Are you revaluing your design budget? What are aspects that you should focus on when you are adding funds to your design budget? When should you hire a designer or do your own design?
In this podcast episode, Sam Carvalho speaks about how to create a design budget and which elements you should be spending your money on.
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In This Podcast
- Benefits of investing in design
- Identifying designs that need to be created
- Know the market rates for the designers you need
- Analyze your budget
- Consistency is key
Benefits of investing in design
- Helps to make your brand more identifiable to customers: the public is more likely to trust and want to do business with a brand that they can identify.
- Design helps to build a brand identity.
These two benefits together can improve sales and make for a more cohesive marketing strategy.
Identifying designs that need to be created
By taking a look at how you already make use of design within your business you can see areas where maybe design isn’t helping to improve your business or isn’t bringing clients in … and then other areas where design is making a big difference. Obviously you’re going to assign more budget to the areas where design is actually making a difference.
- Gather some data on the designs you have already used and see where and how you are already using designs, how much you have spent on them, what returns you have seen from the presence of designs, and where possible future opportunities lie.
- If you work on your own design, be aware of your time to value ratio with DIY design because it may turn out to be more cost-effective to hire a designer if your hourly rate is higher than the hourly charge of a digital designer.
- Research your competition: see what designs they are using and in which format. Once you have done your research, make a list of the final designs you need or want to include in your business aesthetic.
Know the market rates for the designers you need
Knowing what you will need to pay for designs is important to determine how much your design budget should be.
It also means you can set your benchmark to help ensure costs do not spiral beyond what is necessary. When you hire a designer for a project, you want to ensure you are paying a fair price for the work that you are receiving.
- When you are researching this, remember the quality versus the quantity. Sometimes a designer who has higher rates will create more professional-looking and successful design work than another designer who is just starting out.
- Hourly rates can leave you open to gradually rising costs each time you need to make a slight amendment.
I incorporate changes or revision time into that upfront cost and I also stipulate that even if it goes beyond what I’ve estimated, any amount of revisions is fine as long as it remains within the original brief.
Once you have landed a designer that you are happy with, ask these questions:
- How long do you estimate this design will take?
- What will the review schedule look like?
- How many revisions do I get?
- What is included with the project rate?
Analyze your budget
Design is part of marketing, so your design costs are going to come out of your marketing budget.
For most small businesses a good rule of thumb is to put at least 10% of expected profits towards marketing. However, if you are a new business, or starting a new marketing campaign, it could help to increase that sum to 20% or more.
Prioritize projects and plan them according to budget constraints.
[For many businesses] it may not be possible to meet all of those design needs at once. If this is the case, you need to figure out which design projects are the most important to your company and the ones that will yield the greatest benefit.
- Start with logo
- Simple brand style guide
Consistency is key
Many business owners underestimate the value of design. It is not a direct profit driver like a product you sell or a necessity like paying rent, but it can be some of the most effective money you spend when it comes to building your business.
Think of successful businesses, how good their design is. Do not wait until you are successful to get a great design, let great design help you become successful.
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Meet Sam Carvalho
Sam Carvalho is a graphic designer living in Cape Town, South Africa, with over five years of experience in both design and marketing, with a special interest and experience in the start-up environment.
She has been working with Practice of the Practice since 2016 and has helped over 70 therapist entrepreneurs take their practices to the next level by enhancing their visual branding. She loves working with a variety of clients on design-intensive tasks and is always up for a challenge!
Thanks For Listening!
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Welcome to the Marketing a Practice podcast with me, Sam Carvalho where you’ll discover everything you need to know about marketing and branding your business. To find out more about how I can help you brand new business visit www.practiceofthepractice.com/branding. And if you’d like to see some examples of my design work, be sure to follow me on Instagram at Samantha Carvalho Design.
Hi there. Thanks so much for joining me today on the Marketing a Practice podcast. Today is a sole episode, and I thought that I would discuss your design budget and what elements of design you should be spending money on. So these days, any business is going to need design services. At some point they’ll need designs for a logo, business cards, flyer designs, web design, and so on. For many business owners, it can be hard to determine just how much of their budget should be going to design. To figure this out, the business owner needs to evaluate their circumstance and base the design budget on a few different points. So I thought I’d list these here today, and just run through some things to keep in mind when it comes to figuring out the design budget.
