When I’m working with a client to either create a new brand or reimagine their existing one, a common question I hear is, “What’s the difference between graphic design and branding?”
Conflating the two is an easy mistake to make. After all, when people think of brands, they think of logos. Coca-Cola, McDonalds, Nike… All of these brands have logos that instantly identify them. At a glance, a customer knows everything about those businesses, just by seeing their logo.
However, logos and other graphic components are only one part of branding. As I’ve said in the past, think of a brand as a container that’s full of the tangable and intangable assets of your business. Everything, from your customer service to your products to your origin story, are part of your brand. Being able to communicate that story, ah, now here is where graphic design can come in handy!
The main reason why you want an experienced graphic designer in your back pocket is to make your small business memorable.
While exceptional service and products are enough to build a customer base, you need that customer base to be able to remember you. That is where graphic design comes in. It’s a key part of advertising your business.
Another reason why you want professional-quality graphic design is so that you will be on the same playing field as your competitors. As shallow as it sounds, the average customer sometimes puts much more stock in presentation than in substance. If you have amazing services, but a terrible looking website with amateur graphic design, someone would be much more likely to go with the polished website of a competitor, even if their prices are higher and their services not as comprehensive.
Ah, but when you combine excellent graphic design with your fantastic products and services, then you have a combination that can’t be beat!
Here are some examples of the types of logos that we’ve come up with for our clients!
Coming up with a logo that perfectly distills everything about your business is important, but it isn’t the only important aspect of branding.
For example, you need branding collateral if you want to really penetrate the minds of your customers. Giving away a pen to your customers is a great idea, but it’s an even better one if your logo is plastered on every single one. If you send out any mail, it’s a fantastic idea for your logo to be up on the corner near the return address. Stickers, magnets, business cards… all of these pieces of collateral should be branded with your logo and your colors. And to make this look good, you need a graphic designer who knows how to be position that logo on the individual piece.
Here are some examples of the types of branding collateral we’ve worked on:
Some people think of websites as nothing but online billboards, but there is far more to them than that. While websites do need to be plastered with your branding, colors, and thematically-appropriate graphics, it’s the way that they all come together that makes a website appealing to a potential customer.
The second that someone lands on your website, a stopwatch starts ticking. If you haven’t grabbed their attention in 10 seconds, odds are that they are going to navigate away to another website. Since there isn’t too much webcopy that can be absorbed in that short time (even if it’s exceptionally well written!), it’s the design of your website that’s going to have to pull them in.
Take my website as an example of how to effective graphic design can brand a website.
My logo is up there in the top-left hand corner of every page, also acting as a “home” button if they want to go back to the homepage. Its colors (blue, yellow, and black) are the same colors I use as the palette for the entire site. Every aspect of the site should be reinforcing the brand. I might use a slightly different (though complementary) shade of those main colors, but they will always be there.
Of course, graphic design doesn’t usually come into play until you’ve already done quite a bit of work figuring out your business’ brand. And trying to figure that out is one of the trickier aspects of building your business. Many small businesses forget about this step, preferring to focus on other, more tangible aspects of the job. But an experienced small business owner knows that any successful business NEEDS a successful brand.
If you are already overwhelmed getting your small business off the ground and would like some experienced branding help, contact me today! Once we know more about what kind of a brand you want, we can create graphics of all kinds that will stick in the memory of your customers!