Today’s Obsession: Our Little Corner of the Marketplace

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Welcome to my Gallery of Horrors!

Welcome to my Gallery of Horrors!

I see a lot of noise in my Twitter stream about HP’s Logoworks service. It’s basically a bottom-tier service catering to the smallest of clients and starter-uppers who really can’t afford an actual design studio. I also see the invariable bitching bitching bitching from designers who are appalled—appalled—at the resounding tone-deafness of the work combined with low prices. HP is killing design. Killing it. And of course, I have an opinion about that.

Firstly: we’re not all friends here, folks! We can go to as many AIGA cheese-cube and box-wine parties together as you want, but when it comes right down to it: we’re competitiors in business, and as such I am eyeing your Achilles tendon hungrily through your Prada slacks, even as we discuss our shared love of Jennifer Sterling’s microscopic typography (she’s working again, by the way). If I find your weak spot in the marketplace, it means I get to live a little longer, and I do not care about your business’ longevity one bit.

HP’s doing just this—they know that custom design’s weak point is its price. They’re betting that they can scoop up clientele who either don’t understand the expense of custom work, or just plain don’t care to fork over the cash. HP can do this because they’re large enough to handle small-priced clients and make up for it in bulk of work produced. They’ll guarantee an amount of work to their designers for a lowered pricetag. It’s pretty much what Walmart does, the difference being that designers are just awful at adding a realistic valuation onto their work. So you know HP’s makin’ a killing where you probably never could.

Secondly: do you really want someone on your client roster who’s looking at price as such a priority that they forget to or (decide not to) look at quality? Yeah, I didn’t think so. You enjoy your weekend off with your five-digit-at-minimum budgets and let HP mop up the rest of the mess. I’m totally okay with that.