Branding Marketing Web Design

Design Agency versus Freelance Designer. What’s Better for Your Marketing?

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Make the most of your marketing budget

You’ve done your market research, developed and honed your product and you’re ready to start selling, so what’s your go-to-market strategy? A ‘build it and they will come’ approach won’t cut it these days so you’re going to have to invest in some marketing.

If you’re a startup or a smaller business working on new product development, you’re going to be under the gun and facing financial pressures, so it’s important to make the most out of your marketing budget.

Can smaller companies afford a design agency?

When it comes to creating a brand identity, working with a design agency to create anything from logos to packaging can often mean spending tens of thousands of dollars, which will stretch many small business start-up budgets. When you’ve got a limited budget, every penny counts. Instead of asking ‘can I afford a design agency?’ , you should ask: ‘how do I get the best branding and packaging design for the budget I have?’

Done right, your branding gives customers a valuable snippet of info about you and your product. It should communicate the values that are at the heart of the business – luxury, value, fun…. whatever you stand for.

For some businesses, great packaging design is crucial to their success in the marketing field. After all, it is one of the most significant parts of the brand. Think about the iconic Coca-Cola logo, or the classic Campbell’s soup tin – both are instantly recognisable and have serious on-shelf presence. So, if you’ve got a relatively small budget, how do you go about getting the branding or packaging design for your business right?

Values & Image

You need to know your company values and what you want to communicate to your customers. Provide details on the market you’re competing in, your competitors and why your product is unique. What is the image that you want to portray – do you want to be friendly & accessible, or formal & powerful – the choice is yours, but deciding this in advance saves a lot of time and money.

A Good Briefing

Put together a document that includes the above information as well as details on how you’ll sell and promote your product. Think about all of the situations where you’re likely to need some design work – packaging, exhibitions, website, signage, adverts, vehicle liveries. You might not need this now, but you’ll want a design that can be used consistently across all touch points.

Find a Freelance Designer

If you’ve got the budget, you may want to go to an established design agency. If not, you could try to find a freelancer that specialises in your product area. Sometimes freelancers can be hard to find, so you could use a platform like DesignBro where professionals from all over the world compete to work on your project and provide top quality design, without the costs or waiting times associated with an agency. Added bonus: a simple step-by-step foolproof briefing process.

Create an Asset Library

To ensure brand consistency and save money down the line, you should collect and archive all of the elements and assets of your brand design and how they should be used. Further down the line, this archive will ensure that subsequent design work can be done quickly and consistently, saving your much needed budget.

More on finding a good online design freelancer…

Do Your Prep

Before you start looking for a freelancer, determine exactly what projects you want them to work on and precisely map out the scope of each. This is vital if you’re looking for numerous freelancers to work on large-scale or numerous projects. Ensuring that you have a good brief, some quality guidelines and the resources the freelancer will need (logos, images, colors, portfolios etc…) from the outset will make everything easier.

Use Your Network

First and foremost, start with your network. Email other marketers, start-up business owners or other creative workers you’re already working with – they’re likely to not only be able to put you in contact with a designer they’ve had a good experience working with, but also recommend how to get the job done. Message your contacts on social platforms (LinkedIn is usually the best place to start), sharing specifics about what you’re looking for and by when.

Shop around in the Talent Marketplace

While your network may be able to offer up a few good contacts, they may not be appropriate for your brand, be too expensive or have the capacity to do the work or space in their schedule.

This is where crowdsourcing sites and talent marketplaces come in. Platforms like the mentioned DesignBro give you access to designers from all over the world who are looking for freelance work. Their portfolios are vetted before they can bid for your work so you know that the standard will be high and that they can turn the work around quickly. It’s also easier to recruit a team of designers if the scope and timescales of your project require them.

Brand First

Once the groundwork is done, you may have a personal preference but designers whose work best matches your brand’s identity would be the best choice. Or better yet – ensure you get work from multiple designers to reduce your risk; after all, throwing multiple darts gives you a better chance of reaching the bullseye.

About the author


Christiaan Huynen

Christiaan is a founder & CEO at