4 Tactics To Increase Your Design Rates (In 2020)

Design is not a scarce commodity. 

The old adage goes “design is everywhere”.

But now jobs for graphic designers and more are everywheretoo and their heavy supply (along with plenty of cheap alternatives), has impacted how much designers can earn.

And while a seasoned designer will happily point to the gulf in good design versus bad design, most entrepreneurs struggle to justify the cost of quality.

To them, it’s just how something looks and doesn’t play a defining role in the success or failure of their business.

So how can designers, who hone their skills and take pride in the quality of work they produce, get paid for the value they’re actually worth?

Here are 4 tactics, to help you to distance yourself from the rest, elevate your demand and increase your rates as a branding specialist.

[#1] Sell Your Thinking. It’s the most valuable thing you do

Most designers present their services as individual stand-alone outcomes such as a brand identity or a website or a brochure. 

Whether or not they have well defined processes is rarely considered let alone factored into the cost. It’s worth pointing out that there are two types of designers.

Type 1 designers are direction takers. They want the client to tell them the colour, the font and to give them a logo as close as possible to what they want. Then, they’ll quickly produce something as close as possible to the directions.

Type 2 designers are thinkers. They lay out all of the factors at play including the industry, target audience and message. They produce a result based on strategic thinking that offers a higher chance of resonating with the intended audience.

The disadvantage Type 2 designers have is that they produce a higher quality outcome that goes beyond looks, though they don’t have a system to charge for this thinking.

When they promote their services in the exact same way as Type 1 designers, entrepreneurs and would be customers, lump them together in the same basket as the Type 1’s and then it’s a game of price wars.

If an entrepreneur thinks that the outcome from two designers is roughly the same, their preservation for their bottom line takes over. 

The designer with the lowest price wins, while the designer with the higher quality loses out.

If you’re a designer that uses strategic thinking in your designs but sell design services just like everyone else, you’re not selling what makes you different and you’re losing out on business because of it.

When you sell your thinking separately, you separate the visual work from the strategic work. You elevate your standing as an expert in the eyes of your prospect and you can charge premium fees as a result.

[#2] Educate your clients so they can see why they need you

teaching clients about branding

Telling your client “A logo is not a brand” is one thing.

Showing them the value of a real brand has an entirely different outcome. Most entrepreneurs and business owners know that a strong brand is a non-negotiable.

They’ve heard everyone from Gary Vaynerchuck to Richard Branson tell them so.

When it comes to building their own brand however, they’re at a loss. 

They fall back on what’s easier to understand, visual design and when they have a logo, they deem themselves branded.  

But when you educate them on the importance of strategy, they can see their potential brand from a different angle and they understand the strategic considerations that impact its success.

richard branson talking branding

The outlook of their brand is then less focussed on visuals and more in line with what Gary and Richard have been talking about.

As designers, when we speak about design, we get excited, because we love what we do. But we need to remember, not everyone feels the way we do.

Entrepreneur’s get excited by something else; the prospect of their business succeeding.

Design doesn’t stir that excitement but the strategy does. 

So unpack all of the strategic decisions you make throughout your process and talk to your prospects about the impact of each one.

When you give your prospects the knowledge on the impact strategy can have on the success of their business, you get them excited. 

And if you get your prospect excited, you don’t need to sell them anything. They decide for themselves what they need…. which is you.

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[#3] Keep your Ideas for paying clients (not bargain hunters)

ideas for paying clients

It’s important to remember that you are in the business of branding and that branding is your business.

So before you go giving away the farm, remember what you’re asking your prospects to pay for (HINT: we’re not talking about the beautiful designs you serve up).

There is method to your madness and thinking in your craft that draws on your experience and expertise.

If you simply give this away, then you’ve lost your “X” factor, you’ve lost what makes you unique, you’ve lost your edge.

This experience and expertise is what you need to package up and entice your prospects with.

But give it to them before they’ve paid or committed to your services and they lose their incentive to pay for that privilege.

So, how do you educate your clients on the importance of strategy, without giving away your secret sauce? 

Well, just like a chef, you present them with the ingredients of the dish, but not the recipe to make it. The strategic decisions you make throughout your process is your secrets sauce.

The strategic considerations are your ingredients.

When your prospect understands the ingredients, they understand they need the sauce. 

That’s when it’s time to commit and get access to your experience, your expertise and, of course, your sauce.

Too many designers give everything away and hold nothing back before they get commitment. 

They tell them their ingredients, let them taste their sauce and then present them with a quote only to realise, their prospect was only here for the tasting. 

So educate your clients on the strategic considerations, show them your experience and expertise from behind the window and keep the privilege of tasting your secret sauce for your paying clients.

[#4] Demonstrate that you’re not “Just another designer”.