If you run a business, you already know the importance of constant improvement. Finding ways to better serve your customers, stand apart from the competition and increase sales are all top priorities. However, you may be surprised to hear that graphic design can do all these things for your business.
While many people think design is simply about making things look visually appealing, effective design goes beyond aesthetics. In this article we’ll go over concepts that can transform your designs from simply looking good to serving as effective growth tools.
One business that has benefitted from good design is Honest Tea. While the brand has always attracted a core group of health-conscious tea drinkers, it struggled to find success beyond that market.
Many people were turned off by Honest Tea’s image, believing that its tea was boring and flavorless. Honest Tea decided to change people’s minds by redesigning its packaging to show that the tea was both healthy and delicious. This entailed incorporating honey-related imagery more prominently, moving its tagline “Just a tad sweet” to the top of the label and noting in the main design that the tea is organic.
Their efforts were rewarded with a phenomenal 64 percent increase in sales the following year.
Right now, you might be thinking “Good for them, but how does this help increase sales in my business?” After all, you probably aren’t selling tea. Maybe you don’t sell physical products at all. But, the same graphic design principles that made Honest Tea’s packaging successful can be applied to your business as well.
One of the most important aspects of design is the research that goes on behind the scenes. Before any imagery or type is laid out, designers spend time working with their clients to define specific goals and research how to achieve them. This ensures that their graphic design decisions are based on facts and data, rather than on a creative whim or personal taste.
In the case of Honest Tea, its goal was to reach a larger audience and increase sales. From there, the team researched its new target audience and developed design concepts that appealed to them while still staying true to its core demographic. This set the foundation for its entire packaging redesign.
In your own business, it’s important to consider your intentions before starting any new graphic design projects. Once you define your goals, your designer can effectively research a variety of ways to achieve them. This way, all the visuals created will be in line with your objectives.
Design is similar to cooking. Everyone has different flavors that they prefer, but there are underlying traits that all good dishes share. So, in the same way that well-prepared pizza is loved by many and disliked by some, your business’s logo will have fans and detractors alike. But, nobody likes burned pizza ... or a poorly designed logo. If a business’s design materials aren’t created by a skilled designer, would-be customers will be turned off by its unprofessional image.
Conversely, good design instills trust and confidence in potential customers. It shows that your business pays attention to details and that quality matters to you. The key here is to work with designers who have a solid understanding of design principles and the technical skills necessary to create graphic designs that are both visually appealing and effective.
Much of Honest Tea’s success came from identifying that one of their product’s benefits (its good taste) was being overlooked by the market and finding a way to communicate it more clearly. The company did this by making its tagline more prominent. It’s a perfect example of why visual hierarchy is so important in design.
Visual hierarchy is similar to storytelling. When an author plans the order in which a story’s events unfold, a reader will be taken on a journey and understand the story. But, if the story is read out of order, the reader will likely be confused. In this same way, designers use visual cues to guide a viewer’s eyes through a design in a logical, ordered way.
When starting a new project, your designer will help you figure out the best order in which to present the information. While working on the layout, they will adjust the size, color, positioning of the text, shapes and images to make sure that the information is presented in the right sequence. This ensures your message is being communicated clearly.
Just like people, all businesses are unique. Even within the same industry, each business will have a distinct personality. Choosing to express your business’s unique traits visually makes you more memorable to your customers, while adding a layer of connection to your interactions. In a crowded market, this can be a great way to differentiate your business and stand apart from the competition.
So, how is graphic design used to express your business’s distinct voice? First, a good designer will take you through a Q&A process to find out what makes your business unique. Maybe you’re an auto repair shop that has the most knowledgeable, friendliest and fastest-working mechanics in town. Your designer will create a visual identity that uses color, imagery and typography to convey these themes. That way, when customers come in for an oil change, they will also get a visual experience that connects them to your business’s personality and values.
Part of what made Honest Tea’s redesign so successful was the addition of appealing illustrations of their ingredients. Just looking at them brings on a thirst for some delicious tea. Obviously, if your business is a doctor’s office, adding raspberries or oranges to advertising will only confuse patients. In contrast, imagery that evokes a sense of cleanliness and compassion will put patients in the right frame of mind to seek your care. The bottom line: Think of what sensations and emotions you’d like your customers to associate with your brand and ask your designer to find ways to express those emotions visually.
By using these four concepts, you’ll see how quality design can increase the number of new customers who knock on your door and strengthen the relationships your existing customers have with your business.
Do you have any graphic design tips to add to our list? Contribute to this discussion in the comments section below!