By Natalia Raben

As a startup or a small business, you should be aware of the importance of branding and include it on your priority list. Logo, brand identity and packaging design costs should be included in your startup investment. However, who should you hire to design your branding? A freelance designer or a design agency? There are benefits to both, but which one works better for the size of your company, budget and needs?

Design Agency

Let’s start with a design agency. Agency tends to feature a very traditional model of designing. It means that there is a whole team working on your project. The client provides the brief usually face to face and gives time for the agency to interpret it. Afterwards, there are few meetings when feedback is exchanged and finally the results are presented to the client. Overall, the process is very time-consuming because it takes a while for any team ever to agree on something and proceed without talking the subject through multiple times. Unfortunately, nowadays barely anyone is willing to spend this much time on a logo or packaging design.

The upside, however, is the quality of the end result. Since there are so many professionals working on the project, it is almost a given that the client will be satisfied. But then again, since there are so many people involved in the process, and all of them are needed to be paid salary plus contribute to the overhead costs of the office, the client ends up paying quite a large sum.

Freelance Designers

Let’s move on to freelance designers whose working style is completely opposite to the one of design agencies. First of all, only one person is involved. This has, naturally, influence on the costs and time spent per project. Freelance designers’ work is, therefore, cheaper and faster. However, there are also downsides to hiring freelancers.

It is certainly more difficult to make sure that the person hired is a professional. Agencies tend to have strong, built-on reputation and are recommended or reviewed by many clients. Of course, some freelance designers are excellent and well-known in the industry. However, if affordability is your priority (and most probably it is as a startup or a small business), then these individuals won’t be able to help you.

Many startup and small business owners start their search for a freelance designer online. This option gives you the possibility of reaching a big pool of designers. But how to choose one and make sure this person is a professional, works fast and doesn’t charge too much?

Contest Based Agencies

The needs of the clients (so business owners and heads of marketing) are forcing the design industry to change. We all want our designs to be done fast and cheap but also be of high quality and show originality. However, neither design agency nor the majority of freelance designers is able to guarantee that.

The solution lies somewhere in between, precisely in contest-based websites/agencies. Those are online design crowdsourcing platforms that try to fulfill all the previously mentioned needs of modern clients. The clients pay an affordable amount of money for either a logo, brand identity or a packaging project on which somewhere between 3-10 designers will work on. The client then picks the winner and downloads his/her logo or other design. Since it is a contest, the freelances are motivated to deliver the best work possible and as fast as possible. Moreover, these platforms carefully select the designers basing on the choice on the freelancers’ experience, years in the industry and portfolios.

Natalia Raben comes from business and management academic field and currently takes care of content marketing at a start-up DesignBro. She is also an Oxford and photography academy graduate. Lived and studied in Poland, the UK, the Netherlands and Singapore. Natalia is a lover of design, photography and the arts. Find her on LinkedIn.

Design agency stock photo by REDPIXEL.PL/Shutterstock