Brand View
July 28, 2006
Brand Design: Can I do it myself?

I know, I know, I’ve heard the lines: “My business is just trying to catch itself. Money is tight.” “I don’t think I can trust someone else to do the design work.” “I think I can do a better quality job myself.” These are some of the reasons given for using in-house staff over an external design firm.

Companies have certain types of projects that are not a good fit for their internal staff. Some scenarios include work overflow, illustration and photography, package design, brand communication strategies, corporate or product identity systems, technical documents, and market research and focus groups.{{more}}

This is not to say that your company cannot handle the design tasks. However, before your creative juices get revved up, analyze the reasons or factors that drove you to designing in-house.


Pro: You are able to keep many of your expenses as internal costs.

Con: If you add up all your true costs of labour, overhead, equipment, software, and external vendors that you will still need to work with, it may be difficult to have an overall cost lower than a professional firm that is experienced and efficient at design.


Pro: Because all work is done in-house, business owners and marketing staff may feel they receive more attentive response on projects. Opportunities also exist for efficiency in routing projects, meetings, and discussions.

Con: In addition to actual design time, managing creative projects takes time and expertise. Plan for this while developing schedules and budgets.


Pro: This is one area that is all up to you. If you have a burning desire to do this kind of work everyday, then the answer is simple. The creative expression and freedom of design can be exciting and professionally rewarding.

Con: Design is still a job. If you don’t truly enjoy it, the pleasure will fade when things go wrong. or as you realized. your freedom of expression is now controlled by business decisions.


Pro: Keeping design in-house gives you complete control of everything you do. You can easily monitor time lines, budgets, design quality, and more.

Con: With control comes responsibility. You will have complete ownership of your projects, which is great, until something goes wrong and there’s nobody to share the blame.


Pro: Internal designers may feel more ownership of their work as they see a direct impact on the company. Employees are closer to the workflow to monitor the details of each job.

Con: The quality of work means having quality people doing design, illustration, photography, production, and project management. Finding one person that can do it all is rare, and staffing an entire department increases management and overhead.


Pro: Intellectual property, trade secrets, and other confidential information is much more controllable in an in-house setting.

Con: There are no general drawbacks, unless you need to keep information from employees, such as mergers, restructurings, or other critical information.


Pro: Designing it yourself gives you complete ownership of all designs you create (with the exception of any licensing restriction of fonts, illustration, photographs, and so on).

Con: You need to take time to manage data archival, security, and license enforcement.

Security (Data Safety)

Pro: You have access to all your data at all times.

Con: Daily backup and long-term archival data can be expensive and takes time. If it is not part of your normal business systems, you will want to plan for it.


Pro: Bringing design in-house may be part of a sound business plan. Issues such as capital purchases, depreciation, expense ratios, and other factors may play a part in why a business may benefit from bringing design in-house.

Con: Most companies assume they will save money, and this is not necessarily true.

For the entrepreneurs whose businesses may be small, both in size and budget, hiring an in-house expert or an external consultant may be difficult. I recommend sourcing small business agencies, such as the Center for Enterprise Development (CED). These agencies are able to support your company’s development effort by recruiting experienced designers (including Brand Coral) to provide information, design and direction. They are normally funded by finance institutions such as the Caribbean Development Bank, or indirectly via the National Ministry of Trade or Foreign Affairs. With proper research, like collecting the Brand View articles, you will realize that expert help is truly out there.