Eight good reasons for SMEs to hire freelance brand designers (and still get high quality results)
Hiya, Frank here from Frank Brands, a creative brand expert based in Dubai delivering high quality corporate branding, websites and graphic design. I work with one-to-one with business owners to understand where they are, where they want to be with their business and how to get there. I’ve been a freelance brand designer and entrepreneur for 6 years now after dropping out from the big agency scene. Well, kind of freelance – there’s just me and my in-house web coding guy Hassaan – but that’s it…
Some business owners see working with a ‘freelance’ designer as a potential risk and there definitely sometimes IS risk – if we talking about an inexperienced college graduate with no design chops – but in my case (and many others), I’ve got 20 years of delivering high level work for top international brands, and so there is no quality risk at all. In fact I think there are a whole bunch of benefits. Apart from the obvious fact that we are MUCH, MUCH less expensive than the bigger brand agencies, I’d like to flag a few reasons why it might be a good choice to use a smaller-scale creative partner.
1. Overhead fees. The cost of great brand design does not need to be huge
Did I mention we are less expensive? Freelance brand designers or small design outfits have a hot-desk or a small shared office or work from a home studio. This means we do not have the massive overheads of an established branding agency – such as office space rent, a multitude of non-design staff and the CEO’s Ferrari. If you’re hiring a brand agency, their rates will be factoring in the cost to them of employing staff who do other things that are not at all relevant to your particular project – so a chunk of the fee you pay is paying their wages. There is a huge cost saving that you can easily make when choosing a smaller scale corporate branding expert for freelance brand design.
2. Attention to detail
It’s very easy for your business branding project to become one of very many when you’re working with a bigger brand agency. Freelance brand designers/small design outfits tend to work from project to project or have only a few brand projects active at any one time. This means we have greater level of focus on your exact requirements. Also keep in mind that larger agencies might frequently get a more junior designer, less talented staff to roll out subsequent design after the initial pitch/agreement. For example; because I enjoy and take great pride in what I do, I carry out ALL creative and do not outsource design at all, so the attention to excellence is constant throughout our relationship.
3. No confusion. A direct channel of project communication
If you’ve ever previously worked with an agency – say on a website, you’ll find that you’ll have to go through an account manager, who then passes on your queries, requirements and amends to the art director, who then briefs the designer who then briefs the web developer – who then implements them and then it is the same chain of communication in reverse. So what can take a day for an agency, can take literally minutes with a freelance brand/web designer – and time is billable money. Freelance brand designers are experts in handling both the client liaison aspect of the project as well the actual implementation of all the requests – you’re actually passing your requests directly to the person who will be doing all the work – so there is zero confusion as to what has to be actioned and it gets done immediately.
4. The need for speed
So dealing directly with the freelancer who is working on your project often shortens the time to completion of your project. There is no chain involved in getting your project requirements implemented and any changes can be done straight away rather than falling into the inbox of a designer in an agency who may have 20 other jobs their boss has asked them to complete by the end of the day.
5. Your brand design project is more important to us
A bold statement perhaps, but freelancers tend to work from project to project, so your brochure, website or brand identity will the most important project we’re working on. Agencies operate with many more clients and prioritise the work schedule based on the size of the approved budget from the client. If your project is competing for a much of more valuable jobs, then there’s a distinct possibility your own project may be bumped down the list in favour of the bigger client’s deadline.
6. We’ll always go that extra mile
Freelance brand designers are much more flexible and we are hugely passionate about what we do. We’re interested and find value in building long-term relationships, so that hopefully we can become your permanent Satellite Design & marketing Department. So if you’re very nice to us, we may just opt to work on your project outside of traditional office hours if there is an emergency deadline. You’ve got a much better chance of pushing your project through quickly with a freelancer.
7. We have great networks
As a business owner you may now be almost convinced about trying the freelance route when it comes to branding/rebranding but are perhaps thinking that if you engage an expensive agency, you’re not only hiring someone who is specialised purely in brand, web and graphic design – but who also offers a cohesive turnkey solution which also provides PR, social media marketing, video, copywriting, search engine optimisation.
Of course this is correct; by hiring an expensive agency, you’ll get extended services – but the cost of the project will certainly reflect this. As freelancers, we have great networks of contacts that can carry out all these functions and guess what? at a far lower cost. We refer each other and work together on client projects based purely on specific requirements, rather than keeping multiple staff on a salary.
8. So who is actually doing the work?
This might come as a surprise, but that project you’ve just paid an agency AED6,000 a day to complete – well, a freelancer actually did it for you – but for much less money!
Brand agencies often call in freelance brand designers to work on design projects that they don’t want to turn down, but don’t have the in-house resources to complete at the time. When I first started my career in London, I signed to a “temping” agency and worked on a bunch of cool blue chip projects with a wide range of brand companies. These agencies collected a huge client pay-cheque at project finalisation and paid me probably less than a quarter of this. Why not just remove this excess cost from the get go?
To sum it all up
Many business owners I meet in Dubai and globally, struggle to find the humungous budgets charged by the bigger brand agencies for that high level of quality they are seeking. They desparately want and need the international level branding results, but have to go to cheap agencies who just cannot deliver, but cutting corners by going to cheap, untrained designers will cost far far more in the long term in loss of opportunities to your competition. Working with an experienced and professional freelancer will help your business stand out from the competition and more effectively connect with your ideal customers – thus generating more revenue that will pay for the services ten-fold. Yes, the big boys absolutely deliver excellent results, but there is an alternative solution within your budget if you shop around and look hard enough. Although we don’t have the big bucks for marketing our services and are harder to find; businesses are discovering that excellent, strategic and affordable branding is available from us freelance brand designers. We have the expertise, experience and creativity to visually transform your business – at a fraction of agency prices, but with that same high quality you need.