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How Much Should Menu Design Cost?
Every restaurant deserves to have a menu as pretty and mouth-watering as the dishes it serves.
But how much should custom menu design cost? And, how do you balance the price you pay versus quality?
We answer your most important questions in our comprehensive menu design pricing guide below. For pricing guides for other types of design, click the drop-down below.
Menus show off he mouth-watering dishes you serve in your restaurant or cafe. And, menus also give the customer a glimpse into your business. A well designed menu has eye-catching and welcoming designs, and will help you provide a unique dining experience for your customers.
Whether you’re creating custom menus for an existing restaurant or cafe or starting a new restaurant or cafe business, custom menu design is important to create a strong brand and make a great impression on your customers.
How much should menu design cost?
Free menu design options
Best for personal use
$0 to $50
|Menu design options||do it yourself||generic templates|
|Quality and value||not professional, generic||not professional, generic|
|Who needs it?||personal use only||personal use only|
Affordable menu design options (best value!)
Best for restaurants, cafes, bars, food trucks
|Menu design options||freelance designer or design contest||freelance designer or design contest|
|Quality and value||high quality, original||elite quality, original|
|Who needs it?||restaurants, cafes, bars||restaurants, cafes, bars|
Grow your business with beautiful design.
Expensive menu design options
Best national restaurant chains
|Menu design options||small design agency||large design agency|
|Quality and value||high quality, original||elite quality, original|
|Who needs it?||national chains||multinational chains|
FREE BRAND IDENTITY GUIDE
How can you determine if you’re getting a good value for what you pay?
Your restaurant’s brand identity (everything visual about your brand) is one of your most valuable assets. And, consistent branding is the best way to build strong relationships with your customers. So, you should view your designs across all mediums as a long-term investment.
But, design companies and agencies typically charge thousands to tens of thousands of dollars for their services. And, you can easily find an amateur designer who will create a generic design from a template for only $5!
With such a wide price range, it can be tough to identify the sweet spot that will deliver you an awesome, custom menu design for a reasonable price.
Here are important elements that you should look for when you buy design services:
- Custom, Brand-Informed Design. Look for designers or design firms who create unique, original designs that fit your brand. That’s one reason why crowdspring thoroughly vets, in every single design category, every designer who applies to work on crowdspring. It's also the reason we accept only a small number of applicants.
- Collaborative Process. Design is not a one-and-done transaction. Design is a collaborative process, especially when it comes to restaurant menus. If the designer doesn’t provide proofs for your review and isn’t willing to make changes based on your feedback, any price is too high. As an example, here’s how design projects on crowdspring work.
- IP Protection. Stock art and templates create problems with trademarking and protecting your design. Without a unique brand identity, you expose your business to potential future lawsuits. If your menu designer or design company lacks the procedure for preventing intellectual property and transferring ownership to you, any price is too high.
- The Final Deliverables. In the design world, the design files you walk away with are called your final deliverables. For each type of design, you should receive specific high resolution and low resolution files, suitable for online and print use. Anything less will leave you spending much more money trying to modify or redesign that menu later.
Free and cheap menu design options: $200 or less
Obviously, the most cost effective option is to create your own menu design. By using free design applications, or those you already own, you can craft your own menu based on your own vision.
But not everyone has the talent, or time, to make a DIY design. Plus, doing so would require you to know, or learn, a graphic design application such as Adobe Illustrator ($20.99/month) or Affinity Designer ($49.99).
Moreover, you also have to print them yourself – increasing your cost of production. Instead, some brands in this range turn to online menu templates, which provide generic menu designs. These online printers charge anywhere from $0 to $50 just for the design(s), but can cost hundreds or thousands of dollars if you print with them, too.
When should you use generic templates?
We’re serious. You’ll find many free or low cost automated options that can create generic menus for you. But, online templates are generic and uninspiring designs that will make it impossible for your customers to fall in love with your unique restaurant or cafe. After all, do you want people to think you’re running just another mediocre diner? There is nothing premium or professional about generic templates.
Sure, you might be able to use a free template and save a few dollars, but it will end up costing you much more when you struggle to build a strong brand.
Computers don’t understand human emotion or psychology. Real designers understand how people think and how to create emotionally powerful brands and menus.
The truth is that free or cheap menu design is never free or cheap.
Don’t fall for statements that you can create a professionally designed free menu in seconds. This is not possible.
Look at the world’s most successful restaurants. Not a single one used a generic template to build their menus. That should tell you something...
You'll either pay for professional design up front with a small fee or suffer the inevitable consequences of bad design.
Generic templates will not leave a lasting impression on your customers and will not give you a one-of-a-kind, professionally designed identity. Even if you can customize generic templates, you will get an uninspiring, non-professional, generic design.
