Design for your business

7 things to know before you spend any money on design

We’ve been in this business a long time, and we’ve worked with countless clients who’ve come to us after investing time and resources somewhere else. They left their previous agency or designer because they weren’t happy with the results. Sometime, the issue was quality or expertise, but all too often, they also lacked a sense of what it was they were buying, and what their expectations should be from the process. Far from a simple purchase, design projects tend to be lengthy discussions which require resources from the purchaser proportional to the size of the project. In this article I’ll lay out some of the basics of what design is, and how it works, so that you can know what to ask, and what to expect in your next design project.

  1. Your brand is going to evolve over time. Choose a good partner

    Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither will your brand or marketing machine magically blink into existence. You’ll build it over time and to a plan, adjusting along the way as you get new data and objectives, and as the competitive landscape changes. Having a strong partner by your side will help you to hit the right mark on each component you add to your marketing machine.

  2. Consistency is important

    Your customers want a relationship --It’s how humans understand the world. If you can present a consistent image to your customers, they’ll start to recognize you, trust you like a friend, and if you treat them well, they won’t want to leave. It's branding, but it's also much more.

    The big idea behind branding is to create something that is recognizable enough, that when people have had a positive experience with it in the past, they will be able to distinguish it from its competitors in the future when they want that positive experience again. As an example, you have the concept of a logo that marks your product and identifies it as uniquely yours.

    That same concept works for things beyond logos. It's at play in jingles, in architecture and store decoration. It's at play in every way a customer interacts with your company. It's the driving force behind the relationships we develop directly with our customers, and the personification of your business within your customers minds.

    The mechanism at work here is part of our primitive brain -- The part that recognizes bad experiences and avoids them, and which recognizes good experiences and seeks them out. It's subconscious, it develops over time, and it isn't always reasonable. A bad experience that results from lack of planning is just as bad as a bad experience that results from deliberate neglect. That bad feeling occurs at the gut level, and it's hard to shake.

    Successful businesses need to consider each way that their customer interacts with them, develop a strategy, identify problem areas, and take steps to improve the consistency of their experience at each customer engagement. By continuous improvement, and a dedication to removing bad experiences, your likelihood of turning that customer into a repeat buyer and an advocate for your business increases. And your marketing efficiency and profits along with it.

  3. Designing the entire customer journey is the goal.

    You need to think through the experience your customers have, and the expectations that you set along the way to build their trust and loyalty. One bad step can be disastrous for your business -- a confusing website might waste all of the money you've spent to attract visitors to it, and a bad logo might make those promotional products you applied it to less likely to be kept around.

    Design can play a role in many aspects of your business, though you may not find all the skills you need in one place. A design consultancy focused on the web might not have expertise in interior design, while a firm specializing in mobile apps, might not be able to advise you on packaging. As a business owner, you need to look at your particular customer interactions and engage with experts in those areas that are most critical to your business success.

  4. Being different gets you noticed.

    If you’re looking at your nearest competitor as a model of what you should be doing, you’re doing it wrong. Branding is not about sameness, it's about distinctiveness. You need to be authentic to your true values, and you need to tell your customers why they should pick you instead of the other guy.

    Now being authentic is a simple thing to say, and often a difficult thing to accomplish in the real world. There's a subtlety to it that requires an experienced eye, and sometimes, there might not be an optimal choice in front of you. At Hi. we're in the business of giving you good choices that match your needs and which ring with your authentic voice, so you're not forced to make the most of a bad crop of ideas.

  5. Be everywhere (that makes sense).

    The trick with classical advertising was repetition. Staying top of mind with your customers so they’d think of you when they had a need. These days, media is so fractured and people have so much choice that you can’t expect to buy a TV ad and reach everyone. You need to be everywhere, and you need to have content that attracts.

    If Social Media has done one thing, it has given consumers more choice about the messages they receive. In order to capture attention, you need to focus on creating quality content that draws people to it naturally and through genuine interest. The days of paying to interrupt people are drawing to a close, and as they do, people are less willing to put up with the interuption.

  6. You can do a lot of this yourself, if you have time and talent

    Most people who start their own business are smart and creative --that's most of what's necessary to be a good designer. What most business people aren't, however, is awash with free time. And free time is the one commodity required when you need to figure things out on your own.

    An expert, by their very nature, has spent years of their time honing their craft, and learning the tactics and strategies to effectively and efficiently prosecute their work. When you hire expertise, you gain access to all of that accumulated knowledge, and you can have the results immediately.

    You'll find a common sales-pitch in the market that, for a small fee, some company will sell you the tools so that you can do the work yourself. It's a great pitch, and it sounds like real value. But it's been my experience that the time and energy involved in learning and using those tools has to come from somewhere, and often there's no good place to take from.

    My recommendation to any business person is to be as involved in your companies design work as you are able, but to entrust skilled hands to carry it out. You'll move faster with less waste, you'll get an outside perspective, and above all, you'll free up time to do the things in your business that only you can do.

  7. Talent and experience are always worth the money, over time.

    The old adage is mostly true, “you get what you pay for”. On a one-off engagement, you can get lucky. You can get unlucky too. They both take your time, and they both require resources from your business. Paying for talent and experience just skews your results towards the ‘lucky’ pile more often, and it lets you be more efficient in your time and resources over the long term. If you’re building the foundation that your whole business will rest upon, pick the best you can afford and amortize the cost over the years you’ll reap the rewards.

About us.

At Hi. Creative Agency, we want your customers to fall in love with your business. We know that through the design of your customer’s experience, we can weight the averages in your favour and lead to improved customer loyalty, and profitability. In short, design can help your customers to fall in love.

Give us a call and find out how