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Aside from a great product, what makes superfood branding great?
With a tagline like DELICIOUS. ORGANIC. COLLAGEN-RICH. Sippable Bone Broths & Paleo Soups – it’s hard to not applaud this rising brand. As more people focus on things like gut health, diet, and autoimmune issues; they’ll surely run into the benefits of bone broth online. The Osso Good Company is an honestly good cocktail of protein-packed broths that don’t need any extra soup filler – they are perfectly sippable alone!
Why is the branding good?
From humble beginnings at the farmers market in Chicago to being printed on all bone broth pouches the logo has stood the test of time and is classic, signature esthetic. They’ve even carried their tone and messaging through out their website and marketing thus far!
Why is the brand name good?
I mean c’mon! If you’ve had a chance to check out The Art of Brand Naming, this company name is both Descriptive and most sought after, Evocative!
What do you get when a PhD in preventative medicine and a Mycologist (Mushroom-expert) start a brand? Om Mushroom Superfood. While it means Organic Mushrooms to them, “Om” is a sacred word and heavily coveted by those from yoga teachers to other spiritual brands. It’s amazing to me they even got the domain ommushrooms.com, let alone the trademark for the brand name!
Harnessing the power of many mushrooms like Chaga and other ingredients like adaptogens and Reishi Extract — these pouches pack a punch of spiritual healing in the form of vitality, energy, and immunity. Their marketing, logo, brand name, and website showcases that message throughout!
GET 20% OFF YOUR FIRST ORDER HERE or USE CODE: JACQUELYNTOLKSD
With a wide range of products at yoursuper.com, it’s no wonder this is the leading superfood brand out there. They also walk the walk with eco-friendly bio-degradable packaging for their organic foods.
With a name like Your Super, it’s a great goal for them to give back by donating their products to those in need around the world. Check them out online to see how everything they do is with their brand positioning in mind!
It’s impossible not to think about branding as a modern startup these days. With gorgeous visuals dominating our social media feeds; companies with impeccable designs are popping up all the time. And growing fast! Despite the amount of attention, so many new founders give their brand identities… I see some common branding mistakes that can hold their companies back.
The good news is, developing a solid brand doesn’t have to be as complicated as many folks make it out to be. Here are the three most common branding mistakes I’ve seen startups make during my 13+ years working as a brand strategist—and how you can easily avoid them to ensure you’re putting your company’s best foot forward.
Focusing on Form Over Function
Especially when you’re DIYing your logo, it can be tempting to choose what you think looks coolest. Don’t do that. What is cool changes. What functions is best. Consider their usability more. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve seen brands design funky logos that are impossible to decipher when they’re scaled down to fit in a social media icon, or choose a typeface that looks cool but is challenging for users to actually read.
Instead, make sure you think about your viewers at every step. Any time you’re making a brand decision, just take a step back and ensure it supports your users rather than you.
Spending Too Much on Branding
If you’re like most startup founders, you’ve probably spent a lot of time fretting over your budget for branding. Most ask themselves should they spend upwards of 50K on branding?
I’m going to let you off the hook and tell you, no, it’s almost certainly not. What so many founders don’t account for when doing this math is just how often early-stage startups pivot as they’re trying to figure out their product-market fit.
Considering that good design is all about tying your brand to your business strategy (more on that in a minute), you don’t want to invest a lot into your brand until you feel secure in that strategy. If you do, that investment is quickly going to feel like a waste when you realize you need to rebrand to match your company’s new direction down the line.
But you also don’t want to try and create a sexy brand on the cheap. You get what you pay for in the design world, so this usually won’t end up looking as professional as you’d like. Instead, I recommend startups aim for simple branding that allows you a lot of flexibility for future changes. Think of this as a black dress: it’s nothing revolutionary, but it also looks timeless and sleek.
Not Tying the Brand to a Solid Strategy
Of course, a DIY brand strategy may not work forever. Once you’ve found your market fit, you’ll want to invest in professional design and branding work. But too many startups walk into that process with a mood board of what they want to look like, instead of focusing on what they want their brand to convey.
The best brands aren’t plucked out of thin air—they’re rooted in the company’s business strategy. All of the design elements are carefully selected to align with a company’s mission and to attract its target audience. Above all, to set them apart from the competition.
