Design Pickle is a graphic design agency that offers unlimited design services for a low monthly price. I've been a customer for a while now and I've found them to be invaluable. I've used design pickle for blog graphics as well as social media and email graphics and it's been pretty great.
As happy as I am with Design Pickle, I was recently approached by another graphic design agency that claims to have a better business model, with better graphic designers.
I was skeptical and decided to do an under cover test to see who had better designs and services.
Design Pickle vs Graphic Rhythms
To evaluate both agencies I looked at 4 things:
- Design Quality
- Turn Around Time
- Customer Service.
The challenge: Each agency was given the same 4 blog headers to revise.
Here are the original 4 blog headers. I made these ones myself.
I can be my own toughest critic but it's clear that these are objectively "meh," designs. Borderline, "blah!" even...
Each company has a very different approach to service.
Design Pickle: Design Pickle has a custom made software for submitting and managing my graphic design projects which is a nice touch. I was able to submit them easily enough with no issues.
Unfortunately, their first round of designs didn't really match what I was looking for and I had to ask them to start from scratch on all four designs. Revisions are unlimited with both services, but I think if Design Pickle had spent more time understanding what I was looking for they would have done better on the first round.
As you'll see below, Design Pickle ultimately wound up returning pretty good looking designs, but they are all completely different. Design Pickle acts more like a "Hired Gun" - they do what you ask them to do, but don't really collaborate with you to achieve your vision.
Graphic Rhythm Designs: Graphic Rhythm Designs took a different approach to my designs. They started by asking me a series of questions about my brand, my audience, what colors and fonts my blog uses and what my goals for my content were. Instead of producing all four designs at once, they only made one and waited for me to approve it. (It required one small revision - originally the figures in the designs were wearing suits which wasn't a match with my audience)
After I approved the initial design, they produced the other three to match the same style and branding from the first one. The result is that Graphic Rhythm Designs created four cohesive and branded images. They say (though I haven't seen it) that they have created a brand profile for me which any of their designers can reference when creating designs for my brand.
The Winner: Graphic Rhythm Designs
I have to give it to Graphic Rhythm Designs here for going the extra mile to make sure that their designs match my brand. Instead of just producing designs they have created an invaluable image for my blog.
Design Quality Results
I'm not a graphic designer and when it comes to "Quality" I can only really judge based on what I like.
As stand alone designs, I think both agencies did a great job, though I do think that Design Pickle's designs aren't as "Cohesive".
For instance, in the design "What you need to know about the laws relating to internet marketing" the design is clearly a smattering of icons spread around the words.
On the other hand, Graphic Rhythm Designs, owing to their different approach, has four designs that look cohesive and related to one another while also being clearly different.
Here are the designs from Design Pickle:
Here are the designs from Graphic Rhythm Designs:
I favored the results I got from Graphic Rhythm on 3 out of the 4 images I was given. The only one I preferred from Design Pickle was the design about the Merch by Amazon program.
None of the results were horrendous but the color and font pairings were much better from Graphic Rhythms.
While I like both agencies designs, the extra thought and attention given by Graphic Rhythm Designs edged out Design Pickle. Plus - I had to ask Design Pickle to start from scratch after their first draft.
Turn Around Time Results
Turn around time is another big area of differentiation for both agencies.
If you read the literature for Design Pickle, they are rather opaque about their turn around time. They mostly state versions of "We will work on your designs as they come in".
On the other hand, if you read the literature for Graphic Rhythm Designs, they make a big deal about how they never "Throttle" their production speed and endevour to produce your designs as fast as possible. This is apparently made possible by their unique agency model (explained in the "Value" section below).
Design Pickle: From start to finish it took Design Pickle 3 days per design to produce all 4 designs.
Graphic Rhythm Designs: It took Graphic Rhythm Designs 3 days to produce the first design, during which time they went back and forth with me a couple of times with the questions I described above in the "Service" section. After I approved the first design they had the remaining 3 designs done the next day.
Since Graphic Rhythm Designs claims that their process of creating a brand profile enables them to work faster and more effectively, I would have to say that this is born out in my test.
It took Graphic Rhythm Designs 4 days to produce four designs which is consistent with their guarantee of a 24-48 hour turn around time. But more than that, they effectively produced the last 3 designs in 24 hours and they looked better overall.
I am not sure at what point you could overwhelm them with design requests, but it seems like they can keep up very easily with most users needs.
The price and model of each agency is a little different so measuring their value has some subjective elements to it. Still, there is money attached to the service transaction so we can measure some elements of the value.
To start, let's look at where both agencies are the same or similar
Active Requests: Both companies allow you to submit as many requests as you would like at a time
Revisions: Both companies offer unlimited revisions
Now let's look at how they are different.
Design Pickle: Design Pickle asks for $370/month for unlimited designs. On the surface this seems like a great deal (it is a great deal actually) but "unlimited" is a little bit of a misnomer. It's true that you can request as many designs as you would like, but Design Pickle will only produce them at their rate. Assuming that the rate that they produced my blog headers is consistent, then you can realistically expect Design Pickle to produce 20-30 designs per month making their price per design $14.80. Which, as I said, is a really good deal.
Graphic Rhythm Designs: Graphic Rhythm Designs asks for $299/month in exchange for 50 design credits. Their design credit system is a little confusing and slightly mysterious to me (they have a chart describing the credit exchange rate here). But I can say for sure that the blog headers cost 2 credits each which means that if all's I used them for was blog headers of the caliber they've already produced then my $299 would get me 25 designs per month which is $11.96 per design - so about $3 per design cheaper than design pickle.
Sorry for the cop out. The fact is that value is really subjective. While technically Graphic Rhythm Designs is cheaper, it could be that you can capitalize on Design Pickles unlimited designs and really get a huge amount of designs for the price.
On the other hand, Graphic Rhythm Designs clearly takes a different and more personal approach to creating designs that work across your brand. They create a brand profile for you and spend more time getting it right the first time so that they can work quickly and accurately on later designs. So what is the value of that to you?
Like I said - It's subjective and your company and needs may be different than mine.
For my business, I really like the attention to detail provided by Graphic Rhythm Designs and their credit limit model isn't restrictive for me. I intend on doing more business with Graphic Rhythm Designs in the future.
Things to Consider
In fairness to all design services, let me explain a few things.
First, each company typically employs a lot of designers. I've noticed that the work from Design Pickle varies quite a bit over time and this seems to be because I am getting different designers. More designers means more potential off quality designers (and of course more really awesome designers). So, bigger services like Design Pickle are behind the 8 ball so to speak since they are so large and have so many designs to fulfill.
Next, I highly recommend a design service if you're a creator who isn't skilled at design OR has higher value tasks you could be performing in the time you spend creating off quality design work.