In this day and age of “do-it-yourself,” we now believe we can do it all. Why not? We can find instructions on how to do just about anything on the internet. Think YouTube or WikiHow. A quick google search will connect you to a gazillion different sites that will instruct you on just about anything you want to do.
But does a video on how to make a killer apple pie, or a step-by-step on how to replace a bathtub faucet really make you a star baker or an invaluable plumber? Do you even want to be one? Or would you prefer to shine in your own business?
The do-it-yourself mentality seems to run rampant when it comes to graphic design. Often, as with any DIY project choice, money is the motivator. The prevailing thought is, “why pay money for something I can do myself?” However, are you really saving by doing it yourself? I’ve heard and experienced numerous stories of people choosing to design their own marketing/branding materials. Very few however, have ever been really thrilled with the outcome.
Sure, you may be able to throw together a flyer using the standard software found in most offices, but is it effective? Does it truly represent who you are as a company? Did you design your own logo, or did you pick one from a do-it-yourself site? Or – gasp! – did you decide you don’t need a logo at all for your business??
If you went with that last option, I have two words for that decision - huge mistake. Your logo is how people know you. Do you want to your business to be known? Do you want people to know how to find you? Get a logo. Then put that logo on everything you do. We humans are rather visual, and we associate images with everything. What happens when you see two golden arches in the shape of an M? How about a “swoosh” or a bulls eye? Did you think McDonalds, Nike and Target? You don’t even have to see the written name to know the companies associated with those images. That’s how powerful a logo is. Do you still want to forgo the logo?
I’ve met several business entrepreneurs who went to the design-it-yourself sites for their marketing materials to save money. They all had the same complaint: they ran into someone in a different business with branding materials that looked similar to, if not exactly like theirs. So the time they spent on making their “own” design, has now been wasted. What’s your hourly fee? The time you spent on your marketing materials is time taken away from your billable hours. I would bet money that it took you longer to do than it would have taken a professional designer.
Time isn’t all that’s lost. How about potential business? What if the business design you chose from that “design-your-own” site is the same thing another professional in your field chose? How is your potential client going to know you’re you and not that other professional?
Look. You started your business because you love what you do, and you’re good at it, right? Doesn’t it make more sense (cents?) for you spend your working hours on your particular skill? You can design your own flyers in that standard software most offices have, but let’s face it -it’s going to look like you made it in that software…especially if you use the standard images in said software. Let’s not even get started on the world of trouble that can come when you “borrow” an image from the internet. (Just because you find it on the internet does not mean you can use it to sell your product or service.)
Think of it this way. Say you have a problem with your car. You can fix it yourself – there are plenty of how-to videos on the internet. However, consider the following: do you have all the tools you need to perform the job properly? Can you reach everything you need to reach to do the job in your driveway? (Spark plugs would be a great example of this challenge.) Do you have enough skills to do it in a reasonable amount of time? Do you actually have the time to make the repair? You need to consider all of the above and possibly more. If you spend time or money on tools, equipment and/or research, you need to consider it all in the cost. Did you buy a special tool for the job, and will you ever use it again? What if you did all of the above and you still ended up having to take the car to the mechanic? You have now spent more than the initial cost of going to the professional in the first place.
The same thing applies with graphic design. Does your design make your business stand out? Will your design help your target market know how to identify you as the best choice when need your product or service? If so, then kudos to you! You are amazing! However, even Steve Jobs – one of the greatest entrepreneurs ever – had a professional design his branding materials - so he could focus on what he did best. And aren’t we all better for it that he did?
Let me know your thoughts and experiences in the comments below.