Running a business is expensive! The last thing many business owners want is the expense of a graphic designer. Sure, Microsoft Word has some pretty templates for laying out your brochures and flyers, and you can probably buy a logo from some website for a hundred bucks. These quick fix solutions will get the job done on the cheap.
However, doing this could actually be detrimental to your business in terms of attracting the right clientele. As a business, your visual materials, whether it be your logo, business card, informational brochures, fliers, or website, should be as high quality as the products or services behind them. Microsoft Word’s clip art just doesn’t cut it here.
What we are talking about is visual identity. Visual identity is defined as visible elements of a brand, such as color, form, and shape, which encapsulate and convey the symbolic meanings that cannot be imparted through words alone1. The design of your logo, stationary, business card, brochures, fliers, and website are all part of visual identity. Good or bad impressions of your company are projected through these materials. It’s important that they look sharp and consistent; otherwise, you might lose potential sales and customers.
Here are some basic tips to develop a strong visual identity:
Choose colors carefully and intentionally. Just because you like the color pink doesn’t mean you should use that color in the branding of your auto parts store. In this case, you would be sending out the wrong message of exactly who you are, what you do, and who should shop here.
Read up on color theory and educate yourself on what certain colors mean and do. There are even psychological effects of color that have been said to affect things like mood and appetite. For example, blue is associated with spirituality, thought, melancholy, calmness, cleanliness, and wisdom2. It is thought to be an appetite suppressant because it typically isn’t a natural color for food – perhaps a good thing to keep in mind when branding your restaurant.
A great resource for choosing colors is ColourLovers.com3. You can search thousands of harmonious color pallets on the website. You can even search for adjectives like “happy,” and up will pop combinations of colors that the creator feels embodies happiness.
Should your logo be an actual symbol or image? Ensure that it is relevant and that the meaning properly represents your core values as a business. Research on symbolism would make a great idea generator for logo imagery.
Typography is something that takes a very long time to master. A good rule of thumbs is to keep it simple. Do not include more than two fonts in your logo and throughout your visual identity. It will scream unprofessional. Some safe san-serif fonts to use are: Helvetica, Arial, Futura, Avenir, and Gill Sans. San-serif fonts are considered to be modern as opposed to their more “traditional” serif counterparts. Some good serif fonts to use are: Times New Roman, Garamond, Georgia, Clarendon, Minion Pro, and Mrs Eaves. Think about the nature of your business when choosing appropriate fonts.
Ultimately, some business owners may need to hire a graphic designer. A good designer will study and thoroughly understand your business, then create relevant and meaningful visual communications based on your core values, goals, and brand attributes.
Plain and simple – poorly designed materials are an indicator of a poor quality product. Spend the extra money to attract clientele that are willing to pay you what you know you’re worth. It will pay off in the long run.
For more information, visit:
1. BusinessDictionary.com: Visual Identity
2. Psychology @ Suite 101: Color Psychology – How Colors Affect Mood