06 22 18 Jim Zimmer

The Pitfalls of Bargain Design

Cheaper isn't better

Everywhere you turn these days, you see another option for bargain design services – a low monthly subscription cost, a cheap, one-time fee or maybe even a crowdsourcing platform where you can get a complete “brand” for $100. But we have to collectively ask ourselves, what are we actually getting for that subscription rate or from a crowdsourced logo contest? What can sourcing from those cut-rate venues actually contribute to your business or brand? And as designers, what are we saying about our craft if we sign up for logo contests promising “exposure” or nominal prizes?

It’s fair to assume that as the owner of your company or brand, you want the best bang for your buck; but does your $199 insta-logo really address the needs of your brand? Was there any due diligence in researching the competitive landscape or existing trademarks? Did the designer ask you about your brand personality, history or aspirations? Did they ask you what makes your product special, what differentiates it from every other company offering the same products or services that you do?

All of these questions are imperative to developing a brand that stands out from the sea of brands out there. These questions help produce a bigger shelf presence, better brand differentiation and longevity of the brand design. Tying your brand to the unique features of your company/product are what will set you apart.

Budget is always a consideration in any part of business, and branding is no exception. We aren’t advocating spending all of your money on branding, but we are saying don’t cheap out on it. Crowdsourcing a logo from a company that knows nothing about you or your brand will lead to throw-away design that looks dated by the time you get packages on the shelf. With the world as connected as it is, it’s even easier now to find the right designer or agency for your budget that can develop an understanding of your brand.

If you’re looking for more than just a one-off project and want to find a designer to help you with ongoing design needs, consider your local university for a budget-friendly, but still talented and devoted designer. Ask them if they have any design students looking for work. They can be secured for lower rates and are likely hungry for experience. If you need a more seasoned professional and have the budget for it, seek out local agencies or freelancers who offer branding services.You don’t want “hundreds” of designs to choose from. You don’t even want five.

The problem with low-price, online design services is they contract their designers for such low rates that the designers use templates, stock art and previously-used designs to crank out options as quickly as possible. In the end, you’re getting recycled work. It doesn’t develop a solid foundation for your brand – how can it without meaningful exploration? The money spent on ad placements will be wasted on a templated logo that looks identical to another logo a few clicks away. We know the promises of “money-back guarantees” or “hundreds” of designs can be enticing, but resist! You don’t want “hundreds” of designs to choose from. You don’t even want five. You want three solid options that are on point and solve all the design problems presented.

So when it comes time to create branding for your new company or execute design for packaging, seriously consider enlisting a professional designer or agency that can fit your budget rather than big-box bargain design options. You might get some insightful feedback and develop an ongoing relationship with someone who actually understands your brand and cares about your company’s success.

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