From Steve P’s earlier article…When is it right to use… “big Box” vs “medium sized” verse “Boutique” firms?

Ok, then, big box firms it is!

depends on how many products and in what scale you develop. so if a firm has 20 people and develps 10 major products a year vs a 200000 employee company that turns out the same, then the former is definitely a big boxer and the latter is boutique!


Good question, and one I have contemplated while working for both boutique and Top Tier.

From a clients view I think many of them think that the boutique will be less expensive than the larger firms. However the reality of what I have seen is that the contracts fall with in a couple $100 regardless of size; as long as the deliverables are similar.

What it really boils down to is what the client is looking for. The persona is that with a boutique the clients engineering/marketing teams will have more control over the process, whereas the Big Box is hired more for their developmental methodology and marketing prestige.

I have also noticed that the small boutiques seem to attract more inventor types looking for design on royalty/partnership agreements. Whereas the larger more visible firms attract the fast moving companies looking for everything from full product launch (product, ads, trade show booth, etc) and branding support to “sketchbooks” (concept sketches only) of what their products and brand extensions might look like 5-10 years out.

To summarize what might be in the clients head:

More control over process
Less cost
Design is needed to help compete

Mid-Large Firm:
Firms methodology will improve product
Firms press will benefit our product exposure
Design is essential to the success of our product
Firms expertise is invaluable to the success

ML, excellent post.