Have you ever had a professional photoshoot for your website or resume? Why, if you could just take some selfies? You choose professional photographers because good-looking, polished photos made in one style increase your reliability and status in the eyes of others: either a target audience or employers.
Similar principles apply to design, especially where illustration is used. Professional illustration has a number of benefits that, like a photoshoot made in a studio, cannot be substituted.
Let’s discover why and how often companies use outsourcing services to create illustrations, and take inspiration from some of the best practices among our case studies.
If design solves business problems and fine art predicts the future, then illustration is a medium between them.
— Sergiy Maidukov, The NY Times & The Washington Post illustrator
Why do companies outsource graphic design and illustration?
Graphic design implies creating visual content that communicates a certain message. Illustrations may be considered part of the former, but the major difference between graphic design and illustrations is where/how you use it. Graphic design projects have more commercial meaning. Meanwhile, illustrations are somewhere on the borderline between creating fine art and making profits.
There are several reasons why companies pay someone to create visuals for them:
- Saving money. Yep, paying for these services pays off in the future, and never mind the wordplay. In-house design team equals payroll costs, taxes, buying licensed software like Adobe After Effects, time to find the employees that get you. Design agencies charge only for the work done.
- Collective expertise and experience. Design agencies cooperate with companies of different profiles, so they have a broader knowledge of what’s good. They are also up to date with the latest trends in design and the market in general. If you would like to learn more about them, check out our article on top-2022 UI/UX design trends.
- Saving labor resources and outsourcing human resources. When a company doesn’t have in-house designers or expertise in a specific area, it doesn’t need to train its team. Especially if the project is not long-term or when the tasks are one-time. Also, an external team solves the problem of insufficient workload or overload of staff personnel.
- Results without managing the working process. The company’s own design team needs guidance and management, and in a design agency, all processes are built by project managers, an art director, etc.
- Efficiency of core business. When a company chooses to outsource, it is not distracted from its strategic objectives and product development.
There’s no strong brand without competent design. The design, especially creative illustrations, requires a significant investment of money, time, and effort. But the good news is that illustrating is not usually a recurring process, but a one-time project. So companies hire professionals without pausing their strategic management.
How often do brands rely on professionals to create illustrations?
The IT outsourcing services market is huge. Some time ago, Statista published research that shows that the IT-application outsourcing services market revenue in Poland is expected to reach $540 million by 2021. And that’s data for only one of the member states of the EU. The global IT outsourcing market amounted to $92.5 billion in 2019.
And what about graphic design and illustration services? $45.8 billion — is the global graphic designers market size in 2021:
Where illustration is used? As of 2018, 73% of businesses invest in design to help their brand stand out against the competition. In the same research by Adobe, it was also reported that 71% of companies are now creating 10x the number of design assets than they did in previous years.
Most small businesses acknowledge that design is important to their success. Only 3% indicated the opposite. With this data, we can conclude that most of the companies choose to outsource their design to professional agencies like Shakuro.
How do illustrations change the face of business?
Creative illustration is a mediator between mass consumer and high art. Modern European trends come from 20th century art.
If design solves problems and art looks to the future, then illustration is a medium between them. An illustration is a layer of information between the meaning of a certain object and the way that viewers understand it for themselves. The illustration has no purpose in realistically conveying reality. It can be abstract and convey emotions.
Illustrations are a powerful tool for bonding with a target audience. There are several ways illustrations can change the face of business:
- They show your story
How to convince others to invest resources in your brand? Sometimes it’s hard to find the words. Sometimes there are too many words and no one reads them. Show your purpose, values, processes with illustrations. Don’t tell. We talk more about this point in this article.
