As far as I'm aware we do not do any surveys once we create new designs beyond the people in the office and their friends (usually there are a few options and we pick our favorite, and generally it's pretty unanimous), though as I mentioned we pay a lot of attention to customer feedback on existing aesthetics through our dealers/distributors and directly with consumers at events, and our designers use this feedback to help focus their future work.
As far as the 'stains' there's a long story which I don't know the entirety of... I know that we'd been going with the simple equalizer tone-on-tone look for a couple years and had the new design as a bit of a shake-up for 2019, and I think it was all pretty finalized before everything went to shit with the branding. The 'stain' is (I'm pretty sure) actually a sublimated photo of a wave or something like that. However I don't think it came across on the product as well as we'd hoped, so it's not my favorite year for graphics, though I still thought the overall panel layout and colors were pretty good.
As far as outsourcing the graphics... We are a watersports company. We know how to design boards and kites and sails. That's our specialty. We could hire someone to just to do graphics but A. it's really expensive and B. one person doing graphics is not nearly as effective as a team of people who do this for a living. As I mentioned, it's an entire industry which requires research and commitment. 3Deluxe has teams of people and resources specifically for this type of thing so we can hire a team of theirs with all those resources already paid for to work part of their time on our projects. I tend to think that it is cheaper and has better end-results than hiring a full-time employee (remember employees are expensive, way more expensive than just their pre-tax salary... there's the work station, the design software, etc.) And as far as final cost per product, when you consider the volume of kites, boards, windsurf sails, wetsuits, harnesses, etc that we put out it's a very small investment to make sure that the aesthetics of our products excite/inspire/enthuse the end consumer as much as the actual design.
Absolutely we could save a few bucks by having someone from our marketing department come up with something but I think the end result when you have someone who really knows what they're doing putting in the work is noticeable. We make high-end sporting goods, no reason we shouldn't make them look it.
Also, as far as the white kites getting dirty... Totally a risk. I have a dealer who thinks he won't sell any of those kites because of that. Personally that's the only color I want for my demo quiver cause I think it's really good, especially in person, but that's why we have different color options.