Can you imagine telling Superman that his logo needs a slightly more blue tone and that the S needs to be replaced with an SM? You'd be a smoking pile of ashes before you could say "Is it a bird..."
Now I don't claim Superman to be a designer, but designers, believe it or not do know best about brands and image.
A company’s brand image is one of the most important visual aspects of any communication sent both internally and externally. Customer perception is impacted almost immediately by visual cues on your marketing collateral including your logo, image choices, colour schemes and iconography.
Worryingly, many start-ups and SMEs overlook this important aspect in their business communication and haphazardly put together a visual style based on personal preferences or what they can find on a Google search. Not only can this cause a negative impact on the quality of your brand, it can potentially drive customers away, reduce conversion rates and damage brand perception. Who hasn’t clicked a link, seen a clip-art logo and hit that back button like your life depended on it?
One of the biggest problems many designers face when working with smaller companies is that the company founder is heavily involved in the design process. This is a blessing and curse. The decision making process is usually smoother; there are no “I just need to email the person in charge to get the all clear” emails and their drive to make the brand the top competitor can lead to taking successful risks that larger companies would refuse. In most cases though, it means that they are fixated on the “idea” they have in their head for what their brand should look like. Unfortunately, 9 times out of 10 their idea is subjective, based on personal preferences and not on what can increase customer conversion, brand loyalty and perception, and coherent brand identity.
Objective Design Is Customer Orientated
The best way to combat subjective design is to focus on an objective design pipeline. Work with your designer to produce customer profiles that can keep the design focused on what the customer would like and not what you or your employees like. Setting aside an hour or two to create in-depth customer
profiles can lead to impactful design that targets the customers you want to reach. Think about their lifestyle, beliefs, income, likes and dislikes, anything that can affect how they perceive your brand. Then change the questions you ask at each design milestone. For example:
Do you like this colour scheme? = Bad
Would this colour scheme appeal to Jane? = Good
What do you think about this logo? = Bad
Would this logo grab Harry’s attention? = Good
Does this typography look good? = Bad
Would this typography improve readability for Diane? = Good
Framing questions in this sense will prevent personal preferences from ever entering the design process. It will prevent making choices based on what someone’s favourite colour is rather than on colour theory. Your favourite colour may be orange, but using an orange colour scheme for a dietary product would be foolish considering orange is known to stimulate a viewer’s hunger receptors. These are the pitfalls that can be avoided through objective design.
The Hard Truth: You’re Not A Designer
This can be the hardest thing for those closest to the brand to admit, but once you do, the process becomes a whole lot easier. A good designer understands that your new company is your “baby” and you have a plethora of ideas, but you’ve hired them for reason. Designers know what works and what doesn’t when it comes to brand design and so it follows suit that what they are suggesting to you is usually correct. If a designer is adamant that an idea will not work, they have probably seen it fail before. The work they are producing is not just for you, it will become their portfolio and so they want to see it succeed as much as you do. That amazing logo design you drew on a napkin may not translate well once factors such as print methods, resizing and customer targeting are taken into account.
To avoid getting the laser beam stare from your designer, remember what he's skilled at. Your designer is there to improve your brand image, pulling upon his knowledge and experience. Just as they wouldn’t come into your office and tell you how to run your business, try to step back and let them guide your brand design with you, rather than against you.