Why Great Design Doesn’t Come Fast and Cheap

Keltie Munro – 3 Comments

Recently I asked our partners a question that they must get asked all the time. It goes something like this: Why can’t people just use a company that will design something cheap and bang it out in a day?

I know the guys could talk for hours about this, and we’ve written about this on our blog before, but this time I wanted their initial, instinctive responses. And I asked them to be specific.

First up was Ben, who touched on the process that goes on behind the scenes. This is what he had to say.

“Because good design is based on a deep understanding of what is behind the work. Without the research, insights and understanding, it’s just a paint job. So, maybe you can get $5 design, but you are leaving the effectiveness and longevity and resonance with the intended target purely to chance.

We charge what we do because we deliver design AND certainty.”

Matt came out of the gate with the ol’ you-get-what-you-pay-for approach. Basically, if you want it done well, you have to pay well. The right solution and expertise is worth it. Here was his response:

“People can design something in an hour, but will it be any good, will it solve the problem, will it communicate the desired message to the desired audience? In our experience, no. People shop at discount shops because they want to purchase something on a reduced budget – and with this they understand that the quality will match the price tag. If someone only designs, say, a logo identity in an hour– then the quality will also be reflective of this minimal time investment.

We pay a premium when we want to have something done right. People wouldn’t go to a shady dentist to get their teeth fixed and expect a quality product AND a cheap price tag- so don’t expect it with design. We base all of our decisions on years of experience and a solid understanding of your problem, audience and your industry. Do you pay a premium for our service? Yes – you do, but you can rest assured that the outcome will be more valuable to your business than if you had skimped and saved and gone with a more economical design solution.”

Our last partner Mark, who has never been short on words, expanded on the idea of focusing on a unique solution vs. using a template approach offered by the quick design websites.

“Cheap isn’t a word that works with design. Never has. Anyone who offers standardized fixed pricing like a shopping list is using a templated approach. And while that may work for some for a while, it surely backfires at great cost for many. No project is truly the same as the next, and in an age where people are yearning for authenticity and truth, it is increasingly vital that design thinking and a thoroughly strategic form of design process be applied to solving real-world business problems.

There are numerous online design contest sites that offer fast and cheap solutions, but businesses don’t often consider the fact that the work submitted to those sites are often recycled work from other sources, often even used previous in various incarnations. The designers who contribute to these sites are not being paid well enough to make sure their solutions are well-research and unique enough to be owned by the company who buys them. And that can—and has—led to expensive legal fees later when they grow and try to register or trademark their company or product logo or get sued for using artwork originally paid for by someone else. And where’s your designer then?

Our focus is on solutions. Due diligence has been applied to make sure that a solution is indeed actually a solution and perhaps more importantly, is actually original. We try not to be swayed by “pretty” graphics and focus on gaining insights into what our clients’ audience really thinks, feels and wants and create design solutions aimed at them. This takes conversations, thinking, experimentation, testing, and lots of time. And in the end our design efforts result in empowering our clients with a toolkit they own and control themselves, whereas with cheaper freelance designers, companies often get trapped into ongoing relationships, held hostage by a designer lacking the skills, experience or resources to service clients properly, or worse, who simply refuses to release working files because the clients haven’t remunerated them adequately.

Trust comes when there are indicators of quality, predictability, and reliability. And relationships with designers where trust isn’t present are doomed from the start. When a client knows their designer’s goal is their business success, and works hard to make that happen, there is a peace of mind know that a fair price is being paid so they can focus intently on the task at hand, not distracted by the chaos that comes with scrambling to service a whole bunch of clients simultaneously in order to eke out a living.”

What do you think? Please send us any comments or feedback!