With the digital age in full swing, it’s now easier than ever for businesses to take a DIY approach to their design. From website templates to ready-made leaflets, there’s no shortage of online services that exist to aid the layperson in crafting handsome and appealing marketing materials.

Whilst this can be a great option for those on a tight budget, it might not always be the best choice for anyone who can afford a bespoke service.

Keep reading for some of the pitfalls of DIY design services.


One of the biggest concerns when using an online design tool (especially a free one) is that you will be working with pre-designed, universally available templates and icons. At first glance this might seem like a positive thing, because it saves quite a bit of a time, effort, and money. But the problem is that the resulting designs won’t be unique.

Say for example you want to send out a leaflet. You might decide to log in to a free design-creation tool online and do it yourself. The resulting problem is that everything that’s available to you is available to others, including your clients. Every template, image, icon, and special font is just as readily-available to anyone else who uses that service.

The risks involved here are threefold.

First of all, you stand to lose credibility amongst those of your prospective/existing clients who recognise the style of design you’re using and immediately attribute it to a free online service. Unfortunately there’s no way around this risk. And unless it’s been incredibly well designed, it’s likely that those people will lose confidence in your business.

Second of all, your marketing material will probably lose any semblance of individuality. The reason for this is not only that customers who recognise the style will know that it’s not individual. But also that your designs will look inherently similar to a huge amount of other material floating around on the internet. Especially blogs and infographics.

Thirdly, you stand to muddy the waters of your brand identity. Which we’ll talk more about now. . .


The chances are that you have a brand identity. This will incorporate all public-facing aspects of your business (not just design), and it’s probably existed for quite a while. In the early days of your business, you probably hired a professional to create and implement your brand. And if this is the case, then you have to consider continuity when it comes to all future design work.

Part of your identity is tied in with the your brand’s particular aesthetic. And whatever it is, be it modern, rustic, colourful, or classical, your business will be identifiable with a certain look. Using generic templates and images runs the risk of rubbing out some of that identity. It’s hard to properly communicate the essence of a brand through a pre-existing set of symbols. Which is why the DIY approach often leads to confusion amongst clients, and can leave your designs looking strange and out of place.

It can devalue your brand

There’s no snobbery intended in this point, but it’s an unavoidable truth that incorporating readymade designs into your marketing stands to damage the integrity of your brand. It may be that only one out of twenty people notice, which might not sound like much, but it could be enough to turn them away. And to lose even a single prospective client on account of design is too much. Design should have the opposite effect, it should be attracting clients to your brand.

Also, a well considered and developed design, created with the client in mind, will stand the test of time. It will escape the pitfalls of fads, and will ultimately lift the quality of your brand above a sizeable portion of your competitors.

Ultimately, you could see it as being the difference between handmade and factory produced. It may sound biased (given that Red Square is a graphic design company), but it’s the same across the board. Whether it’s photography, copywriting, or web programming. A bespoke service, tailored to your needs, is hard to beat.

Want to learn more about the mechanics and principles of great design? Download a free copy of Red Square’s ebook, How Good Design Makes Marketing Sense, today!