ADVENT 8: How to make your business image show you care.

This is Day 8 of the Advent Calendar for 2015. Open more doors here >>

Business owners need to realize that their design is a reflection of their business even if it is not intentional. If you don’t care about your design then your design is telling people that you don’t care about your business.”  – Marco Suarez

It may come as no surprise that I agree with this! In fact, I’ve blogged on this very subject before. Whether you give it your attention of not, the design of your logo, those leaflets, your website, the images that you populate social media with and the business cards that you hand out at networking events are all giving off an impression of your business – is it a reflection of your business that you’re happy to give out?

If you have blue business cards with mountains on (don’t tell me you’ve not seen one of those?), if you put your leaflet together with word art or even if your website has all the right information but looks shoddy, then as the quote says – “your design is telling people that you don’t care about your business” – and if that’s how you feel about your business, how would you treat them and why on earth should they work with you?

So what can you do about it?

impression-01

REVIEW IT

Well, you need to look closely at all the design work that you have for your business and see what you think of it. Get it all out, lay it on the table, get your computer on to look at the online elements and see what it looks like. Note where it’s disjointed, note where you’ve been consistent with it and also what you like and what you don’t like. That’s the beginnings of a plan. Where you’re been consistent is the stuff you should keep to begin with. The areas which are disjointed are the places to attack right away and the stuff you like and stuff you don’t, that’s your guide to what to keep and what to throw away.

But wait! You’re not done yet. Now that you’ve analysed the items that you have in front of you and identified the problem areas you could simply use this information to cut corners and create design which has the same look in the future, but as my Mam says “if a job’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well”, so why not do it properly?

WHO IS IT FOR?

Take a step back. WHO are your clients? Who do you work with and enjoy working with and who pays the bills? Knowing who your clients are is a good place to start as you will need to be thinking about them when you’re creating your business image, so get a handle on this now. For me this is an entrepreneur who has a brilliant existing business and feels that their business image isn’t cutting the mustard any more. Maybe their business has changed direction, has a different audience or they are wanting to attract a different audience which their current business image is not doing. They might even feel embarrassed to hand out their business cards. Having a rubbish business image is impacting on the business as their image doesn’t reflect what they do, doesn’t instil trust or confidence and the business owner isn’t confident either. This is where I come in, change things and inject some oomph so that the business is able to attract more of the right clients, look the part and stand out. You can read more about this here.

Once you know who your ideal client is you’ll find the rest of the process so much easier!

QUESTIONS, QUESTIONS

The next thing to do is to ask yourself a lot of questions about your business so that you can get clear on it – or if it’s not just you to help you seek clarity between yourselves. The best way to do this is to download my free Design Success Toolkit and work through Part One: The Brief.

Get it here:

YOUR LOGO

Take a look at this. Is it professional? Does it communicate what you do? Does it stand out? Do your audience resonate with it? Is it memorable? Is it attractive to your clients?

If the answer is yes – and it might be – often people have a logo created and then create everything else themselves – then you’re good to progress to the next stage. If not, then you can either hire a designer to make a brilliant logo for you that truly encapsulates what you’re all about or if your budget is really tight you could try something like the Squarespace logo maker for an easy but generic logo (use the checklist in the Design Success Toolkit to help). Of course I’m going to suggest that hiring a professional is the best route to go down, worth the investment, worth saving up for or asking about a payment plan. This is because a real person will take the time to get to know your business and t0 create something which knocks your competition out of the park by capturing your business perfectly. See my Why Bother? series for more on why you should bother with your design and branding.

YOUR GUIDE

Once your logo is cracked, you’ll need to make some decisions about how your brand is going to look. These include:

  • What fonts you’re going to use, inluding the size you’re going to use it at, the colours to use it in and the hierarchy for headings, sub headings, body copy and call to action text.
  • What colours you’re going to use. It’s useful to note these in RGB (for screen use) and in CMYK (for print) if you can.
  • What additional features you’re going to use, ie, maybe there’ll always be a pink triangle in the bottom right hand corner, or maybe you have a library of illustrations to pull out that all fit the same look.
  • What style of photography you’re going to use – colour, black and white, saturated, on a white background, in nature, with a toy fox in each photograph, with space to the left to write in.

Don’t tackle any of these areas without thinking:

  • Does this appeal to my audience?
  • Does this give the right impression of my business?
  • Does this convey my values?
  • Does this help to support my message?

When you’ve finished, write it all down and keep it somewhere where you can refer to it every time you create a design.

In conclusion, your business image says something about your business to others whether you’ve designed it that way or not. To be in complete control you need to review where you’re at, work out who your client is, think about your business and work out your values, what it is that you do, how you want people to feel etc… and then create a logo whjich encompasses that and a guide you can follow so that you always give off the right impression and always look professional and consistent so that people know you care about your business.

 

In the comments: How does your business image show that you care?

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