More and more I'm convinced that graphic designers are like hairdressers. Graphic design agencies are like hairdressing salons.
I believe you could open a hairdressing salon in any town in Britain and you would make money. If you were sensible and kept on top of things you could make a nice living. Nice house, nice car, two holidays a year. All that.
I also believe there could be three hairdressers in this same town and they would all make money. All have nice cars. Two holidays. That's all perfectly possible.
I also believe you could open a graphic design agency in any town in Britain and you would make money. If you were sensible and kept on top of things you could make a nice living. Nice house, nice car, two holidays a year. All that.
I also believe there could be three graphic design agencies in this same town and they would all make money. All have nice cars. Two holidays. That's all perfectly possible.
You could repeat this formula up and down the country and it would still work. Just because there's already a hairdresser in town, it's no barrier to setting up another one.
Essentially all of these hairdressers will be of roughly the same quality. You could walk into to any of them, anywhere in the country, and get roughly the same haircut for roughly the same price. From time to time some of them will win awards and some of them will have good patches, but essentially, they're all just as competent.
Every once in a while one of these salons will become very well known. Famous, even. That's because approximately a couple of percent of everything will always be very good. The rest will be average. It's the same with graphic design.
From time to time some of these salons, or agencies, will go bust. Such is life. The staff move on, the good ones start up on their own, taking the good customers with them.
With the right financing and the right management a few of these salons could expand and go nationwide, maybe even international. But this will be rare, because essentially the business model isn't scalable.
According to the Design Council, 95% of design consultancies have less than 5 staff and a turnover of less than £250k a year. I wonder if The Hairdressing Council have similar stats?
Imagine a hairdressing salon pitching for your custom, how would they differentiate themselves? Could they differentiate themselves? If Bob cut your hair at British Hairways, would you change supplier when he moved to Curl Up And Dye? If The Cutting Corner was busy one Saturday and you needed a haircut quick would you chance it and get it done at Head Masters? Apply that thinking to your agency and your clients. Ever wonder why they find pitches so confusing? Worth thinking about that.
I don't know if this is a good thing or a bad thing. It's just something I've noticed. What do you think?