The Truth Behind The Cost Of Design

Andrew Whittaker

Feb 08, 2023

It’s understandable that many individuals either believe design to be a costly venture — or don’t fully understand the reasons behind the cost of design. However, we would like to shed light on the various elements that contribute to an effective design process and why investing in it can be a valuable asset for the success of your business.

It’s not uncommon for designers or agencies to receive feedback from potential clients stating that their quote is higher than they expected or exceeds their budget. We empathise with these concerns and hesitation about investing a significant amount in the design of their brand, website, or marketing materials.

One of the primary misconceptions about design is that its cost is only for the purpose of improving the visual aspect of the brand, marketing materials, website, or digital product. In reality, a competent designer or agency does so much more than that. When we break down the components that make up the entire end-to-end design process, like the one we use at Yozu Creative, it becomes apparent how crucial design is as an investment in the overall success of your business.

Ok, so what’s involved in the process?

Our approach to design is holistic and comprehensive regardless of whether we are working on brand design, web design, or SaaS UI design. We understand that the success of any design project is built on a strong foundation, and that’s why we always start with strategy. This includes questionnaires, brainstorming sessions, and workshops, all aimed at establishing the foundation of your vision.

Our objective is not just to deliver a fancy, ‘on-trend’ design quickly, but to build something that enables your business to grow and build on for years to come. Many clients prioritise the end result, but we believe that the process of getting there is just as important — if not more so in a lot of cases. Our clients often find the work between initial strategy and final production to be the most enjoyable and therapeutic, as it helps to clarify business direction, overcome overwhelm, and bring focus and clarity to themselves and other stakeholders. The work also answers questions and clearly defines areas that had never previously been thought of or considered.

If we take only brand design as a service for the following example, it is clear to see how much work is required before achieving an desireable output.

Our typical process for a brand project includes (at a minimum) research, ideation, and production of the following:

  • Primary logo design in all necessary colors and file types for print and web
  • Alternate logo design, such as a wordmark or a more compact version
  • Submark logo design, a compact version for social media, watermarks, and stamps
  • Custom colour palette and associated hexcodes, RGB, CMYK, and/or Pantone
  • Brand font files and typography system — sometimes custom-made fonts
  • Patterns, if applicable, for brand recognition
  • Brand icons/illustrations, if applicable
  • Other brand elements, such as lines, buttons, and formats
  • Shareable graphics for social media or marketing materials
  • Library of free stock photos
  • Brand stylesheet or style guide
  • Packaging design, including materials, printing options, and customer interaction
  • Marketing materials, such as brochures, business cards, email templates, and social media graphics
  • Website design and development

Personalised Support and Expertise

We take a personalised approach to all of our client relationships. Our clients receive the benefit of having a dedicated design consultant in each of our designers and this means that we not only provide practical digital design and development solutions, but also offer valuable guidance and insights along the way.

As we collaborate with clients to shape their brand, marketing, and digital product strategy, we delve into every aspect of their business operation. We carefully examine their services, target audience, and the customer experience they provide. This allows us to identify opportunities to optimise their business processes. For example, we might suggest ways to make it easier for clients to book consultations, or optimise the placement of email newsletter forms to increase subscribers. With Yozu Creative as your partner, you’ll receive comprehensive support that goes beyond just designing a logo or a simple website.

What can you gain by investing in good design?

Maximising Your Business Potential

Contrary to popular belief, having a visually appealing brand, website, or digital product is not a necessity to succeed in your industry — even if other agencies will tell you otherwise. However, investing in the design of your business can certainly make a difference in your overall success.

Expanding Your Reach

When you neglect the design of your brand, website, marketing materials, and digital products, you are likely missing out on potential customers and clients. Even those who have achieved great success without these elements could still reach a wider audience and achieve greater success with a well-designed image.

Enhancing Your Credibility

By taking shortcuts with the design aspect of your business, you risk losing out on valuable revenue, reach, and positive search engine optimisation (Google prioritises visually appealing websites with high engagement). A well-designed brand image can attract more customers and convert more visits into sales. It’s common for people to make quick judgments about a product or service based on the appearance of its website, packaging, or social media — even if you shouldn’t only judge a book by its cover.

Providing an Exceptional Experience

Good design helps you build a stronger connection with your ideal clients or customers, establish trust more easily, and create a more pleasant user experience. It’s easier for people to make decisions when the process is effortless and enjoyable. A confusing or poorly designed website can discourage potential customers, but a well-designed website makes your business more shareable and increases the likelihood of repeat business.

Reaping the Benefits of Design Investment

Investing in the design of your brand, marketing materials, website, or digital products is an investment in the future of your business. Just as we make substantial investments in our homes through renovations and upgrades, we should do the same for our businesses, which are supposed to generate income and provide us with financial stability. When it comes to investing in design, there is no one-size-fits-all formula, but a general guideline is to allocate 10-13% of your annual revenue or target revenue for design expenses.

Annual revenue or goal x 10-13% = A suggested investment for design in your business

How can I cover the cost of design?

If your business is currently earning or striving to earn £100,000 per annum, it’s advisable to budget a portion of your revenue for design and marketing activity. Ideally, you should set aside £10,000 to £13,000 to cater to your brand, website, and marketing design needs. It’s important to note that design projects are usually long-term investments and not just an annual expense.

Let’s assume you opt to spend £12,000 on a new brand identity, website, and marketing templates, which are expected to last for 3 years. This breaks the investment down to £4,000 per year, and it’s easy to calculate the number of products or services you need to sell to make up for this investment. Although it’s not always the case, the return on investment for good design is often well over £4,000 annually.

It’s crucial to understand that poor design or a negative brand/website experience can significantly impact your business’s bottom line. If you can imagine the number of potential customers that overlook your business due to poor design, you can then appreciate the value of investing in design and marketing.

For a business earning £1,000,000 in revenue, investing £100,000 to £130,000 in design and marketing elements is not unreasonable. Breaking down this amount into £40,000 per year over the next three years is equivalent to 4% of the business’s revenue. Design can positively impact a business’s revenue and profit margins by over 4% in a single year, or even more.

Lastly, for a business looking to earn £50,000 per year, setting aside £5,000 to £6,500 for design will ensure a better brand experience, improve SEO, attract more sales and referrals, and result in more visibility. This equates to less than £2,200 per year, a small price to pay for maximising revenue potential.

You Need to Do What Works Best for Your Business

At our Yozu Creative, we recognise that we may not be the ideal fit for every client. We don’t want to make anyone feel overwhelmed or stressed when considering working with us!

Some clients simply desire a basic logo design to get their business started and see where it leads. And that’s perfectly fine. They may not be ready to fully invest in their business yet. But there are numerous options available for anyone seeking to enhance their design, ranging from DIY programs and templates suitable for those taking their first steps or learning new skills, to comprehensive agency services and everything in between. With the right research, you are bound to find exactly what you are looking for at a price you are willing to pay.

Regardless of how you choose to improve your business’s design, investing in a designer, studio, or agency will result in positive outcomes. We cannot guarantee that working with us will lead to a substantial revenue increase, as success also requires effort from the client — we will provide you with a comprehensive toolkit to set you on the right path — but it’s up to you to put in the work to establish relationships, refine processes, focus on marketing and SEO, among other things.

Overall, we can assure you that if you are fully committed to your business venture, design will play a crucial role in determining the direction and future success of your business, regardless of its size or the amount of time you dedicate to it.

Read more of our insights.

Are you ready to invest in design? Start a conversation today.

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