Good vs Cheap vs Fast: You choose


We’ve all heard the horror stories about spending exorbitant marketing budgets on seemingly reputable agencies only to see the project go belly up. As a co-founder of a design studio, these stories give me shivers. Is it truly possible to safeguard yourself and business against running into these sticky situations?

Successful design outcomes happen as a result of open communication, defined objectives that are shared, and a water tight process. There could be some non-negotiable variables such as budget restraints or tight deadlines, but that still leaves a whole bunch of options to consider.



It’s tempting to start with Google, but punching Fantastic Graphic Design Agencies into your keyboard won’t necessarily yield the most suitable results for your unique set of needs. Just because a Graphic Design Agency sits at the top of your search engine, doesn’t mean that they are less likely to fail. Global businesses can just as easily make silly mistakes and get things as wrong as the next person.



There are a myriad of scenarios that could have ultimately attributed to the demise of the above mentioned projects, but more often than not it comes down to your team. Like anything business related, choosing the right design team shouldn’t be taken lightly. Your design team and the management team implementing the work needs to share a mutual level of respect for each other.
“During times of disruptive change, all sorts of feelings are heightened — loss of control, the interruption of power, fear of failure. In response, leaders often unconsciously respond with behaviors that reveal their struggle to adapt to the very change they are championing.”Ron Carucci


Research your needs

Think about the best possible outcome from your project. Do you know what you need to do to get there, or do you need guidance? Knowing the skill sets needed for your project helps with establishing where to start in your search. Get yourself comfortable with phrases such as design thinking, branding, tone of voice, strategy, brand architecture, positioning and story telling.



Start talking to other like-minded professionals who have been in a similar situation and see if they know of anyone they would recommend. Choosing a design agency is similar to that of choosing an lawyer; you’ve either been referred to them by someone you trust, you’ve seen work that they’ve done or you’ve searched for services they offer.



Knowing the value of something as intangible as design can be a tricky thing to measure.
“As design thinking emerges rapidly, design isn’t isolated from the typical deliverables regime anymore. And design as a methodolgy or process can solve a hell of a lot more than a beautifully crafted logo. Design as a field of work has become more specialized and more fragmented.” – Mathais Hovet, Managing Partner, Heydays

Taking this on board, there is a simple model that designers like to refer to – Good vs Cheap vs Fast. The saying goes that you can only ever have two of these at one time. Often part of what makes a project appear as a disaster is unrealistic expectations. Having a budget that aligns with the level of service required, puts your project in a better position to receive an outcome that measures up.

Bad outcomes are horrible, but should not become exercises in finger pointing. Be cautious yes, but once you jump in, be all in. Design is a collaborative process defined by strategy, creativity and intrinsically linked to business – a mythology more than an intangible expression of art.


Kate Moloney
Harmonica Co-founder & Creative Director

Feel free to get in touch for a chat: kate@harmonica.agency
See a snapshot of info about the Harmonica team here.