Graphic design for SMEs: how can graphic design boost your business profits?

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Every day in the UK, just over 1,800 new businesses spring into life. A range of survival factors immediately come into play at this point, and one is establishing a brand. Branding is more than just a pretty logo but there is no doubt that graphic design plays an important part in any business. Get it right, and it will help your business to soar. So, what should you be considering?

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    Why graphic design is important for a brand

    Think about the last website you looked at that you found visually pleasing – what was it that attracted you?

    A well-designed and branded website attracts attention from the people it is aimed at. You’ll be aware of the some of the factors that make it attractive, such as an image that you find appealing. But there are other subconscious signals that good design sends out too.

    In a nutshell, graphic design conveys a visual message. And in our increasingly cluttered world, this is increasingly important.

    No one is immune to visual content. The majority of information transmitted to the brain is visual, with images and graphics being processed 60,000 times faster than text.

    On social media, there is evidence that posts with a strong visual element receive a higher engagement rate. On Facebook, for example, you could boost engagement rate by 37% by publishing images with posts.

    Using graphic design to get your brand message across is a powerful move, and not just on social media. Your website will shout louder when it has a visual impact that people love. And don’t forget your offline marketing efforts too – a well-designed flyer or poster, all with the consistency of branding and a clear message, will also give a return on investment.

    How to (really) use graphic design

    It’s more than just pretty pictures and swanky graphics. Before you start on this journey, you need to be clear what graphic design is…

    Graphic design is the creation of visual content that communicates messages. It covers a raft of things including page layout, typography, images and graphics.

    1. Brand identity graphic design

    Consistency in your branding is key because everything from your logo to your colour palette to the style of fonts you use all conveys a branding message to your target audience.

    In essence, you want this corporate image to be protected across everything you produce, from blog posts to marketing materials, to social media to leaflets.

    And this is the first way in which you will engage graphic design. It is a process not to be rushed. Knowing who your customer demographic is means that you can dip into the research of the colours and layout that appeal. In other words, finding the right visual elements to communicate your brand message.

    Take away point

    A style kit will pull together all the elements of your brand such as the 3 or 4 variations of your logo, colour swatches, icons and so on. These will be used to inform the other areas of graphic design within your business.

    2. Marketing graphic design

    The next sub-section within the overall graphic design family relates to marketing. The assumption is that every piece of marketing material from brochures to flyers, magazine ads to infographics needs to have your logo on it.

    But, this doesn’t always have to be the case. With your style kit from brand graphic design suite, marketing graphic design will work with key elements such as colour, font, typography but also where the overall style relates strongly with your branding.

    Take away point

    Don’t be tempted to stray from or alter key graphic elements in your style kit because you’ll just be weakening your message.

    3. Environmental graphic design

    Graphic design is about painting a complete picture of your brand. It highlights your story and setting, as well as the tone and the feel of what it’s like to engage with and buy from your brand.

    The physical setting of your business is important too, but it’s more than just mugs with logos on and branded office gear.

    It’s how your space is organised. And when your brand moves into physical (environmental) areas such as trade shows or conferences, for example, this graphic design scheme needs to move with it.

    Take away point

    Known as wayfinding, this is graphic design that helps people navigate through a physical space. It’s about signs and other visual cues placed at key decision points. It is part of your overall branding suite.

    4. Marketing for published materials

    From blog posts on your website to digital brochures to printed booklets and more, you will at some point, become involved in publishing material.

    Similar to the other points made in this list, graphic design informs the layout, look and feel of these materials. Again, it’s more than putting the logo in the corner of the page.

    Is the layout contributing or distracting from the message? Does the design ooze brand consistency and confidence?

    Take away point

    As part of your branding kit, includes the shape, look and feel of published information, both digitally and offline.

    5. Illustrations

    Brands don’t just use images on their websites and other mediums – they will often use graphics too.

    This isn’t just a logo and its variations but things like icons and your website favicon. What style will these take? You may think some of these are too small to really matter but if their design grates against your brand message, they will stand out to your target market (and for all the wrong reasons).

    Take away point

    Don’t underestimate the importance of designing graphics that emphasise your brand message.

    In summary

    Don’t underestimate the impact of graphic design on and for your brand. From the power of humble emoticons to a well-designed logo, graphics and images, as well as other visual elements such as font and colour, combine to deliver a message that the brain instantly receives, and makes a decision about. Get it right, and the decision might be to trust you and your brand to deliver.