As a professional creator, anytime a business owner tells me they don’t have a business strategy and just want a quick cheap logo – it’s a red flag.
You need to strategize your brand first. Yes, working through these types of questions is a lot harder and a bit less fun than thinking about your favorite colors and fonts. But doing so will be infinitely more valuable to your brand, and the future of your business. That’s why I include it in my branding process. Take a sneak peek at the first part that workshops one-on-one with business owners on what your brand and business should be in The Art of Brand Naming.
About the Unglitch.io: Jacquelyn Tolksdorf, Brand Strategist and founder is a Wisconsin-based creative that’s worked with world-class brands like Netflix, Rocket Mortgage, Buffalo Trace Whiskey, and more. As an online wordmark builder that allows startups on tight budgets to create dynamic, professional-looking logos themselves, she’s here to create for you!
First off, what is a customer journey…
Customer journey maps clarify, and develop important parts of just that…your customers’ journey. They allow you to stand in the shoes of your customers, enabling you to improve nearly every aspect of their experience. They provide you with the kind of overview to move customers down your sales funnel. Wait… sales funnel…
What is a sales funnel…
Back to Customer Journeys. Why Are They Important?
- Shows you how customers are interacting with your business
- Gives the brand owner the chance to stop seeing the perspective from the company, but the perspective of the brand through their customer
- Highlights what customers need and when they need it at different stages of the sales funnel
- Clarifies needs and pain-points of your customers
- Clarifies optimization and development priorities
You can see this best with what’s called a Customer Journey Map.
As a matter of fact! I want to talk about the most perfectly detailed customer journey I went on when purchasing from Sunday Riley, a skincare brand. To demonstrate this, let’s go over my Customer Journey Map and furthermore go through the steps to create a Customer Journey Map. I do this with my clients and their eCommerce marketing strategies all the time and trust me, it helps!
Step One: Build Customer Profiles
The data about customers forms the basis of your map. As a result, this data will come from two places: direct feedback and customer analytics. So who am I?
I visited Sunday Riley because I have a new skin issue thanks to a lovely combo of autoimmune issues including dermatomyositis. My skin is dry but not like normal when it’s dry. I exfoliate a ton of dead skin cells a day, moisturize 2x a day, drink 64oz of what a day, and I’ve tried a bunch of products to fix this.
Step Two: Define General Stages
Stage One – Discovery: I visited Sunday Riley because I have a new skin issue thanks to a lovely condition called dermatomyositis. My skin is dry but not like normal when it’s dry. I exfoliate a ton of dead skin cells a day. I moisturize 2x a day, drink 64oz of what a day, and I’ve tried a bunch of products to fix this. Since this started, someone recommended I try Sunday Riley’s Good Genes lactic acid serum.
Stage Two – Research: Before this, I was mixing a concoction of Licorice Root and oil on my face and it helped a little. So I did my research on this product… Besides other great ingredients, Licorice Root is #2 in the ingredient list for Good Genes!
Stage Three – Choose: Now I’ve never tried a Sunday Riley product so when I visited the site I spent a few minutes reading about Good Genes, but then saw that $122 price tag… I clicked away. I don’t want to spend that much without knowing if it works.
Thus a FANTASTIC customer journey begins and Sunday Riley’s eCommerce team kicks into action to reel me back in!
Stage Four – Purchase: I went to a few more products pages to look around. I knew I wanted to try Sunday Riley in general. So I was delighted to find a sample pack.
I purchased the sample pack and waited for my package. It came less than a week later. Even though I only purchased 3 small jars of product to try out, Sunday Riley sent along with my package an equal amount of product samples too.
Ultimately, I got those (3) 0.3oz moisturizers, a 0.17oz sample of U.F.O. Acne Treatment, a 0.17oz of High-Dose Retinoid Serum, and samples packets of various products INCLUDING GOOD GENES.
This means Sunday Riley gave me more than an equal amount of free samples along with my purchase. But Why?
Well…Who am I as Customer Profile?
I clearly am a first-time buyer wanting to try the brand. I spend a lot of time on the website reading about 1-3 products and even added them to my cart. But deleted them before purchase.
Step Three: Attach Goals to Each Stage
Thus, Sunday Riley’s customer journey is now collecting my goals, needs, and desires.
