You Can’t Run Until You Learn to Walk

It seems that everywhere I turn, there is another company offering logo design, website design, and business card design for a mere fraction of the fees typically assessed by professional agencies such as mine. This has some in the industry running around with their hair on fire and yelling like Chicken Little. These companies are doing well, too. How well? One is advertising in the Super Bowl, to the tune of $4.5 million/30 seconds.

Call me crazy, but I love the companies out there offering “bottom dollar” deals. Why? Here are a few reasons:

When a small businessperson or business sees a need to invest something in their brand, that’s a good thing. It means they have a level of faith in looking as professional as their wallet can allow. I will guess that in 90% of these cases, the business is a start-up on a shoestring budget. The design clearinghouses (not to be confused with design agencies) are there to serve their clients in the best way resources allow at that time. Kudos to those willing to take this entrepreneurial leap!

Imagine that a start up company – after a couple of years of growth – can look to their start up brand proudly as an element of their business that helped carry the day. Ultimately, when they’re ready to make the kind of commitment – from a monetary and time standpoint – to truly elevate their game, I will bet my bottom dollar that they seek out a professional agency.

At AgileCat, VC-funded start-ups aside, it is a rarity to work with a company truly out of the gates without some kind of logo in place, no matter how amateurish or dated. Naturally, this design is a far cry from what we deliver from a strategy and brand positioning connected to bigger strategic goals, but at least an effort has been made! I always congratulate companies that come to us for what they’ve accomplished to date. In almost every meeting in these situations, a principal or head of marketing will say something along the lines of “we finally feel ready to do something serious.”

I love the word ready. It means commitment, and where there is commitment, combined with a good idea, success for client and agency is just around the corner.

So my advice to my fellow agency leaders, designers, and marketers all over, is don’t complain about or put down organizations giving companies what they’re able to invest in while in start-up mode. In fact, the next time a company says they’re ready for you, you might consider thanking the organization that got your new client believing in design in the first place.

– P. Madden, Top Cat