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  • Writer's pictureJudah (Design Ninja)

Save Time & Money with Hired Design Talent

One might assume finding the cheapest design rate is the best way to save money. I’d like to suggest that asking one simple question before hiring is by far the greater factor. Skipping this vital qualifier can be incredibly frustrating and in some cases disastrous.

So here’s the big question:

Is this Designer a Technician or a Tactician?

A Design Technician knows how to skillfully operate software and execute specific, directed tasks efficiently.

“Make that red.”

“Use this font.”

“Move that image there.”

A Design Tactician understands the larger picture and offers thoughtful, strategic solutions that help resolve the common tension between Functional Marketing and Aesthetic Design.

“Design a label that appeals to 28-35 year-old women without turning off the men."

“Emphasize this branding message without competing with this secondary, more technical message."

The Design Tactician brings valuable knowledge, experience, and understanding of how fonts, colors, layout, etc., effect the larger marketing objectives and messages. The Design Technician, on the other hand has limited understanding of the larger goals, and yet they know how to move design elements around with skill. The importance of knowing the difference cannot be overstated. 

So much so, that one could end up paying a cheaper, Technician rate, going through the entire design process, spending precious, deadline-sensitive time, and end up with unusable deliverables.

I’ve heard this story many times. And what could be worse is if a Technician is posing as a Tactician, because now we’re paying for Tactician prices and getting Technician deliverables! Ouch. 

Let’s pretend there’s a lucrative market for attracting fruit flies. Then, let’s assume we hire talent. If we’ve hired a Technician, we could tell them to set out a steel, live trap (used for mammals) and they would do it. But, if we’ve hired a Tactician, they’d object because part of their job description is to know these things.

“Yes, you’re right, a steel trap is effective in same cases, but in my experience, these very ripe peaches do the trick with fruit flies.” 

This illustration brings up another point. If a Design Tactician bring up an objection there can be friction (You may be thinking…"Duh!”). Resolving the Design Technician vs. Design Tactician question just might alleviate some of the tension. 

Let’s assume, though, that we’re asking a Design Technician to figure out how to do a Design Tactician's job. 

“Design a label that appeals to 28-35 year-old women without turning off the men.”

Or, we start relating to a Tactician like a Technician. 

“Design Tactician, make this red.”

In both cases the designer cannot properly do their job. A wise designer, however, will recognize it, and perhaps clue us in.

“I’m good with Photoshop, but I’m inexperienced in knowing how to appeal to women without turning off the men.”


Yes, red is one option. What are we trying to say with red? Does it align with our branding?” 

If you’ve hired a Design Technician, by default this designer will require more specific direction. If you’ve hired a Design Tactician, it's more about clarifying the problem and asking for solutions.

This important clarification is guaranteed to save frustration and time. Things are just going to run smoother, and in-turn, save that precious marketing budget.

By the way, this also helps signify who we're looking for. If you are an Art Director yourself and understand the intersection between Marketing and Design, but just lack the time, a Design Technician can be an excellent choice. If however (borrowing from the earlier illustration), if you don't have a clue about attracting fruit flies, by all means, bring on the Design Tactician!

For more helpful articles about the intersection between marketing and design in dietary supplements, check out my blog. If you have a specific question, feel free to reach out to me directly. Here’s to Happy Working with your design talent!

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