The Role of a Design Consultant Explained

You’ve heard of design agencies, but what is a design consultant exactly? We’ll explain and help you decide if your business needs this type of service.

Get a designer
September 15, 2023

Table of Contents

Finding designers nowadays is not difficult. But what if you don’t want just an everyday designer? Where can you find someone who can not only execute, but advise you on how to improve your business’s brand design? The answer is graphic design consultant.

Why is it that even multi-billion dollar brands rebrand? The world of design and marketing changes at breakneck speed, and looking dated is going to cost you. 

On the other hand, there’s nothing worse than a rebrand that doesn’t speak to its target audience. One of the most infamous examples is the 2010 Gap logo that survived a mere 6 days, after a very disappointing reception from the brand’s loyal customers. 

The Branding Journal

What can you learn from this example? The simplest thing like changing your font from serif to sans serif can turn your brand identity on its head. Instead of a reliable, family brand, you suddenly seem like a careless victim of trends. And that’s certainly not why you’d shop at Gap for. So, who’s the person that can (usually) advise you against such  failures, and help you create a design plan that will launch your business forward? The answer is a design consultant.

What is a design consultant?

You’ve heard of freelance designers, big design agencies, maybe even unlimited design companies. But what the devil is a design consultant?

A design consultant provides expert advice and guidance on various aspects of design to individuals, businesses, organizations, or projects. 

Design consultants typically have specialized knowledge and skills in one or more areas of design, such as graphic design, interior design, fashion design, industrial design, web design, user experience design, or architectural design. Their primary role is to help clients make informed design decisions that align with their goals, aesthetics, and objectives.

Design consulting skills

Design consultation professionals need to know a lot more than just how to deliver on a regular design brief. Here are some of the most vital skills you’d need to land any design consultant jobs.

  • Research & analysis: Design clients often don’t know what they want. But it’s the design consultant’s job to help them understand what they need. Aside from gathering information about the market, design consultants also need to analyze potential areas for growth and improvement. 
  • Communication & collaboration: Whether we talk about graphic design or interior design consultants, these professionals need to mesh well with others. They might need to give directions to builders or web developers. So, they must be comfortable giving clear and actionable directions. 
  • Planning & strategy creation: Design consulting is all about the long term. So, these professionals need to develop creative design concepts and ideas that fit into a longer timeframe. They also need to create timelines, budgets, and list the resources needed for a specific project. 
  • Design: At the end of the day, all design consultants also need to be masters in their craft. With graphic design, they’ll often have years of experience in a certain niche and specialize in one or two types of design. 
  • Presentation: As advisors, these professionals also need to be able to present their ideas in a clear and convincing manner. They should be able to explain their ideas and creative process.
  • Project management: The design process is a complex layered operation, involving several stakeholders. So, design consulting also involves overseeing this project, problem solving, and helping team members deliver results in the required timeframe and within the budget limits. 

Why should you work with a design consultant?

We don’t have to remind you that graphic design is an integral part of your business. From your social media posts, to the design of your website and ads, design helps your business grow.

So, why should you look into design consultancy firms rather than just hiring a designer with a couple of years of experience?

The main reason is that a design consultancy can help you develop a design strategy. This means understanding how graphic design helps your business and acquiring tactics to improve your print or digital designs

But here are a few other reasons why hiring a design consultant can be a great boost for your business.

Creativity gets noticed

A highly creative ad doesn’t necessarily mean more sales. But, it usually brings great visibility and strengthens your brand image.

Just think about all the most iconic ads we still talk about today. Whether it’s the delightfully campy Old Spice guy, or the celebrity-endorsed “Got Milk” campaign - great ideas last long.

A junior designer might have a streak of brilliance and create something that will be relevant for decades, but this is unlikely. However a big brand consultancy can help your brand get noticed in a sea of competitors. 

Improving user experience

Creativity and aesthetics are immensely important. But, there’s no good design without good customer experience.

Professional design consultants can help you identify your customers needs vs. wants, and help you design products that are both useful and delightful. How about an example?

There have been language learning programs before, but Duolingo really took things to the next level. By gamifying the process of language learning it has gained thousands of customers.

Sure, some of the features made to pester people into learning languages have been made meme history. Nevertheless, thanks to savvy design and a stellar user experience, Duolingo continued to grow even as a mature product - it gained 4.5 times more users in 2022 compared to 2019.

A More Immersive Duolingo. Introducing new features to enhance the… | by  Eliza Edwards | Medium

Enhancing professionalism

So, your designs are gaining a lot of attention, and customers are enjoying your user-friendly products. What’s next?

A powerful design strategy is also a way to keep your business growing. Whether you want to present your ideas to potential investors, or network with people who might make good collaborators.

Perhaps you’ll impress them with professionally designed presentations, or stationery. Or, you can show how a strong focus on design makes your business competitive. Whatever it might be, this isn’t something you can do by hiring designers on a one-off basis. Great design is an investment in your business, and it’s wise to think of it that way.

How much does graphic design consulting cost?

Now that we have you intrigued, you must be wondering how much you’d have to pay to receive these helpful design consultations?

Here it’s very important to make a distinction between home design and graphic design consultants. Unsurprisingly, the latter charge much less than the former, since the cost of graphic design projects is usually significantly lower than interior design.

Interior design consultants charge between $100 and $200 hourly. For graphic design the hourly rate is basically the same as that of a senior designer. So, expect to pay between $40 and $75 per hour for graphic design consultations. 

Is hiring a design consultant worth it?

Now that you know how much does graphic design consulting cost, and the benefits of hiring a design consultant one question remain. Is it all worth the money?

The answer is: it depends.

If time is a big concern for you, a graphic design consultant is a way to outsource creative processes. They’ll provide a full service, including market research and project management, so you can sit back 

On the other hand, many small business owners like to be included in the creative process. This also helps to strengthen your own team

Is there a happy middle ground between being completely reliant on a design consultant or your own team? Definitely!

An unlimited design service provides a reliable, professional, and affordable way to get all your graphics.

Most of these services don’t provide in-depth consultations and market research. However, with an unlimited model, you’re free to try and test out as many ideas as you want at a flat monthly rate.

With our own service at ManyPixels, you’d be paying a fraction of the cost you’d be charged with a design agency or design consultancy firm. It’s actually even cheaper than hiring a freelance designer for more than one project!

Pick your pricing plan and get started today with a 14-day risk-free guarantee. Or feel free to book your 1:1 consultation for a chance to ask us any questions!

Having lived and studied in London and Berlin, I'm back in native Serbia, working remotely and writing short stories and plays in my free time. With previous experience in the nonprofit sector, I'm currently writing about the universal language of good graphic design. I make mix CDs and my playlists are almost exclusively 1960s.

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