Why Partnering With Designers Is A Great Idea For Your Business
In a time where DIY online tools reign supreme, partnering with designers to help shape your business brand and marketing materials isn’t such a bad idea.
Image credit: Libreshot
Who needs support in this time of revolutionary online technologies?
Self-reliance is the name of the game today, it seems. With an idea and the will to make it a reality, you can sequester yourself in your home with a laptop and handle everything yourself.
Need a logo? Use a logo generator!
Need some high-quality copy? You have a keyboard, you can manage it.
Imagine the efficiency. You can save money at every turn, be the architect of your own destiny, and rarely have to deal with other people. Isn’t that the perfect scenario?
In a word, no, and the reason is obvious: you need other people.
To build a solid business, you need a great team around you. All the talk of being a “solopreneur” is fine when you’re just starting out (or dabbling in the business world in your spare time), but it quickly loses its luster. Past a certain point, working solo is impractical, exhausting, and unsustainable.
But that team-based mentality shouldn’t start and end with your employees, because smart outsourcing is a potent tool for anyone with ambition.
Do you really want to set your business apart? If so, you should try partnering with some capable designers.
The DIY approach is often a waste of time
Let’s say you’ve built a fantastic team of versatile professionals, and everyone’s ready and willing to get involved in new tasks. That’s superb, and excellent for your long-term prospects, but the determination to handle things internally can be highly damaging if left unchecked. Let’s consider an example of how this can happen.
Imagine that you have an employee who wants to improve their design skills, and they volunteer to redesign your homepage layout. Reasoning that it’ll keep them happy, expand their skills and benefit the business without having to spend a lot of money, you allow them to take the task. They produce work that’s solid, and you implement it, thinking you’ve done well.
But what you’re missing there is the counterfactual of what might have been. Had you brought in a professional designer, you would likely have realized how much work and skill goes into high-end website designs, and learned that tiny differences in layout can affect conversion rates. Designers know that optimal UX takes a lot of work (not to mention extensive A/B testing using tools such as Optimizely — see below for more information), but because you’re not a designer, you settle for good enough — even though good enough rarely is.
If you want an employee to upskill, you can have them work on side projects that aren’t imminently important. You can even have them consult with the professional designers to see what they can learn. Just don’t think that being able to do something in-house means you should: the more important the project is, the more you need a true professional to handle it.
Brand identity is immensely important
The modern-day brand is extremely broad in principle, encompassing everything that can lead people to view your business in a certain way: social media activity, UX tactics, core values, networking, sense of humor, showcased expertise, etc. You might be tempted to take a much simpler view of branding on the basis that the details aren’t crucial — but they can be.
This is because the average shopper these days is spoiled for choice. Whatever they want, they can find it online in very little time, and have plenty of options for everything from the variety they prefer to the delivery turnaround they need. It’s hard to get people to buy from you despite your brand identity (unless you’re as big as Amazon, but even Amazon cares about branding).
Additionally, competitive brands must greatly expand their promotional efforts. For a short while, the online world started to narrow the options for businesses, drawing people away from brick-and-mortar retail, direct mail, and offline advertising in general — but it didn’t last. Once the basics were locked down, the norm started to move towards a mixture of, well, everything.
Multi-channel retailers making sales through social media channels. Streamlined hybrid POS for handling online and offline retail through the same back ends, allowing the easy use of pop-up stores and real-world events (see the fundamentals of Shopify’s POS system below). Your brand has the potential to be everywhere.
Designers know what it takes to make a brand look different: to have it come across as exceptional in myriad subtle ways, because it isn’t always the bombastic flourishes that give you the edge. And they can assemble brand guidelines that you can use for your content production process, ensuring that everyone works to the same restrictions to produce the consistency that’s so important for solidifying your brand identity (consistency of tone, at least, if not format).
External perspectives are invaluable
Even if you have some design experience amongst your employees, you still need to bring in designers, and one of the main reasons for that is your fundamental bias. We’re all predisposed to prefer our own ideas over those of others, aren’t we? And it doesn’t matter how many times you look back and cringe at what you once thought would work — you’ll still feel convinced that your new idea is absolutely rock-solid.
Hire a good group of designers, and you can get the comprehensive critical assessment you need to identify prospective improvements. You might even discover that the layout you think is genius will never actually work. Sure, it’s unpleasant to subject your creative process to such a mauling, but if you’re not a professional designer then you can’t realistically expect your work to stand up to that kind of scrutiny.
Testing is vital, as noted, but it takes time to root out bad designs. Great designers can do it right away, and explain in detail why they’re so bad. Do you really want to run the risk of getting trapped in a creative bubble and forging a brand identity that works against you?
Wrapping up with a recap, the reasoning here is fairly simple:
1: Doing things yourself isn’t inherently better.
2: The quality of your brand designs really matters.
3: You have biases that make you a bad critic.
Since your designs are really important, good designers are worthy investments. And if you don’t think your designs matter that much, then I have a bridge to sell you.