When you do this, consider the most pressing concerns during the stages in Step Two and how to convert me into being a loyal customer. Don’t be afraid of getting your hands dirty when collecting data too. Asking me straight out what I thought of my 3 moisturizers in a follow-up email after my purchase would have been a great step in itself.
But Sunday Riley went above and beyond for this specific customer profile (talked about in Step One) and now I’m hooked!
Step Four: Identify Touchpoints for Each Stage
Many retailers approach this stage too narrowly. It’s essential to account for all possible “touchpoints” in which I’ll interact with your brand as the customer. Ignoring minor channels or interactions will lead to an incomplete customer journey map. So don’t just do this for your website only.
Account for all of the following touchpoints:
- Word-of-mouth and referrals
- Outbound marketing channels like online ads, awareness campaigns, and offline advertising
- Inbound marketing like content, search engine results, and organic social media posts
- Social media channels
- Customer support
- Your website and apps
- Packaging and delivery
Step Five: Identify Moments of Truth
I had two ‘moments of truth’ here. Moments of truth occur when a customer makes an important decision. Mine was when I decided to buy and when I decided to become a loyal customer after a great experience.
Step Six: Identify Drop-Off Points and Goal Completion
Where are customers typically dropping off and ending their journey? Where did I? Before purchasing many higher-priced products. Where are they successfully completing their goals? When did I? When after getting all my samples and trying them I went back to the site and purchased Good Genes.
Step Seven: Get Even More Feedback
Additional feedback can be immensely useful once you’ve started to put together your customer journey. At this stage of the process, you will likely be aware of what was missing in your original customer research, but it doesn’t hurt to ask a customer outright what their feedback is. What’s mine? This blog post (LOL).
Step Eight: Identify Areas for Improvement and “Amplification”
This step is where the customer journey map moves from being an abstract document to a practical tool. So what would this look like with factoring in metrics and emotions of my customer journey with the help of CTA’s (Call-To-Actions) and little nudges the brand did to make me a loyal customer…? Let’s see a customer journey map! Here’s a basic one:
And a closer look at where you and me are visually right now:
In the End…
Using your customer journey map as an aid for idea generation and really realizing what is going on in the purchasing process for your customers. When you think this way, you’ll make much more sales. So how do you create your own Customer Journey Map for your brand?
Because customer journey mapping tools are essentially diagram-creation apps, they tend to be relatively inexpensive. You should consider investing in one if you haven’t already. The best out there is the Salesforce Journey Planner. If you want to go a free route and DIY yourself you can use HubSpot’s templates.
But if you’ve gotten to the end of this post and are thinking “Where the Hell do I start!?”. There is also another option for creating a Customer Journey Map… Unglitch.io! Get in touch today and we can strategize a custom map for your brand to help you boost sales ASAP!
In the meantime, I’ll be over here obsessively touching my new, soft, happy face!
Business Strategy, SEO, + Competing w/ Other Brands
Choosing brands to buy wholesale from is no easy task! Pick carefully! Because while it may be tempting to buy products you like or are trending — you need to think of a bigger picture. Let’s dive in!
Choose a Wholesale Resource
The easiest way to avoid mishaps from the jump is using Faire to pick the products you want to stock your online store with. I can even refer you to unlock bigger discounts since so many of my clients use this wonderful platform! Say I want to stock my store with different loofahs! I can find them on the website:
With Faire, you can find UNIQUE products to promote and sell on your web store. Faire will tell me products that have a “High Sell-Through” rate and are good investments. Each product on the platform is unique and the majority of the brands that sell their products wholesale on here for you to make sales and they do not compete with your website… Wait…what!? Brands are competing with my website?
Choose the Right Brand
Now don’t just think Faire will do ALL the work for you! It’s best to pick a brand that has an honest wholesale strategy in which their website does not compete on Google with their wholesalers. Because SEO is a fickle b!*@% when it comes to popular beauty products you want to sell you need to do some market research on what your target market is buying, what adheres to your own brand, and a brand that isn’t in a million online stores. Brands want to make sales of course! But if they tell you you’ll make sales with their products
Let’s see an example…
An example I have now seen 596,230,496 times since 2020…
Think About SEO
Babe Lash is even on Faire, but they are selling everywhere else too. You want to know their top wholesalers? Amazon! Sally Beauty! Walmart! They also do a lof of marketing and SEO work to also be the main seller of their products on their own website.
