There was a Golden Age in the design industry. It was the same time period that the TV series Madmen is based on. During that time logos went for $1 million. Yes, you read that right. You HAD to seek out a professional because there was no one else trained to do it. Now, the industry is going through a shift and a bit of a renaissance.
Cheap design or expensive professional?
In our digitally connected world anyone with a computer can be a graphic designer. This is a hot topic in the industry, but what does that mean for you? Well, it means that finding a professional who can successfully transform your business into a brand is more difficult than before. The difference is cost. In the golden age a company would expect to spend 5-7 figures on branding.
That price tag today gives small business owners sticker shock. Most don’t see value—they see cost and want to get it for the cheapest price. This has given rise to successful models like Fiverr, Design Pickle, 99Designs and others. However, we as business owners can’t afford to spend our money in places that won’t bring a return. So which do you pick the cheap design service or the expensive professional?
Design subscription—what is it?
Companies like the above operate on the low cost high volume model. They know small businesses must advertise and need professionals to create collateral and signage for them. So they offer those services to you on a subscription plan or a super low rate. On those platforms there are talented designers that can create some great work for your business. The problem with this type of service is twofold.
- They KNOW the value of branding and won’t provide it at the low rate you expect.
- If they do, then you get what you pay for and it hurts your business in the long run.
I had a client that went that route for his logo because I was too expensive and came back to me when the cheap designer couldn’t create what he wanted. He ended up paying more than my quote as a result.
Branding agency—why the difference?
The local design studio, branding agency, or freelance designer basically fall into this category. These are trained professionals with a body of work to back up the high price tag they come with. They, like myself, know the value branding and design brings to businesses and can create a successful one for you. As a result, they’re significantly more expensive than a design service.
Which to choose?
There are benefits to both. It boils down to whether your brand is established and has resonance with your target audience. People don’t buy products they buy brands. It’s an investment just as important as the machinery you need to run your business. If you want your business to gross 6 figures or more a year, don’t expect a $99 logo to get you there. So when you’re ready to scale your business—invest in the branding agency. Once you have brand guides established go with the subscription.
It takes a lot to get moving, but not a lot to keep moving. So invest in the future of your brand and then you can cut back spend once established. Until next time I wish you much success transforming your business into an amazing brand.
George Paul III is a branding expert and award-winning designer. He’s the Founder of Seize the Brand, an education platform designed to empower business owners by leveraging the power of branding to realize business and life goals.