Once upon a time we lost a pitch because the client made a decision to go with another studio on the same day we were scheduled to present. In other words we didn't actually get the opportunity to present our work in spite of having a clear agreement that we were in fact pitching on a certain date, and in spite of having completed the pitch. All this was extremely weird. In this case we had agreed to a "no design fee" pitch, which happens on occasion with smaller budget projects. But since this experience was a new one in our 30 year history & burned us substantially - it gave rise to a lot of conversation.

What value do we place on our brands? How do we value the work and expertise of our production partners? How do we begin a relationship with mutual respect, integrity and seriousness... and fun. In this world of brand awareness, brand evolution and the insatiable appetite for a fresh and shiny and appealing faces; would it not make sense for the mutual investment in brand design and development to be sealed with an agreement that involves payment for services?

Design fees rarely match the amount of work that a reputable studio puts into a pitch. A studio's investment in a pitch can range from $1000 to $100,000++. Corollarially, what a studio gets paid in design fees range from $0 to maybe $30k depending on project scope. However, you can bank on the following:
a design fee offsets the pain of what a good design firm invests in a pitch, honours the work going into the pitch on both sides, cements the commitment and aids in guaranteeing good pitches and best behaviour from all parties.

Now we work in the world of art and design. Our 'product' is not so rigid - things can get squishy and organic and wonderfully flexy. And hey - unexpected things happen. Mostly good, but sometimes extremely not good. Behind all this 'mostly fun' design stuff is the hard requirements of all good relationships: the need to keep our promises or renegotiate them, look out for each other's interests, manage our commitments and honour our partnerships. All with great gusto. And yes, everyone gets burned sometimes. My favourite line comes from a great client and producer. "Joss" he says, "Joss, we aint in the business of putting production studios out of business".

Nay but seriously brethren. Design fees will help everyone do great work and get great work.

credit to Leo Cullum