DON'T DIY ON THAT HILL – The benefits and drawbacks of doing it yourself.




Welp, spring has sprung and along with that comes all those home improvement projects we've been putting off over the winter. Maybe you're building that new pergola, fixing a walk way, or setting up that automatic sprinkler set. A few of us at Captive have a running competition of who's grass is greener, so we know the grind. We're all trying to save a buck and DIY ‘til we die in the pursuit of greener pastures and pockets.


But, have you ever taken on a project and watched as your summer melted away while the bills stacked up? Your head is spinning while you solve one problem and in doing so, create another? Visions of a lush lawn to end up with a pond?


Anyways, this article isn't about lawns. It's about marketing. Much like what Home Depot has done for the democratization of DIY home improvement, this article provides some insights into the accessibility of technology and why professionals will always have their place.


There are a lot of platforms and resources out there that make our jobs as marketer’s easier to the benefit of our clients in the form of monetary savings. However, with this type of accessibility comes the reminder that experience and knowledge go a long way towards properly leveraging these tools.


The digital camera revolutionized and democratized the art of photography, but it hasn't and will not make professional photographers obsolete. The ability to take a great photo will always be in the hands of the competence of the person wielding the camera. With a computer and the right software you could design a logo. Home Depot sells pipe wrenches, but you probably shouldn’t attempt putting in your own gas fireplace if you lack the expertise in doing so. Those things are at hand, but the question is, should you?


Graphic Design Crowdsourcing


Crowdsourcing in the design industry is nothing new. New platforms are challenging the norm every year. Platforms like 99 Designs and Fiverr provide an economical solution, but at the end of the day you get what you pay for. Though we’ll honestly admit there’s a lot of “nice” designs on there, it’s pretty much all the same. The democratization of design has led to the homogenization of design. Though you might see pretty things, it's just one more rose in the rose garden.


Brand and the development of a brand is a far more complex beast than just a logo. We typically don't really offer "logo design" per se. We know that a logo is really nothing without consideration for the other elements that make up a brand - the visual eco-system in which it lives aligned with a deep understanding of the organization that it represents. The best results often come from a strategy and research led approach from an engaged and invested team.


For Prairie Lithium, we used a logo they had crowdsourced as a start-point. We then married our understanding of the business and allowed our research to guide us through ideation. This led to a greater perceived position in the marketplace.


Graphic Design Templates


Canva, a self-titled graphic design platform, has made its mark on the industry. Canva provides users with a vast amount of templates for presentations, social media and other visual content. In a lot of ways, they’re really not doing anything new, they’re just doing it in one place. Apple's Keynote and Microsoft's Powerpoint have these capabilities as well, along with a plethora of competing platforms. However, with trendy templates and shareable interactive links, Canva is a great tool in the right hands. But, even with nicely designed templates, once again, your rival down the street can use the exact same template and slap their logo on it. Further, brand as an ecosystem is built on continuity and advertising is about repetition. So, if you're choosing templates at whim without that in mind, your brand presence could quickly become scattered and fractured.


We further developed the brand through the development of a presentation template on a collaborative cloud platform. With all elements designed with intent, the presentation no longer felt disconnected from slide to slide.



Website Platforms


Website development a decade ago was expensive. We were always seeking out economical solutions that could address our client’s challenges and deliver a high quality standard. We even developed our own platforms for answering these questions and in recent years, we've found platforms like Wix fill a need for clients that would otherwise be priced out of our services.


Wix's intuitive and highly customizable website platform fills a very fragile gap in the market between the DIYers and fully custom sites. It provides us the ability to design highly custom websites that give our clients a strong and unique online presence, while eliminating about 2/3 of the cost for development. Further, with a strategic approach, these sites can be scaled and evolved pretty much on demand, unlike other similar platforms.


We often start with a Wix template based on the requirements of the project and intended creative direction. However, by the time we're done you wouldn't be able to pair up the template to the client website. The template is simply a starting point, not the finish line. We're marketers and designers, and while we understand different isn't always better, the flexibility of platforms like Wix enables us to help our clients separate themselves from their competitors in a measured and strategic way. It checks some budget boxes and allows more budget to be dedicated to actually solving the client’s marketing and communication problems, versus lines of website code.


Using a flexible website platform, we were able to design a single page site to begin with. However, we were able to rapidly expand the website as the company has expanded.


Final Thoughts


We’re largely for helping clients “DIY” it. After all, for most small businesses it’s not that economical to have a designer touch everything. We balance continuity with scalability–setting clients up with the right tools to differentiate their brand in all the right ways, and then provide the resources they need to onboard their teams. Remember, with democratization comes homogenization and if you don’t want your lush lawn turning into a pond, consult a professional.