Post No. 49

Why Cheap Design is Expensive

As a small business owner, you’ve probably seen all sorts of discount graphic design, web development and search engine optimization (SEO) providers fighting for your attention. They’re usually the companies with rock-bottom prices promising over-the-moon results. When shopping for graphic design services, the cheapest option today will probably end up costing you more in the long run. Asking the right questions upfront ensures that you’re aware of your total cost before you commit.

Discount design providers like Fiverr, Wix, and UPS Design Services have their place in the market. If you have a hobby business or are just starting out on a shoestring budget, they can get your brand up and running for next to nothing.

If you’re looking to build a strong, sustainable brand for your small business, at some point you’ll need to graduate to a professional graphic design company. When choosing the best graphic design company for you, here are a few questions you’ll want to ask:

Will other companies have the same logo as me?

Off-the-shelf, discount logo designs pair pre-made design elements with your business name. These logos are less tailored to your business and often used by several other businesses. This dilutes your brand impact. On the other hand, a custom logo design usually starts with a sketch and is designed specifically for your business. Investing in a custom logo design helps make sure your logo is unique to your business and that no one else can use it.

Will I own my website?

Many of the discount or DIY website platforms come with a low monthly cost instead of an upfront project cost. That low monthly cost looks great until you try to move your website down the road. That’s when you find that you don’t really own it—you’ve just been renting it all along. When you stop paying “rent,” your website goes away. We elaborate on this topic more in this FAQ: Who owns my website? When choosing a website designer, ask questions about website ownership and control. Usually, the lower the price, the less you’ll like the answers.

Will there be any recurring costs?

We touched on this above, but typically, “free or cheap” websites come with recurring costs. On the contrary, full-price websites don’t usually have recurring costs. If someone offers you a website for under $1,000, they probably plan to make up their losses through recurring costs. It’s almost always worth saving up to pay for a full-price website with no strings attached.

What will it cost to maintain my website?

Discount web design agencies often build your website on their own “proprietary platform” that locks you into overpaying for monthly maintenance. These companies bait you in with a “free website” and “lifetime support.” If you take the bait, you’re stuck with monthly maintenance fees and overpriced website updates for the life of the website. When you finally decide to leave, you quickly find out who really owns the website. Many of our clients have come to us on the heels of that rude awakening. This practice may be unethical, but that doesn’t mean it is uncommon.

When choosing a website design company, it is important to know how they handle copyrights. This allows you to be certain you’ll have the ability to control your website and own the copyright. A good web design company will make a practice of painlessly transferring your website copyright to you upon request. If you have invested in a new business website, you should be free to fully control and own it.

What is the ROI of my brand?

Return on investment (ROI) is notoriously difficult to quantify when it comes to branding. However, after building nearly 500 brands for small businesses across the country, we’ve seen a strong correlation between the small business owners who invest in building their brands the right way and the growth in their businesses.

When your brand design is strong and your website communicates clearly, people remember you and are more likely to do business with you. It’s just that simple.

Discount design shops crank out quick, cheap logos and websites all day long. When a cheap logo is the face of your business and a quick website is your welcome mat to the online world, the perceived value of your services goes down in the eyes of prospective clients. If you offer a quality service, a quality brand will help communicate your expertise and allow you to price your services accordingly.

Keep in mind that it is always more expensive to build your brand twice (no matter how cheap it was the first time) than to build it right the first time. If professional branding services are not in your budget today, be patient. You’re better off waiting until you can afford to build your brand the right way than to cut corners and invest in a discount brand that will hold you back. If you’re ready to start the conversation about building your brand, contact us.