Hiring a Designer: When and Why


Graphic Designer

So you are a ________ (insert business, non-profit, mommy blogger, little league coach, OK, you get the idea.) No matter what you do in life, at some point you will be faced with the question of design. Whether it’s creating a logo, website or sign for your business, an email newsletter for your non-profit or a blog theme to show off your family recipes, you have to decide between hiring a designer or going at it yourself. Like most decisions there are pros and cons of each, but there are certain situations when hiring a designer is worth the cost. Here are four critical times when hiring a designer makes a lot of sense.

At the Beginning

If you are just starting out, a good foundation is critical to future success. Getting your “look” correct at the beginning will go a long way to helping you craft your brand over time. A designer brings a certain level of knowledge that most individuals don’t have when just starting out. Not only do they understand the software used to create things like logos and websites, they know what file types you will need in the future and can help you avoid specific pitfalls when designing. Things like color combinations, typography, whether or not to use an icon or to add a tag line to your logo are all decisions that designers will address. Trust them, they have done this before. It is a worthwhile investment that will save you money in the future.

A Refresh

Let’s assume for a moment that you didn’t engage a designer to create a good foundation at the beginning. All is not lost. If your business or organization has been around for a while, maybe it is time to inject some new life. A brand refresh is a great way to update your look and feel. It could be as simple as changing colors or maybe the font used in a logo. It could be more complex, like a new website, email campaign, sales materials or even in-store layouts. Don’t be afraid to take some risks. In many cases, you are too close to a situation to be objective. Hey, you are the owner–it’s to be expected. But hiring a designer gives a completely new perspective on what your brand could become.  Who knows, you might end up with something that you would never have tried.

Brand consistency

It’s 2012 and you’ve probably heard of a little thing called social media. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn . . . the list can go on and on. As the communications director for Signs.com, I manage over 15 different marketing channels. My main goal is to make sure that our brand is consistent across every channel and that there is a cohesive, recognizable message that our followers and customers receive when they engage with us. To do this, I need to know design best practices for each platform. As a small business owner or an organization, you might not have time to learn how your brand displays on Facebook versus how it looks on LinkedIn. This is where a quality designer can help. Even if you have an established brand, a designer can help you create the proper designs for all the different social profiles out there. This way, your customers feel like they are getting the same message each time they engage with you.

You just don’t know what you’re doing

News flash: humans are prideful. We don’t like to admit mistakes or that we just have no clue what we’re doing. We work hard to convince others that we can handle anything that comes our way and that we can do just as good a job as the professionals. But admitting we need help and hiring a designer is only half the battle. Working with a designer for the first time is definitely a lesson in humility for most people. We don’t want to come across as uneducated about design techniques so we will “direct” a designer into giving us what we think we want (which is not always what we need). Designers are creative types and tend to work better when they have some leeway to experiment. Admitting that they might know a bit more than you about design is not conceding your ignorance. Just the opposite. It shows that you are smart enough to know that you need a killer brand and getting out of the way might just be the thing that gets it for you!

Nelson James

Nelson James is the chief operating officer of Signs.com and is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the company. Prior to joining the Signs.com team, Nelson was the president and co-founder of SEO.com. For over 6 years he helped to grow the company from 2 to over 85 employees. Nelson managed many large accounts during his tenure at SEO.com, including Dell.com. In early 2011, Nelson was recruited to Lendio Inc., where he was VP of marketing and was responsible for the creation and management of a marketing team as well as the strategy, tactics and programs to create interest and demand for Lendio’s products and services. Prior to his work experience, Nelson graduated Cum Laude from Brigham Young University in marketing and advertising from the communications department. Nelson lives in Lehi, Utah with his wife and three children. He currently holds leadership positions in scouting and volunteers in his church and community.