In today’s digital age, it’s easier than ever before to become an entity in the online realm.

A website just takes a couple of clicks and a free account over at WordPress.org. A logo runs you a hundred bucks or so at your favorite logo design contest website. You can even have a book cover designed on Fiverr for a measly five dollars.

These services aside, it’s now easier than ever for the DIY (do-it-yourself) crowd to bypass hiring anyone altogether. Services like Canva or the plethora of templates make it a breeze to put together a design that does the job.

As with everything else in our culture, we see the “I want it now, and I want it cheap” (or free) mentality becoming commonplace when it comes to design and branding.

Some argue this is an improvement. With technology at our fingertips we can now accomplish more than ever thought possible—and that with a device that fits in our pocket.

I contend, however, that it’s having the opposite effect.

Fast Food Design

Logo contests, print templates, and five-dollar-cover-designs are all among those services I’ve begun calling “fast food design.”

Just as their associative name suggests, they meet a short-term, immediate need, while sacrificing quality in the process.

Fast food has its place. Who among us haven’t grabbed a quick burger on occasion? But what if your next meal had to last you for the foreseeable future? What if your very livelihood depended on the next thing you chose to eat?

Fast Food Design

Yet this is the exact circumstance that faces a new blogger, business owner, author, or anyone seeking to build a brand. A logo design, book jacket, website or other brand collateral can taint (or compliment) every product or service you offer.

The question is: will it help power, carry, and propel your brand or hold you back like a case of indigestion?

Odd food analogies aside—you get the point. Fast food design is a short-term solution to a long-term problem.

The Cure for the Common Brand: Craftsmanship

Mediocrity is one of the symptoms fast food design commonly inflicts on those who depend on it. Which, if your goal is to garner attention for your platform, is counterproductive, to say the least.

The reason lies in the “hey it looks pretty so it will work” mindset that is often the standard for a logo or piece of brand collateral quickly designed. Some design services even boast an “original” design when it comes to their five-dollar-finished-product as though originality can take the place of quality. Or as I prefer to say, “craftsmanship.”

“No man who cares about originality will every be original. It’s the man who’s thinking about doing a good job or speaking the truth who’s really original—and doesn’t even notice it.”

—C.S. Lewis

In the end, one of the best possible ways to build a brand that “stands out from the crowd,” is to ensure the design, usability, and even personality that surrounds it is exceptional in nature. In other words: it embodies “craftsmanship.”

crafts·man·ship
/ˈkraf(t)smənˌSHip/

skill in a particular craft.

“I admire his engineering skills and craftsmanship”

synonyms: workmanship, artistry, craft, art, handiwork, work;

the quality of design and work shown in something made by hand; artistry.

“a piece of fine craftsmanship”

“But I’m just not at a place where I can afford a fully custom design.” This is entirely understandable. There’s a vast difference between those who just cannot afford to pay for a professional designer and those who can and choose not to.

In this case, it’s a matter of planning, allocating resources efficiently, and as Mr. Lewis referenced above, generally “doing a good job.” To put it another way: have a strategic brand philosophy that can help guide you through every design, advertising, and marketing decision. Doing this alone will place you beyond 80% of the others out there who don’t.

Bringing it All Together

As you might imagine, the concept of “craftsmanship” as a cure for “fast food design” has become central here at Rightly Designed. As such, I decided to put together a quick video which helps illustrate this point while introducing the Rightly Designed brand itself.

In Conclusion

Hopefully, this gives you a few things to consider as you continue with your branding and marketing efforts. Whether you’re in the planning stages of building a brand or have been building one for years, it’s never too late to trade the “fast food design” mentality for one of timeless craftsmanship and commitment to excellence. After all, building a brand goes far beyond a piece of design collateral: it encompasses the very heart and soul of what you do and how you do it.

What do you think? Is “fast food design” a fair term for many of the design and branding services of the day?

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By

Thomas is a Graphic Designer, Web Developer, and founder of Rightly Designed. For over a decade, he’s had the privilege of working with a wide variety of individuals and organizations, spanning from traditional publishing houses to numerous independent professionals.

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