Why professional design makes good business sense in a slow economy


In slow economies, it is common that the first budget cuts in businesses are in the marketing and design departments. Perhaps it’s because these matters are perceived to be artistic and not essential to business. It is precisely in these economic climates that professional graphic design is needed more so, as the fight to earn an audience’s attention and to differentiate your company can become aggressive with fewer buyers to market to.

You can’t be a player if you’re not even in the league

They say, “You only get one chance to make an first impression”. When market competition is high, the company that utilizes good professional design is often, at the very least – a consideration. Think about it this way: you are in the market to buy a hot tub and you began your research on the web as most of us do. You find many hot tub companies on-line but which ones stuck out? Were they the “Mom and Pop” shops that had outdated looking websites or did you just click right past those before even looking at the product? Those companies that had appealing graphics and functionally designed websites were at least under consideration while those that did not, were cut.

Consumers are less willing to gamble

In slow economic climates, we all are less willing to take chances with our money. Good design fosters a sense of trustworthiness and consistency that is desirable especially in a slow economy. This is how it works: Because design communicates everything about your company visually, it is assumed that what your image visually says about your company will be projected throughout all touch-points of your business. If it aligns with your product and company, then we trust that we are making the correct decision and are more willing to choose this company over one that is misaligned with it’s product.

Let me illustrate: You are in the market for a luxury vacation condo in Maui and you like a modern style with clean lines. You reach out to the developer’s sales team and they are quick to respond, are knowledgeable, the condo location is pretty good and the architecture sounds like what you are looking for so you request a formal sales package. When it arrives, it is not what you expect. The folder is a regular white folder bought from a stationary store. Inside you find a business card with the condo logo on it – it looks nice but projects an old-world, fussy feel to it rather than a modern, sleek feel that you expected. The card has no personality and except for the logo, gives no indication as to what style to expect from the condo and furthermore, it is printed on typical, inexpensive paper stock. Inside, you find some floor plans and assorted building information documents branded simply with the logo on top and fonts that match the logo. There is also a simple sale brochure with charts made in Word and an image of a pineapple field (it is Maui after all) in the background with the information typed over top of it. It is difficult to read, as the font is large – too large.

All of the information is certainly supplied to you but it is the way in which the materials are presented that will stick out in your mind the most. It is likely that you will question whether to trust this Developer as the product is not consistent with what you are seeking or what the sales team had explained. This Developer has lost a potential customer because having a great product and an outstanding sale staff is not enough if the image you are projecting is inconsistent with the product.

Now picture the same scenario like this: You pick up the folder and it is a crisp white thick cotton folder that has a classy but minimal design that includes a modern pineapple pattern subtly embossed on it (it is Maui after all) and in the center is a logo with silver foil that is simple and reflects the feeling of the architecture. It’s luxurious and makes you want to touch it and open the folder. Once you have opened the folder it contains the same items that the other one did – but they look different. The folder contains a beautifully styled brochure with a colour palette of soft ocean blues except on the inside cover where there is a stylish professional photo of a pineapple field behind an ocean blue semi-transparent piece of paper that has a simple tagline that relays a tranquil feeling of Maui. It contains all the same information as the other brochure except it includes one more thing – it makes you feel how the product is different from the rest. It aligns with what the sales person discussed and makes you feel like this is a quality developer that you can trust – good design will do that.

Think of good design as a company’s advocate whose purpose is to visually communicate who and what your company is. When that message is communicated correctly, it will result in increased company visibility, and project trustworthiness and consistency all of which are more important to consumers when money is tight. A professionally designed marketing tool will cost more to produce, but you will have to ask yourself, how much is visibility, credibility and consistency worth to your business in a slow economy and can you afford to not have good design?

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