So say you choose Babe Lash without doing research that your clients might like these high-end expensive mascaras. You also did not do a quick google search pretending to look for Babe Lash before your stocked your inventory with Babe Lash. Now you’re stuck with a ton of expensive mascara that no one is buying because you will never rank on Google as a seller of this product.
In order for someone to buy this product on your website you have to do A LOT of promoting on your social media telling them where to buy it and why to buy it from you. Which to be fair, you should be doing anyway. But also to be fair…why would anyone buy it from you when they can get it from the brand themselves…? The answer. There is no reason to buy from you. So to Babe Lash’s delight — you’ve now helped promote a product and Babe Lash didn’t pay you a dime for that work. In fact! You paid to promote it by buying it wholesale! Win for Babe Lash. Now this is a the strategy of most MLM (blog rant for another day…).
So what should you do instead…
Hire Unglitch.io…or DIY!
Use Faire…trust me! Avoid places like Alibaba/Ali Express or SHEIN to buy over-seas cheap products. Other people are doing this as well and consumers are on to them!
If not using Faire, try to find unique brands on Etsy and build a wholesale relationship with them.
Ask yourself these questions when you see a product you might want to add to your store:
• Does the product adhere to MY brand guidelines? Ex. If you are a vegan-only beauty business, do not sell collagen products. Check out FrogFuel’s Why You Can’t Find Vegan Collagen
• Is the product solving an issue? It’s easier to market a product from an up-and-coming brand that is destined to succeed. What does your target market have their eye one. Ex. With Gen X leading the way in buying more zero-waste, eco-friendly, diverse, and lgctq-friendly brands — these products will begin to sell more in coming years.
• Is the product’s brand getting good press? If I was an esthetician today and was to pick my first product to add to my store I’d start looking at new brands in the press. Ex. 42 Black-Owned Beauty Brands to Support Now and Always
But if you want to dive deeper into true market research, customer journeys, and more – reach out to Jacquelyn at firstname.lastname@example.org today!
Green•wash•ing /n. disinformation disseminated by an organization so as to present an environmentally responsible public image. — The Oxford Dictionary
In a new world where more people care about the environment than generations before we want to be a part of the solution as consumers. Not the problem. So we want to buy products that reduce our carbon footprint, reduce waste, and/or are ethical. Great brands are starting to lead by example and give us products that do just that.
Because you can’t have good without evil there are also brands that are “greenwashing”.
Following the demand from consumers, companies that set out to help our planet had to sacrifice to sell their “green” products. Recyclable packaging, environmentally friendly ink, and ethically sourced ingredients are… more expensive. Bottom line.
And for brands who don’t want to spend more money to switch from being a part of the problem? Some brands created secondary packaging for their newly developed products at a higher price point to cover the cost of the more expensive packaging. Bad brands did that too! There is just one main difference. Bad brands didn’t change what’s inside the packaging OR started marketing that they are “green” when they aren’t Or even worse. They just lied to you.
Let’s first start with white lies…
What words can you use when you want to appear green?
- Natural – Cyanide, arsenic and asbestos are natural – trace amounts will kill you.
- Organic – A buzz word that means nothing unless it’s certified organic.
- Eco-friendly – Being friendly to the environment? This statement carries no weight.
- Eco & Bio – ‘Eco’ and ‘Bio’ ranges of products are just a name, double-check that they’re actually better for the environment.
- Green – Going or being green is another hype word that lacks substance.
- Sustainable – This word has a strained relationship with regards to environmental conservation.
- x% biodegradable – A product is either completely biodegradable within a human lifetime or it is not. Anything else is hype.
If you’ve bought any of these brands thinking they were actually “green”, don’t feel like a fool. I actually 100% believed that Mrs. Meyers was “green” for a decade… sigh…
Sometimes there are some quality brands out there that do deliver truly environmentally friendly products.
We know this because their marketing claims are backed up by industry-recognized certificates and government-backed standards.
Furthermore, they’re open and transparent with the way they operate.
So what’s the difference between greenwashing and green marketing?
Green marketing is not a simple phrase to define, as several meanings cross over and contradict one and other.
