So you’re literally just starting out, and the next item on your agenda is to find a skilled artist to design your startup’s logo, website, or packaging. The only problem is, how much do you spend? And is it worth a large investment?
Let’s talk about it. What is graphic design? Before we get too deep, let’s first clear up any confusion revolving around graphic design.
Graphic design can be any number of things. In today’s world, graphic design mainly revolves around the following:
-Online art (such as the ones you would see in website banners and blogs)
-Packaging (how an item appears to customers)
-Corporate branding (meaning logos)
-Layout of printed materials (magazines, books, newspapers or even flyers)
-T-shirt and clothing designs
All in all, graphic design is basically how a company and its products appear before its customers.
Why Graphic Design Is Important
The answer lies in psychology, but you knew that.
Good graphic design creates immediate brand recognition and brand awareness. The best graphic designs are able to do both without any prior exposure to the customer. This is why every noteworthy company and website has a solid graphic design team. It’s essential to a company’s longevity because it has the potential to bring in and keep business organically. Why? Well, we all like pretty things, don’t we?
So, should you simply do it because it’s expected of you?
In a sense, yes. Fulfilling customer expectations is one half of your job as a company (while the other half is actually fulfilling their needs).
But the main reason you should invest in graphic design is that because it works.
If you want to be remembered and thought of as the solution the next time your customer requires services that you provide, graphic design is the key. It’s the tether that binds you. A familial bond, so to speak, or a metaphorical lifeline in a stormy sea of anonymity (in which all businesses, unfortunately, live when first starting out).
For a business or startup, nothing could be more important than brand awareness, brand recognition, and brand remembrance. Good graphic design does all of these.
How much should you spend?
That depends. How much do you have?
It’s a joke and it’s not a joke. Graphic design is much like choosing a car. Do you opt for the sports model, or do you go with the faithful, four-door model? It’s not flashy, it doesn’t have leather seating, but it gets the job done and you can afford the monthly payments.
How much you spend depends on what sort of first impression you want to make, and what you’re willing and able to pay for it.
Many companies spend thousands upon thousands of dollars on their graphic design. Seriously. You would be shocked to find out just how much. Others get by with just a few bucks. It really depends on what you have, what you need, and what you can bring to the table.
However, if you need help (and graphic design isn’t anywhere near your lane), business experts say you should only ever spend 10% of your company’s cash on marketing (which graphic design often, but not always, falls under).
If you’re at the very beginning, you’re probably doing mental math confirming that 10% of nothing is still nothing. So how much should you dredge up?
Luckily there are some affordable options out there.
Option 1: Fiverr.com
You’ve probably heard of Fiverr. It’s the site that claims projects only cost $5. With fiverr.com you can select an artist who possesses the skills and expertise that you require. This artist usually has a going rate for the project you need. You sign a contract with him or her, they produce the content, and you pay them. It’s that simple.
Will it really only cost you $5? Sadly, no. Depending on what you need, you’ll end up spending quite a bit more than that. If you’re hiring a graphic designer to make your logo, for example, expect to spend around $100. You might be able to shave off a few bucks, but that’s what you should realistically budget before starting.
Note: fiverr.com gives you the option to tip your graphic designer if you want. It’s not required, but it will certainly be appreciated. If you think you might want to work with them again, they’ll be a lot more enthusiastic about working with you in the future!
Option 2: 99designs
99designs is another affordable option for a low budget startup. With fiverr.com, you choose the artist you want and then commission them for the work. With 99designs, you can go this route, too, but you can also do something a little more fun.
Pitch your idea to the community and you’ll essentially start a competition within it. Designers will submit their designs to you (hoping to one-up all the others) and you choose which one you like the best. You can still further collaborate after that if needed, but that’s the overall gist.
Going the 99designs route will cost you around $300. It’s more expensive than fiverr.com, but the quality is considered to be a little better yet still affordable for most startups.
If you can afford it, should you have a full-time graphic designer?
It should definitely be strongly considered. A strong logo and a consistent, streamlined website can go a long way to giving your company credibility.
Think about it this way: When you’re channel surfing, how long does it take you to judge whether a TV show or movie is worth your time? Not long. Probably only a moment.
It’s no different for companies or websites. They’re judged just as quickly as anything else.
How many websites you’ve backed out of a website because the content and presentation didn’t seem credible or worth your time? Sadly, even if we’re aware we’re doing it, even if we know we’re being judgmental, we can’t stop ourselves. We judge things by their appearance. It’s instinctual and is a part of our flight or fight response. Though many of us are rarely in any danger, it’s the part of our brain that decides whether something deserves our attention or not.
If you have a graphic designer or graphic design team, they will make sure your content and platform seem trustworthy and worth your customer’s time.
Can a graphic designer help with sales conversion?
Yes. For the reasons mentioned above. Because you won’t be losing traffic on your company’s looks, you’ll be far more likely to convert what traffic you do get into sales. So though you may need to spend more money than you like on a graphic designer, they often make it worth your while within a short amount of time if you have a worthwhile product.
Should you drop them once conversions increase?
Every company asks itself this at some point. The short answer is no.
Though you think the internet has stabilized, and that things are going to remain the same for a while, you’re wrong. The internet changes year after year and is forecasted to continue doing so for the foreseeable future.
Part of a graphic designer’s job is to stay on top of of every trend. Businesses must always look current. If they don’t, customers will assume they don’t have anything ‘new’ to offer them. As with fight or flight, this thought process doesn’t even fully materialize in the brain. It’s a blip on the chain of consciousness, but it’s there if you zoom in far enough.
If you snag customers with strong graphic design, that blip turns into a wave of interest.
What do you do if you can’t afford to hire a team or designer?
If your business is truly in its infancy, and you don’t have the money to spend on a graphic designer, it is quite possible to take it on yourself. There are numerous free resources online to help you.
Also, check to see if there are any courses nearby at a community college or university. Though you could study it for a lifetime, you can learn enough to start running pretty fast. It really just depends on how dedicated and committed you are.
Another option might be at a local high school. Many high schools offer continuing education courses that you can sign up for with only a small fee.
There are multiple paths
There’s no right answer to how you should go about implementing graphic design into your startup. Regardless of how you choose to go about it, you should at least know that it’s well worth your time and money. All businesses need to be smart with how they use their cash, but graphic design isn’t the area to cut back on or neglect. You may need to curb your initial expectations, but if you’re serious about having a successful startup, you can always go back and invest more farther down the road.