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Posted 15 May 2019

Why Good Design Is More Important Than Ever For Your Business

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As we enter into a new golden age of design, good design has never been more important to the success of a business. Consumer awareness of good design is at an all-time high, thanks to companies like AppleTarget, and Starbucks, who make design a top priority.

The most successful companies know there are compelling reasons to prioritize design to improve the odds of success. Good design creates meaningful first impressions, helps you differentiate yourself from your competitors, can solve problems, and boosts brand awareness and the bottom line.

Why should your startup or small business invest in quality design? Let us count the ways…

A Missouri University of Science and Technology study used eye-tracking to determine that website visitors needed a mere 180 ms to form a first impression.

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First impressions matter

People have a very short attention span. In fact, according to a Princeton University study, snap judgments count. The study found after seeing a face for only 1/10th of a second people formed opinions about that person. Judgments were made on attractiveness, likability, and trustworthiness, and prolonged exposure to that face just reinforced the initial impression.

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The same goes for websites. Three studies found that a mere 50 milliseconds were all people needed to form an opinion about a website. Google performed similar testing and found an even slimmer margin: a speedy 17 to 50 milliseconds were all people needed to decide how they felt about a website.

The results show that both visual complexity and prototypicality play crucial roles in the process of forming an aesthetic judgment. It happens within incredibly short time frames between 17 and 50 milliseconds. By comparison, the average blink of an eye takes 100 to 400 milliseconds.

When people first encounter a website or marketing campaign a number of questions go through their minds:

  • Who is this?
  • Is it trustworthy?
  • Is it credible?
  • Is it professional?
  • Am I in the right place?
  • Does this have what I want?

Think about what kind of first impression you want your customers to have. If you want to appear reliable and trustworthy, make sure your website design is cleanly laid out and uncluttered. Want to seem fun and exciting? Look into bold color choices and use imagery that has energy. Informative and useful? Put content up front and make it easy for people to navigate and find.

Effective design can go a long way in making sure your customers’ first impression is a good one.

An example of how Apple uses the principle of design consistency to good use.

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Attractive design helps you stand out

Marketing studies show that the average American is exposed to around 5,000 advertisements and brands per day. Out of that veritable flood, they found only 12 made enough of an impact to leave an impression. You can help your business be one of those twelve through effective, attractive design.

Often when consumers are faced with a decision between things with similar features or benefits, they go with the one that they either recognize or that has a more pleasing design. Smashing Magazine’s Steven Bradley explained it well:

Human beings have an attractiveness bias; we perceive beautiful things as being better, regardless of whether they actually are better. All else being equal, we prefer beautiful things, and we believe beautiful things function better. As in nature, function can follow form.

A List Apart’s Stephen Anderson demonstrates this attractiveness bias well with a simple button example:

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Cognitively speaking, both of these are obviously buttons. Neither button is ‘wrong’ as in our previous example. However, research into attention, persuasion, choice, happiness, learning, and other similar topics suggests that the more attractive button is likely to be more usable by most people.

Use well-established design principles when creating brand assets, websites, or anything else that your customers see. Creating attractive experiences will go a long way to help your business stand out.

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Good design solves problems (yours and your customers’)

How something looks is important, but addressing your customer’s problems is one of the most effective ways to leverage good design.

A good way for you to figure out what these problems are and how to address them is to use a technique known as “The 5 Whys”.

Toyota founder Sakichi Toyoda created the “5 Whys” technique to uncover issues with his company’s manufacturing process.

Created by Toyota founder Sakichi Toyoda as a way to uncover technical issues with his company’s manufacturing process, the 5 whys are a simple but effective process. First, you state the problem. Then you ask yourself “why?” five times.

Let’s look at an example.

Problem: Customers don’t understand why our product is better than our competitors.

1. Why? Because people think both products have the same feature set and functionality.

2. Why? Because our marketing concentrates more on building brand awareness and less on product awareness.

3. Why? Because our website doesn’t clearly state what our product does and what value it provides.

4. Why? Because our competitor does a better job of educating consumers on how to use their product effectively.

5. Why? Because we don’t know how to speak to our product’s target audience in a clear and effective way.

You can ask more than five questions, but five questions can typically help you work out what problems you need to focus on.