Simply put: there’s nothing unique, custom or brilliant about menus when you make them using pre-made generic templates. It’s the equivalent of serving bland food and hope that people don’t notice.
Affordable menu design options: $400 to $1,200 (best value!)
If you have a slightly bigger budget and need a high-quality professional menu design, freelance designers and design contests are your best option (both options are available on crowdspring). They also happen to deliver the best overall value.
Freelancer designers can invest their time to create custom, unique designs that will help you stand out from the competition. You can share your values and your vision, and have a professional designer create unique menus that reflects your unique restaurant brand.
Usually, freelance designer costs fall in the following ranges:
- Offshore Designer: $150 – $250
- Beginner Freelancer: $250 – $1,000
- Experienced Freelancer: $1,000 – $5,000
- Renowned Freelancer: $5,000 – $15,000
Similarly, design contests, like those you find on crowdspring, also incorporate a high-quality, professional, and personable process. Yet design contests go a step further, and allow dozens of designers to submit their own unique designs. At the end of the project, you pick the menu design you love best! And, importantly, you set your own price.
With design contests, not only do you get that superior quality (with the added benefit of many options) – you get excellent service and communication, all wrapped up into one price.
Typical prices you can expect from design contests are:
- About 40 designs: $400 – $500
- About 50 designs: $700 – $800
- About 20 elite designs: $1,000-$1,100
- About 50 premium designs: $1,200+
A menu design contest is a perfect fit for restaurants, cafes, pubs, bars, and other establishments that server food or drink.
Expensive menu design options: $2,500+
If you have a big budget, and are already a well established, multinational restaurant chain, or want the 'complete branding package,' then brand agencies are your best option.
Branding agencies are equipped with talented teams of creative professionals. If using an agency for your project, they dedicate a team of creatives to design and plan your brand’s identity. They also create a consistent visual style across your platforms, completing the all-inclusive package deal.
But the price can be staggering and out of reach for most businesses. Depending on your needs, and your budget, the following ranges represent typical agency costs (these costs do not include the custom menu design - this is just for the overall brand identity):
- Local Agency: $2,500 – $3,500
- Small Agency: $3,500 – $5,000
- Mid-Sized Agency: $5,000 – $10,000
- Large Agency: $10,000+
As you can see, brand agencies costs are significantly higher than other options. But, if you have the budget to invest heavily in your brand, this is a good option for you.
More than 60,000 of the world’s best entrepreneurs, businesses, agencies and non-profits love and trust crowdspring for professional menu design.
Your unique menus can look this good...
How to choose a designer or agency
Below, we share questions you should ask before picking a designer or agency.
Are the designs original, or based on stock art or templates?
Stock art and templates are all over the Internet. That’s why so many amateur designers rely on them.
But stock art and templates are generic. If you use stock art or templates, your company’s brand identity will look like thousands of other restaurants and cafes. You’ll simply confuse your customers and prospects.
Look for a designer, design company, or agency that provides truly original designs to help your restaurant or cafe stand out from the competition.
How does the designer or agency protect your IP?
Original designs belong to the person who creates those designs, until intellectual property rights for those designs are legally transferred to a new owner.
In our digital world, where everyone has easy access to millions of designs on the web, it’s more important than ever to ensure that the designs you commission are original. Otherwise, you may find another business or designer knocking on your door with a cease-and-desist letter, requiring you to pay huge fines and forcing you to pay tens of thousands of dollars to rebrand.
That’s one reason why crowdspring, from the day we launched in 2008, has included a free, custom legal agreement transferring the full intellectual property rights to any original design you buy on crowdspring, to you. And, it’s also why crowdspring is trusted by tens of thousands of entrepreneurs, small businesses, brands, and agencies from over 100 countries.
Does the designer or agency offer reliable, timely customer support?
A great finished design is only part of the picture. How you get there is important, too.
Make sure the freelance designer, design company, or agency you choose has support staff available to help in case you run into an issue, your project changes direction or you just have a few questions.
The best designers, design companies, and agencies will offer support via phone, chat, and email 7 days a week to ensure you can get in touch when and how you need to.
How many designers will work on my project?
A single designer can only excel in a limited number of unique design styles. And, the lower the price, the fewer design options you’re likely to see.
If you’re not 100% sure what you’re looking for, it helps to see many options. And, a team of a dozen designers all providing varying artistic perspectives will ensure that you’ll find a design that resonates with you.
In what formats can I expect the final design files, and how will they be sent?
Your designer should send you a range of file types so that you can flexibly use the design in the future.
The most commonly used file formats are PNG, EPS, AI, and PDF. The designer should send you files in each of these formats in case you need a certain format for future use.
