Does Graphic Design Matter?

Who do you trust more? Which is the larger, more established company? Why? You tell me, does design matter?

One of my clients sent me a Word document that needed graphic design work. I opened it and just gasped. The client had recently had me rework their logo. I decided their flyers and desktop print collateral also needed some work. You can see why below:


Before - flyer

This wasn't awful, it was just dated. 

After Flyer

Who do you trust more? Which is the larger, more established company? Why? You tell me, does design matter? (Both files were created with a normal desktop publishing suite.)

Just because you own software that does what graphic designers do, does not mean that it's a good idea to use it. It might seem like a ridiculous expense, but well-designed materials can make a huge difference in your sales and marketing efforts. In this day and age when the cost of customer acquisition is rising, you need to think about making the investment in good design. 

Do not let the sign company design your logo

This is a common thing I see with small businesses. If you need a logo then you need to have a graphic designer do the files. You need a one-color, a two-color and a four-color version. You might need a stacked version. You also need transparent versions of the logo for web and one-color reversed versions of the logo. You need to know what typefaces were used in the logo.  The logo should not be too wide and skinny or too tall and narrow or it will be unusable. The footprint of the logo should have a standard aspect ratio. That means that it will be 3:2 in most cases. You need a standards manual of some type, and vector files. Just because a file is a pdf or an eps does not make it vector. Make sure it is vector. Vector files can be resized and scale up and are used in promotional products and signs a lot. They are also used in high resolution web graphics. Your standards manual will tell you what your colors are. 

Keep your graphic design consistent

Other common files you might need designed as a small business are: 

• postcards

• business cards

• social media profile images

• packaging files

• signage

• promotional items

• brochures

• folders

A lot of small businesses will try to let the printing company do their design, much like a sign company. The problem with that is that the branding becomes inconsistent. Colors will not match. Typeface usage will not be coherent. While it's perfectly acceptable to use a couple of styles for different types of content, you want your pieces to all work together. It matters. Your graphic design needs to be consistent. 

I've had clients argue that the fine details aren't even seen, but they are perceived whether they are seen are not. 

Keep your graphic design fresh

If you have had design work done for you in the past, don't be afraid to update your look. If your design looks like 1987, chances are it's time to consider it. Many times when we are working on a web site we will update a client's look and that look then needs to be reflected across their other marketing materials. It's great to work with one shop that can do that. 

If you need help with your graphic design, let us know. We are glad to help. But by all means, make sure you get design help somewhere. Don't lose sales because of bad design. 

About the Author

Anne Miles is the owner and Toad-in-Chief at Red Toad Media. A trained graphic designer, Anne has been a speaker at WordCamp and the IRCE Digital Design Conference. She has been interviewed by Inc Magazine and the Wall Street Journal and published a contribution for Smashing Magazine, one of the top web design blogs in the world. You can follow her on Twitter at @redtoadmedia

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