First and foremost is the benefits of investing in design. So design plays an important role for business. Research has shown that good designs do improve the performance of a company in a number of ways. First, it helps to make your brand more identifiable to customers and the public is more likely to trust and want to do business with a brand that they can identify. Second, design helps to build a brand identity and together these can improve sales and make a more cohesive marketing strategy. So never underestimate the importance of design early on. And I know that in the beginning, when you’re setting up a business, there’s so many costs that you’re facing and design can kind of fall by the wayside, but it really is important when it comes to setting up a strong brand identity.
Another thing to consider is identifying the designs you need created. So obviously if you’re at the beginning stages of your business, you’re going to need a logo, a website, things like that but if you’re already a bit further along, maybe you’re wanting to set up a marketing campaign and you need some flyers around that or some social posts. So to figure out your design budget, you’re going to need to determine the types of designs that you need. Take a look at your operation to analyze how you are already using signs, how much you spend on them, what returns you’ve seen and where opportunities lie. So taking a look at how you already make use of design within your business, you can see areas where maybe design isn’t helping to improve the business, or isn’t bringing clients in and other areas where design is making a big difference. And obviously then you’re going to assign more budgets to the areas where design is actually making a difference.
Another thing to note here is that if you are doing design yourself, obviously I mentioned considering how much you’ve spent on design, the time that you’re spending, creating that design, how much is your time worth? And that’s how you can kind of figure out how much you’re spending on design and whether it’s actually going to be more affordable to outsource it so that you can spend your time elsewhere. You can also research your competition to see what designs they’re using and in which formats. Consider whether you need a new logo, brushes, website design or something else. And then once you’ve done your research, write a final list of the designs you want. And that’s when you can really begin kind of looking for the right designer for those projects or how you’re going to go about getting those designs.
When it comes in general to which design items I think that you should spend money on, I think I’ve said this before, but I would kind of equate any long-term design to be an important part of your business, that you should be investing money on by hiring a professional. So definitely things like your logo and website, unless you have a lot of time in your hands, or it’s an area that you do excel in, then I would say it would be better to hire a professional to take care of it. And then also sometimes things like your print materials. So if you plan on creating kind of a generic flyer for your brand that you plan on using for the next five or 10 years, that’s something that is worth investing in and having a professional designer put together.
So another element is to know the market rates for the designers you need. So obviously now once you’ve understood the benefits of investing in design, you’ve identified exactly what designs you want to create, you now will head into the stage where you’ll begin researching what the market rates are for designers to complete those designs that you need. So knowing what you’ll need to pay for designs is important to determine how much your design budget should be. It also means you can set your benchmark to help ensure costs don’t spile. When you hire a designer for a project you want to ensure you’re paying a fair price for the work, and this kind of works both ways. And again, it’s a quality versus quantity sort of thing, because once you start researching, you’ll find that there are many, many rates out there and the range is huge.
So for example, if you’re looking for a logo, you’ll most likely find designers willing to do it for $50 and another designer who charges $5,000. So it really is difficult to kind of quantify it, but again, you need to look at quality. And so the designer who’s charging $50 for logo, the quality of that logo, isn’t going to be as good as someone who’s charging a bit higher. So you really want to do your research. You want to look at their portfolios, you want to look at reviews their customers have left, and you really want to make sure that you’re picking not necessarily the most expensive, but a designer that’s going to give you quality.
Something to also consider is that hourly rates can leave you open to gradually rising costs each time you need a slight amendment. So a lot of freelancers or even agencies will work with hourly rates, and then every time you ask for adjustments of the design they’ll charge you more. Obviously that can then escalate. So how I work is I estimate hours upfront, first and foremost, whatever design task you request, I will let you know either what the fixed price is for that, which is usually based on hours anyway or if it’s an unusual design project, then I’ll estimate up front, how many hours is involved. And I incorporate changes or revision time into that upfront cos and I also stipulate that even if it goes beyond kind of what I’ve estimated any amounts of revisions is fine, as long as it remains within the original brief. And I think that’s really where you can kind of cut out any risk of paying for unnecessary changes; is if you have a proper detailed brief from the beginning.
So I would say once you’ve kind of landed a designer that you’re happy with to really work closely with them on ironing out as detailed as possible brief, because then the need for changes further on is no longer an issue because the designer understands from the beginning what your vision is and what it is that you want. So changes will be minimal. So that’s how I work. I would say you could also ask questions, like how long do you estimate this design will take, what will the review schedule look like, how many revisions do I get, and what is included was in the project rate? So don’t be afraid to kind of ask those questions upfront and to get as much information as you can in the beginning to know how the process is going to work and to know what you’re paying for. So then you’re going to analyze your budget.
