As a logo designer I’m always harping on about how worthwhile a brand is.
I tell the world and its mates that it might seem like a lot of money/time/effort but, far from being a ‘cost’, the outlay of such resources is a valuable investment in one’s identity and as such will repay itself many times over as the business/product/charity becomes more widespread and noticeable.
I honestly believe this is true – backing your business by investing in your visual identity is an important part of moving forwards and attracting the customers and reputation you desire. Speculate to accumulate – it really works.
Comments from various people asking if it was a speaker (or more worryingly, a washing machine) as well as my own diminishing confidence in its depth and pertinence have led me to a point of realisation.
BUT recently I’ve been challenged to see this from the other side. My own existing branding (tweaked over time) has served me well for around 10 years and has become comfortable. But is it effective? Gradually I’ve been attacked by niggling doubts over its competency in representing me as the quality logo designer I wish to be seen as. Comments from various people asking if it was a speaker (or more worryingly, a washing machine) as well as my own diminishing confidence in its depth and pertinence have led me to a point of realisation.
I need to rebrand
Owen Jones Design has been running as a full time operation for nearly 3 years now and my understanding of the business, its core skills and its brand values have all become much more thorough in that time. And the fact is I don’t feel completely confident that I have my house in order, as it were, enough to be taken seriously by a client nervous of spending reasonable chunks of money on their own visual identity.
There is a certain amount of debate in the design world about becoming your own client. It’s well known conundrum that it is often painfully difficult to do so, with various factors that point towards avoiding it like the plague! Dutch logo designer Jord Riekwel (Larkef) recently opted to outsource his own redesign to various experts and, although it cost him an arm and a leg, he doesn’t regret a thing (check out the article ‘Don’t be Your Own Client (If You Can Afford It)’ he wrote about this on his website).
Arguments for outsourcing
1. It’s too tough
As I mentioned above designers, by and large, dread the idea of designing for themselves. Put in the position of client we struggle to get perspective from the job. We become indecisive, impatient and restless; quickly tiring of things we initially loved. We even find ourselves missing out great chunks of the processes we’ve lovingly nurtured for use with paying customers – have you ever sat down and filled in a detailed design brief for yourself? I recently did and wow was that an eye-opener!
2. I don’t have the time
We’re busy people and our time carries a premium rate. Time spent struggling through the quagmire of self designing could be more profitably spent continuing with that client project they’ve been chasing or out finding new, paying work.
3. I’m not the right person to do it
This is a great reason for outsourcing and was a major factor in the Larkef story above: recognition of the gaps in our own skill-sets. Jord loved the work of calligraphy artist Sergey Shapiro and was adamant that he wanted Sergey’s style for his logo. Rather than trying to be a jack of all trades, if you can afford it, pay the expert and get the best quality possible.
But that brings me onto…
… Arguments for doing it yourself
1. I can’t afford to outsource
Ouch! Suddenly we realise why clients often approach us with such fear in their eyes. Design is expensive! Rightly so – we have valuable, expert skills and should charge our worth for them. But finding that money isn’t always as simple as raiding the piggy bank and it’s easy to find quite practical reasons not to.
2. I’m a designer, darn it!
Is it a wise use of money to pour it out educating another designer about a business which you already know inside out? It’s quite possible that yes, it is (see reasons above). However, my own internal arguments have always come back to the fact that actually, my own brand is my responsibility:
I am a logo designer therefore I need to be able to design my logo.
I don’t feel comfortable with the idea of messing someone around asking them to come up with ideas, only to find myself interfering and probably bastardising their work in the future – I know I’d hate that if someone did it to me but it’s easy to imagine it happening. I’m also uncomfortable with the idea that someone else’s work is representing the very part of me that I pride myself on and that brings in my money. It should be my showpiece, my crown; my pride and joy. It should show potential clients that I’m a guy you can trust to create their perfect identity. How can I do that if I didn’t design it?
There are definitely two sides to this stone. Neither is right and neither is wrong, in and of themselves. For me, I’m quite convinced I need to do this work myself and have begun the process in earnest. For others, it might be a bridge too far or a compromise they just can’t make and outsourcing is a perfectly reasonable alternative.
I'd be very interested to hear designers' responses to this subject. Have you outsourced your own logo/website design or did you bite the bullet and do it properly for yourself? How did that work out for you? Do you have any advice or regrets about your decision? Please do let me know.