Your website, business cards and any other visual information you choose to produce are your opportunity to connect with your customers. When it comes to your business, chances are your customers will judge a book by its cover. The visual image that you present has a huge impact on how your business is perceived by the outside world.
Use badly designed, generic or amateurish-looking graphics for your promotional materials, and people will make assumptions about your level of professionalism, and your success in the marketplace. Use attractive, professionally designed visuals, and even if you are a one-person operation, you can portray an image of professionalism and efficiency.
If, like many small business owners, you don’t have an in house design or marketing team, you are likely faced with the choice of doing the job yourself, or outsourcing. Unless you are a graphic designer by trade, doing it yourself is not recommended, so that leaves outsourcing as the main option. Make sure that when you pick your designer, or design studio, that they are clearly briefed on the scope of your project and that you are operating on the same wavelength – or you can end up with a lot of unnecessary expense and frustration.
When working with an outside professional, you will first need to determine what your brand identity is going to be. What message do you want to communicate to your customers? What emotions do you want them to associate with your business? If you think that graphic design is all about making things look pretty, you are missing a great opportunity to really communicate with the public, and demonstrate what is unique and special about your business.
Some things to think about when deciding your visual strategy include colour, font, any words or slogans that will be associated with your business, and the design itself. What you end up with will depend on the qualities and emotions you want your business to represent.
A financial services business owner who wants to portray the idea of stability and reliability will use a completely different set of colours and fonts to a kids’ party entertainer, who wants to give the impression of fun and energy. Make sure what you decide is appropriate to your industry, and your customers’ expectations of your product or service.
Whatever brand identity you choose for your business, it is important that it is applied consistently across your different marketing channels, and even within your office. Using your visual branding among your staff can help to reinforce the message to them and keep them focused.
Where possible, once you have found the right image, try to stick with it. Changing branding too often can confuse your customers and may make you seem inconsistent. This is why it is so important to find the right designer from the start. Once designed, it is going to be extremely difficult, not to mention expensive, to change your entire business’ visual image.