New Brand Fee Proposal

Hi Guys, long time lurker first time poster. I’ve been working for the last 3 years on a contractual, freelance & now full-time position in various roles. Industrial Design/Interior Design/Architecture/Brand Strategy/Marketing/Design Research/Visualisation… Recently a friend contacted me with some potential work creating a company/brand/products from the ground up with a client of hers. I’ve had a few conversations with the client and provided some thoughts on his business proposal, and more bluntly the CAD work he’d had ‘designed’ after charging head first without hint of strategy/market position…

We’re at a stage now where a solid brand strategy has been created and after a very good discussion on the general direction/feel of the brand the clients now looking to get started on design & development of the products and has asked me to provide a fee proposal for the work. Here in lies my speed bump, I’ve never written a formal fee proposal of this nature before.

The initial release will be collection of around 10 products/objects that will define the brand, philosophy, visual language. Although initially tasked with just the product design it’s going to extend past just this an into Creative Direction overseeing the process of developing the entire proposition. Packaging/Advertising/Website etc.

As I say I’ve never written a proposal of this nature and would be grateful for any resources/advice people have at this stage of the process. I want to keep things simple, but define a clear set of deliverables so both of us understand exactly what’s involved.

I also have limited experience in pricing something to this degree as I’ve never undertaken work to this depth before.

Any advice is hugely appreciated.



You have answered your own question.

Breakout and price each of the segments of the proposition seperately. Use your current knowledge of proposals and apply that to each of the segments (product/packaging/website/advertising/brochures/instructions/etc). Make sure to tell your client all of these activities can generally be in parallel and will not increase any timeline. There may be a little lag between product finaliztion and package finalization, but that will depend upon the product.

If as you say the stategic part is over, the rest should be easy. Always use your strategy as a roadmap. Evaluate all your ideas against the principles of the strategy. I will assume you would be comfortable writing a proposal for the product development - ideation/refinement/finalization. It should be exactly the same for each of the other segments (packaging/website/advertising/etc.).

It is much easier for your client to understand the creative process can and should be applied to all segments so the strategy can speak as a unified whole, thus strengthening the brand.

I think iab’s summation is pretty right on.

Only thing I feel should be added is to be careful not to be greedy… really think about what kind of time frame it would take you to do the work, and divide it by .75%. This is because you might not as efficient as someone doing this kind of work day in and day out (judging from the question of how to bill for it).

The other thing that might help is to take your branding & strategy up a step. Take a look at at some of the texts, such as Aacker, specialists such as Gobé, and buzz theories like blue ocean strategy etc. Think about how the theories would realate to your product line and integrate them into your presentations to make it relevant to the work. It might expand your horizons

unless your already knowing about this kind of thing, [which I didn’t at 3 years out of school]

Thanks Travismo - I haven’t come across either of those texts/resources so will check those out. Cheers. I agree 100% that it will take me longer, no doubt. The work to me is more important to be honest than the money, it’s a fantastic opportunity and a chance to make a good mark in the sand. From this perspective I’m skewed towards working from a fixed fee to keep things clean clear and simple and just get on with the work. The benefit to me of doing this far outweighs the short-term financial gain.

Cheers Iab - I kind of figured as much. Just needed to write it out !

p.s thanks moderator for shifting my topic into the right category.

Hmm - re reading my first post it might have been a bit confusing. I should clarify the the strategy was not done by me and that my involvement is primarily the industrial design, but also taking on creative direction of the brand.

I can price the design of the objects up without to much stress, it’s quantifying the time/effort involved in overseeing the rest that’s proving tricky… thoughts ?


after thinking about it, I came back to change around a little what I wrote (yes, I’m a post changer)

Scratch what I wrote about estimating 75% - you can surely estimate already what a project will take

Also, the branding theory suggestions might not be so directly applicable to ID. I’ve been meaning to post a topic on something similar, because it’s a pet interest I’ve been trying to brush up on.

Branding theories of those sorts do end up in consultancy presentations for design strategy and give some depth, but there’s still a little fuzzy gap (to me) between the ideas and using it for product design

Hopefully, whoever created the brand strategy also created criteria to measure any tactical implementation of the strategy. Get that information from your client so when they ask you why your ad is “blue” (or any other tactical question), you can point to the criteria of the strategy and give them an objective reason. That is the beauty of a well-defined strategy, it keeps a subjective pissing-match away from any concept evaluation.

You are correct, proposal writing is just as much of an art as it is a science, especially with large, multi-phase programs. Take a first swag at it just crunching time and hourly rate. Let it sit for a day. Then look at it again and ask yourself, What is the client willing to pay? Granted that question is easier to answer with a long-standing client, but there is always a number where the client will go “Holy crap!” You need to know what that number is and price your program $5 less.

One option for brand design is to limit the number of client alterations and refinements that are included in the fixed fee proposal. This gives transparency for the client and allows a predictable fixed fee, while protecting the designer from endless changes.