Don’t Go for Discount Design

Hummingbird CreativeBranding & Creative

discount design websites are the wrong choice

Several websites where clients can now go online, give a low bid, and “receive hundreds of options from designers around the world” for logos and other design projects have hit the internet over the last few years. These sites make promises of a “no-strings attached” web design with “no maintenance necessary” for a “low, low price”. You’ll see something like a $99 base price thrown around which, in the moment, might seem like a great deal. But, in the long run, it might not be.

Why?

reason to say no to discount design #1) it’s disrespectful to great designers who deserve to be compensated for their services

These sites exploit wonderful talent. Many of the designers “pitching” work for free are hoping to “win” that $250 check so they can pay for meals and clothe their children. They are being forced to live the life of a “starving artist” rather than getting paid fairly for every minute of time they spend creating something for a client that should last years and may even help build brand equity for a company! Take a logo design, for example… just to create some not-so-stellar design concepts to submit for a contest should take no less than an hour of time. If 100 designers submit options, that is 100 hours at a client cost of $250 to see preliminary designs, not to mention the time the chosen designer has to put into development of the design to make the client happy. This in a world where Agency rates range between $75-250/hour, and a freelancer can earn $50-100/hour… But a client thinks it’s fine to pay less than $2.50/hour – huh? In case you didn’t catch that, it’s $250 cost for 100 designers to each spend 1 hour on the design work = $2.50/hour. (On average, we spend 15-25 hours on most logo design projects in our agency.) These are professionals who you expect to provide a quality product – how can that happen, really? Luck, maybe. Did you check to see if that designer knows what the word pre-press means or knows how to setup scalable vector files? I bet you might not even know what that means to know to ask!

reason to say no to discount design #2) it’s an inside-out approach to marketing, and therefore will not connect with your customer

When you choose to use a discount design option, you must control the project rather than trusting a professional designer who you have a relationship with to lead you down the right path. When you control the process from the inside, very important insight into what makes your company competitive and unique can be, and generally is, lost – and therefore does not get translated into your design project! In turn, you lose the value of branding. Your project becomes subjective, reflecting what you like rather than what will resonate with your customer base. A professional designer who understands branding will lead you in conversations to help understand what the essence of your brand is, and in turn reflect that in your design projects. This leads to more consistent, powerful and effective marketing that will make an impact on your bottomline, not just feed your ego because you think it looks nice. This type of relationship can not be built on discount design sites where a bunch of designs are thrown at the wall to see what sticks. It seems like an easy way out – you may feel you can spend less time “educating” someone on the project by putting up a quick brief online – but why would you want to do that? In the end, you’ve cut a very important corner, and it’s your brand that will suffer!

reason to say no to discount design #3) it hurts the economy at large and discourages buying local

It seems that the design community is looked at now by many as nothing different than a sweat shop. Customers want to pay pennies on the dollar for a lower quality end product, and they seem to be happy with their results – probably because they like the way the end result looks, even though they have no idea if it will be effective. I understand it’s a global economy, and I know that opens doors for many people who otherwise would not have opportunity. But I still support buying local when there are local professionals you can form a strong ongoing relationship with, and paying a fair wage to those professionals for the level of service they are committed to delivering. When you use a discount design e-tailer, you are taking away jobs from the very designers you are putting to work by not buying from a design firm or agency.

The most important thing to realize is that a design project is not branding, and unless looked at as part of that larger overall brand, design becomes pretty pictures rather than a process of solving a problem (which is, in essence, the difference between art and design). The e-tail environment takes away the design process, which includes project analysis and understanding, brainstorming, development, finalization and, most importantly, review. As we’ve learned over 20 years in the business of design, the full design process can not be fulfilled properly in a couple of hours for only $99, no matter the type of project. Rather than running to an e-tail discount designer, take the time needed to make an investment in your brand, and it will pay off for you in the long run!


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