Creative Chronicles: The Battle for Quality Over Quantity


Today I want to talk about something we face constantly as designers in a fast-paced world: making the choice between quality and quantity.

Every single week, I get inquiries from potential new clients who need something done right away. More like yesterday. And trust me, I get the urgency. The online world is evolving fast and small businesses are doing everything they can to stay ahead of the curve. Updated branding, marketing materials and websites help project the right image. The sooner they can implement updates, the sooner they can potentially book up and sell more.

Even though I get it (I run small businesses myself), I won’t bend my processes or timelines to make it happen. In this world, being the cheapest and / or fastest is a race to the bottom because there’s always someone who can slice margins even thinner. It’s best not to compete on those principles. A few sloppy jobs to appease clients or make a quick buck will do nothing for your image and hurt your bottom line in the long run.

What you do have is the quality of work you put into the world, your ethics, your process, your unbeatable customer service and your personal story. Use these things to convey your worth instead.

Hold Your Ground

Breaking processes and bending ethics to make a quick buck is never a good idea. Things will go bad. Every time I have made an exception, I’ve learned the lesson again. It’s painful when you end up with a disappointed client and it’s your fault because you caved.

A few weeks ago, I was on a call with a client I really wanted to work with and after explaining my branding process, they mentioned they’d already done most of the steps before with another designer. Couldn’t we just skip ahead and use that content, they wondered?

While I explained that it would be helpful to see what they had, we still needed to go through my process in order to get the best results. We’re now a few steps into my process and making some major tweaks to the outcome of their new branding based on things I learned from their questionnaire and pins that weren’t immediately obvious during our original call. If I’d skipped the steps, we would be at a much different outcome (and not necessarily a happy one).

Red Flags

If you’ve explained your process and why it works but a potential customer is adamant that you change it for them, it’s usually a red flag that they’re not an ideal fit. And that’s totally okay — keep a list of referrals on hand for these situations so they can find a better suited partner.

Always remember that you’re a professional. You’ve done this before. There’s a reason for why you do what you do. You have the proven results to back it up. For a project to run smoothly, there has to be a level of mutual respect and a process in place.

I know how tempting it can be to stack on more work, bend your ethics and skip steps in processes to make more money but is it worth it? Does it make you feel good? That’s the only answer you need.

Quality over quantity, always.

P.S. If you need some help with your client process, I created Project Prescription with Paul Jarvis to make it easier.

Check out even more Creative Chronicles posts here.

5 Responses to Creative Chronicles: The Battle for Quality Over Quantity

  1. Misaki Shimizu says:

    Ah, I feel you.

    After a few experiences I just quiet being stressed about urgent deadlines, because most of the time people stressed me to get it done ‘like, now’ and then I waited for their feedback for several days. Not saying it’s always like this, but now I just work in my pace and am usually fast enough anyway.

    I also had this with my last company, where my bosses had their random ideas, which also needed to be done the same second they thought of it, leaving the marketing team with several projects, overtime and nothing got finished in the end anyway. Haha

    • Shauna says:

      Yeah, that’s so true! Those crazy rushes end up falling flat anyway. And I had bosses like that, too where we literally just worked in circles based on conflicting feedback…good times! 😉

  2. I appreciate how honest you are in sharing your advice/experiences; I’m just starting out on some projects and initiatives, and it’s so tempting to do something quick just to gain experience – and I do need to gain experience! I know, though, that to be respectful of the field and work I still need to maintain a standard and have to remind myself of that pretty constantly.

    • Shauna says:

      Dani, that’s the right attitude! Take great care of those clients you have and they’ll stick with you! I now have a few clients I started working with back in 2009 and we’re still going strong. Remember, slow and steady wins the race. Focus on the long term. :)

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