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Graphic Design for Business: How Powerful Design Impacts Brands

November 11, 2020
By John Hawley
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Graphic Design is everywhere — but what impact does it make on your brand, and how important is it for business?

It’s no secret that professional graphic design for business is essential to your brand. It’s starting to become the case where a company that does not invest in design is the outlier.  That said — not all design is created equally! 

Nowadays, the barrier of entry for creating design is much lower. This means two things: on the one hand, it’s more accessible than before, but on the other, the market is now saturated with generic or entry-level design — think Fiverr. The problem this poses for many businesses is that not investing anything into their design will negatively impact them, but just doing the bare minimum won’t do much for them, either. 

This is why companies like Nike spend roughly $3.5 billion (yes, you read that right — billion) on promoting their brand and products worldwide. 

Clearly, something’s working pretty well if they’ve been averaging that kind of spend for the past four years. But why do they spend so much on design? Well, it’s not just because Joe Schmoe told them so! It’s because investing in creative design has produced concrete results for them and shown it will continue to benefit their business. 

Creative design delivers measurable results

A lot of the impact of design revolves around qualitative benefits: these include creating empathy, building trust, or delivering a great user experience, to name a few. These benefits are incredibly powerful and are not to be discounted. The thing is, many companies already understand these qualities fundamentally impact their brands and business positively — otherwise, global brands like Nike wouldn’t bother with design.

However, some may feel that these qualitative benefits are typically not supported by measurable reasoning. 

Simply put, this means that companies understand the qualities design affords their business are valuable but are unsure how it makes them money. Fortunately, it’s pretty simple to measure the benefits of design.

Let’s look at a quick example.

Suppose your friend Susan owns a small shop that sells home automation, but her website has become outdated over the past 10 years and no longer reflects the business and brand’s sophistication. She’s now looking for a creative web design agency to help bring her site to the next level, but she’s unsure how that new website will increase revenue.

Graphic design for business is easily measurable, despite the benefits being largely qualitative. Using a graph like this one makes it easier to see directly how design benefits a business.

Let’s assume the agency builds her a new website with sharp, on-brand aesthetics and a superior user experience that makes it easier for people to connect with her.  Also, delivering brand confidence due to the overall sophistication of the design. By comparing similar results of websites in Susan’s field, we can predict that this result in a 0.5% increase in conversions. As you can see in the chart above, that would add up to a projected $200,000 increase in revenue earned in the year. Not bad at all! Her investment in the new website has paid itself in kind.

Of course, these numbers are a simplified, theoretical example. Real data would vary depending on a variety of factors such as what design work is being done, the industry, comparable marketing research — and so on. However, it becomes plain to see that graphic design benefits can impact your business in real, measurable ways.

Now let’s take a look into the qualities of how creative graphic design can impact your business.

Creative design delivers powerful first impressions

Having a superior or unique offering is critical for a business to stand above and beyond the competition. And that’s something your customers will value greatly. But when it comes to picking your company out from the rest of the crowd, creative graphic design for business is the undisputed king.

It's no secret that professional graphic design for business is essential to your brand. It’s starting to become the case where a company that does not invest in design is the outlier.  That said — not all design is created equally! 

It’s a tried-and-true concept that first impressions matter for your business, especially on the web. In fact, you have approximately half of a second to deliver that first impression and keep it. Within this timeframe, customers can already determine whether or not there is a significant visual appeal.

Think of it this way — most customers won’t just walk into a new store and immediately buy something. They first take a look at the visuals surrounding the store and judge whether it’s even worth going inside or not. Naturally, if a customer is impressed, they will decide to give it a shot.

Delivering that powerful first impression with great design does two things for your brand:

  1. Great design nets you a positive, memorable first impression. 
  2. That impression makes your business seem more reliable, so customers are more willing to establish trust and give you a chance. 

The reason these two qualities are so valuable is that if your brand isn’t memorable, or doesn’t feel trustworthy to potential customers, it’s unlikely they will give you first place when choosing to work with a brand.

Think about the difference between walking into a 4-star hotel like the Ritz Carlton and a Courtyard Marriott. They are both fine hotels, however, your expectations are much different. Design can be the great equalizer, in that you can deliver that Ritz Carlton expectation with the right creative agency, regardless of your company’s size.

Your brand becomes more memorable

While it is impossible to convert absolutely everyone on their first interaction with your business, standing out and being memorable is crucial for winning them later. It’s very common for people to shop around and check out a few options before settling on the one they feel the most confident to do business with.

