When to outsource your creative design work

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When doing design work for your company, there’s a fine line between, “Should I do this myself?” or “Should I seek professional help?” 

There are a lot of graphic design tools out there, and maybe you’re creatively-gifted, but you definitely need to ask a few more questions before getting started: Is learning the software and designing in-house time well spent for you and your team? And will the designs look professional and stand the test of time?

We live in a time where in order to grow your company you need a professional look that should replicated in everything that your customer sees. Unfortunately, a great product, solid customer service and strong word-of-mouth lead generation cannot sustain a business forever, so to keep growing each year, actively marketing your business is a must, which means graphic design will eventually become a necessity.

Here are a handful of questions you should ask before you decide if outsourcing your design department is a good idea:

  1. Is the time you spent creating the material adding value, or would your time be better spent focusing you and your team on other essential aspects of business? As a business owner or manager, you wear many hats, but with only 24 hours in a day, you should be maximizing your strengths. If you're skilled at designing logos and project documents efficiently, then you should probably get started. If not, having you or team members wear too many hats will eventually become counterproductive and hurt your business. And it's not always all or nothing. Perhaps you can handle simple design tasks and outsource more complex print or digital work that requires a higher level of expertise. You have to keep the big picture in mind when making a decision to outsource all or some of your creative design work. When you and your team feel overwhelmed, your in-house designs consistently have technical issues and/or they simply are not producing, it’s time to look for some outside help.
  1. Does what you created look professional and visually engaging? Some people are creatively gifted, enjoy doing their own design work, and are technologically savvy enough to complete the job. If you do not know the difference between a vector, .jpg, .png, .svg, .pdf, and other file formats, that’s a good sign you should seek professional design help. You could, of course, teach yourself and eventually become proficient, but how much of the rest of the business will suffer in the meantime?

    Take Microsoft PowerPoint as an example. Everyone can use a readymade PowerPoint template with slide after slide of bullets with the occasional smart art element sprinkled in. But does this represent your brand in a professional manner? Does it tell your story and showcase what you can offer customers or clients? If you go to pitch-presentations or seminars and your PowerPoint looks amateurish, how will that impact your business? If you are at a growth stage where new business is critical, you're looking to take things to the next level and your budget can absorb hiring a professional designer, it's well worth the cost. And again, it's not all or nothing--you could outsource your PowerPoint pitch presentation and keep other, simpler design tasks in-house. Your business should have a professionally-designed presentation that emanates from your brand, is visually engaging and dynamic -- not just slide after slide of bullets.
  1. Where would you go for your design work? There are numerous options available, such as hiring a freelance designer, a marketing firm, or outsource site. Each has their advantages and disadvantages, but we recommend hiring a person you can connect with at any moment rather than outsourcing to an unknown place online. The design process should be consultative, and a designer or firm should take the time to learn about your business’ brand and its clients. They should take the time to listen to you, but also offer suggestions that will better suit your needs and get more out of your time and money spent.

    For example, you may want a flyer, but a social media campaign might better serve your business. You don't want a "yes person" or an order taker. You want someone with whom you can collaborate and share ideas. When you work with an anonymous online design house, you lack a vital human connection and, in most cases, you get what you pay for, so buyer-beware.

The bottom line is that design is incredibly intricate, and it’s becoming increasingly more intricate due to the incredible amount of mediums that graphics can be created out of and be dispersed through.

Outsourcing your design work (and overall marketing) can help you do your job better. When you try and handle all of your design needs singlehandedly or with overwhelmed team members, you risk creating something that looks unprofessional, which could devalue your brand.

Every business is different and will face the "to outsource or not outsource" question at some point in time, but we hope this blog helped you start to frame your thinking if that time is now or on the horizon.

Reach out to us if you'd like some free advice or to learn more about outsourcing your marketing or graphic design. Contact Illumine8 Marketing & PR today.         

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