Hashim Warren, of CareerGreenLight.com sent me a great question recently. Hashim is setting up his new site, and is wondering about the return on his design investment.
“I’m starting a new project and I don’t know how much time, focus, and money to spend on design right out of the gate.”
There’s no single answer that will work for everyone, but I can give Hashim (and you) some guidelines that will help your decision process.
Are They Just Not Into It?
The first place to start is with your target market. How important are aesthetics for the group you’re trying to reach?
Because let’s be honest here: not everyone is going to register great graphics the same way. If your target market is only looking for great content, you should focus on getting that right first. Create a blog, site, newsletter or magazine with compelling writing, and worry about design later.
If It’s Important to Your Target Market, It Should be Important to You
Many target markets are very responsive to design. If your service or product is reaching out to people who have high standards for how things look, or who are used to dealing with companies who invest in good design, you should spend time on this aspect of your business so that you will be seen as a viable competitor.
If Your Company is New, Design Can Give It the Edge
Coming out of the gate with a brand-new company that has a polished brand presence can give you the upper hand. Marketing materials that appear professional and coordinated give the impression that your company is larger than it might be, and more established. It’s a great to way to not appear like you’ve only been in business a short time.
Of course, you can’t just throw money at a designer and hope their work does the trick. Ask good questions and you’ll get a better outcome.
If Your Message is Unclear, the Design Process Can Clarify It
When I acquire a new client, we have a meeting to get to know one another. I ask a lot of questions: about their market; their long-term plans; their products or services.
Oftentimes these meetings help my new client to clarify their thinking about what they’re offering, and who they are offering it to. This is design thinking in action. Design thinking is a process that can shed new light on your business because of the way it approaches the problems to be solved.
Design thinking involves:
- Defining your problem
- Researching and gathering information
- Generating a variety of solutions
- Choosing and testing solutions
This process can clarify your business, and sometimes I think it’s the most valuable part of what I offer. It’s more than a pretty logo or a nice brochure. The process of examining your issues, researching them and thinking about them from all angles often uncovers unique solutions that go way beyond aesthetics.
Now you’re wondering, “Hashim asked how much time, focus and money to spend on design. Are you going to answer his question?”
Well, the answer is going to be different for each of you. Understanding your responses to the points above will help you know how much time and focus to spend on design.
How much money to spend on it will depend on your budget, obviously. Costs vary widely, and thankfully there are ways to keep them down if you do some of the work yourself. (That’s why you’re here, right? You want to understand it better so you can do some of it yourself?)
Weigh the information above, and if you discover your target market responds to good design, you want to appear established and you think the design process will help you clarify your thinking, invest the time, focus and money on good design.
Thanks for your question, Hashim. Are you a small business person with a question about design or marketing? Let me know in the comments, or contact me, and I’ll answer your question here.