Why Businesses Should Never Downsize Their Graphic Design Team

Graphic design weaves intricate patterns throughout your brand, creating a strong image and working closely with sales, marketing and executives to give your company a cutting edge look and modern appeal. However, when business lags, one of the first areas many companies cut is their graphic design team. As such, some companies may hire freelancers or use graphic design services instead.

Statista reports sporadic figures in the retail sector even into 2021. Jewelry spending is down 35% in the United States, while consumer packaged goods are up 10%, such as those found at wholesale clubs and discount stores. It’s hard to predict what might happen from month to month as people adjust to life post-pandemic.

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For struggling companies, figuring out where to cut costs is often a top priority. While cutting your graphic design team to the bare minimum might seem like a good idea at first, there are many reasons why it will hurt your business in the long run. Here are the areas your business might suffer most if you lose your skilled artists.

1. Consistency

Consumers respond to brands with a consistent image and message. It’s hard to stay on the same page when you don’t have a stable team working on your marketing materials. For example, if you hire out of house and use different designers, each will have a unique look no matter how detailed your style guide might be. 

Consumers may not know why something feels off, but they’ll recognize the lack of consistent presentation and may wonder if they will experience the same treatment each time they order from you.

It also takes multiple impressions for someone to remember your brand. If you aren’t presenting the same look, tone and message each time, you risk losing traction. 

2. Sales

The way you package a product makes a huge impact on whether consumers choose to buy it. For example, surveys show something as simple as the print technique used on a gift card sways buying decisions by 67%, and 42% of people state interesting shapes and textures can impact their choice. 

Graphic designers look at other packaging on store shelves and from your competitors and come up with their own take that pops amidst the noise of other items someone might purchase. You need a professional touch to gain an edge. 

3. Branding

How much does your brand image matter to you? Branding is more about how the outside world sees you, but the colors you use, your website, your social media posts and your advertising all influence their opinion.

A strong graphic design team works together intuitively to create looks speaking to the emotions and pain points of your target audience. If you downsize and remove one or two members, you risk losing the unique look and style that makes your company stand out. While anyone can be replaced, lacking the expertise by downsizing is often detrimental to the look and function of your marketing efforts. 

4. Turnaround Time

You’re ready to launch the hot new product you worked for months to develop. You’re ready, but your design team isn’t, because you’ve cut the number of staff down to the bare minimum. 

Turnaround time can hurt your efforts for a launch or marketing efforts you’re trying to coordinate with holidays or sales. Much of the work done by graphic designers is intricate and time consuming. Fewer people means a longer lead time to finish projects.  

5. Staff

The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics recently reported the unemployment rate is 5.9% with no real change for several months. Yet, everywhere one looks, places have help wanted signs posted. There seem to be an abundance of positions and not enough people willing or able to fill those roles.

If you release your top performers, you risk being unable to replace them as your business scales up. People might take a minute to regroup after you lay them off, but then they’re going to seek other employment and probably with a more stable company they can trust not to let them go when they’re at their most vulnerable. 

Before you let the skilled artist go, think about how hard it might be to replace them for the same salary, not to mention training someone new in your ways. If you must lay someone off, it might be better to go with a non-skilled position more easily filled. 

6. Marketing

Perhaps your design team is also your marketing team. Alternatively, design might work closely with sales and marketing. Your campaign strategies often build on one another. When you cut your design or marketing staff, you risk losing momentum. 

You can be certain your competition would be more than happy to step in and fill the gap by promoting their brand instead. If you’re on a roll with your digital marketing efforts, do your best to keep your team intact and not lose any momentum. 

When Is It Okay to Downsize?

Obviously, there will be times you simply don’t have a choice in reducing the number of employees. Look at the different roles of your team and figure out if any are redundant. Instead of laying off one of your artists, can you shift their work to something more vital to your brand’s success?

You may also have times when people leave your company voluntarily for a different opportunity. Anytime someone departs is a good time to reevaluate their responsibilities. 

Should the next person to fill their shoes do the same work or something different? Is there other talent on your team that can pick up the slack? Do a thorough evaluation so you never overhire and find yourself in a position where you might have to cut workers. 

Eleanor is editor of Designerly Magazine. Eleanor was the creative director and occasional blog writer at a prominent digital marketing agency before becoming her own boss in 2018. She lives in Philadelphia with her husband and dog, Bear.

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