There is this notion that since computers and software are easily accessible today you can easily do it all yourself. Better yet that you can get your nephew, niece, son, friend...fill in the blank here—to get it done. While we are all within our rights to hire whomever we please to get the job done. Is that always the best approach to take? Should one always indulge because they can? After all, this is your business or project we are talking about here. If it were just about using software and computers then surely people wouldn't spend thousands of dollars to get an education in the graphic design field.
The purpose of this article is to educate new business owners (especially the small kind) on who a graphic designer is and why they need one and a good one especially. As a Graphic designer writing this article, this is not me taking a chance to rub my knowledge in your face. It's safe to say that there's a lot that goes into running your business, and trying to figure out nuances of design is not another chore you want to burden yourself with. In the same way, a designer may not know the day to day or the behind the scenes of running your business—it would be safe to say you wouldn't be the most qualified to know about graphic design. Is this a fair assumption to make?
Who then is a good Graphic Designer and what role does he/she play in your business? My definition of a designer would be someone who is formally educated in the skills required to solve visual communication problems aesthetically and practically. These skills would involve knowledge and technique of using software such as Photoshop, InDesign etc. As well as having a psychological understanding of how design impacts your audience. So, while your nephew might have figured out a few cool tricks in Photoshop that doesn't qualify him as a designer. The major difference between your average software user(who tend to be self-proclaimed designers) and your designer would be the ability to discern and make psychological decisions that enhance your image and bridges the gap between you and your target audience. Better yet the mark of an advanced designer is to be able to combine their design skills with good marketing practice. Good design is half the problem solved, more on this later.
It would be safe to say that the reason why a new business owner might hire their non-designer friend or try to do it themselves is because they want to cut cost by cutting corners. It could also be because they don't know any better hence this article. This attitude is further perpetuated because of a new business owner while claiming to be concerned about his or her clients; maybe making self-absorbed decisions. In the end, this comes back to bite the owner in the rear. Even as Graphic Designers we are often told to start with our target audience in mind. In other words, our goal is to arrest the attention of our audience and spur them into taking action. The misconception is that we as designers are there to make pretty images. This notion minimizes the creative problem solving efforts of designers. The point of a designer's awesome image is to capture attention but at the end of the day if a design can't engage an audience in a way that causes them to take action it has failed. Consider this, the cool image that is designed for a rock band would go contrary to what would appeal to a corporation's target audience. At this point are you starting to get a clearer picture why hiring your cousin Jenny to save a few bucks can hurt you?
So, do you really need a Graphic Designer? Well, that depends on how serious you are about presenting your business. A designer's job is to listen to your needs and use their awesome skill set to make your life easier. A designer is there to help present your business and organization in the best light to your target audience. The most important thing a designer can do for your new business is to create an identity for your business. This is generated by presenting a consistent look and feel of your product and services. This reinforces your image to make it more memorable. Think about Coca-Cola. Like I said earlier having a good designer is half the battle. You would also need to hire a marketer, have a quality product or customer service for your business to really take off. So, if you can hire a designer that has a good marketing knowledge this will be a plus. It is also necessary to give your designer enough information to work with and trust them enough to have your best interest at heart. If you have doubts about designers in general, my advice would be to look through their portfolio, look up online reviews about them or ask them for references with their current or past clients. Once you've done your research on them simply sit back and let them do what they you hired them to do.
Once more you need a designer to present your best image to your target audience. This is a job that can't be entrusted to just about anyone. If money is the issue for you, it might be best to hold off rather than presenting a tacky image to the public. You could also include the design in the budget of your capital or loan. With this knowledge, I trust you will make the best decision for your new business. If you have any questions please feel free to ask. Cheers.