Investing in the B Team?

I wonder if any of the premiership managers ever went into the board room and said; ‘This year, I’ve decided that instead of investing in a a couple of world class players, I’m going to look around the Sunday leagues instead’. ‘We can get half a dozen players and still have change’. I’m not sure that ever happened – though would probably make a great comedy sketch.

When you’re trying to compete at the highest level, there are times when saving money is a false economy. For these organisations, every part has to work at the highest level. It is the same for companies and organisations when it comes to design and branding. It is something we see a lot, when start-up organisations (or even some well established ones) know ‘a bloke down the pub who can do that stuff really cheap and really quick!’. Investing in your business should be a ‘measure twice, cut once’ moment. Doing something right once, is beneficial. Doing it incorrectly could be damaging beyond belief – even if it was done for only a few pounds.

Companies see the benefit of buying an expensive accounts package and retaining accountants for a monthly fee, just to check all is well, to send the accounts in at the correct time and make sure they’re on the straight and narrow. They may also buy a van or a few vans, but most likely not ones that are on their last legs. They probably purchase a vehicle that looks good and is economical – it makes sense. The list could include a business account at a reputable bank, one that is right for their business needs. Basically do all the things business owners see as ‘must haves’.

Then some think about design. Now, people get to here and think it’s where they can save a shed load of cash. This is where the bloke down the pub comes in or the person in accounts or the partner of the MD or… The list is endless.

Why would you invest anywhere but the best?

Obviously design and branding can seem a little more complicated when it’s compared to a fast centre forward with a killer left foot, but is it really? That centre forward has a number of boxes he or she needs to tick. A good purchace could be someone who could…

  • Be skilful in their craft, not just look good
  • Have the ability to work well as part of a team
  • Deliver winning performances that people will talk about – positively
  • Be agile, read and understand the game
  • Have the ability to talk convincingly about the sport
  • Have a lot of experience on the big stage

The list above is short and I’m sure there are a great number of other key elements that a world class footballer would need. And a lot of the list above wouldn’t be ticked by your average Sunday footballer. So is the list above really that different if you were looking for a design agency though? How would you judge if an agency was good enough to deliver your branding?

The challenge with branding is that it is all about ideas, there are very few ‘bit’s of stuff’ to put value on a brief. Even when it comes to just a logo, there are infinite solutions to any one question. And that bloke in accounts who has a dodgy copy of Photoshop can deliver something that looks quite slick to a non-designer. So why bother with an agency art all? And even when you do go to a design outfit, the spread of costs and quality is massive so when it comes to ideas, who is to say what is good or bad?

that bloke in accounts who has a dodgy copy of Photoshop can deliver something that looks quite slick to a non-designer

This is where the list comes in. Pont of entry for any design company is to look good, you’d expect any agency to be able to talk about their craft. Know about typography, even maybe know about who designed what and when. You’d expect a footballer to have the ability to keep the football in the air for more than a couple of kicks, so why not expect your designer to be able to hand render a bit of type? Have a look at their blog, see what they talk about, does it scratch the surface or does it go into branding in a lot more depth? Sorry Bob from accounts, but actually when you’re talking about the future branding of a company, knowing Photoshop isn’t point of entry.

Working well as part of a team is also a key requirement of a centre forward. You don’t want a play that just makes darting runs breaking through the offside trap and that is it. Does your designer fit with other parts of the business, can they turn up to a meeting and skillfully connect different areas of the business with elegant design solutions? Can they talk about design as a business tool or just spout brand speak in isolation? The B-team designer will quickly sink when confronted with a question that doesn’t beg to be answered with a sentence that includes the phrase ‘your logo/brand/project is safe in our hands’.

You could measure a positive winning performance against awards. And in terms of awards this is something our designers are no stranger to. If you’d measure quality in these terms, then our designers are second to none. Our creative director has accolades from bnoth the UK and internationally, most notably in The Design Effectiveness Awards, Design Week Magazine, The London International Advertising awards and the Design and Art Directors Association. These are in all aspects of brand development. More laterly, in 2019 Corporate Vision magazine voted Puur at the inaugural Media Innovator Awards:

  • Best Graphic Design & Marketing Agency – Essex
  • Most Outstanding in Brand Development – Essex

With constant shifts within every industry, it is key to stay ahead of the curve and to adapt. Understanding how branding can change is also key to a great design partner. Have a look at their portfolio, think about how unique the solutions are, what do they make you feel. Do their solutions look like other brands. Can they help you with more than just a logo – do they ask you questions that delve deeper than what do you do and what is your company called? Developing branding for your company is more than just your logo on a business card, it is about creating a connection with a company’s audience, building a positive persona in the minds.

Developing branding for your company is more than just your logo on a business card, it is about creating a connection with a company’s audience, building a positive persona in the minds.

Talking convincingly is something most design outfits can do – but if it includes the words ‘do you like it’… run! Just like when the manager is looking at a new star player, ‘do you like it’ never comes in to play. The star player has to have substance, no one wants a player that has no clue why they broke into space. That star player’s every move has been honed to elicit the best outcome. It should be the same for your designer – every element should be unique and have been created to emotionally connect a company to their audience.

Finally if you’re looking for a player to boost your teams performance, Sunday league just doesn’t cut it. You want a player that has performed under pressure, played at a high level. You would want a player that has helped his or her team to win the league, you want your money to have a good return on investment. The same would go for an design agency. An agency with designers that have worked on national or international accounts will be able to give advise and insight that you couldn’t find in the Sunday leagues.

So with all this in mind, why would you put your brand in the hands of the B-Team? If it’s down to money, negotiate. Saving money in the wrong places will never reap rewards. And in this day and age, with so many organisations being put on equal footing, everyone needs something to give them an edge. Would you put your money in the hands of a bloke you met at the pub, or buy a van on just a photograph – because it was cheap? Then why leave your brand in the hands of Bob from accounts?

Puur is a small branding agency delivering award winning design solutions. With well over three decades of experience from both sides of the design ‘fence’ our understanding of the branding needs of organisations today is second to none. We understand and acknowledge that design is a business tool, it has a function, answers a need. Pick up the phone today to chat over your needs and see how we can help.

Football photo by Artis Kančs found on the amazing website Unsplash

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