Is your business material a reflection of who you are and what you do? Choosing a stock logo or design from a database that thousands of other people use does not give you individuality. There’s more to you than that! This is why when I meet new clients, I ask lots of questions until I have an idea of who you are which helps in the designing process. The more I know about you, the easier it is to create something that’s uniquely you. It’s important for me to know about you personally as well as getting to know your thoughts about your business, your clients and where you want to be in the future. Graphic Design is as much about the future as it is about the now.
Everybody’s heard the expression, “Too many cooks spoil the broth”. The saying basically means that if too many people are involved in a project, the results will not be great. It’s a similar story in the Graphic Design and Printing world. That’s why if you’re wanting a Direct Mail campaign, for example, it makes sense to hire one person who can handle all facets of that project. Targeted Direct Mail campaigns may involve purchasing precise mailing lists (annual income, age of children, price of house, etc.), creating the mailer, printing the piece and mailing it using very specific postal guidelines. When one person handles all of that, there’s less chance of errors and greater probability for success.
Are your current marketing materials getting your point across in a clear, concise and efficient manner? Business cards are meant to attract and provide avenues of contact, brochures are meant to tease and leave the audience wanting more and postcards and door hangers are meant as calls to action. None of these are meant to tell the whole story but they are meant to entice people to call. If any of these facets of marketing material don’t at least give an indication as to what it is you do or sell, your potential customers will be turned off and your marketing material will end up in the circular file. Carefully crafted collateral does its job when it makes the reader want to take action or, at the very least, to ask questions so they can make an informed decision. Having a vague company name or a business card that is missing key information doesn’t help someone remember you when they come home from a networking meeting with a stack of business cards. Clear communication is critical!
Take a look at the marketing material around you and see which printed pieces attract you and which ones you view negatively. Which items that come in your mail cause you to open the envelopes or flip the card to read the other side? If a person hands you marketing material that’s sloppy, has spelling or grammar errors or is a design nightmare, would you see them in the same light as the person whose collateral material is neat, well-designed, printed on high-quality paper and has enticing headlines? Which professional would you tend to trust more? As a society, we tend to give more weight to the people who present themselves expertly. We tend to view successful people as those who dress well, drive nice cars and have excellent presentation materials. While this may or may not be a predictable indicator of success, it’s perception that is often the reality of the situation.
I had met a certain client at the right time. She was in desperate need of new business cards and was unhappy with the job her last designer had done. After reviewing her current business cards, I immediately saw significant problems. The designer had, apparently, used the photo my client had provided without making any modifications. Rather than checking to see if the colors were set up for print or web (they use different color spaces and produce different results), the designer used a file with web color space. The reason this was obvious was that a file with web color space that is to be printed professionally will tend to shift colors red. In this case, my client’s face in her business card photo was beet red. This should have been an easy fix had the designer spent the time to carefully review the images that were given. There were other problems with the print job but when the redesign was complete and the client received her new business cards, it was apparent that she could now proudly hand out her new cards without fear of being asked about her ‘sunburn’.
Graphic Designers don’t have a stake in your business. They are not emotional about your marketing material and so they can offer an independent opinion as to the most effective way to market your business. You may be tied to a design that is outdated or isn’t efficient and that will do more harm than good for your image. Graphic Designers look at modern trends as well as your target audience and come up with strategies to guide you towards successful collateral material. The hardest designs I’ve ever done were for my own business because I’m emotionally invested. For clients, a global approach with a critical eye and a collaborative spirit leads to the most intriguing ideas.