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How smart design choices can transform your small business

Unlock the secrets to stunning designs that attract customers and build your brand.
Words by
24 June, 2024
3 mins read

Design can be a daunting thought for small business owners. When running a business, there are already not enough hours in the day, let alone having to master design. But rest assured, it doesn’t have to be scary, and the rewards will make a world of difference to your business.

Great design can transform your business, help you gain greater visibility, attract new customers, add credibility, and grow strong brand equity. So, it’s important to understand some fundamental dos and don’ts of design to harness its power and elevate your business.

Recognize the strength of good design

A strong, recognizable logo and a distinctive look and feel will set you apart from your competition. Design is a powerful way to communicate to your customers who you are and what you stand for .

Your brand identity (logo, font, and colors) will be used across all your marketing assets such as business cards, marketing materials, website, social media, packaging, and merchandise. The strength of your design will play a large role in how people perceive and remember your business.

Design can take your business from “good” to “iconic,” leading to a higher perceived value of your products and services. Design not only creates fans of your business but keeps them coming back.

Mastercard over the years.
Credit: Yell Creative

Know your audience

Understanding your customer, or potential customer, is imperative to your design and marketing success.

Do some research to find out where they shop, the brands they seek out, their age groups, demographics, and what they read. If your core customer is slightly older or has more traditional values, you would most likely create something that gives a more traditional or trustworthy feeling. Conversely, if your audience is younger, you could create a fresher, more contemporary look that speaks to their likes and interests.

Knowing your customer will help guide your design decisions and assist in developing a strong brand that resonates with your desired customer.

Keep it consistent

Keeping your designs consistent across all your touchpoints will not only make your business look professional but also give your customers confidence, add to your business credibility, and avoid confusing them.

Inconsistency or a confused, messy design can lead customers to go to a better-designed business, as they feel it is more credible. So, keep your logo, fonts, colors, and messaging consistent. All of these design elements work together to elevate the perception of your business and help make your brand more recognizable.

Consistent brand identify of Starbucks.
Credit: Proof Branding. Consistent brand identity of Starbucks.

Use color carefully

Like choosing a color scheme for your house, choosing colors for your business or brand can feel daunting.

Color plays a huge psychological role in how your business is perceived, so don’t choose colors that you personally love the most. Rather, choose colors that elicit the right response for your customers and match the personality of your business. Warm colors such as reds, yellows, and oranges are seen as dynamic, energetic, and confident. Orange is attention-grabbing and seen as optimistic and creative, while yellow is joyful, warm, and happy. If you want your business to be seen as more traditional, dependable, stable, or calm, choose colors in blue and green hues.

Color palette that work together.
Credit: Bootcamp

When it comes to your business logo, keep your palette limited to a few colors and 3-5 for your brand colors. This will assist in keeping your brand look consistent and more recognizable on packaging, marketing materials, and your website.

Avoid using too many font styles

When choosing fonts, keep it simple (and no Comic Sans, please). Aim for no more than three weights of the same font (bold, regular, light) and look to maintain the spacing between your letters. The top 3 most loathed font styles are Comic Sans, Papyrus, and Hobo, according to graphic designers by The Marketing Machine.

Fonts are a powerful visual design element that can quickly communicate the tone of your business in a single glance. Do you want your business to be seen as confident, dependable, classic, or maybe elegant? Then, look at using Serif fonts. Or maybe your tone is more friendly or casual? Then, using a Script font could work best.

Don’t choose “trendy” fonts as they can date quickly. Don’t mix too many fonts of different styles. Don’t use obscure fonts as they may not read on everyone’s computers. Don’t use ornate fonts too much for legibility.

Comic Sans example.
Comic Sans example.

Don’t underestimate negative/white space

We often have a tendency to want to fill space with as much information as possible. But it is important to give your design, branding, and communication space to “breathe.” Leaving more white space can also give the feeling of a more premium product, and who doesn’t want that?

Don’t be afraid to ask for expert advice

No one knows your business like you do. But when it comes to design and branding, if in doubt, get some advice.

Good design is fundamental to establishing a credible and desirable brand. And a design expert doesn’t have to cost the earth. You can use tools like 99designs by Vista to find a designer to help you bring your business to life. They can help create a visual representation of who you are, what you do, and what you stand for, taking your business to the next level.

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Gareth Boyd

Who Design Today founder and editor. A design enthusiast in every area from digital to print and physical form.

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