But, is the easiest way possible: Green marketing is the process of marketing products based on their environmental benefits. Period.
How can you tell a company is greenwashing?
It sounds too good to be true. Do the statements sound overstated and perhaps a little dramatic?
It’s hard to double-check. Does a product say it’s organic, but you don’t see a certified organic icon on the packaging from the USDA? Then it’s a lie.
Nature Graphic Elements. This one speaks for itself and is more on the brand than the consumer who wants to be buying products that are good for the earth.
It’s a laser-focused idea. For example, McDonald’s may use recycled paper in their bags, but they are one of the biggest enablers of factory farming, an industry that has mind-blowing methane emissions. Take a look at the bigger picture. Are they trying to show you one hand while hiding the dirty one behind their back?
So what can you do if you’re a brand who wants to know more about going green in an honest way?
Start small. Change one thing at a time if the higher cost of “going green” is too scary right now. Swap your shampoo bottle packaging to recycled plastics? Change the lid of your skincare product to something made from petrochemicals? Is your coffee label made from recycled paper? Is the sticker glue biodegradable?
While I mentioned glue…a new fad in 2021 is “vegan glue” in packaging. Let me just tell you. This isn’t a new thing. By default, the glue used in cardboard boxes is vegan as it uses adhesive polymers from rubber trees. However, if you see a product claiming it uses vegan glue throughout their brand that means it’s a lie. Animal-based (made out of collagen. which is from animal byproducts, leather, and bone marrow) glue is commonly used in tapes, adhesives and other sticky parts of the shipping industry. And without it you can’t ship anything to your customers…
Ok, end of glue rant…
What other small steps can you make as a brand moving forward? Stop selling mini plastic (travel-size) version of a product. Remove single-use packaging and pay a bit more for packaging that a customer will want to keep and re-use (ie. Fun glass bottle).
Without a doubt, the most ‘ eco-friendly’ packaging is zero-packaging. If there’s zero-packaging used, then there’s zero-packaging to dispose of. But chances are that if you need packaging, zero-packaging isn’t an option.
Use a bioplastic and inform your customers of the importance of it, rather than using petroleum-based plastic.
Compostable poly mailer bags are a great option if you’re sending durable products through the mail
For many eCommerce brands, the most carbon-neutral packaging option is the traditional cardboard mailer box.
There is a ton of more stuff you can do both with your packaging and within your company to help the environment. Then you can market it to your customers who want to help even more! Do your research and implement innovative ways to stand out as well as be a part of the solution!
If you’re a consumer, do your own homework and check the facts around large corporations and their statements of ‘going green’. Pretty much every cleaning product on the market is not “green”. Most makeup lines are not 100% vegan as well and when they are (like Crunchi) their makeup just flat out doesn’t work as well. So be real with yourself on what products you want to use or reduce the ones that can never really “go green” just on sheer facts.
Greenwashing is a phenomenon that harms both the consumer and honest companies that hold the environment core to everything they do. So you if you’re a brand thinking about whether to lie or tell the truth about being “green” — choose wisely and don’t f**k up!
Now… I don’t want to be too grim, but…
Let’s face it – sometimes customers and the people we work with get on our nerves. We either butt heads with someone who has a different personality than we do. We have to deal with complaints as a business owners. Or we just flat out have a “Karen” walk into our lives that day.
Now I bet you think I’m about to say don’t worry, rainbows are ahead… Hmm… Not today.
We sacrifice a lot when we run our own business. We might give up on the idea of having a family or free weekends. Or it could mean you choose to pursue the idea that might deny you the opportunity to do something else in your career.
But it’s not just the business realm that teaches us about suffering. It also affects other aspects of our lives. To be successful in all our human relationships often requires suffering. And the same is true of being successful in matters of health. We often need to do things, like exercise, that doesn’t feel great at the time. Just ask me every time I’m internally whining during the first 10 minutes of a workout!
To really be successful, we need to be able to go into life with the confidence that suffering isn’t going to overwhelm us. We need to know that no matter what challenges we face, we’re going to be okay in the end. That’s the sort of confidence that drives the most successful people forward in everything that they do.
Of course, to get to that state of mind, we need to adopt strategies.
But it also helps to be secure in our own sense of wellbeing. We need to know that while unsatisfied customers can affect our business, people, in general, cannot affect our inner bliss.
