Excited to finally get your project up and running with quality visuals, you do a quick search for a graphic designer near you.
“Here’s one with decent samples, and…(gasp) low cost logos?! Slam-dunk!”
After a brief email exchange, you hire the designer, shaking off any lingering hesitation.
Instead of talking you through their process, your new designer jumps in mouse first. You’re surprised at the quick turnaround but severely underwhelmed by the first round of concepts.
You ignore the memory of the designer’s passable work samples and ask for new direction.
Your new direction is really the old direction dressed in different colors. You’re irritated and make it clear that you are looking for something more thoughtful.
You don’t get a response for another 13 days.
When your designer finally responds, they don’t ask questions about the vision for your brand. They don’t ask about your business, marketing goals or target audience.
They seem uninterested in making sure your project is handled with some TLC. So they turn around another round of concepts that miss the mark.
Now your sighs can be heard across the nation. And that nagging hesitation you initially shook off is back and making itself at home.
Full disclosure: I’ve been guilty in my rookie years of committing some of these unprofessional trespasses. Spoiler alert: It isn’t the 13-day response.
The beauty of time though, is that it remixes past mistakes as future blueprints. And hopefully you’ve stumbled on this post horror story free. But if you’re thinking of skipping the research and hiring the next designer you see, here are some hidden costs you can look forward to.
Cost #1: No process
Preliminary questions about your audience, business goals, vision and deadlines are just some of the elements of a solid process. If you don’t hear your designer mention any of these things early on, keep it moving.
How to avoid it:
Find a designer with a clear process who isn’t afraid to let you know about it. They should be able to talk you through how they work and why it works.
Get specific. Ask them to talk about projects in their portfolio. How did they go from point A to B? And most importantly, how did it meet the needs of that client's audience?
Cost #2: Low quality
People tend to choose a designer based on the how impressed they are by their work, whether they know them or not, and price. But if you use these indicators, don’t stop at the surface.
How to avoid it:
Dig deeper. Definitely pay attention when a designer lists bargain basement pricing. When the $5 logo delivers on its $5 value, the money you saved may end up being money spent with the right professional.
But cost isn’t the only indication of quality. Even if someone referred you to the designer and you admire their style, look for client testimonials that talk about the unique quality the designer brought to a project. Those opinions may end up helping you make a great decision.
Cost #3: Poor customer service
Looking for someone who doesn’t stick to deadlines, listen to your needs or deliver on what their work samples promised? All that and more could be yours if you chose the wrong design professional.
How to avoid it:
It might seem hard to judge someone’s customer service before work begins. And while testimonials will give you a peek into quality, also pay attention to the small things: that first email response, phone call or meeting.
I’m learning (and constantly refining) what good customer service is. I’ve learned that it’s much more than a smile and willingness to help: it’s anticipating a client’s needs, telling the truth about unnecessary changes and being honest about what works and what doesn’t.
Things like this protect the success of a project in the long run. And a designer invested in your success is one to hold onto.
Avoid these hidden costs now. Take your time and invest in the right designer that can help you bring your brand’s vision to life the right way.