Graphic Design Should Be Free!

For the month of April, all Studio Haus graphic design services are being offered at NO COST to you. This is a promotional offer to prove that everyone deserves great design! And it’s FREE! What a bargain! Don’t miss this opportunity! ACT NOW!

Okay, this isn’t really true. April Fool’s! I’m rarely a trickster, but there are times when it’s hard to resist! Forgive me….

However, this prank does bring up an issue worth pondering: we’ve all heard of bargains where we can pay $XX for something that usually costs $XXX or even $XXXX. They are offered by businesses everywhere, in the form of online coupons or lotteries: everything from exercise classes, meals in restaurants, to vacations—just name it, and likely there is a deal out there just for you. These bargains are even popping up in the field of graphics and marketing.

Everyone loves a deal, and so these offers get snatched up like free money. They are great deals, right?

I wonder if that is always the case. When it comes to marketing, is the most important priority really to look for the cheapest deal?

Like everybody else, I love to save money. There are times when my budget calls for some coupon savings. But budgets also reflect priority, and what we value. If I value quality service, products, and an overall good experience, shouldn’t I foster these through fair compensation to the people who provide them?

For life-long career designers like myself, it is heartbreaking to see websites offering graphic design services for such low rates, because we know the inspiration, communication, time, and effort required to craft a quality product. It can take ten or more hours from concept to final printing to create the best possible book cover, and days to months to create an entire catalog or book. When I tell people I know who have never worked with a graphic designer that I spend a minimum of twelve hours for a typical logo or branding project, they are often surprised: a logo is just a little mark and some type, right?

Good designers seldom present one single logo when developing a brand: they create multiple versions of icons and type treatments, some of which may only ever exist in draft form, but all are part of the creative process. Book cover projects require similar handling: conceiving and laying out, refining and finessing various options. Catalogs, which can have dozens of pages, must be laid out in many stages, with many more edits than one could possibly anticipate at the beginning of a project. Designers must commit time, employ their know-how, apply good taste, dedicate computer hardware and software, ask intelligent questions of the client and also the end user, and activate business and marketing sense.

Given all these factors, low-cost internet services simply cannot provide the best option for your business. Due to the high volume of work they must do, and the distance of the interaction, virtual designers will likely not be able to consult with you on an ongoing personal basis, to take the time to understand your company, your goals, and your target audience. They will probably not be able to consider the long-term approach of a project, or to provide consistent service after the fee has been paid. And the cost of unsatisfying results, if the work of a bargain design service does not prove to your liking, could mean you pay far more money to re-do a failed attempt to determine your brand. Or worse, you create and use a brand that doesn’t meet your needs.

Your logo will last for years. It will represent your company literally everywhere it is marketed, through business cards, brochures, websites, printed advertising, signage, and outdoor boards. Book covers can last for generations. Catalogs have the potential to generate the most revenue for your company than any other marketing piece if consumers can navigate easily and enjoyably through it. Wouldn’t it be an intelligent investment to come out of the gate with a quality brand that is well thought-out and versatile?

Paying a bargain rate rarely gets you the quality product and service we all aspire to create. It is unfortunate, but true, that paying a fraction of the fair wage someone might otherwise earn for a service that takes hours to provide does not set the stage for the most meaningful, committed response.

I question the quality of work that comes from online cut-rate offers, as well as the long-term service and stability of companies that can afford to charge rock-bottom rates. In the broader human perspective, we may miss the important element of compassion when we are willing to pay fractional rates for service that took years of education, experience, and single-pointed focus to develop.

What is more valuable: saving money or having a quality product? Can those two things exist in balance? Will the endless search for a bargain in marketing really create success for both the business providing service and the company that is purchasing it? My belief is that both quality and fair compensation can be the supreme goals of service, and both are to be aspired to.