or outside services. In the course of the project, your agency may purchase font licenses, hire an illustrator to provide spot illustrations, or order custom tablecloths for your conference booth. Those expenses should be considered at the beginning of the project and included in the quote.

Just by looking at the list above, you can see why it’s difficult to come up with fixed prices for projects. There are so many ways a project can get impacted by something unique that alters the quote. Still, there are average price ranges that can serve as a jumping off point so that you can know if the quote you received is generally in an acceptable range.

Example of a Chattanooga Architect's Web Design
Web design project for a local architect.

Web Design and Development Projects

Of all the projects we'll discuss, website pricing will vary the most. That's because each website is unique in its scope of work. How many pages does it include? Is it a static brochure site or does it include a dynamic content management system? What features does it include? How complex will the layout be? But, there is a general pattern websites tend to fall into.

  • One-page brochure site. One page websites are popular solutions for events (like conferences), landing pages for digital campaigns, and as a simple online "brochure" for small businesses. For local clients, estimate between $1,500 and $3,500 for design and development.
  • Five-page business site with CMS. For small businesses that don't need a lot of interactivity, a 5-page site is usually a great fit. Pages usually include (1) the home page, (2) about page, (3) services page, (4) contact page, and (5) a news or blog page. For local Chattanooga businesses, estimate between $5,000 and $10,000 for design and development.
  • Larger, interactive website. Due to the size of these projects, prices escalate quickly. It's likely that outside services will be required, like a copywriter, videographer, illustrator, or specialized developers that can integrate advanced features into the site. Estimate $10,000 - $20,000.
  • E-commerce websites. There are a lot of options when it comes to e-commerce. You can work with vendors like Shopify or BigCommerce and use a template for a fraction of the cost. But, using a template can restrict your site to a very limited range of options. Here, I'm speaking specifically about a totally custom e-commerce experience. For a regional business, estimate $10,000 - $30,000.
Example of a logo design project completed by Serve featuring buttons with a skylark on them.
Logo design project for a local Charlotee Mason inspired school.

Logo Design Projects

For local Chattanooga clients, estimate $1,200 - $10,000.

Nowadays, you can use online services like 99Designs or Fiverr to generate quick and cheap logos. However, the designers who participate in those services are often beginners and they're working under tight deadlines. I say that from personal experience. When I launched my graphic design career in 2013, I competed in over two hundred 99Designs contests in a year and a half. I just wanted the practice with real clients. 

But, as designers gain experience, they will often leave services like 99Designs simply because it's not a system that benefits the designer and it's not a system conducive to professional logo design.

With a professional agency, you will:

  • Go through a thorough discovery phase in which the agency gets to know you, your business, your goals, and your target demographic well. As I mentioned in my article on evaluating logo design, a logo is the visual identifier for your business. So, it's important to make sure the logo is meaningful and representative of who you are.
  • Work with an experienced designer who is well versed in fundamentals like color theory, typography, hierarchy, and composition. They will conduct thorough research of your industry, your competitors, and any meaningful references.
  • Evaluate highly validated logo concepts. Your agency will use mockups of real world applications to vet their ideas and only present you with the options that prove to be effective.
  • Receive high quality assets and an implementation guide. If you don't have a background in graphic design, some of the technical aspects can get confusing. Your agency will make sure to provide all the necessary files and a helpful style guide so that you can implement your brand consistently.
Example of a print design project completed by Serve: a booklet for a local home builder.
Print design project for a local home builder.

Print Collateral Design Projects

There are a lot of projects that would fit in this category. So, like we did with websites, let's discuss some of the common items design agencies produce. Keep in mind estimates are for design only and don't include printing costs.

  • Stationery Sets. A comprehensive set may include business cards, letterhead, envelopes, mailing label, greeting cards, and invoice. For local clients, estimate $1,500 - $5,000
  • Business Cards. Some clients don't need a full stationery set and just need a professional business card design. Locals should estimate $150 - $500.
  • Postcard/Direct Mail Campaign. To be effective, direct mail campaigns need to be done consistently for a long period of time -- usually a year. The design requirements may include variations of a postcard. Or, they may require an outer envelope, letter, reply card, and a reply envelope. Estimate $850 -$7,500 for a comprehensive campaign design. Estimate $150 - $500 for a single postcard.
  • One page flyer. If you need a web-ready PDF flyer or a flyer for print, the cost should be about the same. Estimate about $250 - $1,000.
  • Brochure. Brochures come in various sizes and folds. To keep things simple, let's consider a classic tri-fold brochure with 6 panels. Chattanogoa business should estimate $850 - $3,000.

Infographic Design

For local clients, estimate $300 - $1,000.

The usefulness of infographics, or information graphics, is primarily in condensing a lot of information into a single image that's easy to understand. They use visual elements like charts, graphs, icons, illustrations, and maps to represent data. But, they also serve a few secondary purposes:

  • Infographics have become a popular SEO tool. People are more likely to engage with and share about an infographic than they are about a long article. That sharing produces backlings, which signals to search engines like Google that your website is highly regarded. They then push up your site in organic search results.
  • Infographics can be space savers when you need to include a lot of content in a small space. This is especially true in the print world -- on brochures or on packaging -- where space is limited.
Example of a real estate icon set design.

Icon Design

The pricing for icon design depends heavily on how large the set. But, for a basic set of 12 icons, estimate $500 - $1,500.

Icons have become a popular resource for visual designers. As with infographics, their primary purpose is to be an illustrative shorthand for a thing, idea, or action. But, they're also helpful in reducing or breaking up content with an enjoyable visual element. To be effective, icons need to meet some criteria:

  • Immediate recognition. Because they're small and may or may not be paired with a label, icons should leverage universally shared visual language to communicate quickly (this may not be possible with abstract ideas). For example, a shield generally means protection or security.
  • On brand. One of the key values of custom iconography is that it matches your brand and reinforces it to the user.
  • Work as a set. Icons are typically designed as a set of multiples. So, it's important for them to feel cohesive with repeating patterns or rules. For example, the line widths or corner radius should be the same on most of the icons.
  • Simple. Most icons are range from 18, 24, 32, 48, or 64 pixels square. Even the 64 pixels is still very small. So, it's important to keep the icons as minimal as possible while still being recognizable.

Hire Serve As Your Graphic Design Agency

Wow. Thanks for reading. This is a long article and I so appreciate the time you invested in it. I hope the estimates brought some clarity to the project you're considering. If it did, reach out and let us know about it. We'd love to work with you to get it completed.