I know how it is. When you have a small business you try to do everything yourself, because, well, everything costs money. There was plenty I did on my own when I first started my business, but there are a few crucial things I definitely did not try to do myself!

For me, those were things having to do with money, legal paperwork, and filing taxes. Why? Because these involved a depth of knowledge that I knew nothing about, and they were way too important to do half-ass or make guesses at along the way.

When you are starting your food business, you should hire a graphic designer to handle some specific things that (a) you have likely never done before, and now suddenly you have to make some major decisions about and (b) they require time, research, and knowledge that you, frankly, don’t have time to dive into.

when to hire a graphic designer

Here’s when you need to hire a graphic designer:  

When you need a brand for your business or product:

When you are starting a new company or creating a product, you should definitely hire a designer to design a brand identity for you. This is true even if the “product” is you (I’m looking at you, Personal Chefs and Cook Book Authors! This is a crucial time in your business and it’s much easier to start with a brand that is well thought out and researched (I mean, you look at who your potential competitors might be and legally you’ve done some due diligence to differentiate yourself) Now is the time to start off right rather than trying to change your brand down the line (which might happen, but with careful planning it doesn’t have to). This is a brand that you will be spending a lot of money on – you will get business cards printed, packaging made, a website developed — and it will become your baby. You don’t want to get a year down the road on this thing and decide that you need to change the name because it isn’t representing your product or you are always getting confused for someone else out there.

This brand is now an extension of you and it’s worth investing in!

If you are just starting out, you are probably doing a lot of research to make sure your product is filling a niche and there’s a market for it. However, you also want your brand to be unique. It’s important to work with someone who has done brand design before because they likely have a methodology in place to arrive at an original, meaningful solution for you (not just a brand that’s based on whatever style is currently trending on Pinterest.) 

This is where it can get really tempting to hire someone on one of those sites that offers $5 logos, however I would ask that you consider two things when looking into this:

  1. What level of quality do you think you’ll get with them? How much time do you think the designer is going to devote to you, if their outcome is only $5? What are you personally saying your brand/product is worth, when the initial investment you are willing to put down is a low fee?
  2. What cycle are we perpetuating with offering this level of compensation? (If you are a “buy local” type of person, you know what I mean… it kinda reminds me of how I feel when i shop at at those big box stores)

Okay, I’ll get off my soap box about that 🙂

Other then when you are just starting out with your company/product, there are some other key times to hire a designer:

When you are launching a major campaign:

When you launch major campaigns in your business, it’s worth it to hire a graphic designer to develop a cohesive campaign look and feel. You want to make sure that what you are doing across all channels (social, print, and web) is making sense, flowing together, and looks consistent.

It wouldn’t hurt to hire or work with a killer copywriter or marketing company to help you coordinate these efforts too. I’m thinking of when Tillamook Cheese launched #RealFoodSunday a few years ago and they were all over social media and in my email inbox. They had an Instagram campaign that really got people to cook! That’s how you make a coordinated effort that makes an impact, and creates a buzz about a brand.

It’s really important to consider the artwork, messaging and call to action (CTA) with a campaign. What are you hoping to accomplish? What do you want your target audience to do? How do you want them to feel when they see your campaign? How you design something will impact how people feel about it. Getting into detail on that is probably for another article, but to sum it up: fonts and colors matter – and they mean something! So make your campaign count and hire someone who knows about expressing things visually.

When you need to do a re-brand, or a brand “tweak”

Maybe you didn’t hire a designer right off the bat, and now you’ve been on the market with some DIY or DOC (Done On the Cheap) branding or a bit? Or maybe you did invest in a designer, but they didn’t quite get your vision or that vision has changed? It may be time for a re-brand. It’s important to take a look at your business model, your products and your company and make sure that your brand is communicating everything you want it to. Are you moving in to a different sector? Do you have plans to expand your product line? This is also a perfect time to have other stakeholders weigh in on branding or poll some current clients or customers to ask about their impressions of your current brand and company.

If you constantly find yourself needing assets, photos or other content

I would consider hiring a designer (freelance or full-time) if you are always creating content to share for your business and the process is a little last minute or you feel it could be better. Also, if you have brochures, flyers or social media assets that need to be created and you don’t know where to start – it’s actually cheaper (you don’t waste your valuable time as a business owner) to hire that stuff out than to try to design it yourself. You don’t know what you don’t know, and so while a brochure created in Word may look fine to you, compared to your competition it makes you look less professional. Unless you have a lot of time on your hands and an artistic side, hire it out and focus on the other million things your business needs!

I hope this helps you make a decision about when to look for design help! I’m available to help you with your brand and design needs, please reach out and ask me for a quote anytime! Send me an email at darlene (at) picklejarstudios.com.

when to hire out for a graphic designer