When I had the opportunity to present to the young women of Envision • Lead • Grow, I realized they needed to understand why good graphic design matters. In that vein and as a lover and advocate of (excellent) graphic design, here are the three main reasons:
1. You look mahvelous!
(Think Billy Crystal— “It is better to look good than to feel good”—from 1985, Saturday Night Live).
Graphic design makes you (you being your business, your services, your products...) look your best! Graphic design defines, beautifies, and frames the form you choose to present to the world. The selected type face, the chosen colors, the layout of the words and images…each of these communicates your business, message, and intent to the world.
Graphic design is art with purpose, purpose to communicate, engage, and motivate action. To enable that purpose you must always keep in mind your audience and make sure you are speaking in their visual language. To continue the Billy Crystal reference, don’t wear MC Hammer pants to a formal dinner! Make your message clear, digestible, and compelling.
2. Brand Recognition
Build an attractive brand that is recognizable as you (you being your business, your services, your products...) when you are not there. Excellent brands speak for themselves. Think about the associations you have with companies like Nike, Apple, BMW. While you may definitely recall the products, I would hazard that concepts such as motion, clean lines, powerful performance are equally recalled. Graphic design gives shape to your brand and forms your identity (what the world sees when they look at your messaging) and sets you apart from your competitors (cuts through the noise). Keep in mind that you are competing for the most valuable resource anyone has..time. An effective and compelling brand can do this.
A definition of brand: “Unique design, sign, symbol, words, or a combination of these, employed in creating an image that identifies a product and differentiates it from its competitors. Over time, this image becomes associated with a level of credibility, quality, and satisfaction in the consumer’s mind (see positioning). Thus brands help harried consumers in crowded and complex marketplace, by standing for certain benefits and value. Legal name for a brand is trademark and, when it identifies or represents a firm, it is called a brand name. See also corporate identity.” (http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/brand.html)
Great and consistent graphic design gives your business shape and form on paper, on line, and in the world. While looking good and having a powerful brand matters, they really just get you in the door or open the possibility for consideration. Credibility is what keeps your target audience coming back, participating, donating, or taking whatever action you are trying for. While credibility can be defined many ways, the most simple is doing what you said. Make sure that you clarify and enhance your communications so that there is no unintended confusion, so that it is clear that your organization does what it says it will do. Consistency in delivering this experience will, in conjunction with the first two points, provide you with an audience that likes what they see, recognizes what they see, and ultimately trusts what they see.
People do judge a book by its cover.... First impressions matter.