Why design commoditization is a big problem

Why design commoditization is a big problem

Why design commoditization is a big problem 

At Brand Academy, our opinion is that commoditization is the biggest problem facing graphic design firms today. Thanks the the web, design has been reduced to a price—and with that, anyone with a computer thinks they have the wherewithal to design. With the advent of templates, any bozo can put together a pretty reasonable website at ridiculous prices.

How can we get around the design commoditization challenge?

Designers world-wide are looking for answers to this problem. How can we become relevant again? I shouldn’t over simplify—of course there are many design shops that are flourishing, but even they are seeing the commodity issue eating at their edges. Their small business sector, for instance, is feeling the pressure. These are clients who don’t traditionally have large promotional budgets but are valuable in numbers.

Are you asking yourself, “how can I differentiate my firm from my competitors?” It’s one the of the most challenging questions we as business people agonize over. To answer this question, most design shop owners often choose the low hanging fruit: unique design. While true, your designs may be unique in the way they solve a communications problem, so are your competitor’s designs. Maybe it’s your service? Nope. Your competitors are pretty good at that too, or they wouldn’t be able to continue in business. Price? Don’t go there, anyone with deeper pockets can bury you. So what’s the answer? How can you beat the design commoditization problem? How can you differentiate your firm?

The answer to differentiation is strategy

Take a look at how most design shops promote (including you, and including how we used to do it, too). First we push our creativity (portfolios), then we offer strategy as a sub-brand if we offer any strategy at all. Most of us don’t even offer strategy, really. We use strategy, sure, but we don’t offer it for sale—we give away it to our clients for free, as part of the cost of doing business. That’s right—we give away valuable strategy for free.

Brand Academy’s approach fundamentally goes against the traditional model of design first followed by sub-brands like web, video, branding, presentation etc. (And by “branding,” most design shops only offer a logo and marketing materials, not strategy.) 

Strategy comes first, leading to high-level design

Brand Academy offers design shop owners the opportunity to not only add a new lucrative revenue stream to their businesses, but also offers a genuine differentiator that you can exploit and build on. Using our proven branding process as a certified branding expert, you will benefit by selling strategy first and design second.

In most cases, strategy is the catalyst for high-value design. Look at your own market: if you took this approach, would the conversation be different from your competitors? You bet it would. Turning the initial conversation away from design and towards strategy positions you differently in clients’ eyes. When they see you as a strategist, they value you more, and you get less push-back on price, and that includes both the price of the strategy and the price of your design—which then becomes strategic design.

Brand Academy Certified Branding is a proprietary process that uses strategy to define your client’s brand, and effectively improves their position in their marketplace and category. This strategy is what clients understand and are willing to pay for. It also effectively opens the door to the high-level design work that becomes the next logical step, necessary to communicate the new strategy.

Stop competing on price and start competing on strategy. Stop competing as one of many design shops and start competing as the only smart strategic choice.

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