Design—it is all around us. Stop reading for just a moment and look around you—every man-made item in your field of vision was designed by someone. Permeating our lives, good design is often not noticed while bad design drives us to frustration; the cell phone that hangs up when held against your ear in a particular manner is more often noticed than the one that functions flawlessly and lets you go on with the task at hand without bringing attention to itself. Yet even without noticing it, all design influences you.
Design impacts our daily lives. It can be found in a myriad of areas–from architecture to transportation to product design to graphic design (to name just a few). Sometimes design crosses into the realm of art and becomes something to look at and contemplate, to move people, to create controversy or to enrich lives. And while it is true that design shares a spark of creativity and innovation with art, most often design is much more specific—it is creativity deployed for a specific goal and that goal is usually one of solving a problem or communicating a message.
Graphic design, in particular, conveys messages in our modern media-centric society. There is a reason that corporations spend a lot of time and money coming up with a consistent and comprehensive branding strategy since graphic design strongly influences consumer perceptions and behavior. Perception is everything and the impressions and emotions communicated by a visual design can make a big difference in the success of a brand. A consistently applied visual identity is often first point of contact between your business and your potential customers; customers who, like all of us, make judgements in the blink of an eye and react emotionally. The perception of your brand by the viewer is almost always based upon an immediate reaction to the design—a gut feeling—rather than an analytical sorting through your company's product details and track record.
Good design—unique, beautiful, functional with grace and style—implies credibility. A survey in January 2011 by OnePoll of London found that 70% of people won't buy from a company with a badly designed website and a Stamford study found that for 46.2% of respondents the overall look and design websites was the number one factor in determining whether a site was credible. How do you want your audience to see you? What is the personality of your brand? Does your current visual identity convey all of this or are you hiring your nephew who laid out a newspaper in college to create your marketing materials? If you are, you may be losing a lot more than the $10 an hour you are paying him to create your business cards. Haphazard inconsistent branding looks and feels unprofessional and means you are winging it. Often the result is a loss of goodwill and trust and ultimately a tarnished brand and lost revenue from missing the mark.
Investing in your visual branding positions your company as a leader in your field. A good designer understands your company- your culture, your employees, your goals, your business strengths and, quite importantly, your competition. Cookie cutter template design just can't compare. Building a long-term face-to-face relationship with a designer builds trust and understanding of how to communicate to your audience, and yields better results as time goes on. A talented designer can help you separate your business from the rest with impeccably designed websites, corporate collateral and products that are compelling and allow you stand out and be seen. A consistent well thought out branding strategy brings credibility and visibly to your business and makes your brand memorable. You can't afford to ignore the influence of good design on your business.