Another important part of solving problems through good design is having success metrics so you know when a solution is actually working. This can take many forms. Pure numbers (more conversions, more sign ups, more people clicking), higher customer satisfaction, or fewer calls or support tickets are just a few examples.

Whatever “whys” you decide to tackle and how you measure your success, addressing internal or external problems through good design can go a long way to improve your reputation and reach.

report by Motiv Strategies and the Design Management Institute examined how Apple, Starbucks, Target, and other top companies turned good design into 211 percent growth between 2005 to 2016.

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Good design helps boost your business

Here’s something to be wary of: badly designed websites are often not read, trusted or visited for any length of time. That means that more than ever, design is playing a crucial role in making sure your business attracts and retains a customer base. John Maeda, design partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, says:

Top companies are leading with design. Others that aren’t willing to invest in design because they think it can’t be measured or tied to ROI will fall behind. Business as usual is no longer good enough. Mature industries that have focused on more, better and faster now need to adjust their thinking to include design as a key value differentiator.

The idea that design is fiscally beneficial has been proven time and again. In 2005, a group called The Design Council studied 63 portfolios of companies that traded on the FTSE (Financial Times Stock Exchange) over a ten year period. Companies that put an emphasis on design outperformed the FTSE 100 index by 200%.

It’s becoming more difficult to get the attention of consumers when they are overwhelmed with choice. Tellingly, Adobe’s 2015 report on the State of Content emphasizes that with 15 minutes to consume content, 66% would prefer to view something beautifully designed vs. simple and plain.

Want to stand out as a brand worth noticing? Beautiful and thoughtful design is the way to do it.

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Design connects you to your customers

Great designs use color, layout, and smart font choice to connect to their consumer in meaningful, emotionally driven ways. Incorporating impactful, memorable, and emotional connection in the visual display of your brand is the best way to show the world who you are and what your brand stands for.

Your designs should support the principles you have built your company around, and strive to reach your customers’ hearts (rather than their wallets).

Create valuable, sustainable customer relationships by building your brand’s visual identity on the foundation of emotional connection. There’s no better way to secure consumer loyalty than by connecting you through your shared values, and a great design is the most effective way to illustrate them.

Ready to take the next step? Give me a call at (877) 636-7739 Extension 100

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Posted 9 May 2019

Why Branding Is Important For Your Business

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Decades ago, branding was defined as a name, slogan, sign, symbol or design, or a combination of these elements, that distinguish one company, product, or service from another. Today, branding is more complex and even more important. 

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What Should a Brand Do?

Branding is not just about getting your target market to select you over the competition. It’s also about getting your prospects to see you as the sole provider of a solution to their problem or need. In its essence, branding is a problem-solver. A good brand will:  

  • Clearly deliver a message
  • Confirm the brand’s credibility in the marketplace
  • Emotionally connect target prospects with a product or service
  • Motivate the buyer to make a purchase
  • Create user loyalty
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Branding and Understanding Your Customer

To succeed in branding, you must understand the needs and wants of your customers and prospects. You can achieve this by integrating your brand strategies throughout your company at every point of public contact.

Think of branding as though your company or organization were a living, breathing person. Imagine this person explaining who they are, why they’re valuable, and what they specifically have to offer.

As consumers begin to identify with you, your brand will live in the hearts and minds of customers, clients, and prospects, and they’ll connect on an emotional level.  

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The Importance of Branding and the 3 Key Questions

Your brand is the source of a promise to your consumer. If you’re billing yourself as the manufacturer of the longest-lasting light bulb, your brand has to live up to that.

It’s important to spend time researching, defining, and building your brand.

In developing a strategic marketing plan, your brand serves as a guide to understanding the purpose of your key business objectives and enables you to align the plan with those objectives. Branding doesn’t just count during the time before the purchase—the brand experience has to last to create customer loyalty. You can create that by answering these three questions:

  1. Did the product or service perform as expected?
  2. Was the quality as good as promised or better?
  3. Was the entire customer experience positive?