Each format has its benefits. Here’s a quick summary:
- For digital purposes – from presentations to image watermarks – use PNG files. You can also use PDF and other similar formats They have a clear background and are a small file size. However, they can lose quality when manipulating the size.
- For printing, use vector files for images like logos, and proper native files (like AI) for the actual menus. Just remember you might need special software to view and change vector and other types of files.
- When you later need to make changes to a design, use SVG, AI, or EPS files. And remember to request designs in CMYK and RGB colors for use in print and online.
Will I be able to easily ask others for design feedback?
Choosing and refining the perfect menu design can be tricky. And, sometimes, we get so close to the process that it helps to have outside opinions.
Not all designers, design companies, or agencies make it easy to share the created designs and get useful feedback to guide you. Look for a designer, design company, or agency that offers easy-to-use tools, like focus groups or polls, to get easy feedback without creating a lot of friction for you and your friends, colleagues, and customers. No one wants to manually assemble design comparison sheets and track lengthy and cumbersome group email chains.
Does the designer or design firm offer a money-back guarantee?
Design is a speculative field. You never really know what the end result will be. And, if you’ve been present and engaged in the creative process and you’re still not satisfied, sometimes it’s best to walk away.
Look for a designer, design company, or agency that offers a 100% Money Back Guarantee that covers all costs and fees paid.
When should you avoid specific designers or agencies?
Here are some of the classic warning signs a designer or design company may not be worth your money:
- They only ask basic questions like your business name and industry. A designer can’t differentiate you from other businesses when they aren’t asking questions specifically about your brand, the audience you want to reach, and the emotion you want your brand to convey.
- The price they are charging is too cheap to believe. For designers, time is money. A low price equates to little time and effort invested. This is true even for overseas designers who have become accustomed to being paid US rates for their design services. The quality of a design and the final deliverable files you’ll receive will both suffer if the price is too low. A unique, quality design evolves from a thoughtful and collaborative relationship with a designer - which will cost a bit more but is well worth the investment.
- No satisfaction guarantee. It’s a bad sign if the designer or design company doesn’t stand behind their work with a complete money back guarantee based on your satisfaction. If the designer isn’t confident enough in their work to offer a refund, why should you trust them with your brand’s visual identity?
If just one of these classic warning signs are present, you might want to keep looking for another designer or design firm.
What you should know about menus
What is a menu?
Menus are used by restaurants, cafes, pubs, and other establishments that sell food, to showcase their food and beverages in a simple, straightforward way. But, a menu is more than just a list of options. A menu advertises your brand’s identity and quality – not to mention the mouth-watering feeling from looking at irresistible images of food on the menu.
Why are menus important?
So what are the important takeaways of a well designed menu? A well design menu strengthens your restaurant’s credibility, offers a perfect introduction to your brand, keeps the face of the business in customer’s hands, and improves your brand’s exposure.
Strong menus promote authenticity
These days, information and authenticity is everything. People take the time to look into brands before stepping into the role of a customer or investor.
Prospective customers are typically looking for five different bits of information, depending on the type of menu. A good menu contains the following:
- Who you are. You should provide your restaurant's name and logo.
- How does your restaurant stand out? This is a great place to tell your unique story about what inspired you to start your restaurant. Such stories are often compelling and people love them.
- How to get in touch? You should clearly display your company’s number. This is especially important for restaurants that have delivery and take-out because people will see your menus online and will also take print versions of your menu home.
- Where are you located? Be sure to indicate your address and the hours of operation.
- A welcoming design. Simplicity goes a long way. Be sure your design is unique, reflects your brand, and follows your website and other branding.
Menus are made to showcase your food, drink, and dessert offering. So make them unique and nearly as mouth-watering as the food you serve.
Strong menus create lasting bonds
Menus are one of the first (of hopefully many!) interactions between a potential customer and a restaurant.
By including key elements of your branding, like your logo, and other information in the menu design, you are strengthening your marketing.
Strong menus support brand awareness
Brand Awareness is no one-and-done process. Rather, it’s a lifetime strategy for your business. As such, one of the most important aspects of branding is through visual elements such as logos, websites, and menus. Therefore, menus should echo the ambiance of your restaurant or cafe.
If properly designed, they are impactful, memorable, and evoke emotions. Your customers won’t forget a unique menu design. thatșs why your menus should be distinguishable from the competition and should give a face to your brand.
Strong menus are memorable
With all that said, creativity is key. A creative design molds a unique one, and that is essential to pulling attention to your brand. If people recognize your brand, they are more likely to interact with it, and more likely to share it. And, importantly, more likely to buy from you.
You should impress people with your menu design. The better the design, the better the impression, and the more people it will reach. And a great design will leave them talking about your restaurant or cafe.
