Becoming an expert design specialist isn’t something just anyone can achieve.
Making your business stand out from competitors is not always a simple task, especially when accounting for each and every e e-commerce business in existence. Building brand recognition and loyalty takes time and effort but is a crucial step in growing your business and attracting customers.
In today’s social-media-driven environment, effective branding strategies also require memorable, attention-grabbing graphics and taglines.
A profusion of website builders and do-it-yourself graphic design programs offer to help business owners generate their own branding materials.
But professional web developers, graphic designers, and copywriters are best positioned to know what is and isn’t engaging to users – after all, a career in design is backed up by a whole lot of education and experience! By relying on experts in these areas, you free up your own time to focus on other, important elements of your business. You may know your product well, but a design specialist can sell it a lot better.
Your brand is your business – design specialists can help
In starting a business, branding is more important than ever.
It defines how your customers see you and tell them what to expect from your products and services. Effective branding is how you build and leverage customer trust and loyalty, so when building your brand, you need to consider who your customer is. All the flashiest designs in the world won’t help if they don’t resonate with your customer base and give them what they are looking for.
Without creative, distinctive branding, your business is just another among the millions competing for the same customers. Everything your business does – from your initial logo design to every email or newsletter you send – needs to have your brand in mind. It should tell the story of who you are and why your business exists.
Working with freelancers
For small and mid-sized businesses, branding efforts may not justify the cost of hiring a full-time in-house design expert or using an external agency. Since they can offer greater flexibility at competitive rates, freelance designers could be a promising alternative.
There are many talented designers of all types working on a freelance basis, and freelancing has become even more common during the pandemic, studies show.
Businesses should be careful when outsourcing, however.
While freelancers are skilled and have worked hard to maintain their status as self-employed, it can often be hard to distinguish between true professionals and amateurs.
One thing is certain – with design, cheapest doesn’t necessarily mean best. Research design specialists in your industry, so you know you’ll be working with those who have expertise on what’s best for your business. Strike a healthy balance that is gentle on your budget but does not skimp on quality.
Portfolios are one of the best ways to compare the abilities of freelance designers. Business owners would also do well to avoid freelance sites where all registered users can bid on any project. You may wind up spending inordinate amounts of time sifting through proposals, many of which will be from people who don’t meet your qualifications.
What design specialists can do for your brand
Brand building requires a number of skills, from graphic design to copywriting to UX (User Experience) design. Some designers are even skilled in all of these areas. When looking for a design specialist, carefully consider the task you are hiring them for, and be sure they have the specific experience and skill set for that task.
First impressions are important, and your logo is often a customer’s introduction to your business. Think of some of the most famous brands of all time – Apple, Nike, McDonald’s. Chances are, you pictured their logo in your mind as you read their names. Like them, you need a logo that customers will remember and associate with you long after leaving your web page, ad, or store. But coming up with a strong logo can be challenging, especially if you’ve never done it before.
Even the most creative business owners may falter when it comes to logo design. You may be tempted by graphic design sites or pages touting the ability to design your own logo. While useful for generating initial ideas, they rarely lead to a polished final product – which is where a freelance graphic design specialist comes in. With very basic templates and standard word and image placements, online graphic design services often generate boring and unmemorable images.
Skilled graphic designers, on the other hand, are trained to understand what colors, fonts, and images have high consumer recall versus those that create initial distaste or boredom. If your logo is to set the tone for the rest of your branding efforts, it’s vital you get this part right.
Your logo design will contain design elements that you will want to replicate in other areas, such as your website, social media pages, and print advertising. All of these are part of what is known as your brand identity kit.
A brand identity kit is the first step in establishing your company brand before you start pursuing advertising.
In addition to design elements, your brand identity kit will include your taglines and catchphrases and your corporate tone (informative, relatable, formal, informal). It helps ensure that you are consistent with the usage of brand elements across all of your advertising and communications.
When selecting a designer for your logo and brand kit, ask candidates to provide portfolios of prior brand identity work. Once you have selected a designer, ask them to provide you with a variety of options. This makes your selection process more efficient and gives you more options to pick from to make sure you’re satisfied.
With a brand identity kit and logo in place, your next stop will likely be your website.
Web design is another area where business owners are tempted by “do it yourself” offerings, in an effort to minimize costs. But building an engaging and user-centric website is time-consuming and can be frustrating for first-time developers.
Poor web design is a big no-no when trying to establish your brand. Internet users are well-known for quickly navigating away from slow or outdated websites. You want to rely on the knowledge and experience of design specialists who have a deep understanding of what works for internet users and what doesn’t.
Although you may want to use a graphic designer to make sure your website is visually engaging, you will also benefit from using other specialists for other aspects of the design. Experienced copywriters can help users find your site with SEO-optimized copy and ensure your content keeps them there. UX (User Experience) design specialists ensure your website loads quickly and are intuitive and easy to use.
If you’re not a web designer yourself, optimizing your website’s design is difficult but not impossible. Just remember that what’s good for your visitors might not look good to you. Abide by design principles – like using directional cues to lead your visitor to a call-to-action – to ensure higher conversions.
If your design specialist understands your brand goals (or better yet, helped develop your brand kit), they can hit the ground running. They will know how visual elements should appear and the tone that any website text must take.
But be sure to be aware of your graphic designer’s capabilities when you hire them. Don’t assume that they also know how to write copy and optimize functionality. If you find a designer that you really want to use, but they do not have the skills to make sure the website is secure and user-friendly, do not hesitate to bring in other professionals to work with them.
Businesses today cannot avoid social media for attracting and interacting with their customers. Most users today rely heavily on it, and in fact, many customers’ first experience with a business is through an ad on social media.
While many businesses understand the need for social media, not as many understand that effective social media is more than just typing a couple sentences and posting it online. Social media is an opportunity to reinforce your brand, and each post should be treated that way.
Like websites, social media posts have a limited amount of time to grab a user’s attention and get them interested in what you’re selling. They must be visually engaging and comply with your brand goals. Thorough brand kits will even include templates for social media posts.
3D and Animation
Do you want more than static images on your website and social media pages? Perhaps you want videos introducing your products and services or customer testimonials that show the quality of your product.
Although website builder programs allow you to drop in videos and animations, optimizing how these elements work on your website (and particularly how they affect the speed of your site) requires some special expertise. Keep an eye out for designers with video, animation, and 3D design expertise documented in their portfolios.
How Design Specialists Can Help – Conclusion
From small e-commerce businesses to the largest international corporations, effective branding is essential for the success of any business. It is important to make sure every aspect of your branding effort is streamlined and professional.
Design specialists are a cost-effective solution for building engaging brand kits while allowing business owners to focus on running the business. Pay attention to portfolios, use curated sites that vet freelancers in advance, and don’t expect one professional to be an expert in everything. When choosing your design specialist, you will have the best experience if you keep these tips in mind.