Is it worth spending money on a good design (even if you are a young company)

When you start a new business, there is always a choice: order a website from a freelancer, or turn to an expensive agency. On the one hand, it makes more sense for a new business to spend all the money on a product. On the other hand, some industries will not be able to launch sales without a quality site. And he needs a logo, corporate identity, and professional content: it turns out that even before the start of business should invest a lot of money in the design?

In this article, we will consider both cases. First, we’ll discuss a few common situations where a startup can’t do without investing in design and content. And then we’ll give a few examples of when it seems irrational to spend money on business packaging.

What is branding?

In this article, we will refer to branding as everything that concerns the appearance of the product, promotional materials, and points of contact with the customer. For example, this includes identity, presentations, animation video, and websites.

When it makes sense to spend money on design and branding

Case 1. You need a corporate identity right away because there are so many points of contact

n some startups, a large volume of clients or users is one of the key ideas of the business model. For example, a marketplace will not make money if it does not have hundreds of thousands of transactions every day. A service for renting power banks will also not make economic sense if it has just two dozen pickup points in one city.

Startups, where it is important to replicate the product on a large number of clients from the very first day, it is important to work out the appearance. For example, if the marketplace has an outdated design, and the powerbank outlets are inconspicuous, this will hinder sales. If there is no revenue, the business will not begin to grow.

In companies like this, it makes sense to invest in branding from the first day. If you don’t deal with the brand and identity from the very beginning, but invest in it after a few years, for example, it will be expensive to change the appearance of all points of contact. To avoid overpaying in the future, it is logical to invest in design right away.

Case 2. You want to seem better or show something that doesn’t exist yet

Often retailers use not pictures of things, but their renders — 3D models, drawings, and pictures that are perfected. For example, on the Apple and Samsung websites you will see no pictures of phones, but their models. It’s just difficult to get a perfect photo, and a picture can be drawn exactly as the marketing department needs it. This works not only with gadgets: we often see renders of cars, real estate, and even books, and don’t even think about the fact that in reality, they don’t look as perfect.

So in a business that sells a physical product, it’s important to pay attention to design and packaging at a very early stage. Beautifully detailed renderings sell much better than photos. Especially when it comes to products that are supposed to convey the owner’s status. Quality renderings will look better on a modern, concise website, and a website that needs branding. It turns out that if a business sells a premium physical product, then it needs to invest in design from day one.

Then there are startups where the product needs to be presented to a mass audience before it is made. For example, if you are raising money on Kickstarter to produce a new gadget, you can only show pictures for now. It is through images and design you need to create trust and evoke an emotional response from future buyers so that they decide to buy the non-existent thing.

Pebble smartwatch. They raised 20 million dollars on Kickstarter thanks to a strong idea and cool design: they wrote the text, prepared renders, and an impressive video.

If they hadn’t invested in the design, they would hardly have been able to present the product concept so vividly.

Case 3. Design is part of the product

In some companies, the product is inextricably linked to the design. This is true for most modern online services. For example, if you are developing a mobile app, clear packaging and strong design are important at the start. A prototype for consumer problem research or hypothesis testing may well be assembled in the simplest design, but the release version of a mass-market app is no longer. Otherwise, entrepreneurs risk losing out to competitors at the start.
There are situations in offline businesses, too, where design is part of the product. As a rule, these are service businesses that create some kind of experience for the client. For example, a restaurant is not just delicious food: you pay attention to the interior, to the neatness of the staff, to the dishes. It’s all a package: it’s advantageous for the restaurateur to spend on design right away and open an establishment with an impressive interior, rather than with bare walls.


Uber- The design from the first day of launch is as up-to-date as possible.


When it doesn’t make sense to invest in design

Case 1. When you need to start up as quickly as possible

Often in startups, you need to release the product as early as possible. The more time you take to prepare, the more chances your competitors have: they may accidentally or intentionally create a copy of your product and launch earlier. Then it will be easier for them to take market share and start earning from your customers.
As a rule, a strong design is not created in a short time. If your goal is to launch as early as possible, you need to lower your visual requirements and not spend too much money on design. Otherwise, you run the risk of disappointment, prolonging the process, and creating stress for yourself and the contractor.

Case 2. When there is no money or last money is spent on design

If you start a business with your own money — without the support of investors or funds — you save every penny. In business, you cannot calculate everything with one hundred percent accuracy, so some items of expenditure are bound to increase. As a result, you may have too little or nothing left for design.

Of course, in this situation, it does not make economic sense to spend money on the packaging business. The cheap design will be of poor quality and, in fact, useless. If you have the last $4,000 before launching your business, you’d better launch an advertising campaign.

Case 3. The design does not play a role in the first sales: they have already taken place or are secured

There are times when the design doesn’t play a role in the business at all. For example, if you develop the world’s most advanced turbojet engine, all the airplane manufacturers will come to you. A website, a presentation, and an expensive video will not affect their desire to buy your product, so there is no point in spending on design in such a business.

Some companies are created for a specific service task and work only for one client. For example, to service the logistics of an international company, or to help find merchandisers for the largest national supermarket chain. In such companies, it is not even necessary to have a sales department, so the design is definitely not a priority.

Conclusions

In our opinion, it makes sense for a young business or startup to invest in design right at the start in three situations:
1. The business has many points of contact and needs to scale quickly. It is better to invest in a corporate identity at the start so that you don’t have to redesign it later.

2. The product has been invented but has not yet been produced: it is still in production or it is being built right now. To build trust with future customers, it is logical to invest in design: there will be high-quality renders and promotional materials.

3. Design is part of the product. This is true for apps, online services, and services such as catering. If the app is incomprehensible or the restaurant’s interior is ugly, they won’t use the product.
But there are at least three situations in which spending money on design in a startup seems irrational to us:

1. You need to launch as quickly as possible. They won’t make a cool one in two days. If you’re not willing to wait, there’s no point in spending a lot of money: choose cheaper alternatives.

2. No money or the design will take the last money. If you have the last $4000 left before you launch, it’s better to spend it on advertising: cool design is expensive, and cheap design may be useless.

3. You have already secured your first sales. There are companies where first sales do not depend on design. For example, in the service business, which serves an international corporation. Don’t spend money on the design if it doesn’t help sales.

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