So if your brand is visually distinct enough to live rent-free in their heads… then you’ve hit the design jackpot.

Now you may be asking, “what’s the key to memorability in design?” Simply put, the key is by enforcing consistency in your brand identity. Having a memorable brand means that all of your design elements feel visually related as if they were a family. This means not using different fonts on your website and business card, or changing your logo from green to purple because you’re feeling it that day. You want to deliver the same visual “thumbprint” on every piece of design your customers interface with. You also want to make sure that you are working with a sophisticated design agency that can deliver the goods.

Design establishes Trust 

We will always judge a book by its cover in business — don’t feel bad; we all do it! This is because with so many options available to us, making a quick judgment call on a business’s visual aesthetic is an effective way to filter out options we can assume are undesirable. That’s why we instinctively trust brands with great design aesthetics — especially if they align with our own personal aesthetics.

Here’s an example of how it works. Imagine you’re going to the supermarket to buy some orange juice and you have two choices at equal prices. On the left, a jug of Tropicana — a classic. On the right, a generic plastic jug with a comic sans logo and a poorly drawn orange… 

It's no secret that professional graphic design for business is essential to your brand. It’s starting to become the case where a company that does not invest in design is the outlier.  That said — not all design is created equally! 

Between the two, which one do you trust enough to buy?

Of course, this is a rather extreme example. But you can see how the design of your brand and its offerings will inherently establish trust against others who aren’t as visually sophisticated. For all we know, the juice with the poor design could be a superior product, but we would never know because we simply wouldn’t trust it — especially when we have a trustworthy option with compelling design right next to it.

This is why, appealing to a customer’s emotion, values, or aesthetics sensibilities with creative design will earn you their trust. And by delivering a superior product and superb user experience, you’ll earn their loyalty to keep them coming back for more.

Design makes information accessible

People are mostly visual learners — it’s the most significant way most of us interface with the world. We do this so much that we’re very skilled at processing visual information at an incredibly fast pace.

So if your business offers something abstract or complex, then good design becomes critical in helping the layman understand it and its benefits quickly and simply. 

There are many great vehicles of delivery, such as your website, a motion graphic, and print advertisements — all of these can compress complex information into something easily digestible. Ultimately, any good design solution will help your customers cut through the noise and get to the idea’s core. The fundamental purpose of graphic design for business is to communicate. More so than just art, it’s about communicating visually to empathize with, inform, persuade, or educate your audience about your brand and its offerings. 

Imagine trying to assemble IKEA furniture without the visuals in the instruction manual… you’d probably be setting yourself up for a lot of unnecessary trial-and-error and wasting a bunch of time.

Instruction manuals are a way Ikea uses graphic design for business. With clean visuals, it's a lot easier to digest than simply explaining it through dense text!

So ultimately, graphic design is crucial for creating the most streamlined version of your business. That way, you can delight your customers with a spectacular user experience — whether that be on the web, or in-person, or even assembling Swedish furniture!

Much like fashion, visual design trends come and go. Paying attention to them and implementing them where appropriate is essential for keeping your appearance fresh — especially if your target audience is a younger crowd. If you have a business that already has a clearly defined set of branding guidelines, design trends are likely worth exploring to evolve your business’ image and audience.

However, when establishing the foundation of your business’ brand — your logo and brand identity — it’s more important to establish a timeless design system because you won’t have to reinvent the wheel every time you need to make something new. It’s especially crucial to have a design system for your website if you want your website to scale efficiently with your business.

If you’re unsure of what a design system is — in its simplest form, it is a collection of reusable design elements which follow specific branding standards. Your company may have a set of branding guidelines, which is a form of a design system.

Not only do these reinforce brand consistency (which, as we now know, establishes trust) but they directly affect the efficiency of design generation. Simply put, this means that designers can work faster since there are fundamental rules set in place, which means less time spent exploring styles — and that means additional money saved for your business in the long run. Check out our other blog on design systems if you’d like to learn more about them.

Final thoughts

At its core, design works largely by targeting your customers’ empathy and compelling them to take action. In that sense, graphic design for business is quite literally an art of persuasion. And leveraging design’s potential is the best way to take your business to the next level.

And this is especially important in 2020, where much of the business has taken more significant leap into the digital space. Design is everywhere, but the key is finding a creative agency that understands the nuances of successful design and can create meaningful brand experiences that will be custom-tailored to your business.

Do you have any questions about how your next design project could benefit your business? Please feel free to reach out — Mighty Fine would be happy to discuss the details — it’s what we love doing!

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