As a design & communications freelancer, I am often asked to do projects on the cheap. Or rather deliver professional-looking projects as affordably as possible. More often than not, I am happy to oblige.
Even the smallest business needs good marketing collateral; that’s a cornerstone of my practice and I work to offer affordable packages to fit most budgets. Logos are worth the investment, but do not have to be expensive to get the job done. There are tons of bargain shops on the web cranking out logos, and while many have that uniform “factory” look, those designs could work just fine for some businesses. (Just make sure you get a true, vector logo.)
When selecting a new logo design and corporate identity package for your organization, ask yourself: Will this image grow in time? Is it representative? Practical? Functional? Will it be expensive to print? Is it on message? Unique to your business? Most marketing pros know that a solid identity package can add to the bottom line, help companies differentiate themselves in a crowded marketplace.
The reason a company invests in a logo is to use it: slap it on anything and everything that will sit still long enough. In terms of branding and promotion, that is web, video, print, and of course, paper.
There are those who will rush to get the cheapest business cards they can: self print, pre-perforated cards for the DYI entrepreneur or thermography (raised ink) done by the copy center. A trip to the local office store chain may be fast, painless but is it really cheaper?
Many, many online and local printers do great work at comparable or lower prices, offering so much more: double sided, four-color business cards on better paper stock, no printer logo required. Heavier, smoother, brighter paper can make a big difference on a business card or brochure, giving the piece that substantive feel that thin, flimsy paper cannot.
In today’s digital age, your paper business card makes a lasting impression. It has to; it is the one leave-behind folks are most likely to save.
The difference maker
Professional typesetting and design can improve the look and readability of any document, from a fax cover sheet to a standard job application form. One request I get is to create letterhead and other layouts in MS Word (a fine word processing application, but…plenty of tips and diggs and criticisms of this). For small companies that will not use much preprinted collateral, it is cost-effective and makes sense.*
But for any business going after high-end business, six-figure deals and contracts, what is it telling your prospective customers that you cannot afford quality marketing materials? Put it another way: the client may not comment on the double-sided, die-cut, rounded-corner color business card you hand them, or when they see you have high bond, full-bleed color letterhead, but I bet they notice when you don’t.
There is a difference in creating a logo, and using it to build a brand. When you hire a graphic design professional, you are getting more than just design know-how and a new identity package. You are getting a partner in your marketing communications program, someone who can help you produce the quality marketing collateral you need to brand your image, get it printed the right way, and at the right price.
Doing things on the cheap can often cost more.
*FWIW I do not have letterhead, as most of my releases are Green-friendly digital, using emails and letterhead designed PDFs. Photo is a Red Adair quote.