Now that we’ve spent some time talking about why good design matters, let’s talk about how you can implement elements of good design in your business.
The first step in thinking about good design is to remember that the big picture feeling is what you’re working towards. Before you begin developing or updating your design, make sure you’re taking the time to identify the core elements of your message.
First things first
An easy first step for accomplishing this is to write down the top five messages you want to send every client. What are the five things you want people to think or feel about your company?
Once you’ve got at least those core messages, you can get started.
How good is your logo design?
Begin by taking some time to focus on your logo. It’s one of the first things people notice and it appears everywhere you are; website, business cards, brochures, you name it. Unfortunately, the logo is often the most glossed-over part of a business. What most business owners don’t realize, is how important this small (but powerful) visual aid is to your marketing efforts.
Think about it: your logo is often the first—and only—impression your business gets from potential buyers. Remember, there are no second first impressions. So be sure that your logo follows the ten logo commandments.
Your logo is often the first—and only—impression you get. Click To Tweet
Here are some more tips to consider about your logo:
- Does it effectively convey your top five messages?
- Does it reflect your branding?
- Does it resonate with your intended audience?
- Is it something you can be proud of for years to come?
If not, consider redesigning it to more clearly communicate your message.
How about your website design?
Another way to improve how you communicate with customers has to do with the way people process your website. Research shows that there are two types of website visitors: scanners and readers. You need to design for both.
Additionally, it’s helpful to know that people tend to scan websites in an F shaped pattern—they’ll start at the top left-hand corner of your site, scan straight across, jump down to the middle of the page, scan across again, and then move back up to the corner and move downwards, forming an “F.” If the information is intriguing, the visitor will read more. If not, they’re gone.
Now think, have you ever consciously tried the F test on your website? How does it fare?
If you haven’t, go do it now. This is definitely one test you won’t want to flunk. 😉
When you look at your own site critically, be honest: were you captivated? Did you notice anything off-putting? Are there things you need to improve upon?
Your customers are going to see all the same elements, but the difference is they won’t give you the same grace you probably gave yourself. On average, a visitor scans a new website for less than 5 seconds before deciding if they’re going to stay or hit the “back” button.
This might be your first impression with them, so you need to make it count.
Websites tend to be chockfull of design elements, but the big ones you don’t want to ignore are
- Logo placement
- Any “above the fold” content
- Sliders and hero images
- Amount and flow of text
- Website navigation (menu)
Take stock of everything on your site that you feel is sending the right message, and everything that’s not. Now that you’ve got your top five list, this shouldn’t be too difficult.
If you have to wonder if something is sending the right message, chances are it’s not and you could do better. Work towards a design that echoes and expands on your top five messages consistently and from page to page.
Other marketing materials
So, your logo and website are the two biggies, but what about all your printed materials, like brochures and mailers?
This is a powerful concept, but it’s also a demanding one. You don’t necessarily know what a customer’s first interaction with you will be – and that’s ok – because when you’re consistent with your messaging, it doesn’t matter where they find you, since the message is the same.
For brochures, don’t be afraid to leave some blank space—it will actually benefit your message and your reader when you don’t try to say everything about your company all at once.
Remember… Your brochure is a conversation starter, not a monologue.
Use that space to answer unspoken questions, such as:
What do you do? What are the benefits to your clients? What makes you different? Why are you qualified?
And then shut up.
Please, keep your brochure content short and sweet. The most effective marketing materials are simple, descriptive, and beautiful to look at. If your printed piece does all this, your consumers might just pick it up and read it.
And finally, I want to mention business cards because I see a lot of the same mistakes made by laymen. Business cards are especially tricky because space is so limited.
Let that concept both challenge and reward you.
You don’t need to spend a ton of time on content because you need very little, but you do need the power pieces so prospects can take the next step.
That being said, not everything has to fit on a business card. In fact, most things people put on them isn’t really necessary and can actually take away from the impact of your card.
Have you ever seen a great business card design but it’s loaded down with someone’s name, title, address, email, website, office line, direct line, fax, social security number, bank account info…you get the point.
Your business card is not a novel, it’s a launching platform.
Ask yourself: what do I want people to do once they have my card? Do you want them to call you? Email you? Go to your website? Then that’s what goes on your card.
Your business card is not a novel, it’s a launching platform. Click To Tweet
When you’re creating your business identity or marketing materials, stay true to your message and goals. Your logo can’t do everything your website can and a mailer is not a substitute for a brochure.
Focus on sending your core messages as clearly as possible given the limitations of the particular piece and you can’t go wrong.
Do you feel like your company is sending your top five messages consistently? How? Have you ever experienced mixed messages from a company?