Tips for successful and unique menu design
Have a simple design
Ultimately, your menus should have accurate, easy-to-read information. If people can’t easily read details like contact information or your restaurant’s name, your design has failed. Also, make sure your menu have the most essential information and keep the design elements minimal.
Include only essential information
Menus offer plenty of room to share your brand in a meaningful way. But, it is essential that you are concise with the information you share, and use that space wisely.
What information should there be? Must-haves include your restaurant's name, logo, how to contact your business, and the food, beverages and deserts. The most popular contact mediums are email, social media, chat, or the good old telephone. Regardless, you should have a preferred method and clarify that on your menu. Also, don’t offer too many contact options, even if you’re a member of every social network on the planet.
Remember that copywriting is just as important as the design.
Be thoughtful about using space for food, dessert, and drinks
When designing menus, it is important to plan out your design in a simple, yet effective way.
Think about dividing the menu into different sections or categories (in a logical order) That way, it is easier to read and find what you want from the menu. Also, be thoughtful about how many pictures you display. Most high end restaurant leave looks up to the customers’ imagination because images can set the wrong expectations. By just having the name and a description, the customer will only be focusing on the taste.
Your menus are a fundamental part of your brand, so they should be clean and well-structured. Multi-sided designs might work well for your brand, or it may be better to stick to one side only. In general, when in doubt err on the side of simplicity.
When in doubt, stick with what you know
Yes, uniqueness and creativity are important. And, you may be tempted to make designs with unusual sizes or shapes. But, unless you can find a compelling reason to use something different, stick with the standards.
Also, think long and hard about what colors you choose for your menu design. Keep in mind that your brand’s primary colors may not translate to a larger or smaller size. And always remember – make sure your design is optimized for readability.
Quality is important
Flimsy materials are like limp handshakes: they feel terrible in your hand and leave a poor first impression.
The quality of the material you choose reflects on your restaurant or cafe. If you’ve picked fragile paper for letters, or have printed menus on cheap cardstock, you may make people feel like they’re dealing with an unreliable or low-quality company. And if you will reuse menus, be sure to laminate them in some way so that they have less wear and tear.
A unique menu design is a good first step...
Once you have your information planned out, it’s fun to try and think of interesting ways to make your menus more impactful.
For example, using custom illustrations instead of photography are usually more appealing and can really accent a business’s personality. Regardless of your design choices, it’s important to have a menu that sets you apart from your competition.
But beware, straying from traditional shapes and sizes of standard menus may increase your costs. On the other hand, the added delight and brand recall that special and unique designs can have may be worth the expense.
Invest a little time to make sure your design is attractive, accurate, and on brand. That way, handing someone your menu is impactful, and is a meaningful start to a beautiful friendship.
How you can hire professional menu designers
We know you have many choices to design menus for your restaurant or cafe. The most common method is to hire a freelance designer, and you can work 1-to-1 with an expert designer on crowdspring.
There are other ways to get your custom menu designs. For example, you can crowdsource your design by starting a menu design contest on crowdspring.
Nothing makes us happier than connecting people, businesses, agencies and nonprofits with talented designers.
We have a terrific community of logo designers, graphic designers, web designers, illustrators, product designers and namers. Over 220,000 talented creatives from 195 countries work on crowdspring.
When you post your custom design project on crowdspring, you’ll get custom designs submitted by designers from all over the world. You won’t have to waste your valuable time digging through bids and proposals. You’ll pick your favorite from actual designs. In fact, clients have told us that choosing their favorite is the hardest part of the whole process!
When using crowdspring for custom design services, you can focus on getting the best result possible. We take care of everything else. With our award-winning customer service, hassle-free guarantee, customized legal agreements, strict intellectual property standards and fantastic project management tools, we know you’ll be happy. And if you’re happy, we’re happy.
And if you prefer to work with a single designer, we’ve got you covered. Just like a traditional crowdspring project, in 1-to-1 projects, you decide how much your project will cost. The minimum price for a 1-to-1 project starts at $200 (which includes crowdspring’s fee) and you can always increase the award.
Designers receive 100% of your award. Our fees cover the cost to host the project, our award-winning tools, escrow and payment, and custom contracts and non-disclosure agreements.
You and the designer you pick will be able to negotiate both the scope and the price for the project. When determining your award amount, please remember to price your project based on the scope of work. More labor-intensive projects deserve larger awards than very simple projects. You can set your own budget or you can ask the designer to provide a price quote based on the scope of work. It’s your choice.
We like to have fun at crowdspring, but we take our business very seriously. Although the vast majority of the businesses we work with are smaller, we regularly work with the world’s best Brands, including Amazon, LG, Random House, Starbucks, Barilla, Phillips and many more. We also regularly work with many of the world’s best agencies - and tens thousands of entrepreneurs and startups from over 100 different countries.
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Frequently Asked Questions about menu design
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