How to Create a Design Budget | MP 60

Are you revaluing your design budget? What are aspects that you should focus on when you are adding funds to your design budget? When should you hire a designer or do your own design?

In this podcast episode, Sam Carvalho speaks about how to create a design budget and which elements you should be spending your money on.

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In This Podcast


  • Benefits of investing in design
  • Identifying designs that need to be created
  • Know the market rates for the designers you need
  • Analyze your budget
  • Consistency is key

Benefits of investing in design

  • Helps to make your brand more identifiable to customers: the public is more likely to trust and want to do business with a brand that they can identify.
  • Design helps to build a brand identity.

These two benefits together can improve sales and make for a more cohesive marketing strategy.

Identifying designs that need to be created

By taking a look at how you already make use of design within your business you can see areas where maybe design isn’t helping to improve your business or isn’t bringing clients in … and then other areas where design is making a big difference. Obviously you’re going to assign more budget to the areas where design is actually making a difference.

  • Gather some data on the designs you have already used and see where and how you are already using designs, how much you have spent on them, what returns you have seen from the presence of designs, and where possible future opportunities lie.
  • If you work on your own design, be aware of your time to value ratio with DIY design because it may turn out to be more cost-effective to hire a designer if your hourly rate is higher than the hourly charge of a digital designer.
  • Research your competition: see what designs they are using and in which format. Once you have done your research, make a list of the final designs you need or want to include in your business aesthetic.

Know the market rates for the designers you need

Knowing what you will need to pay for designs is important to determine how much your design budget should be.

It also means you can set your benchmark to help ensure costs do not spiral beyond what is necessary. When you hire a designer for a project, you want to ensure you are paying a fair price for the work that you are receiving.

  • When you are researching this, remember the quality versus the quantity. Sometimes a designer who has higher rates will create more professional-looking and successful design work than another designer who is just starting out.
  • Hourly rates can leave you open to gradually rising costs each time you need to make a slight amendment.

I incorporate changes or revision time into that upfront cost and I also stipulate that even if it goes beyond what I’ve estimated, any amount of revisions is fine as long as it remains within the original brief.

Once you have landed a designer that you are happy with, ask these questions:

  • How long do you estimate this design will take?
  • What will the review schedule look like?
  • How many revisions do I get?
  • What is included with the project rate?

Analyze your budget

Design is part of marketing, so your design costs are going to come out of your marketing budget.

For most small businesses a good rule of thumb is to put at least 10% of expected profits towards marketing. However, if you are a new business, or starting a new marketing campaign, it could help to increase that sum to 20% or more.

Prioritize projects and plan them according to budget constraints.

[For many businesses] it may not be possible to meet all of those design needs at once. If this is the case, you need to figure out which design projects are the most important to your company and the ones that will yield the greatest benefit.

  1. Start with logo
  2. Simple brand style guide
  3. Website

Consistency is key

Many business owners underestimate the value of design. It is not a direct profit driver like a product you sell or a necessity like paying rent, but it can be some of the most effective money you spend when it comes to building your business.

Think of successful businesses, how good their design is. Do not wait until you are successful to get a great design, let great design help you become successful.

Useful Links:

Meet Sam Carvalho

Samantha Carvalho DesignSam Carvalho is a graphic designer living in Cape Town, South Africa, with over five years of experience in both design and marketing, with a special interest and experience in the start-up environment.

She has been working with Practice of the Practice since 2016 and has helped over 70 therapist entrepreneurs take their practices to the next level by enhancing their visual branding. She loves working with a variety of clients on design-intensive tasks and is always up for a challenge!

Follow Sam on Instagram to see some of her work. To work with Sam, head on over to

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