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Everything you see around you right now including the font used in the software that’s installed on the device you are using to read this… has been designed. Road signs – designed, packaging – designed, the coffee cup you’re drinking from – designed, even the pattern on those digestive biscuits… designed! If you’re sitting on a chair, that’s been designed too. We all take this for granted though and don’t really appreciate the thought process and time that actually goes into anything. Apart from nature, pretty much everything has been designed in some way or another by someone.

Think about it, when you went into the shop to buy the chair you’re sitting in you walked around for a bit, looked at all the different options, then you walked around again looking at the prices and testing them out. Most people would have seen a chair they like the look of pretty quickly and love how it feels but then they see the price… so they settle for the one that’s just ‘okay’ and a lot less money. That’s cool, if I’m honest I did that too, but guess what? I’d love a new chair already because this one isn’t the best!

My point is that for most people money is the most important factor and I understand that, but in most cases ‘you get what you pay for’, right? Another point is that nobody, including me to be fair, really thinks about the time and process that went into designing these chairs – how many concepts did they go through before they decided ‘this is the one’? Even then, how many prototypes were made before it was deemed good enough for sale? Who knows? Only the person or team that created it will appreciate the work that really went into it. Would you make your own chair? Where would you start? You don’t need to answer that…

The same thing applies to graphic design, I’ve heard many comments about my trade since I became a designer 6 or 7 years ago. One of my favourites is ‘if you can draw, you can be a graphic designer, it’s not very hard is it’… well I have to be honest, I can’t remember the last time I drew anything… that’s an illustrators job! Going back to the bit about the design process of a chair and how many concepts they went through, it’s the same with a leaflet for example. It’s never a case of just choosing a paper size and then copy and pasting the information, adding a few splashes of colour and then BAM… a perfect leaflet in one try. Like the chair process, you can go from one or two ideas to ten or more, and that’s before the customer even sees a first proof! Then you have the corrections, tidying up the text, re-wording bits of it, spell checking and so on.

Now let’s refer back to the price of your favourite chair, it was more money and you (probably) would have been much happier long term but we wanted to save money so we went for the cheaper one, or if you’re crazy you did actually build one and you’re still regretting it. Another personal experience I had with a potential customer went like this…

‘Hi, I need a logo designed for my new business, I’ll be making and selling high quality shoes online that will retail for over £200 a pair, can you tell me how much it will be for your services’

‘Hello, yes I charge this much for that service and this is how I work, I will come up with some initial concepts, probably around 5 or 6 and then you can see if any of them are the kind of style/feel you’re looking for and we can build on them from there’

‘Oh wow, that’s far too expensive, I only need a basic logo how can you charge that much for something so simple!? I’ll go elsewhere’

I’d like you to know that my hourly rate is pretty average to be fair and I quoted 2 hours. To give you a rough idea the logo (from start to finish) would have cost him less than ONE of his shoes, not even a pair! There was more to the conversation but it’s not important, what I’m trying to say is that if I went to his store and asked him how much a pair of shoes were and he said ‘£250’ I wouldn’t say ‘But they’re only going on my feet for a few hours a day! How can you possibly be selling these beautifully designed, high quality, handmade, real leather shoes for that much money.’ He didn’t understand that there would be so much time and effort going into crafting him a high quality, perfect logo that he would love and use for years to come, he thought I’d just bang out a logo first time in 6 minutes and send it over in a word doc when in fact he would be getting all the high resolution vector files and some other formats that he could use on social media etc.

The conclusion I’d like to share is that in business you want to look good, professional and consistent, you want your printed media such as leaflets, brochures and business stationery to look memorable and amazing. It’s cheaper to do it yourself, I completely understand that but beyond the design stage the artwork then needs to be print ready and the correct size which is a whole other subject! Unless you have worked at a printers or understand the difference between RGB and CMYK colour processes and what a bleed is then you might struggle and the artwork may even be rejected by the printers, or they could just print it anyway and you will have white edges on random sides of your print which make it look like they’ve been printed at home. You wouldn’t install your own boiler, fix your car, make your own chair or attempt to sell your house, you would hire a gas engineer, mechanic, chair… person or estate agent so why would you risk producing your own low quality and possibly unrecognisable marketing material for your business?

As I said at the start, everything around us is designed and it’s obvious when it’s been done professionally. Having unattractive marketing material that looks homemade could well put more customers off rather than attracting new ones, ultimately making you lose business. A professional design makes you look established and trustworthy, it also gives a great first impression, so when you think about it… that extra cost in the beginning could actually be priceless in the long run, especially if your business is just starting up.