Interestingly, when you follow this line of reasoning to its conclusion, you discover that real success in business isn’t actually the money or the prestige that comes after years of hard work. It’s actually having the mental fortitude to go through the process in the first place. Business leaders are perhaps the most successful at all because they are able to find ways to manage their hard times and enjoy their lives at the same time. They can tolerate a high level of pain without allowing it to get to them on a fundamental level.
Steve Jobs had a pretty good take on it. He reminded himself every day that his life was limited (and…it was) and that, whatever happened in his work, it would pale in comparison to not existing at all. He reminded himself that, ultimately, nothing that he did mattered except how it felt for him. Creating iPhones had a huge impact on humanity. But, for Jobs, it was mainly about spending his time as well as he could, doing something he loved. If he didn’t like the process and it became clear that something needed to change, he wasn’t afraid of making the hard decisions to make it happen, even if it involved a hefty dose of bad moments.
So the next time something happens. Anything. A bad customer review. Unwanted client feedback. A b!tchy customer. Know this – this too shall pass.
Written By Founder and Creative Director, Jacquelyn Tolksdorf
Refreshing an outdated brand can have enormous power. Which begs the question, when is the right time for you to change?
There is always a variety of motivating factors from functional, such as adapting to new channels, to strategic, like building a brand that supports a social dialog.
What’s more, today’s digital landscape demands you always being “on” brand.
Companies are also being urged to have a louder voice when it comes to social issues, which too, is influencing visual expressions. Whether it’s social reckonings, COVID, or environmental issues more brands are thriving when they show they have a moral stance on something. Furthermore, diversity, equity, and inclusion and philanthropy are no longer tokenism as companies set specific targets in hiring, equality in pay and investment in the communities they operate.
It’s a brave new tech world
The immediacy of digital channels and social media demand brands be in— and of— the culture. People expect to engage with brands on their time. The way of the dodo went rigid marketing strategies and now a much more universally understood set of principles that can be used by anyone, at any level, in any role to showcase the organic nature of the brand is ideal.
As you head more and more into building relationships via digital devices, consumers expect seamless experiences with brands across all devices, whether mobile, watch, thermostat, or smart speaker. And as brands expand their reach, companies must think more universally about their brand voice throughout these mediums.
The new design toolkits must allow for comprehensive experiential language, encompassing visual, verbal, and emotive cues. You can no longer have a cookie-cutter website that looks like everyone else’s website if you want to elevate your brand position.
Ask yourself these questions
- Is your brand expressed through an authentic voice? Does it enable you to converse in the moment? Does the tone of voice feel human and relatable?
- Is it built for a digital-first world? Is it accessible across media and channels? Are there meaningful interaction patterns? Are there principles for motion and video?
- Is it designed to drive the business strategy? Does it resonate with key audiences? oes it express the values of the organization?
- Does it inspire your team? Can teams get inspired to do the most with the brand elements?
If you answered no to any of these questions, it might be time to explore an evolution of your brand. While updating your identity can be a big step, it’s crucial for a brand’s success and more important than ever in today’s competitive landscape.
Bear with me while I do the marketing agency equivalent of putting a “My child is an honors student” bumper sticker on my car. But after 12 years of working with brands like Rocket Mortgage, Disney, and more — brand strategy has become so important to me (founder of Unglitch.io). I’d love to evolve your brand. Learn more at Specialties.
I was aGraphic Design Efficiency Expert for an eCommerce brand a few years ago…Here’s what I found…
Back in 2018, a catalog company that sold gift baskets, sweet treats like chocolates, nuts, meats and cheeses, and other gifts needed a design overhaul. I was hired as a freelancer to take over their seasonal catalog design. Create a clean, precise layout for over 50 pages and set it up for the marketing department as a template so they can easily keep the designs in place and accurate. Aside from that, I oversaw all new photoshoots for their products.
Now if you were just a consumer of this magazine you may have noticed that previous Halloween or Christmas issues looked outdated, but you may not have been able to put your finger on why…
I was hired in early Spring to re-brand the business – then re-do the Halloween and Christmas catalog. This project was penciled in to take 4-6 months. It took 1 month.
