Brand: ‘Good’ design leaves a good impression.
First impressions count in business. But what message or impression are you currently sending to the market about your respective business through your communication tools, marketing campaigns, messages and channels? And is it the ‘right’ message for your business?
Second impressions count too of course, but they tend to be more expensive, require more time, more resources, and much more effort to redeem the initial missed opportunity. It therefore pays to BE smart and send the right message first time around.
It all boils down to effective brand communication – and from a brand perspective this can be split into two distinct parts – your brand voice (tone, manner, character/personality, style) and your brand visuals (identity, logo, colour, form, type, photos, imagery etc..).
With a focus on your brands visual assets, one way you can capitalise on maximising your first impression is through ‘good’ (read ‘effective’ or ‘engaging’) visual or graphic design. Often referred to as identity design (which includes your logo), it is the visual expression of your values, vision, mission and purpose in tangible form. Why the need to invest in visual assets at all? Put yourself in your customers shoes for a minute. Just because you may not see the value in it, doesn’t mean that your customer won’t. Chances are, the vast majority of your customers will come into contact with your business or brand well before they even meet you – if they ever do meet you. It might be a referral; a passed on business card; a book; a sales brochure or most likely an online platform or profile. Investing in professional graphic design services at any one of these points will ensure you’re not only sending the right and consistent visual message about your business but also conveying the value you offer to these customers when they encounter one of your brand touch points. Failing to understand the power of effective graphic design in these critical customer ‘moments’ is a missed opportunity not only on a communication level but also on a financial level. We only get one chance in life to make the best first impression with prospects. Smart businesses understand and leverage this power. Be bold, invest in your brand and perfect that perception.
Increasing the ‘perceived value’ of your business through engaging graphic design, and invoking an emotional connection with your brand, whether its through upgraded packaging design, an identity refresh for a more modern and affluent customer, an overhaul of internal communication tools to improve culture and productivity, a redesign of signage, modernisation of vehicle fleet livery, improvement of your website design/layout or visual consistency across your social media platforms – anywhere your customer comes into contact with your business – these are all highly effective ways of elevating the perception and ‘value’ of your brand in the eyes and mind of your customer.
The goal? To gain valuable trust. Leaving as good an impression as possible helps build positive customer sentiment and rapport, which in turn provides certainty in your brand that it delivers on your brand promise and allays any customer fears or doubts. Ultimately its the development of trust between you and your customer that is the desired outcome for ongoing revenue.
First impressions are more important than ever before for businesses and brands online. A whole new virtual world has opened up before us. The battle to make the most of that decisive initial customer ‘moment’ when they first visit a website is intense – it’s the real brand ‘acid test’, where perceptions are formed and brands are either celebrated or rejected on the tactical level: the winners and losers of the digital battlefield.
This online demand is reflected in a recent client website design brief that simply requested the ‘wow factor’ when a customer visits their website. Suffice to say, it was necessary to clarify what that ‘wow factor’ actually meant from the clients’ point of view because design is so subjective: what is ‘wow’ to some may be ‘no way’ to others. That’s where the beauty and value of a creative brief comes into play (more on this in a future blog).
Statistics suggest you only have 2 to 3 seconds to convince new website visitors that you’re the right provider for them. Pass that acid test and you then have an additional 10 to 20 seconds to give an online viewer some ‘meat’ in your website to convince them to stay, never mind actually engage with or purchase something from you. Fall at these hurdles and your customer moves on, never to return.
As cut-throat as this may seem, fear not for you cannot be all things to all people, nor should you aim to be. Be shrewd. One option is to work smarter and reduce those odds by building a brand blueprint that ensures your brand is more visually appealing to ideal customer. Investing in ‘good’ design can help you create the best first impression you can from the beginning. By ‘good’ design, I mean effectively designed and consistent visuals that are based on sound design principles and geared to engage, attract and influence the user, or persuade and compel a specific action. Design isn’t about making things look ‘pretty’ or ‘high impact’; effective commercial graphic design is about the science of art – harnessing a deep understanding of human communication, psychology and subconscious thought – ‘thinking made visual’. Much like Marketing, Design should be an accountable tool for businesses these days too.
In this way, design ‘done right’ can elevate your brand and communicate an effective visual message to your preferred customer.
This shift to a more intuitive website design and customer experience is driven mainly due to the undeniable fact that more and more customers are spending their time and living their lives online through their FB accounts, blogs, vlogs and, of course, on their smartphones. The result? Aside from higher expectations and response rates from increased online activity, communication and enquiries, many businesses and brands have identified they need to be online, if not exist 100% in the online space, to capture existing markets and extend their reach to new users. The old saying, ‘if you’re not online, you’re nowhere’ has never been more relevant.
To address this need to make the first best impression online, numerous online platforms have been developed (WIX, WordPress and Joomla among others) that streamline the design process and act as a useful framework for delivery and creation of effective design, user experience and visual communication assets. The problem is, of course, that as much as the business and business owner is empowered to create their own website, it still requires a design and marketing eye to send the right message to your customer. There is no substitute for a trained design ‘eye’ when it comes to expressing your brand online – yes, hiring a specialist can be expensive but so can hiring an amateur. Be aware – there are definitely different levels of design ability out there. Not all designers are the same. Ask do those designs you are presented with truly reflect your offering?
When expressing the visual aspect of your brand, any specialist or strategist worth their salt will make reference to brand touch points – these are any places where a customer potentially comes into contact with your brand or business. Your website is
a prime example of a major brand touch point, however its often some of your prospects first and only encounter with your business. It therefore pays to Be smart and ‘leave the best impression possible’ in this one instant or ‘brand moment’ to keep the customer coming back for more or so they may refer others to your website.
So how do you leave a good impression? Simple – one way is to invest in ‘good’, effective graphic design.
Be cautious: Don’t be fooled into thinking a ‘web designer’ can design effectively websites. They are skilled at building websites and coding, but designing visuals and engaging layouts that persuade viewers is not their forte.
‘Good’ design is a subjective topic, however a ‘good’ quality website will be intuitively designed in its use and navigation, it will be user-friendly, make an immediate visual impact i.e. effectively communicate a clear and intended visual message to a specific audience. To make it accountable a website should ideally create an emotional connection through image and text (a sprinkle of marketing can work wonders here) and be designed to influence and compel the viewer into a specific action.
Including an equally well-designed and visually consistent lead generation tool i.e. a downloadable checklist, a whitepaper, or a video are useful add-on conversion tools that should add visual value to your brand, increase your sales funnel performance and stimulate your database and boost your wider marketing efforts.
By contrast, ‘ineffective websites are often not read, trusted or visited for any length of time’. ‘Poor interface design tends to be associated with rapid rejection and mistrust of a website’. In many cases where the viewer did not like some aspect of the design the website ‘was often not explored further than the homepage and was not considered suitable for revisiting at a later date’.
So food for thought here. Want to leave a good impression for your online brand? Think about investing in ‘good’ graphic design to send the right message for smart business growth.
I hope you learned something new, insightful or useful from this blog.
As The Brand Entrepreneur, I believe in helping businesses build a ‘brand blueprint’ for business growth. I do this through a series of brand workshops designed to educate businesses to identify their identity, visualise their vision and manifest their brand mission. ’Successful brands in the future care about customers, not branding. I believe that future is now’. I’m passionate about helping businesses create unique brand stories & design assets that help brands get ‘in sync’ and connected to customers for business growth.
Jamie Thomas – The Brand Entrepreneur