If you can get positive answers to these three questions, you’ve created a loyal customer.

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Beyond Loyal Customers

Branding not only creates loyal customers, but it also creates loyal employees. A quality brand gives people something to believe in and something to stand behind. It helps employees understand the purpose of the organization they work for. They feel like they’re a part of something significant and not just a cog in a wheel.  

A Basic Checklist to Evaluate Your Brand

How do you know if your brand is strong enough to give you the internal and external value that you need? Start by asking yourself the following:

  • Does the brand relate to my target audience? Will they instantly “get it” without too much thought? 
  • Does the brand share the uniqueness of what I am offering and why it’s important?  
  • Does the brand reflect the promise made to my target audience and hold value for my internal audience?  
  • Does the brand reflect the values that I want to represent to my customers?  

Let these questions serve as a guideline in the development of your brand. If you’re not sure about the answers then you may want to revamp your branding efforts.

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Posted 8 May 2019

Why Graphic Design Is Important For Any Business

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While a picture may be worth a thousand words, graphic design can be worth thousands of dollars in any business.

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Graphic design is more than just aesthetics; graphic design is a form of communication between your business and your audience. Businesses use graphics in every stage of the marketing funnel to inform, delight, and eventually persuade to purchase (or take the desired action).

You may craft a flyer design to inform your audience about an upcoming workshop, design an email series to upsell a service to current customers or create a sales page for a new product release.

If you’re in a business, you’re in the business of graphic design.

Let’s look at 5 reason why graphic design is important for any business (including yours) to expand brand reach and turn more profit.

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1. First impressions matter.

Graphic design is important for any business wanting to make a positive, lasting impression. The first time a visitor interacts with your brand in any capacity will set the tone for the rest of your business relationship.

The first business graphic a prospect encounters may be a business card, a sales page on your website, an online ad, a flyer, your latest social media post, or even your product packaging.

Capitalize on the first step of the buyer’s journey by implementing relevant, updated graphics that tell the story of your brand (hint: you may need to give your Facebook a facelift).

When a customer hears about your brand for the first time, they are most likely going to do some preliminary research on your website before making a purchase. What does your website homepage say about your brand? Are there bright, cheery colors with whimsical fonts? Or did you use sleek, professional design elements with gray and silver hues?

Take a ‘tour’ of your business website and social media pages, updating any graphics that no longer accurately represent your brand or brand message.

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2. Consistency is credibility.

Graphic design is important for any business wanting to create credibility in their industry or field. The more content you provide that helps solve a problem or relieve a pain point, the more the audience will trust your advice and start to regard you as an expert in your field.

To demonstrate this point, let’s say you’re walking in the park and see a basketball player sink a 3-point shot. It was a great shot, but would you assume he’s a great basketball player because he made one basket? Probably not; it could’ve been a lucky shot. If you had seen the same player sink 30 shot in a row, though, you might start to believe he’s actually a professional basketball player. Consistency creates credibility.

The same principle applies to marketing and branding; if you create a piece of content that helps someone solve a problem or relieve a pain point in their own life, they will most likely turn to you for advice again when facing a similar situation in the future.

Consistent content creation is the key to building a dedicated following of people who trust your brand and believe in your message.

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3. Efficiency in summary.

Graphic design is important for any business looking to share information with ease. Hubspot reports that infographics are actually liked and shared on social media 3x more than any other type of content.

Infographics are a great way to summarize information that your audience would otherwise skim over (or skip reading completely). Humans are heavily influenced by visuals; adding relevant graphics to text can deepen our understanding and recollection of information.

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If you’ve ever learned another language with Rosetta Stone, you’ve experienced the phenomenon of using visuals to deepen understanding and recollection. This language-learning software never offers explicit definitions to foreign words, but instead forces the student to infer the answer using visual context clues. The secret to success, according to the Rosetta Stone website, is discovering patterns instead of memorizing rules: “Rather than allowing you to rely on repetition and parroting, our sequence leads you to arrive at the right answers intuitively.

Learning actively helps you retain your new language skills. And before you know it, you’ll be thinking in your new language-instead of just speaking it” (source: Rosetta Stone).

