What Ferran Adrià Can Teach Freelance Designers about Pricing Their Work.

November 13, 2012 — 2 Comments

Almost 2 years ago I met a girl and had a total crush on her. Before we even spoke to each other.

I actually don’t know what happened that day but I probably had too much caffeine and misattributed my increased heart rate. But that’s what was happening at the time. I later understood I was just fantasising, everything was in my head and found real love many months later in a totally unexpected way. But that’s another story, probably too sweet for this post… 😉

Back to us. One of the things I loved about that girl was that she was a distracted, kinda creative and full of ideas graphic designer.

Now, since I had this huge desire to spend as much time as I could with her, I would sometimes come up with stupid requests like “Hey we are organizing this event. It would be great to have a logo for the event. Would you like to design it for us?”.

Despite my oh-so-in-love mode, I was assuming the logo has to be done for free. After all we are friend, you already know I have a crush on you, so let’s just do this, it will be fun.

She did the logo for free and, if you are curious, nothing worth mentioning in this blog really happened between us.

Clients and Price Anchoring

Now, the interesting thing is that this kind of dynamics (the free logo, not the love part) happens pretty often between clients and freelance designers as well. Maybe it’s not totally free but the price is so cheap it barely covers the pencil used for the first sketch. This is even worst when crowdsourcing websites offer cheap logos for $5. Here is a screenshot I took today from Fiverr (no, I am not linking to Fiverr!).

Immagine 6

btw, what’s a “supper logo”?

I hate this kind of websites! But they are funny as you can see what people can do for $5 like this guy (but since I don’t him and his situation I am not going to judge.)

Immagine 2

Imagine if Fiverr base price was $10!

Now, the problem is that people tend to value your work based on their past experiences. Paid a logo $150 or less? They will think that’s the price of a good logo. That’s how the human mind works. The world is too complex, so people subconsciouslly tend to “anchor” their mind to take decision more easily.

But the truth is that most people are willing to pay you more if you solve their problems and sometimes they don’t even care about price. And don’t forget that you really don’t want to compete on low price.

The Ferran Adrià Experience

26th course: baby octopus shabu shabu

Although people behave like this pretty often, in some situations they totally forget about their previous experiences.

Restaurants provide a good example in this direction. Just because you have paid $10 for you dinner last night it doesn’t mean you will always pay that price, right? So why do you pay $10 for one dinner and hundreds of dollar for a dinner by Ferran Adrià?

The reason is that good restaurants do everything they can to make you forget about your previous experiences or, if you to put it differently, to break your anchors.

They usually do this by giving you quality food, unforgettable atmosphere and unique service. And how do people know about good restaurants? Well 99% of the time if by previous clients, and great reviews.

At El Bulli, Ferran Adria’s restaurant, they used to serve 45 courses. But the experience starts even before since people are happy to book months before and you had to drive more than 2 hours from Barcelona to get to the sea-facing restaurant.

Immagine 11

“Portofolio Under Construction”

Here’s an experiment. Take 10 people you don’t know. Five developers and five designers. Send them an e-mail. In my experience designers take 3 to 5 five days more to reply. If you are one of those, you are missing a chance to deliver a great experience.

It’s incredibile the amount of things you can do to position yourself away from competiton.

What’s the experience you are offering to your clients? It does not star when you sign the contract or send the proposal. It starts when they hear about you from other people (previous clients), when they read you interview on OffScreen (great reviews), when they land on your website. What does it say about you? And why is it still “under construction”? How do you answer the phone (unique service)? What projects have you done in the past or which side projects are you working on?

Don’t expect clients know everything about your industry. But do every thing you can to make it clear from the start logos are not worth $5 and you are a professional not a Fiverr ad.

And no, I’ve never been to a three Michelin stars restaurant. I’ ll keep that for a special day :)

[Photo Credits: Renée S.]



Nik is co-founder of Creonomy and manages customer development and community. He spreads the word about Creonomy and its mission to give new tools to the creative communities.
  • andrew_boral

    I love your message here but please proofread a little bit more. Not trying to be snobbish about it, but it was distracting.

    • http://creonomy.com/ Nicolo’ Borghi

      Thanks so much. You are right, being Italian I make some mistakes here and there. Would be great if you could point me to some of the mistakes. Drop me an e-mail at nicolo@creonomy.com if you prefer.