One of my guiltiest pleasures is sipping tea and eating chocolate while watching some sort of home renovation show on HGTV. Just this morning, I saw a young professional woman who had bought her first home only to discover that the previous owners were flippers in such a rush to renovate and sell the house they had cut some serious corners. She had to re-do much of the work, and it wasn’t cheap. Within a few months of moving in, she had to lay out the cash to cover work that cost her about 30% of the price she paid for the house.
Why am I talking about renovating houses in an article about creative services for your business? Because there’s an important lesson to be learned from the rush work of the flippers. So often, I get calls from potential clients who are looking to either brand or re-brand their business from scratch – new logo, new design aesthetic, new web site, and usually some print collateral like business cards, brochures, catalogs, or post cards. The catch? They need it all done in a couple of weeks or a month.
I’m obligated here to point you to the Project Triangle. You can go and read that Wikipedia article, or do a quick web search that will reveal dozens of articles explaining the Project Triangle with long explanations and Venn diagrams, but it boils down to this:
In other words, if you need your project done fast, you’ll have to pick between good and cheap. It’s like that saying that a single woman can pick any two between a great job, a great boyfriend, and a great apartment, or that married women can pick any two between having a great marriage, having a great job, and being a great mom. Notice how men never seem to have to compromise to get the best of everything? But I digress.
When you force ‘fast’ into the equation, you’re limiting your options in many ways, and that can spell trouble for the project as a whole. Here’s why.
Reasons to avoid rushing a creative project:
- Great agencies (or freelancers) are rarely available immediately. If they’re worth hiring, they’ve probably got a waiting list at least a couple of weeks, if not a couple of months out. When a creative agency does great work, they’re not often in the situation of sitting around waiting for work to come in. Word of mouth alone is enough to keep most great agencies busy and hopping from project to project.
- Not every great agency is going to be a fit. Even if an agency or freelancer has great word of mouth and a stunning portfolio, they won’t necessarily be a great fit for your project. Seeing a creative project through to completion requires working closely together. Personality clashes or vast differences in working styles can bring a project to a grinding halt. You need to take some time getting to know the person or agency you’re hiring and let them get to know you so you can both be sure the match is a good one.
- Rushing almost inevitably leads to cutting corners. Planning, designing and building a web site alone is a vast amount of work. You have to make sure that the information is well organized and easy to find, that the design is appealing to the target audience, and that everything is coded well and works nicely in a myriad of different browsers running in different operating systems on different devices. Often times, the only way to finish a rush job on time is to rely on tools like pre-built templates that get much of the work done for you, but that force the final product in a certain direction that may or may not be appropriate and desired.
- Cut corners now, pay the price later. A web site built in a rush is often not search engine optimized and can be difficult to upgrade or extend later. Web sites are living things that can change and adapt to changing audiences and changing business requirements over time, but of course, they need to be built to accommodate that kind of change. Otherwise, you end up with a dead end web site which will need to be scrapped and rebuilt from scratch in a year or two when a new feature is needed or the site needs to be search engine optimized to bring more traffic.
- Big decisions should be made with plenty of time. Establishing the branding for your business is like establishing the personality and the voice of your business. It’s important to find the right message and then to find the way to communicate that message to your target audience. There should be plenty of exploration of different directions, experimentation, and discovery to be sure that the direction chosen in the end is the right one. All of that takes time. Time that you rob yourself of when you try to rush through the process.
If you feel like your brand has gone stale and is in need of a refresh or if you’re just starting out with a brand new business idea and you feel like you need your logo, web site, and other creative work done immediately, reconsider your position. Oftentimes, there’s a conference or some other event that makes a client feel pressured to have the perfect branding in place in a short amount of time. I’ve worked with a lot of clients through the years who rushed a design process only to feel unhappy with the product by the end. Or who rushed a design process for an event only to realize a month or two later that they had reconsidered the direction and now needed to start over from scratch.
Give yourself plenty of time to find an agency that’s a great fit and to find a direction for the creative work that befits your business venture. Realize that high quality work done quickly will cost a premium – there’s always a trade off to be made, so make sure you’re making the right one. You’ll be so glad in the end that you didn’t rush to the wrong conclusion.