Design can be a daunting thought for small business owners. When running a business, there is already not enough hours in the day, let alone having to master design. But rest assured, it doesn’t have to be scary and the rewards will make a world of difference to your business.
Great design not only has the power to transform your business, but it can help you gain greater visibility, attract new customers, add credibility and help to grow strong brand equity. So, it’s important to understand some fundamental dos and don’ts of design in order to harness its power and elevate your business.
RECOGNISE THE STRENGTH OF GOOD DESIGN
A strong, recognisable logo and differentiating look-and-feel will set you apart from your competition. Design is a powerful way to communicate to your customers who you are and what you stand for.
Your brand identity (logo, font and colours) will be used across all your marketing assets such as business cards, marketing materials, website and social media, packaging and merchandise. The strength of your design will play a large role in how people perceive and remember your business.
Design can take your business from “good” to “iconic”, leading to a higher perceived value of your products and services. Design not only creates fans of your business, but keeps them coming back.
KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE
Understanding your customer, or potential customer, is imperative to your design and marketing success.
Do some research as to where they shop, the brands they seek out, age groups and demographics and what they read. If your core customer is slightly older or has more traditional values, you would most likely create something that gives a more traditional or trustworthy feeling. Just as if your audience is younger, you could look to creating a fresher “look and feel”, something more contemporary that speaks to their likes and interests.
Knowing your customer will help guide your design decisions and assist in developing a strong brand that resonates with your desired customer.
KEEP IT CONSISTENT
Keeping your designs consistent across all your touch points will not only make your business look professional, but will give your customers confidence, add to your business credibility and will avoid confusing your customers.
Inconsistency or a confused, messy design can lead to customers going to another business that is better designed, as they feel it is more credible. So, keep your logo, fonts, colours, and messaging consistent. All of these design elements work together to elevate the perception of your business and help to make your brand more recognisable.
USE COLOUR CAREFULLY
Just like choosing a colour scheme for our house, choosing colours for our business or brand can feel daunting.
Colour plays a huge psychological role in how your business is perceived, so don’t choose colours that you personally love the most. Rather, choose colours that elicit the right response for your customers and match the personality of your business. Warm colours such as reds, yellows and oranges are seen as dynamic, energetic and confident. Orange is attention grabbing and seen as optimistic and creative. While yellow is seen as joyful, warm and happy. Or maybe you want your business to be seen as more traditional, dependable, stable or calm, in which case you may choose colours in blue and green hues.
When it comes to your business logo, keep your palette limited to a few colours and 3-5 for your brand colours. This will assist in keeping your brand look consistent and more recognisable on packaging, marketing materials and your website.
USE TOO MANY FONTS
When choosing fonts, keep it simple (and no comic sans please). Aim for no more than three weights of the same font (bold, regular, light) and look to maintain the spacing between your letters.
Fonts are a powerful visual design element that can quickly communicate the tone of your business in a single glance. Do you want your business to be seen as confident, dependable, classic, or maybe elegant? Then look at using Serif fonts. Or maybe your tone is more friendly or casual? Then using a Script font could work best.
Don’t choose “trendy” fonts as they can date quickly. Don’t mix too many different style fonts. Don’t use obscure fonts as they may not read on everyone’s computers. Don’t use too ornate fonts for legibility.
UNDERESTIMATE NEGATIVE/WHITE SPACE
We often have a tendency to want to fill space with as much information as possible. But it is important to give your design, branding and communication space to “breathe”. Leaving more white space can also give the feeling of a more premium product, and who doesn’t want that?
BE AFRAID TO ASK FOR EXPERT ADVISE
No one knows your business like you do. But when it comes to design and branding, if in doubt, get some advice.
Good design is fundamental to establishing a credible and desirable brand. And a design expert doesn’t have to cost the earth, you can use tools like 99designs by Vista to find a designer to help you to bring your business to life. They can help to create the visual representation of who you are, what you do and what you stand for, taking your business to the next level.
Shandor Gancs, International Creative Director at Vista