Try incorporating infographics anywhere you currently use large blocks of text to explain information. Have a “how-to” page? Turn it into an easy-to-follow infographic. Posting an article about social media statistics on your blog? Add an infographic summarizing the important stats.

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4. Creativity kills competition.

To stay ahead of competitors in the marketplace, you’ve got to get creative.

Create content that approaches an idea, solves a problem, or relieves a paint point in an innovative way. Graphic design can be used to empathize with the audience by literally showing the audience what life would look and feel like with pain point x solved by your product, service, or advice.

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5. Your message matters.

Above all, graphic design is important for any business to tell their story. Whether you’re a solopreneur selling homemade jewelry on Etsy or part of multi-million dollar e-commerce operation, your business has a story to tell.

Graphic design communicates more than just words to your audience. Even simple design elements like font choice and color scheme can help to portray an emotion or feeling that supports your message.

While the message of all the graphics in your business will differ slightly, they should all tell the same story about your brand. Having a branding guide in place will help you and your team choose design elements that tell the same story and keep the look of your brand consistent.

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Posted 6 May 2019

First Impressions: What Good Design Can Do for Your Business

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Your brand’s website communicates to potential customers whether your business knows what it’s doing or not. That’s why web design is important as a marketing tool. It highlights the need to invest time and resources into a well-built homepage so it doesn’t appear you’ve settled for a default theme or overly simple layout.

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Why design matters

According to researchers from the Missouri University of Science and Technology, a person’s eyes take 2.6 seconds to focus on a specific element of a webpage when it loads. The viewer quickly forms an opinion based on what they’ve seen, so it pays to influence that opinion with a smart design.

“People have [feelings] about your company based on the experiences that they have had with a brand,”

“A well-designed logo and website inspires confidence because it looks professional. If a company is willing to focus on creating a clean and functional design that is easy to use, then that could be an indicator of what using their product might be like.”

“Good design helps to communicate your message, pulls weight to cut through the marketing chatter, and arranges information most effectively for the precise market you’re trying to reach,” added Lilian Crooks, graphic designer and communications specialist at Harcum College. “Effective design and messaging work in tandem to convey the value of your business legibly and, most importantly, memorably.”

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Keeping it simple

Your landing page should set the tone for your company and provide important information, making it easy for your audience to understand what products or services your business provides.

“Figure out what the most important information is that you need users/customers to take away from that page, and make it extremely easy to find and understand,”

“Then identify the most important action you’d need users to take on that page and make it prominent and easily accessible.”

Whatever call to action you choose, it should engage your audience with your services or products. Likewise, your design should prioritize simplicity over complicated strategy, noting that you should be “explicit and concise with your information, and establish a tone, look and feel that is true to the brand you’ve created for your business.”

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Visual appeal

You might have a great story to tell, but no one will want to read your About Us page or explore your social media posts if you don’t engage your audience right away. But how can you accomplish this?

Strong visuals do the trick quickly.

“An image can communicate even complex messages quickly, concisely and memorably,”

“It’s this same drive for fast consumption that has evolved the internet from its text-centric roots into an image- and increasingly video-centric [medium].”

Eye-catching visuals will set your brand apart. The imagery you use should be relevant to your brand and engage your target audience. When in doubt, keep things direct and simple, she said.

“stock photography and illustration looks like stock photography and illustration.” 

To avoid using the same visuals as another company, consider supporting local artists and designers to create unique, innovative designs.

Additionally, for original design, it’s important to keep up with recent software. For instance, Adobe recently announced the Pantone Color of the Year 2019.

“Living Coral is a great, energetic alternative to a more ‘precious’ pink, and it plays beautifully with a wide array of other colors,”

“Pantone’s annual pick often seems to reflect burgeoning color trends rather than set them.”

Bottom line

When you’re deciding what your online brand presence should look like, it’s important to be consistent but not repetitive.

“The best brands … feel more like real, multifaceted personalities than collections of graphical elements,”

“Think about the qualities that are unique to your business and that could attractively represent your brand. Then let those qualities drive your logo and website to your Instagram feed and even your storefront, packaging and customer service.”

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