So once you have an estimate of how much it will cost to get the designs that you want made, it’s time to analyze your budget. Design is part of marketing as we stipulated at the beginning. So your design costs are going to come out of your marketing budget. For most small businesses, a good rule of thumb is to put at least 10% of expected profits towards marketing. However, if you are a new business or starting a new marketing campaign, it could help to increase that time to 20% or more. Remember, again, that in the beginning, you’re going to have a lot of costs and design is going to be one of those costs, and you’re not necessarily going to reap the reward straight away. So for example, if you spend a certain amount on a logo design or brand style guide the rewards of that may not come in the first six months of being in business, but having a good strong logo to start with is going to stand your business in good state in the long run.
So it may just be that you need to fork out that cash in the beginning, but reap the awards later on. So once you kind of analyzed your budget and you figured out what design items you want done and which design you’re going to work with, you’re going to want to prioritize projects and plan them according to budget constraints. So for many businesses, if we’re being realistic, it might not be possible to meet all of your design goals at one time. So, especially in the beginning, as I’ve been saying, you’re going to have a lot of design elements that are needed. You’re going to have your website, you’re going to have your logo, you’re going to have business cards, social media, email signature, all of that. So it may not be possible to address all of those design needs at once. If this is the case, you need to figure out which design projects are the most important to your company and the ones that will yield the greatest benefit.
So from my perspective, I would say your logo is your first and foremost design requirement, following that a brand style guide. If this is something that you can’t afford a simple brand style guide is usually included with a good value logo package and that is basically your color scheme and your fonts. That’s kind of like your most minimal brand style guide. And I would say that that’s something that should be included in any logo package that you go for. And then of course, it’s your website. These days, you need have a really well-designed website in order for your business to be set up for success. There often it depends on kind of your marketing plan. So whether you are planning on focusing more digitally. So obviously now with COVID a lot more businesses are focusing on more digital marketing than they are on in-person or print marketing. But if print marketing is something that works for you, if you have a good kind of network and you’re able to go to events and hand out flyers, then that’s the route that you’ll take.
So once you’ve got your fundamental design elements, you can then move on to more of kind of your marketing assets, where if again, your marketing pan is digital, you’ll focus on things like Facebook, Facebook cover photo, or social posts for your Instagram or an email signature. And if it’s more on the print side of things, you’ll focus on a business card, flyers, postcards, or letterheads. So of course there’s many examples out there of design items that you can make use of within your business. But if you have a budget you’ll obviously need to prioritize what is more important. Bearing in mind, however, that consistency is key and so what’ll happen a lot of times with businesses is that they will have their logo and their brand design on their website done by one designer and then two or three years down the line, they’ll decide to create a business card and they’ll obviously hire another designer to do that. And then that consistency is lost.
You really want to maintain that consistency. If you’ve had a designer help you set up a proper brand style guide that you then share with other designers down the line, that’s going to help to maintain that consistency. But you really want to make sure, and that’s why you want to put a lot of thought and effort into your initial branding because it’s going to be long-term and because for the next 10 years, you’re going to be making use of the same color scheme and the same fonts and the same look and feel. So really just make sure that over time if you need to prioritize projects at different times that you maintain that consistency. Many business owners under estimate the value of design. It is not a direct profit driver, like a product you sell or necessity you like paying rent, but it can be some of the most effective money you spend when it comes to building your business. And if you think of successful businesses and how good their design is now, you don’t want to necessarily wait to get, to be successful, to have great design. You want to have great design now to help you become successful.
So hope this has been valuable, and I will see you in the next episode.
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Thanks for listening to the Marketing a Practice podcast. If you need help with brand new business, whether it be a new logo, rebrand, or you simply want a print flyer design, head on over to www.practiceofthepractice.com/branding. And if you’d like to see some examples of my design work, be sure to follow me on Instagram at Samantha Carvalho Design. Finally, please subscribe, rate, and review this podcast on iTunes if you like what you’ve heard, talk to you soon.
Marketing a Practice podcast is part of the Practice of the Practice podcast network, a network of podcasts seeking to help you market and grow your business and yourself. To hear other podcasts like Beta Male Revolution, Empowered and Unapologetic, Imperfect Thriving, or Faith in Practice, go to practiceofthepractice.com/network.
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