Budget "Design & Print" services suck.

Budget design and print services really do suck, they suck at design. We explain the importance of finding a talented graphic design team and why you should stick with them, by outlining the negatives of using a budget design and print service.

Many small businesses fall trap to using one designer for one project and one company for the next, choosing who to use like a pick and mix, and just like a pick and mix, this will leave your designs mixed up and not very consistent overall. The same bad habit happens when small businesses have media printed such as banner stands. Choosing yet again a different company based on quote: who can design your banner and print it as quick as possible for as cheap as possible.

This cheap, quick quote will most likely come from a “Print & Design” company. But printers and designers job roles are normally lost in translation when being marketed to the public. Printers are pro-dominantly that. They are skilled in printing merchandise and producing signage and collateral for your business. They normally consist of a team of machine operators and one person with little design knowledge to operate files and produce visuals.

Here’s where the problem lies.

Many small companies will have a logo and some sort of style. They will then approach a printer for a banner design, getting a relatively cheap quote for print and design. But the problem is that the printer is making something quickly to print. They really don’t care for the look or design. The reason they have a quote that is cheaper than having a design done then sent to a printers is that they run on margin. Whereas the designer is working for your needs, producing the best outcome for your brief whether that takes 5 minutes or 5 hours. Designers are bespoke, they work for you, absorbing your needs and transforming them into visual communication.

“But we don’t want to spend money with a designer; when the printers will do it cheaper with a design and also print it”.

This is a common statement I have seen throughout my career in design. I would ask you one question back. “Do you really care about your brand?” Printers know they can get more business because they offer you a cheap quote with a quick turn-around, and by you falling trap to this offer, you will be sacrificing your own brand’s worth and design quality.

Of course, if you are literally printing your logo on a t-shirt, applying a logo to merchandise, just use the printers as the designer has done their job. But be careful when using printers. Many of them sell themselves as designs and printers; the all in one package. When I can say from experience design and print are separate. There are only a few examples where this works when a company will have huge teams set up for each job, or your designer will outsource the printing for you in a controlled transparent way.

Most sell themselves as designers and printers as a way of boosting their profit margin from customers. It is that simple. Mostly because their design work sucks, this is because they are still focused on a quick tight turn around maximising profit without caring for the design. So they add in print and design to make it seem viable. But believe me it isn’t.

“If you truly want your brand to succeed. Value your design. Value the worth it actually brings to you, it is your visual language” Robert Olley - NMP

What’s the solution?

What you may not know when working with a designer or design team is that you can design for the future. If you have a logo done with a company and you are happy. Keep using them, the designer will be familiar with your brand and keep future work consistent.

Ask for things such as a “logo lock-up”. A logo lock-up is a document which explains and outlines how your logo should be used to maintain maximum visual impact. It is especially used with big corporations to keep their logo seen consistently across mixed media, a very important marketing tool to have. Arguably one of the reasons companies grow, because they stay consistent. Look at classic examples such as Nike and Apple. These extra tools will allow you to stay consistent when approaching a printer or changing design company.

Also just ask more questions. Don’t moan at a design team suggesting you can just do the work yourself and get printing sourced yourself, be interested, get involved in the project just as much as they do and great results will happen.

There is miscommunication in design and a misconception that design is a cheap tool for your business. Design is one of the most valuable tools for your business. Without it how would people see what your brand is about? Read more about the value of design here.

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Related reads:

Start With Why
The History of Graphic Design Vol. 2 1960 - Today
The Brand Gap (Revised Edition)