- They create an emotional bond
How illustration shows emotions? They can be positive or negative. Some of us were legit horrified by Francisco Goya’s paintings when we were kids. But art can convey love and hope too. Custom illustrations will make other people feel: trust, warmth, even the “uwus”. And feelings = bonding, important for all businesses alike. At Shakuro, we create illustrations for both B2C and B2B industries. People are more likely to associate themselves with cartoon characters than with the models in the photo. Looking at the staged photos, it is immediately clear that this is just a written script. Illustrations evoke the feeling of “yeah, I feel the same”:
- They convey the mood and imprint on others’ memories
All successful brands have one thing in common — personality. You can design a brand to be friendly, broadminded, optimistic, memorable. Running a successful business already, but want to show its new side? Make your brand more human with illustrations, as Etsy did. But not with stock photos — they are like Comic Sans nowadays. Leave the work to Shakuro’s professional artists.
- With animations, they make a product to really stand out
Have you heard that awful joke about a snail? One man wanted his snail to be more aerodynamic and took off its shell, but it just made the snail more sluggish. What really could’ve added dynamic to a poor creature, are animated illustrations. In the right doses, they can be a real eye-catcher.
- Illustrations are a visual soundtrack to your brand
For our visual cortex neurons, custom illustration is like music to our ears. It can turn your existing website or application into a symphony, minimalistic — or art-deco piece of art. Good design agencies make illustrations without disrupting the visual identity of a brand or company. They enhance things, and make art work.
Case study: creating a friendly environment
Craftverse is an aspiring crowdfunded platform for cosplay enthusiasts from around the world to share knowledge, seek advice, socialize, and explore job opportunities in this exciting creative industry.
They came to Shakuro seeking to create the site and the mobile application. You can learn more about the step-by-step process of our work with this case in our article. This cartoonish style of illustrated characters makes the overall look of the cosplay platform more open-minded and friendly. It creates an atmosphere of understanding and sincerity.
Case study: connecting a product with its audience through a mascot
A mascot is a character who embodies an idea, be it a company, a product, a team, or a brand. To put it simply, it’s a character you think of whenever a brand’s name pops up. Mascots are different, but in most cases they are animals. Anthropomorphic or not — it’s up to a client to decide. Often you can see mascots as 2D animated characters.
Mascots unite people of different ages, professions, and nationalities. Look at the character that we created for Crizit:
Case study: adding meaningful details
- Page 404
404 not found. Error 404. No one likes this message.
Competently designed, page 404 is able to keep visitors on the site, reduce bounce rates and increase traffic conversions.
- Food illustration
When it comes to food illustrations, the goal is often to celebrate, convey a sense of joy, and emphasize its ability in bringing people together. Color handles this perfectly.
- 3D illustration
3D illustrations can fit perfectly into the concept of your web resource. They not only make the site more memorable, but also improve the user experience, allowing you to control the attention of the visitor. They also look more expensive, especially if the 3D characters creation is included. The main thing is not to overdo it: such elements should look appropriate, not complicate the interaction with the site and not slow down its loading.
How to start outsourcing illustrations?
If you decide to outsource, the next question is where to start? Posting your job on collaboration platforms is not enough, and even dangerous if you are on to something special about your product. Usually, clients turn to digital agencies to create visuals within a new web development project. But illustration, especially animated characters, can also improve an existing website or an app.
- You can post your web development project that includes illustrations with just a brief statement of what you want and how you want it, and let agencies contact you.
- You can research competition and see who does illustration for them.
- You can formulate a list of requirements for your illustration and, eventually, you will narrow the circle to the outsourcing companies that fit best.
- You can just write to a certain agency of your choice. This option is best for those who don’t really know how they want their illustrations to look like, except from competitors’ examples, but don’t want to copy or create indistinguishable/stock pictures.
Finding the balance and the best-fitting expertise for your custom project is the main challenge. From our experience, people who are satisfied with our work willingly recommend us to their connections. You can learn more about how to outsource web development processes in our separate article.
Graphic illustration is not just pretty pictures. They unite and enhance the entire user experience as a whole. Any business can be successful in design, whether it’s a product or a service. It all depends on a wise choice of outsourcing company. BTW, if you want to create an app, you might want to read our article on how to hire an outsourcing agency that gets you right.
Take a look at more examples of illustrations on our graphics page on Dribbble, in Behance, and read some stories in our portfolio where we tell more on how we used illustrations in commercial projects.