Working with a graphic designer to build your brand is typically one of the first and most important investments you’ll make as an entrepreneur but it’s often overlooked in the swarm of other obligations that come along with starting a business. I’ve received inquiries from clients in dozens of different stages of business and I rarely encounter those who are sold out on the investment and know the full value of what they’re getting right from the start – which is understandable! It’s a significant time and financial commitment and it’s difficult to know when the time is right to hire a professional.
The full branding process is certainly not for everyone, so I’ve laid out a few reasons why (and why not) to take the plunge.
I could rattle off a handful of statistics about how investing in brand design will help save you time and money, present your business professionally, and jump start growth, but I’ve never met a business owner who didn’t want these things, so they’re hardly an indicator that a design investment is right for you. A few reasons it’s time to consider hiring a designer are:
1. You are serious about growth.
If you’ve owned your business for a while, this is not to say that you weren’t serious when you started. Chances are, you were too busy boot-strapping it to worry about perfecting your voice or client perception. That’s okay! Everyone’s start-up journey is different but if you’re ready to create a cohesive brand that really reflects your strengths, mission and values, working with a designer can help define a clear path and communicate these things to your audience.
2. You can trust the process.
Maybe your current logo is “fine.” Maybe you can’t clearly see how a new design can help. Maybe you’re ready for something deeper. When you’re working with the right designer, you’ll end up with much more than a pretty logo. The end result will be beautiful and meaningful – specifically created to communicate your vision and voice to your ideal client. I believe the branding process should be a partnership tailored to your needs. Need social media strategy? Let’s talk. Falling into the comparison trap? Let’s define what makes you unique. Not sure how to best package your product? Let’s brainstorm. Scared to raise your prices? Let’s set some goals. The bulk of the process is defining the roots of your business, which can be intimidating and overwhelming but this – the deep stuff – is what will drive the design.
3. You don’t have your shit together.
This is the reservation about committing to the branding process I hear most often. Typically it’s a client who has a strong idea or talent but hasn’t taken the time to identify the details that will propel it into a successful business. THAT’S OKAY. It’s your designer’s job to ask the tough questions – to challenge you to think through your product or service offerings, competition, and ideal client – all of which which will drive the visuals of the brand. The process will certainly require a commitment from you to answer honestly and be open to new ideas, but not yet having all the answers shouldn’t be a reason not to get your branding right.
4. You keep changing your logo.
I hear this all the time: You made your own logo at first, then bought a pre-made design on Etsy, then traded services with a friend and she made something cool but it’s still not quite right. We all have to start somewhere, but if you keep “re-branding,” chances are you’re missing out on the process. See No. 2 for why this is so important!
5. You’re good at what you do but everything is a bit scattered.
You’ve got a killer product or service but you’re not sure how to present it cohesively, right? The right designer will help you pinpoint exactly how to communicate your talents to your audience and then guide you on how to bring everything together with strong visual design that is consistent across all platforms (website, social media, digital marketing material, printed marketing material, packaging, and more).
For every person who is ready to jump in, there are a handful that this process may not be right for just yet. If you’re in one of the below seasons, give yourself some grace and use the above to set some goals if the full branding process is something that is important to you in the future.
1. You’re opening an Etsy shop to gauge interest in your art.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with Etsy – it’s actually where I got my start as a stationery designer. It’s a wonderful tool for artists and a great place to start showcasing work. But, if you’re starting out with your art or idea as a hobby (which is a great place to start!), it may be wise to hold off on the full branding process until you’re a few months in with some feedback and a clearer vision.
2. You’re excited about branding but you’re in a distracting season.
Having twins? Moving? Getting ready to star in your first Broadway play? Let’s press pause. As excited as you are about launching or re-vamping your business, big life changes are incredibly distracting to the branding process. In addition to a financial investment, design is a significant time investment. I find that clients often feel burdened by the process when they’re also walking through a life shift – even if it’s a good shift. To get the most out of the branding experience, make sure you’re in a place to sit with new ideas and designs, give thoughtful feedback, and truly implement growth strategies. If you’re not in that place, no problem! Take a breather, get settled, and start fresh when you’re ready.
3. You know *exactly* what you want.
If you’re after a light teal rectangle (not too wide, not too blue) with a dark grey border (not too thin) and persimmon watercolor flowers in the top left corner with a 1pt stroke serif font inside, most designers will advise you to take an Illustrator course and make your own logo. A few things here: (1) knowing exactly what you want isn’t a bad thing and (2) there is nothing wrong with making your own logo when you’re starting out BUT having a designer create exactly what you have in mind down to the Bezier curves not only limits the designer creatively, but also doesn’t allow you to take advantage of the process – which should be why you hired them in the first place.
4. You saw a logo you like on Pinterest.
Similar to No. 3, chances are, what you are seeing and loving on Pinterest is a design that was created specifically for someone else by another designer. Not only will a good designer not create a replica of someone else’s work, they’ll hopefully advise you to be open to the process (can you tell I’m a process girl?) to ensure that the end result is indicative of your style and values and will stand the test of time. That being said, Pinterest is a great starting point if you’re compiling a list of designers to reach out to. Make note of projects and styles you’re drawn to and then connect with those designers on their process and availability – making sure to let them know how much their work resonates with you (this excitement from a client is always fun to hear in an inquiry!).
5. It’s not financially possible.
This is one of those hard realities that just is what it is. I’ve talked with countless potential clients who fall into the five “shoulds” but just can’t swing it right now. Don’t fret! If you see the value in the branding process and want to invest in quality design, set some goals for yourself. Expect to pay anywhere from $50 – $300 per hour for anywhere between 20 and 40 hours of work, depending on how in-depth the project is (brand design, print design, web design, etc.). This industry standard pricing is still a wide range so make sure to connect with several designers whose work and process aligns with your style and gather some quotes. Remember – like with most purchases – you get what you pay for. Plan, save, and invest when you’re ready!
I hope these points help affirm wherever you are in business – ready for a designer or not. Questions? Feel free to comment or email!