Great graphic design is essential for effective marketing. A well-thought out brand will convey a company’s entire personality and values in an instant, merely using colour, shape, and texture.
However, many companies – especially smaller enterprises and startups – often try to hunt down the cheapest option when it comes to graphic design. There can also be a temptation to keep marketing functions in-house, even if there are no trained marketers on the payroll. Alternatively, some organisations head to inexpensive gig sites like Fiverr and PeoplePerHour, giving in to the “too good to be true” temptation of £20 brand assets.
It feels too good to be true because it usually is. The results you achieve when you take a cheaper route can vary wildly. On the whole, cheap design shows. We understand the need to keep costs low, but inexpensive design can cost you dearly in the long run.
With that in mind, small, agile agencies like ourselves are often surprisingly affordable, especially when you factor in the potential benefits of working together. Whatever your situation – and whether you have an in-house marketing team or not – we believe that most companies can benefit from working with a graphic design agency.
Here are our 9 reasons why.
1. Wide Range of Design Expertise
Though graphic designers are experienced in the art of visual communication, our knowledge goes far further than merely how to make a brand look pretty. Worthwhile design agencies are staffed with talented, practical marketers who (despite their design specialisms) are also well-versed in all kinds of visual communication, market research, distribution channels, and measuring promotional success.
When compared to in-sourcing or training up an intern to handle your design work, agencies often value variety in their hiring process (unless they’re industry specialists, which comes with its own benefits). A single agency’s creatives may well come from a raft of different design backgrounds, disciplines, and industries – all bringing their own expertise and point of view to the table. By working with an agency, your organisation can benefit greatly from this variety.
2. A Second, Creative Pair of Eyes
It’s corny, but it’s true – two heads are better than one. And two groups of heads are even better. When you’re particularly close to your business, it’s common to get set in one’s ways and overly attached to “the way things have always been done”. But clinging on to outmoded marketing methods and an older brand identity can go against you in many ways.
When you bring your industry- and market-specific knowledge to a band of experienced creatives, merely having an outside perspective can work wonders. You may well end up bouncing new, exciting ideas around that neither organisation would have come up with independently! Pairing with the right agency can bring fresh insight and verve to your brand’s look, feel, and ethos.
3. Achieve Polished, Totally Individual Results
When companies use cheap gig sites or decide to handle creative work in-house, it’s usually in a somewhat futile attempt to save time (which it probably won’t) and/or to save money (which it might provided the design work doesn’t need “re-doing” by a professional). In either case, it’s all too easy for inexperienced, time-poor designers to fall back on samey templates and ten-a-penny stock assets which make your brand blend into the surroundings.
An experienced graphic design agency will get to know your business like the back of their hand, looking around at the competition and your target market. This added research enables their creatives to carve out a distinct visual identity tailored just for you, producing something totally unique that fits your company like a glove. Experienced designers also know the common design crutches and UX tropes that others lean on, enabling them to create something refreshingly different and memorable, yet functional.
4. Awareness of Marketing Distribution Options
Building on the unique knowledge that an outsourced graphic design agency can offer, collaborating with an agency may even open up new marketing avenues that you didn’t even know were available. Alternatively, the right firm may provide you with the confidence to pursue a type of marketing that you felt was off-limits to you in some way.
For example, a company who has only ever advertised through offline channels may approach a graphic design agency about producing a newspaper ad campaign, but the agency may see a lucrative opportunity in potentially placing the ad in different publications, using social media, or even PPC advertising. There are a lot of new media opportunities out there for companies who are willing to try something new. Sometimes all they need is that little bit of encouragement and guidance from skilled marketing personnel.
5. A Focus on Measurement and Results
Effective marketing isn’t just about coming up with attractive ideas and distributing them appropriately. It’s also about setting meaningful targets for your campaigns and measuring your success. After all, if you don’t quantify your marketing efforts, how will you know what’s working and what isn’t? Yet lots of companies fall into the habit of taking a “spray and pray” approach with their marketing – creating ads, putting them out there, not recording any performance data, and simply hoping for the best.
Any design agency worth their salt will help you establish meaningful, realistic goals for your marketing efforts and will often help you analyse your performance data once a campaign concludes. We all want to make informed decisions in business; a reliable agency will help you collect the right data and distil it into actionable information.
6. Outsourcing Design Gives You Time to Run Your Business
We all know that time is money. Most professionals are too busy running their business or doing their jobs to worry about the subtleties of colour palettes or to tinker with complex Photoshop settings and filters. If you aren’t a designer by trade, chances are you don’t want to spend your time getting a design pixel-perfect or correctly balancing content and blank space. But with a design agency on standby, these finicky, time consuming tasks are completely taken off your hands.
On the subject of time, some companies decide to hire an intern or junior and train them up in marketing. Any efforts to develop people’s skills are honourable, but unless you already have in-house graphic design talent with the time to guide them, outsourcing may be a better option.
Sidenote: Even companies with internal marketing departments can work with graphic design agencies. Handing fiddly, time-consuming design tasks to an external party can give your in-house marketers the time to come up with valuable “outside the box” marketing ideas.
7. Outsourcing Can be the More Cost-Effective Option
This may sound counter-intuitive for those weighing up the costs of outsourcing, but it’s true. When you work with a trustworthy agency, there’s a high chance they’ll achieve enviable results first time around, with all deliverables properly optimised for their intended purpose.
Contrast this with common alternatives – giving it a go yourself in Canva and potentially missing the mark, or unloading design responsibilities onto overworked team members who aren’t necessarily designers either. In going down this route, you may find yourself juggling workloads alongside other job responsibilities, encountering design-related “rookie errors”, and relying on limited or outdated marketing knowledge.
Outsourcing may not always be the cheapest but it’s likely to be more cost-effective.
8. Agencies Can Be More Reliable than Freelancers
Though we don’t want to malign or discourage solo, freelance creatives, we can’t deny that full-service agencies usually have more of a stable business setup – dare we say it – making them a safer bet. Companies that have premises and staff are more likely to have fully fleshed out business continuity plans, appropriate levels of indemnity insurance in place, as well as robust contingency plans for unhappy clients, cyber incidents, data loss, and more.
In addition to the reliability in their company structure, agencies generally have more hands on deck; this means clients can enjoy a quicker potential turnaround and more raw brain- power when compared to a sole trader.
Further Reading: Why Choose a Design Agency Over a Freelance Graphic Designer
9. Consistent Results at a Consistent Price
Some companies shy away from outsourcing marketing services, fearing that an external party won’t “get” their business, or that an agency won’t achieve the same level of consistency that an internal staff member would. However, marketing agencies (and any kind of outsourced services providers for that matter) are well-versed in hitting the ground running with new clients and achieving reliable, consistent results. An agency may even maintain brand guidelines for your company (even if you’ve never particularly asked them to do so); this will help their designers and copywriters achieve consistent results each time.
Arranging a retainer with an agency adds even more consistency into the relationship because you can plan ahead; both in terms of knowing what marketing materials to expect each month and budgeting for those costs on an ongoing basis. Agencies like retainers too because they can rely on that work coming in every month and schedule it as a priority around more ad-hoc projects. Compare this to in-sourcing design work or relying on a solo freelancer where your project may have to be slotted around existing workloads.
So if you need the consistency, cost-effectiveness, and marketing expertise that goes hand in hand with using a graphic design agency, get in touch with the team at OLCO Design. Though we’re graphic design specialists, we are a full-service agency who also offer brand strategy, web design, SEO, digital marketing, cloud services, and much more. For an obligation-free chat, call the team on 0330 223 1193 or email [email protected].