It is normal for businesses to want to save money on brand design, but skimping can end up costing more than investing in a truly professional design service. This is especially true if your business is in a transitional period and is developing or revamping its brand identity. At that stage, you want your marketing materials to be of high quality in order to maximize interest and increase visibility.
But even if your business is not at such a sensitive stage, skimping on brand design can have some very real drawbacks:
Low Quality Work
“You get what you pay for.” This saying is as true in brand design as it is anywhere else. Whether it’s because of the designer’s low skill, small project scope, or minimal effort, you’re not likely to get good quality work if you insist on spending peanuts.
Low Priority Status
Most freelancers are very good about giving each client equal importance, no matter their budget. But when push comes to shove and the freelancer has to choose between two priority projects, then they are more likely to do the higher paying one first. It’s a purely business-driven decision, and you would do the same thing in their place. Especially if the smaller project is much more complex than it’s actually worth (which many negotiated small-budget projects are).
Unprofessional Brand Designers
I’ll say it straight out: hiring your relative, friend, or casual acquaintance to do your brand design or branding your website for free (or close to it) is a bad idea. They may be cheap, but chances are they don’t have the skills and equipment to do your brand justice. And more often than not, the freelancers who are willing to work for dirt cheap are either too inexperienced or too unskilled to command a higher price. Even on-staff brand designers are subject to this rule. Fresh grads and low-skill brand designers will probably be the only ones willing to work full time for low rates. Not people to whom you want to entrust your branding.
Disjointed Marketing Materials
Purchasing your marketing materials one at a time and from different (cheap) brand designers will inevitably lead to conflicting designs and imagery. This will make your brand campaign scattered and disjointed, and confuse customers about your brand’s characteristic “look”. You could try to police the designs by supplying brand guidelines and micromanaging the designer’s output, but involves a lot of effort and is poor use of your time. A good brand designer hired over an entire campaign would be able to create materials with consistent designs that properly express your brand message.
Short-term vs Long-term
It all boils down to a decision between short-term benefits and long-term gains. In the short term, you save money on the initial purchase and get exactly what you pay for (if you’re lucky). In the long term, you develop a strong relationship with a brand designer who will know you, your business, and your customers in greater detail and be in a better position to develop great marketing materials.
When you put it side by side like that, the long term gains from investing in a good brand designer from a decent marketing agency far outweigh the short term “earnings” from skimping on a purchased design. If you invest in an on-staff designer, they may even be able to grow into the role and function as a marketing or brand manager in a couple of years’ time, bringing much more value to the company than they would as a contractor.