I was surprised when I got there that they already had a small team working on these upcoming Summer versions of the catalogs while I worked on the future catalog for Halloween and Christmas seasons. Why did they need me?
Their team of 8 was full-time while during my time there. I worked only 15 hours or less a week. They got paid 3x less than I was per hour. Of that team of 8 the Creative Director and 1 other employee actually had a graphic design background and a degree in Graphic Design. The Creative Director up to this point was really the only one tackling any creative projects with success as the rest of the team felt overwhelmed (or so they said).
So given that the projects were completed 3-5 months early, the Creative Director felt embarrassed that she had clearly scheduled out a project based on her current team’s efficiency. She felt bad I wasn’t going to have as much work anymore so she asked me to be a sort of undercover Efficiency Expert and get to know her staff. This is not something I usually do. Nor did I enjoy this as I end up looking like a bad guy who just waltzed into their company to snitch on their team.
I haven’t talked about this story as it always feels like a brag. But I recently have been getting asked by many companies who already have small design teams to take on over-flow projects and subsequently the rest of their team’s projects. Here is why a freelancer designer might get more done than your staff and why the catalog company was lagging behind.
The #1 issue I see always in companies like this is the staff’s training. The world of Graphic Design careers has changed drastically in the last decades. In the 90’s a graphic designer was a rare employee. A hard find to employ. Many companies hired people to teach them basic software skills for their business’ marketing or design needs. However, they never taught basic principles of design or urged them to keep up with design trends and new knowledge. You’ll find older companies staying loyal to employees who have been using design software for a decade or two, but never having professionally designed anything yet. I’m all for employee loyalty, but at what point is an old dog not going to learn new tricks?
9-5 Workplace Culture
In the era of COVID I’m glad more businesses are finding the 9-5 workday is not efficient. Think of it. You get in at 9am, chat with co-workers for a bit and then settle in. By 10am you’re starting to work, but by 11am you slow down as to not get too far into something before lunch. 1pm hits if you were lucky enough to get an hour lunch break and now you have to get back into the rhythm you were in before. And then that dreaded 3pm energy crash hits. In a poll done in 2019, 89% of employees produce little to no work from 3pm-5pm for this reason. Now math isn’t my thing, but if you’re a full-time 9-5 employee that’s 2-4 hours of quality work in an 8 hour workday… No wonder your team isn’t where it should be.
While at their department location, I often looked like some kind of weirdo introvert as I didn’t want to chat with them for 15 minutes a day about myself. I’m not here for that. I have a job to do so I get paid and my client is happy. I’m not an employee, however, so I got to come and go as I please – often working more either before employees came in the morning or after they left for the day. I get no benefits and have a contract and a deadline. But I’m a happier creator compared to them and my client was happier with me than their team of 8. I don’t work 9-5. I sometimes don’t start my day until 11am! I rarely end my day at 5pm though as well. As a freelancer, you are paid more to get it done faster and better.
Wages vs. Hourly Rates
So let’s talk about that…
Say your employees are getting $15/hour in the graphic design department. They take home a $1000ish check every 2 weeks for a fourth of the output (refer back to that 2-4 hours of quality work they are getting done each day).
Now as a freelancer — I get paid $30/hour for 15 hours a week. If we take the catalog project for example; I got paid $1800 for the project (plus a bonus for early completion) so let’s round that up to $3000. The project was completed ahead of time vs. leaving it to their team for 6 months which would have cost them $96,000, in the end, to pay their employees to only do this project and being that very few of the team had graphic design skills, that $96,000 could have left the company with a poor quality catalog still.
How to Fix This
Now if you’re reading this as a business owner you can see why hiring a freelancer may be more beneficial. But what about a business owner who already has a team they don’t want to fire just to pay less and get more?
What could you do?
- Invest in Graphic Design Training for your non-trained Graphic Designers
- Re-Organize Your Current Team into other positions and hire skilled Graphic Designers or a Freelancer to take up the slack
- Re-Organize your Workplace Culture:
- Pay More
- Be More Flexible w/ Your Employees Hours (ex. If an employee can work 8 quality hours from 6pm-2am at home…let them!
If you’re a startup wondering who to hire and what team members you need onboard first, start with a freelancer. I’m always happy to take on more happy clients at Unglitch.io and happy to show you where to get the more bang for your buck!