The Cannon Classroom – Designing Your Design Strategy

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Brad True, Managing Director

Developing an effective brand in the early stages of a company, especially if the initial group of founders & employees lack a background in graphic design and/or branding, can be a key challenge for a new business. And, even if the early founders and employees do have a design background, it can be tough to dedicate the time and resources typically required to do great work in the creative space while also balancing the other key needs of a company just getting off the ground.

Here at The Cannon, we bootstrapped our way through our initial design work through various members of our team (as well as a lot of Youtube and Udemy videos) before we were lucky enough to find our Community Lead, Daron, who currently serves both as our lead designer as well as a key member of our Community Management team and is the key architect behind the amazing mural that overlooks our open space.

However, for those without the resources and backgrounds to either manage creative work internally or bring someone on full-time, there are thankfully a few effective options that can help connect companies needing design help with freelancers looking for project-based work.

Upwork –

Founded following a merger of oDesk and Elance in 2014, Upwork is now known as the largest freelance exchange market in the world. Unlike Fiverr, which aims to commoditize and break out each project into a gig that can be purchased on a virtual market, Upwork allows buyers to issue full RFQ’s for projects and invite freelancers on the platforms to bid on those projects, placing an emphasis on pairing the buyer with the right freelancer. Each agreement can range from a one-off project to a much larger campaign, which also allows Upwork to service clients that range from SMBs to Enterprise. Finally, since it’s geared towards longer-term projects, Upwork’s in-platform file sharing system can be very beneficial for streamlining communication of drafts, feedback, setting milestones and payment following the completion of the project.

Fiverr –

Founded in 2010, Fiverr was one of the original platforms created to help connect freelancers with people and businesses of all types looking for freelance services. Fiverr’s process begins with freelancers advertising their skills and specifying the jobs they want to start working on. The buyer can then search through available and interested freelancers and make a decision to buy a “gig” from there on a one-off, project basis. Given the ease of use and relatively low cost (gigs start at just $5), Fiverr can be an effective option for one-off jobs like logo or flyer design, and also allows a project to move quickly where needed due to the sheer volume of freelancers to choose from.

Traditional Marketing Agency

Regardless of where you’ve chosen to base your business, there are more than likely a number of traditional marketing and design agencies that can prove to be an effective option for early stage companies and small businesses. While agencies can potentially be on the higher end of the price spectrum for an early stage startup compared to Fiverr or Upwork, there is a large benefit derived from the consistency of working with one agency and team throughout the process. Additionally, in many cases, agencies give you access to a team of experienced creative directors and designers, along with a specific project manager that can help your work stay on track. Finally, many agencies also have access to teams that can help in other areas of marketing like media buying, SEO, strategy, digital media, web design, PR and more.

While design and branding may not seem as important in the early stages of a company could be just trying to close that next investment, sell their first product, or make the next payroll, delaying professional design work can cause large issues as the company continues to scale, potentially putting your brand at a disadvantage that can be expensive and time consuming to dig out of. Outsourcing this piece may not be the right solution for everyone, but when it works it can allow founders to focus on key early operational needs while not sacrificing the brand and external facing elements of the business.

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