Is working with a brand designer worth it?

And how do I find the right fit?

You have read every article there is to read, taken courses on design and worked your fingers to the bone building your brand all by yourself. You are doing really well, your brand has grown so quickly in such a short amount of time, but you are starting to feel a little lost. You wish you had someone who could save you the guesswork, an expert in the field, someone who could lighten the load a little and make your brand the best it can be.

Perhaps it’s time to find a Brand Designer.
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When businesses are starting out, branding often finds itself at the bottom of the priority list. Don’t worry we aren’t offended by this … it’s fine…. I said it’s fine OK?!

Branding is often undervalued for a whole host of reasons, but the biggest reason is that people often don’t understand the impact that solid branding can have on the success of a business. To find a designer is to find someone who will give birth to a strategy (verbal and visual) that will represent the most fundamental aspects of your business: of your goals, of your values, of your reasons why. A good brand designer will work tirelessly, getting to know your business and sharing it with the world in the most efficient way possible.

That being said, not all brand designers are created equal and if you are going to invest in this type of service, it is essential that you understand the weird world that is the design industry. When it comes to this sector, you can often find a whole lot of people who can talk the talk but who simply cannot deliver the goods.

We thought we would give you an insider's perspective of the design world so that you can navigate it a little easier and find a service that is right for you and your brand.
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The four design archetypes:

In your search for brand designers, we believe that there are four principle characters you may come across.

Your cousin Steve:

Steve once designed a tea towel at school that was sold in Woolworths. He has the best intentions and convinces you that he is fully capable of building your brand from scratch. Plus, he’s been out of work for a while and has decided that graphic design is his new passion.

As great as it would be to help your cousin Steve out on this one, if you are serious about your business you may want to give it a little more thought. The chances are that you will have to find another designer later on down the line. Save yourself the time and money and get Steve a super nice Christmas present this year to make up for it.
Francesca the freelancer:

If you are just starting out, hiring a freelancer like Francesca may be a good place to start. Costs are often very low which is great if you have a tiny budget, however despite the fact that there are thousands and thousands of freelancers out there offering their design services, it is extremely rare that you will find a good brand designer whose services extend beyond selecting your brand colours and font or designing a simple logo.

It is important to recognise that there is a difference between a graphic designer and a brand designer. A brand designer combines their knowledge of design with their understanding of branding and communication. They don’t just make things look good, they create an identity for your brand. An experienced brand designer gets to know you and your values and is dedicated to communicating those to your audience.
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Purple Turtle the small design agency:

There are a huge amount of whimsical small design agencies popping up all over the place at the moment. The sheer volume of agencies means that it can be difficult to find the right one. Make sure you look at their portfolio or ask for previous clients in order to get a reference. With agencies like this the proof really is in the pudding.

Sometimes these smaller agencies can promise the world. If you come across an agency claiming they can do your brand design, do your web design, write SEO copy, create digital marketing plans, do your tax returns, paint your kitchen for you and pick your kids up from school at 3:15, then alarm bells should definitely be going off.

Although you should approach these agencies with a critical eye, some smaller agencies are great and come with many benefits. Smaller agencies tend to prioritise real relationships. You will know exactly who is working on your project and will be able to communicate your ideas to the creative directly rather than passing messages through a project manager. You are also more likely to have continued support and the ability to ask for advice should there be any bumps in the road later on.

I suppose you could say that Studio Unbound falls into this category, but in true Studio Unbound style, we are a little different to other small agencies. We call ourselves an ‘Unagency’. That is because we go beyond the limits of what most design agencies provide. We don’t just work with your team, we become an extension of it. We collaborate with you, helping you to create bolder, bigger branding.
LGN The large design agency:

Large design agencies are often well oiled machines and can cost a BOMB. Your money is not only helping to pay for the designers, the account managers and anyone else who is directly involved with your project, but also the wider ecosystem of the agency. You are helping to pay their studio manager, the account team, the cleaner, the rent on their fancy new offices and the deposit for the hotel in Ibiza that is hosting their Christmas party.

You will be assigned a small team who will work with you on a project by project basis. They complete one project, finish it, get paid and leave you on your own unless you’ve got another cheque ready for them.

The work is usually of extremely high quality and often performs well, but big agencies lack the personal, people centred approach that most small businesses owners crave.
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So is working with a brand designer worth it?

The short answer is YES. Working with a brand designer is absolutely worth it. The most important thing is choosing a designer or an agency that is right for you in each stage of your business growth.

Our advice is to always weigh up the cost of the service vs the value that the service is providing. If you are a start-up, it is of course important to be realistic with your budget, but investing in your branding and marketing is vital if you want to succeed. Just like with any other investment decision, you should spend your money wisely. There is no smarter investment than one which makes your product more sellable and helps to get your product on the shelf.

Sure you won’t be able to afford a 40k branding budget, but spending £100 on a logo designed by your Cousin Steve isn’t going to get you anywhere quickly either. When you have the money to invest in your brand, make sure that you’re building it on solid foundations. Make sure that you have an identity that you and your audience connect with, not just a pretty logo.
As small business owners ourselves, we know the power and return on investment that comes from working with experts. It can be difficult to play the long game. At times it can feel like all you are doing is spending, but trust us, your future self will thank you as your business grows and your investments pay off.

Ready to go bolder with your brand? Get in touch with us here.
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