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Why Design Matters During a Slow Economy

Ask any business expert what really matters during times of economic instability and they will say that continuing to market your business is critical. Yet, in business, matters of creativity and design are often seen as something nice to have if you can afford it, but easily cut during uncertain financial times. Historically, when money is low, the arts and artists feel it first.

Existing businesses are struggling more, and people are losing jobs and going out on their own in droves, making competition fiercer than ever. How can they stand out and be seen – if not by marketing and advertising? And if you are going to spend the time, money, and energy, why bother if not with good design? Online or off, good design gives credibility, visibility, and consistency. It can even make economic sense, if approached strategically.

We all have heard the adage that a picture is worth a thousand words. When a business is seeking higher visibility, often the projected image makes them memorable. As you are competing with other companies selling the same service or product, there are many things which can set your business apart – but FIRST you have to get the customer’s attention. On first impression, the only differentiation between you and your competition may be your branding and image. And that is achieved with graphic design.

Good design leads to communications consistency. Studies indicate that a prospect must hear of or see your business numerous times before it will spring to mind unbidden. Having a consistent and memorable message and image can help accelerate recognition and therefore speed up the branding process.

Imagine this: you are at a seminar listening to a dynamic speaker and you ask him to send you more information about his company. When the package arrives, you are surprised to discover the information is barely readable, the colors clash enough to make your eyes ache, and there is a good chance the charts were done by a five year old. You will probably overlook all this, because you met this gentleman, and you already know he really knows his stuff. But if you received this marketing collateral before meeting and hearing him, it is likely you would question the consultant’s credibility and professionalism.

When you visit a business on the web, navigation and content on a web site are extremely important, for it is the visual design which lends credibility and indicates the professionalism and quality of the business. Consumer Web Watch reportedly found that “Design Look” (46.1 percent) and “Information Design/Structure” (28.5 percent) were the top factors people used to determine credibility of the business they were visiting online.

Having a quality product or service is terrific, but it is not enough if no one can see you, or if no one knows you are there. What better time to let the world know that your business exists, than when your competition is hunkered down and not marketing? Perhaps they are marketing, but doing it themselves, on the cheap and poorly designed – this, too, presents an opportunity differentiate your business. Professional design can improve your business image and communications, and it is good for economics. A good image offers increased, positive exposure and differentiation from the competition. Improved communications assures your message reaches your audience, and is received. Economically, good design increases sales through increased acceptance and awareness of your products and services.

How can you afford not to be sure your business is well designed?

Eileen ‘Turtle’ Parzek is a veteran marketing designer and online communications consultant who has been working from home and virtually since 1995.

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