Crikey no, that’s not the case at all. Good design is based on the designer you work with understanding you, your business, what you are trying to achieve and most importantly are like-minded and feel comfortable with each other.
There is a misconception that design is purely visual, making your communication look pretty – but good design is more than that. Yes, it is about making your brand visually appealing to your audience, but there is also understanding the theory behind a customer’s purchasing decisions. This may sound like its going to cost your business thousands, but it doesn’t have to, hiring the right designer will help you understand your audience while delivering well designed marketing material.
Design is often seen in two areas; how it looks and how it feels. This focuses on the aesthetics and the tactile qualities of your brand’s communication – leaflets, email campaigns, website etc. How it looks is very important, 50% of our brain is engineered for visual processing and 70% of all our sensory receptors are in our eyes – so design should grab the attention of your audience. Microsoft did a study in 2016 which found that our attention span has gone from 12 seconds to less than that of a gold fish, so immediate impact is important to your customers. Don’t get me wrong, as a designer I love searching for the right paper stock or beautiful imagery to help a brand's message get out there. But for it to be good design you have to look further than visual and tactile qualities, you have to think about how it works.
How it works is split into two areas, relationships with the business owner and understanding their audiences.
Creating strong relationships with you, the business owner gives a designer a greater understanding of their; aspirations, core values, product or service and future goals. By understanding what’s important to you a designer will be more informed on supporting you to deliver your message using the right deliverable, sometimes a hard sell isn’t always the best way to market a product. This for me is the most valuable and enjoyable part of the design process, it’s where you forge good working relationships over a cup of tea and cake. Or maybe something a little stronger like a G&T, I’ll never say no to a gin.
Only once a designer understands a business can they effectively communicate to the target audience – without research, design is just pretty. Research doesn’t have to include focus groups, paying for demographic research, a lot of it comes with a good designers experience and spending the time to understand the business. To establish a business’s target audience, the designer will research the market place and positioning, from this your target audience will be defined as well as any new customers you could reach. You don’t need big budgets to make sure your communications are targeted to your audience, you need to hire the right designer.
Good design is relevant, captivates an audience and delivers a return on investment for the business.
A great example of this is the lifestyle brand Loaf, they are a large brand now but they started from humble beginnings. They focused on how it works to define who they are in the high end furniture market place. Of course visually they are stunning (this can’t be designed, even if their furniture isn’t to your taste), great art direction for their photography and well thought customer journeys, but all of this filters down from the initial research undertaken by the brand team.
Embracing their target audience, they created a brand which appeals to them directly but transcends all regional expectations, but most importantly they broke the mould of what is expected. By focusing on their distinctive brand personality, this was more than how they sound, it came through their photography style, customer touch points, brochure design etc - they understand what their customers want and expect. They are honest, simple and a little cheeky with all their communication, which makes them memorable and a desirable purchase, meaning great customer experience which in turn achieves the best form of marketing a business could ask for – word of mouth – which has helped to grow their brand to what it is today.
Every project I work on I use the above method, how it works, is for me the most important part of the design process. I involve you at every stage, helping you understand your audience which helps you develop your business ideas as well as helps us both communicate your products effectively to your audience. I visit your business premises (if you have any), sample your product or service, research the local area, direct competition as well as aspirational competition. I’ll create mood boards, share my findings with you so we decide on your brand’s direction together – no long wait for a big scary reveal that could be way off. We then discuss the tactile nature of your brand, discuss paper samples, print finishes such as foil blocking or animation we can achieve through your online marketing. By working together you will have a brand, design or message that you love and believe in which then you’ll be dying to share.
If you’d like to find out more on how good design can help your business – I'd love to meet up.