Why Branding Matters
By Martin Steinhobel
We are visual creatures and what we see plays a natural part in what opinions we form.
In this day and age, we are bombarded by visual stimuli and must discard a lot of what we are presented with as quickly as possible.
First impressions matter.
It only takes a tenth of a second to form a judgement about another person – how long does it take for people to judge your business? While we all know that we should not ‘judge a book by its cover,’ we still do; it is clear that our natural inclination is to make snap judgements. Research shows that “…the accuracy of our first impressions is better than chance. In other words, we often judge correctly.” (David Ludden, Psychology Today).
This is important – your would-be customers are going to make snap judgements about you and those judgements are going to be correct based on what your brand identity has to say, and what others have to say about you. If your brand identity is weak or outdated – your would-be customers will pick up on this subconsciously!
Therefore, having a clear, well-defined message presented in a visually pleasing way will positively impact would-be customers, and draw them to you. Having a less clear message and/or a thoughtless brand identity will have the opposite effect.
Good design will help you
tell your story
Good design is all about utility. Good designers can take your message – the story you want to tell about your company – and really help get that across. The classic examples simplify complex information in an intuitive, original, and (most importantly) useful way. Take Harry Beck’s London Tube Map that took complex geographic information and synthesized it into a practical depiction of what London Tube riders would need to know. This map revolutionized transportation map design throughout the world and has made getting around the great cities of the world much easier for millions of travelers.
Design is also about connecting with people, by understanding associations and the psychology of perception as well as design principles and using these to convey your message.
The choice of typeface, colors, use of whitespace, the power of lines & shapes, and a myriad of other factors that designers spend years mastering, all play a role in crafting your message.
This is why the most successful companies in the world invest in design, and as a result see a definite return on their investment. According to McKinsey Design, design really pays. Design-lead companies outperformed the S&P by 219% over 10 years (2004-2014).
Good design will differentiate
Take a look at your competition. What do their brands look like? How well are they telling their stories? Who stands out? Who blends in? Who has spent some time crafting a message and presenting that message in a clear and approachable manner?
How do you differentiate today? Most of us provide outstanding services, have the best people, use the best practices, and have the best customers. In other words, everyone is saying the same things so none of this really differentiates. So, what does? Technology consulting websites are essentially very similar and often demonstrate little investment in design, so no one stands out. This is an opportunity – if you invest a little more in design you can stand out where others don’t.
But remember, you don’t get to a good brand identity without first having a very clear understanding of who you are targeting and what your message needs to be.
Good design adds credibility
Credibility – So you have a website. Do you have a physical office, or maybe multiple offices? Do you have a large staff, with credentialed leadership, and multiple investors? These things all add credibility and the reason why you let people know about them. When it comes to design, poor design reduces creditability, mediocre design (or “me too” design) is neither here nor there, while good design stands out and adds credibility to your brand. Remember, first impressions matter. Your would-be customers are paying attention and forming their opinions, and like it or not, a lot of that is based on what you look like – in other words what you have chosen your brand identity to be.
Good design doesn’t make up for bad services
Think of it this way. Investing in design to hide deficiencies in your services is a bit like putting lipstick on a pig. If you have delivery problems or the services you provide are rather ho hum, then good design will not help you.
But if you do know your target market, have a clear message, and have a unique selling proposition, good design can make a profitable difference and really help you get your message across. Savvy small business owners and entrepreneurs use design to gain competitive advantage. The small business world is littered with examples of poor design leading to bland brand identities, confused messaging, and is oh-so forgettable!
Want to learn more about brand identity?
Check out our Complete Brand Guide!
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We help technology services organizations grow by putting into action a marketing system containing the right balance of strategy, technology, process, and expertise that will get results.