How to Recession-Proof Your Business in the Design Industry

Posted on March 4, 2024 | Updated on March 4, 2024

Whether the economy shows signs of struggling or there’s smooth sailing ahead, building a recession-proof business is an invaluable goal. There’s often no warning when hard times hit, whether the entire market is affected or just your business. That’s why it’s essential to be proactive with your company within the design industry.

Learn more about how to create a strong foundation for your business and face any challenges in an uncertain economic environment.

Why Designers Should Prioritize Recession-Proofing Their Businesses

Every business is at risk during recessions, depressions and other times of financial turmoil. However, it’s often creative endeavors that feel the first and most severe effects of trouble. When companies are struggling to stay afloat, they might not invest the same amount of resources — and money — on their marketing materials, advertising campaigns or websites.

These cutbacks often leave designers struggling to make ends meet themselves. Recession-proofing involves taking the proper steps to ensure that no matter what happens with the market, your design business will survive it. Every industry is different. Fortunately, there are several ways you can protect your company in the face of economic uncertainty.

Diversify Your Offerings

You probably started your graphic design business because you had a passion for creative projects. Maybe you specialize in one particular area, like creating logos. However, if you want to grow your business and ensure it can withstand a rocky market, you’ll need to expand your horizons.

Offering a diverse range of graphic design services is one of the best ways to strengthen your business. Take a look at your skill set and consider what else you can add to your business portfolio:

  • Advertising and marketing: All businesses need to get the word out about their products or services. Advertising campaigns are constant and dynamic, which means they can be lucrative for designers who help create them.
  • Web design: In 2022, retail e-commerce sales exceeded $5.7 trillion worldwide. Everyone knows the digital marketplace is the place to do business these days. To attract customers, companies need a reliable website. As a web designer, you can step up and provide the guidance they’re looking for.
  • Brand identity: A company’s brand identity is more important than ever, as consumers increasingly care about the actions and values of the businesses they shop with. Crafting an identity requires cohesion of design so people associate the brand with certain logos, colors or other design choices.
  • Social media: More people than ever are active on social media. In fact, there are at least 5.9 billion social media users around the world, a number that is only expected to rise in the coming years. Businesses want to reach those potential customers, and designing social media profiles and campaigns is the best way to do it.
  • Editorial design: Graphic designs for various publications, like magazines, books, articles and digital publications, are always in demand as new material is written each day. If you provide these services, you’ll have an endless stream of opportunities.

Don’t place limits on yourself. In addition to building your business, this is your chance to grow your talents as a designer and artist.

Develop a Broad Client Base

Expanding your offerings means you also need to get in touch with a new customer base. The more clients you have, the more secure your business is during a recession when fewer people request more limited services.

Every company and many individuals require design services, and there are nearly as many different ways to reach them. Advertise yourself and your work online on your website and social media. Market locally as well as globally, reaching out to local businesses and potential clients on the other side of the world alike.

Don’t limit yourself to one type of design or client — you’ll get to expand your skills while broadening your customer horizons.

Emphasize Customer Service and Satisfaction

In the midst of a recession, people often cut back on their expenses. This time is when loyalty and satisfaction are more important than ever. If you’ve done excellent work, customers are more likely to keep working with you — they’ll appreciate the value you offer, even in hard times.

On the other hand, if you’ve delivered subpar results or even failed to go above and beyond, you may get the axe when times get tougher. Forming strong partnerships with your clients isn’t just personally fulfilling — it can sustain your business during an economic downturn.

Fortunately, there are several ways you can step up your customer service. Be sure you stay on top of communications — slow responses can come off as rude or neglectful. You want to address all concerns — criticism as well as praise — as soon as possible. Consider offering discounts or a loyalty program for clients who work with you repeatedly.

Stay Up to Date on the Market

When a recession hits, industry necessities change across the board. Staying aware of new needs, wants and other trends is critical to your success.

For example, during a financial crisis, people are less inclined to pay top dollar for design services. You may have to adjust your pricing accordingly. While you still need to make a profit, you may be able to offer your services at a lower cost to attract more clients who are looking for affordable partnerships.

Build an Active Online Presence

As mentioned above, you shouldn’t underestimate the power of a strong online presence. Being active on the internet opens the door for new relationships, ideas and business opportunities. Billions of users mean billions of potential clients.

Frequently update your social media accounts. People enjoy getting to know the people behind the brand. When you engage with them, they’re more likely to keep you in mind when they need a new logo, a fresh ad campaign or help establishing a professional website.

Surviving Recessions in the Design Industry

While there’s no doubt that times of economic uncertainty cause trouble for businesses in every industry, it doesn’t have to spell doom for your business. As a professional designer, you can recession-proof your business with wide-ranging services and loyal customer relationships. With the right preparation, you won’t just survive difficult financial times — your business with thrive.

About The Author

Eleanor Hecks is the Editor-in-Chief of Designerly Magazine, an online publication dedicated to providing in-depth content from the design and marketing industries. When she's not designing or writing code, you can find her exploring the outdoors with her husband and dog in their RV, burning calories at a local Zumba class, or curled up with a good book with her cats Gem and Cali.

You can find more of Eleanor's work at

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