Whether you’re just starting out or you’re a solopreneur used to doing it all, you might be tempted to bootstrap your design tasks—everything from putting together ebooks and white papers to making blog graphics—but that could be a huge mistake for your business and your brand.
But when you try to do it all yourself with no design training (Hey! It’s no sin; you’re good at your thing!), or you try to save some bucks by hiring an amateur, things can backfire big time.
Amateur design makes you look like an amateur.
Oooh, tough love right there in the sub head! But it’s true. Lets start by pointing out the reasons hiring an amateur designer can do damage—and isn't saving you money
1. They don't have enough experience & training to weather the storm.
Amateurs usually haven’t worked at an agency or with other, more experienced creatives. Starting out working in your field of expertise is like going to the Wipe Out television show and getting your ass kicked by a big foam guillotine. But its an agency, so you are dressed professionally and not usually sweaty. You jump through lots of hoops, experience every possible thing that could go wrong, fix the things that go wrong in land speed record time and come out knowing more. You learn first hand your trade, you gain experience only offered by agency life.
2. They don't have the refined process of research, ideation, sketching and execution it takes to get to a definitive solution.
- Many amateurs may say that you don’t need fancy school to do artwork or graphic design. And that is true; software and computers have made it possible to put design into the hands of anyone with a computer. I’ve heard some amateur designers say that they are more free, that they didn’t have teachers and rules to tie them down. I agree with that to a point. The things that school helped me gain were these. 1. Taste: art & design history (6 semesters of it) gave me the clarification of what has been done, painstakingly with no computer, before me. 2. Rules: Some rules are actually not meant to be broken. And those are rules about typography. There’s no stretching, bending, tweaking or twerking any fonts into shapes allowed. 3. Aspirations: design school showed me what was possible, taught me that my learning in this subject is never done, and that I suck! Well, I don’t now, but everyone just starting out usually does.
- * I want to address that there are 1% of designers out there that didn’t go to school and are making a crazy living off of making really naturally gifted art work. The rest of the people starting out suck.
3. They usually lack the artistic creativity to make solutions that require custom artwork and techniques to digitize those ideas.
- Many of my designs are completely hand drawn. Even really refined icons start as a sketch and were made completely from scratch. This means the solution you get from me is custom. It’s not available to others on Etsy, it’s not being sold to anyone else… Artwork based on clip art, stock graphics and free services aren’t guaranteed to be unique. They are being sold to the masses as we speak. It does nothing for marketing your brand or standing out from the competition.
4. The solution will not have enough backbone to sustain for a long period of time.
It’s not good to do major logo overhauls or adjustments frequently. Name changes, constant logo changes, updates - all diminish confidence in your brand. If you are on the roller coaster of hiring people to do a $50 dollar logo here and there, you are going to get what you pay for. You will probably end up not liking some aspect of a logo a friend created you, because they based their logo on something like blue being your favorite color. In one year you will be tired of seeing it, and want to change. You do this every year for five years, not only will your business suffer, but there’s the money you could have spent on a pro logo.
A logo that lasts 5-10 years (or longer) is important. Logos done by professional designers base their artwork on factual information about the business and research, not trends in the design world. Trends never last. But your business does.
The difference between a logo and a brand.
A brand is so complex. In school, I learned to create identity systems that reach far beyond a logo. A logo is just the beginning, and frankly if you are doing it properly you probably have more than just one version of that logo in your kit.
Branding to me, like I just mentioned above, is a kit. You have logos, typefaces, icons, imagery in a specific style that speaks to your brand. The language you choose and how you position your voice - part of your brand. The clothing you sell, or that your employees wear - part of your brand. What you choose to put out in the world is going to represent your company. Choosing the right images, apparel styles, fonts - these are all things that should correlate and build recognition when standing alone & working together.
In order to ensure that these pieces are put together properly, you need a designer. A designer is a special human being - one who can visualize the whole brand before she's even sketched a line. What specifically it looks like may come later, but a creative designer has thought of ways to implement your brand on things you've never heard of. She has already thought of the perfect images for your social media posts, along with witty things to say that engage your fans like you've never been able to. She can see the way the menu, glasses and umbrella's in the outdoor patio tell your story of a small parisian cafe known for its gluten-free croissants…
Designers think of the details. The world around them, the mass of thousands of images a day consumed from the internet and mainlined dark roast coffee - all inform the way they apply your branding in creative ways.
How a designer helps your brand.
So, it should become pretty obvious how a reputable designer can improve your overall brand, whereas an amateur just puts together one piece of it.
Here are some examples. (And P.S. You ain’t gonna get this stuff for five bucks on some website.)
1. Brand Recognition
Creating a well planned, consistent visual identity makes it a cinch to apply it to the places that count. The list below is just an overview, but with all these very serious business investments, your designer better have a plan that coordinates all of these items in a cohesive and recognizable way. Colors, fonts, logos, icons, imagery all need to be thought about and have a plan.
- Print Materials
- Social Media Campaigns
- Signage, Vehicles
2. Brand Infusion
Your designer has hopefully taken some heady classes that help them understand the inner workings of society and media. Infused in the design are colors, images, icons, fonts and words that are directed at your audience. These things are so ingrained in the designer, they forget its happening, but it should be pointed out and noted. Good designers know their audience. Knowing the audience (and special little goodies that no one else knows about) allows the designer to apply the branding to items in clever ways that customers totally geek out about. Like beer coozies for the beer fest or comb business cards for the salon.
Customers are pretty flippant most of the time, and it takes a certain level of sophistication to reach and keep them. If your logo changes, if your social media is all ugly meme jokes all the time, or your website doesn’t match your business card - people will not put their trust in you. If they go from business card, to social media, to website and its all the same calming color of blue with the matching san serif font with the identical logo on each one - that is building their trust that you are consistent. Their next thought is probably that you are serious, because you have invested in nice looking, coordinated media. Their next move will be to your great product. And the next to their wallet.
Good design is an investment, just like high-end appliances for your home, or a computer for your business. For pros, it’s not a luxury.
The good news is that even if a professional designer might cost more in the short-term, you will actually be paying less in the long term when you have a logo, a website, a business card, and a brand that can be used over and over again, for many years, without needing to be changed or updated.
If you’re interested in going pro and you’re ready to shreddy - throw me an email or give me a call! We can discuss how hiring a pro designer can take your brand to the next level (and for probably less $$ than you think!). I love doing this for a living, and seriously cannot wait to come up with a passionate, sophisticated solution for your business or service.