Every once in a while I run into a client who truly doesn’t seem to grasp this concept. It’s a pretty simple one.
Cheap things are cheap because they aren’t made well or didn’t take too long to make. Expensive things are expensive because they are higher quality and/or take considerable time to create.
Design is no different.
I’m sure you heard it all before. Whatever the industry, you can have it good, fast, or cheap. But you can only pick two. This is especially true in the world of graphic design, and here’s why.
Option 1) Good+Fast=Expensive
Translation: You can have it good and fast, but it’s going to cost you.
Imagine a big New York advertising firm. A new account lands on their desk, and this client needs a state-of-the-art advertising campaign, in a very short time. This firm takes on the challenge, but in order to meet the stringent deadline they throw all of their best people at it; schedules get rearranged, other projects get put on the back burner, long hours are worked, and the midnight oil is burned.
The resulting campaign is amazing and on time. But the client will be receiving quite the hefty bill for their troubles.
This only makes sense, since an obscene amount of extra manpower was spent making this project’s deadlines doable. And to make it good, probably even more time was spent on quality control. Time=money.
Option 2: Cheap+Fast=Fugly
Translation: You can have it cheap and fast, but it will look like crap.
I always think of online design contests, or do-it-yourself logo “design” software. Yes, it’s cheap, and yes it’s fast. But the thing is, it’s going to look cheap and fast.
Think about it. For someone to work that cheaply and that fast, they must be churning out whatever it is like an assembly line.
Things are going to fall through the cracks.
Whether it’s quality, or the strength of concept, you really can’t have it all. Something’s going to have to be traded. So since so little time was spent on it, it’s cheap. But also since so little time was spent on it, quality suffers. But, it was fast because there is no time investment. Time=money.
Option 3: Cheap+Good=Slow
Translation: You can have it cheap and good, but it will take a while.
This is a good option for those who have a tight budget, but who are willing to be patient. I recently took on a logo design project for a friend, who was starting up his own music production company.
Like most start-ups, he didn’t have much money to burn. But he knew the kind of work I produced, and was wiling to wait if I could accommodate his budget. I was happy to, since his project was a low priority and I could get to it when I had the time. The results will be good, and cheap; they just won’t happen overnight.
His logo will be good because the project was drawn out and there was time to catch mistakes and fix them. There is also no hurry to come up with a strong concept, so I can sleep on some ideas. But it will be cheap because a huge amount of woman hours will not be spent making it happen quickly. Time, once again, equals money.
Give and take
In this world there are always trade-offs. Whoever tells you can have everything you want, the way you want it, 100% of the time is lying to you. If you want something fast, good, and cheap, it’s time to wake up. You can only pick two, so start deciding which two it’s going to be.
What about you? Do you follow this philosophy when pricing your services or goods? Do you ever get push back from customers? What do you think is fair?