First up, I want to start by saying that I am a designer. It isn’t something I woke up one morning and decided to do, it’s the one passion that has driven me for almost my entire adult life. I have spent years trying to better understand my craft and the creative process is what gets me up in the morning despite my general loathing for single digit hours. In the past, design was all done by hand and so it was generally accepted that unless you had the physical skills that took years to perfect, you could not be a designer but then came the internet and access to design software and that all changed. The internet is fantastic, everything from buying a hand blender to staying in touch with your friends abroad is easier and faster; access to information has never been so universal. Unfortunately, there is a huge disconnect between reading about something online and being good at it and, at the risk of sounding snobby, taking an Adobe Photoshop course online does not make you a designer… at least not in my book. While it is important, it needs to be paired with a natural flair and like any skill, practice makes perfect.
So, the following is my attempt to explain why paying for a good designer is worth the money. You may already be rolling your eyes at the designer who believes she deserves more money for her work but if you can still justify going to someone who only charges you £20 for a new logo at the end of this article, then I have failed us both.
Without further preamble, here’s why I think you should choose your designer with care.
How do you value your time? £10 an hour? £20 an hour? £100 an hour? When we enter the world of work, whatever we do, we assign a value to the hours we spend working. As we become more senior we expect to be paid more, completing training, experience and proof of past performance all build a picture of who we are as professionals. High end lawyers charge for their time in 15minute increments because for them time is literally money and the same is true for designers. We sell a skill, the mastery of our profession, and thus we charge for the hours we spend working on a project. The time I have invested in myself, through university, training courses and experience means that I expect, as I am sure do you, a certain level of remuneration for the time I commit to a project.
“Ok” I hear you say “but how long can a logo take?”. A 15minute phone call sure doesn’t cut it… For a new client I have no previous knowledge of I can spend anywhere between 10 and 30 hours getting to know you, your business, your objectives, target market, history and competitors. It is distilling the essence of who you are into one single visual signature that is the face of your brand.
A design project isn’t a simple commodity, it’s an ongoing relationship between you and your designer, as your tell a story together. Sure, I could make assumptions and cut corners to reduce the time it takes but I value my work too seriously and I hope that you value your company too highly for that to be a serious option. Any single project in marketing is part of a bigger picture, a designer who knows your story, who you trust and who can deliver is worth every penny. After all, when you are looking for legal advice you don’t go to the guy offering it for £20, you look for someone with experience and a solid track record and you expect that to cost more. The same is true of good designers.
Brands are strange beasts and the longer I work in this industry the more I appreciate and respect their ability to influence consumers. Coca Cola has such strong branding they managed to define the colours we associate to Christmas (if you don’t know what I’m talking about it’s well worth a Google search). If you want your brand to tell a powerful story then it needs to have a concise message, it needs to be consistent throughout all your marketing collateral and it needs to be honest. This is a question of quality over quantity and I hope, for your sake as much as for the sake of myself and other designers like me who are so passionate about their work, that I have convinced you to at least explore the value of good design.
Above all else remember if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is and when all is said and done, you get what you pay for.