In the wild world of brand design and marketing, there’s a race that’s as pointless as a three-legged tortoise in the 100m dash. It’s called the “Race to the Bottom,” and it’s about as effective as using a sieve to carry water.
Here’s why trying to win this race in marketing, website design, or brand development will only lead to a frustrating misadventure that ends with you never wanting to enter the race again.
Recently, I’ve been chatting with a number of clients and creatives about the “race to the bottom.” This concept involves clients relentlessly negotiating prices until creative professionals find themselves backed into a corner and where the work they undertake becomes (if they are lucky) nothing more than a portfolio piece, failing to cover their business costs or pay the bills.
Part of the conversaion went as follows:
Me: “…So do you have a budget in mind for this project?”
Client: “Oh, I don’t know, not a lot really.”
Me: “OK, why is that? You do know marketing works?. It’s managed to build some of the biggest companies in history and it has a proven track record that when done properly you get back more than you put in!”
Client: Yeah I know but I am scared that if I commit I might not get anything from it.”
Me: “OK, if I give you £2K-£3k now and said invest it in your brands marketing, would you do it? Do you believe in your business enough to put that into it?”
Client: “I know it would help my brands awareness and….HAHAHAHAHA!!! OK I get it, it’s not that I don’t believe in my business or brand exercises, it’s just I am concerned about using my own money.(insert laughter for a good few minutes from the both of us)”
The rest of that conversation was full of fun and creativity. The client now has a better understanding that it is their responsibility to invest in their future, not the creatives. I will say with my hand on my heart that of all the creatives I know, every single one of them will give you more than your pound of flesh and much more than you pay for. They all love what they do and your success is their success.
This problem isn’t exclusive to a graphic or website design but the creative industry as a whole; it affects graphic designers, web designers, and, also those in the realm of video and we all know whats happened to the music industry.
With your smartphone offering ways to get you noticed or online for free with access to so many free templates it seems a no-brainer. The truth it is now even more important ifor the need to stand out, especially in such saturated markets. In 2021 there were 333.34million businesses registered globally. A certain free design app software gives you access to 250,000 templates, that means roughly 1333 businesses all share the same template, does this make you original, does this make you stand out from the competition or does it all mean everyone is just running blindly to the lowest common denominator into a world of beige. This can’t be healthy for your brand, god knows it is not creative.
We live in an age where budgets are heavily under strain however, driving your chosen creative professional to the brink of refusal might result in them dropping out of the project altogether, leaving you with some very limited options delivering a very mixed message.
If a creative professional has managed to carve out a small name for themselves in this industry, accumulating a fistful of accomplishments and a portfolio that glows with artistic prowess, perhaps it’s time to put down the sledgehammers and instead use a gentler touch to negotiate prices. If their work speaks volumes, compensate them fairly for their expertise and let your brand shout even louder.
While there are hidden gems and emerging talents willing to charge less to gain attention, always ensure you ask the right questions before committing. Request to see previous work and references; it’s your right. When the cost seems so unbelievably cheap that it appears too good to be true, it probably is.
And lastly, as a humorous note, if this relentless pursuit of the “race to the bottom” continues, don’t be surprised if the food stacking jobs at your local supermarkets are all taken by these creatives when you realise that your last brand project that fell over has now left you also looking for an alternative career.
If you have a project coming up and you just want a chat, let’s see how we can help.