A couple weeks ago, we posted an article that compared the benefits of outsourcing graphic design to those of an in-house graphic designer, and concluded that outsourcing is the better option of the two for most businesses. If you didn’t see that article, or just need a refresher, here it is again: Why you should outsource graphic design
To follow up on that, we wanted to explore the topic of outsourcing further, specifically for those who own or manage businesses in the US. We’ve already made the case for businesses to outsource graphic design; now, we want to reveal why US businesses are best served by outsourcing their design work to Canada. In fact, we think this applies to any professional service – legal, accounting, consulting, etc. – not just graphic design. However, for the sake of simplicity, we’ll just focus on graphic design for now.
For those of you who own or manage a business in the US, what you’re about to read might come as a shock. The usual response from our US clients when presented with this information is, “Why didn’t I realize this before?” or “Why isn’t everyone doing this?” This usually then sets them off in search of other Canadian services providers in different fields. So, you may want to take some notes. The ideas outlined here, if repeated to your colleagues or boss, are going to raise your stock around the office.
For any of our Canadian readers, I would also suggest taking some notes; you may be able to steal some talking points for when you’re trying to land your own US clients.
So, buckle in!
The term “outsourcing” is usually attached to stereotypical manufacturers in China or Mexico, software developers in India or call centers in The Philippines. If you’ve had any experience outsourcing services to those countries, you will know that poor results are NOT uncommon. And, if you’ve ever tried to outsource creative work such as graphic design to those places, it’s likely to have resulted in a horror story. I understand what draws the average North American to an ad for “Professional Logo Design for $5” or “Custom Web Design $99” – it’s the hope that you’re going to get some decent design work done, super cheap. But that dream usually turns into a nightmare. However, many of the reasons why outsourcing creative work to Asia or South America does not turn out well are the exact reasons why outsourcing to Canada does.
And here’s why:
It’s really affordable
Outsourcing to Asia or South America can be attractively cheap, but you may be surprised to find that outsourcing professional services to Canada is also very affordable, especially when compared to the going rate for professional design back home in the US. Why? Well, when was the last time you looked at the CAD-USD exchange rate? At the time of writing the USD is worth $1.32 Canadian dollars. Taking into consideration that the purchasing power of the two currencies is similar, you’ll either save 32% instantly, or you’ll get an extra 32% of work for your dollar. Whichever way you look at it, that’s a huge saving.
But let’s be clear, the reason it’s so much cheaper is because of economic factors, NOT because you’re getting a less well qualified designer or a lower quality of work.
No sales tax
Yeah, you heard that right! In most cases, when working with a service provider in Canada, if that particular company does not have any physical presence in the US, then they do not have to charge sales tax. Which
This is true in most cases, but it is not universal. You may want to double check with your accountant first see if this applies to you.
Same language, similar culture
Effective communication is critical in any business scenario. Anyone who has outsourced work to a country where English is not the first language knows that communication can be challenging. And the problem is not only the language barrier, but also the cultural barrier. It’s one thing to try to explain a design project to someone whose first language differs from yours, but if they are also from a completely different culture, it becomes even more of a task.Things that may seem obvious to you, such as use of terminology and imagery and design intent, can be a lot less obvious to someone who has grown up in a different social and working environment. Yes, there are a lot of skilled professionals overseas that have a good grasp of Western culture and design standards, but it is difficult for anyone who grew up on a different side of the planet to fully grasp the complexities and nuances of designing for the US consumer.
To some US consumers, Canada may seem to be a far-off foreign land. However, our societies are almost identical. Also, Canadian residents are constantly exposed to US media and television. For that reason, most Canadians know more about US culture, politics, and history than they do about their own. We understand you, your business, and your customers just as much as we do our own.
To add to the last point, much of the reason why Canadians are so familiar with US culture is because a large slice of the population lives near a US–Canada border and frequently crosses it. This proximity offers a whole host of additional benefits, the most important being that it allows Canadian service providers to develop a deep understanding of the culture and business landscape of a particular region. A great example of that is from our own experience of working in a border city. We operate in Windsor, Ontario, which shares a border with Detroit, Michigan. In fact, our office (not factoring in border traffic) is about a seven-minute drive from downtown Detroit. So, naturally we spend a lot of time in Michigan; some of us cross as often as a couple times per week.
Same time zone
This is another important one. Again, if you’ve worked with service providers overseas, you’ll know the value of working with someone who keeps the same operating hours as you. If there’s a major difference in time zones, even simple tasks can be stretched out over days and weeks as communication is sometimes limited to email exchanges once every 24 hours. And it’s surprisingly difficult to find service providers overseas that keep Western hours. So, your best bet if you want to chat with your overseas providers in real time is to start your day super early or end it super late. Neither is ideal or necessary.
Easy to work with
We’re not going to invoke the ol’ Canadian stereotype here….but it is true that Canadians are inherently nice, friendly people. And that’s pretty much all we need to say about that!
Easier to find
Finding a reliable service provider in Canada is much easier. Here’s an insider tip: instead of searching “Graphic Design Canada,” where you’re going to get a lot of vague results; try a more specific, localized search. Take a look at a map and try to pinpoint the Canadian city that’s closest to you. Then, search for a design agency in that city: “Graphic Design Agency Vancouver” or “Graphic Design Agency Windsor”. A search of this kind is guaranteed to offer quality results and uncover your new go-to design agency.
Even taking one of the factors above makes a good case as to why you should at least entertain the idea of outsourcing your graphic design needs to a Canada-based company. Combined, the argument is undeniable. If your reaction to this article is one of, “Why didn’t I consider all of this before? It’s actually pretty obvious” don’t beat yourself up. I’m willing to bet that 95% of businesses in the US are not equipped with this information – which puts you in a great position! Now you’re fully equipped to convince your boss, colleagues, board of directors, and, most importantly, yourself that you really should outsource your graphic design to Canada. Just be fully prepared for everyone to spend the rest of the day telling you how much of a genius you are. No need to thank us.