Most of us have a rather vague idea of what graphic design strives to do in the business context. So let’s kick off by answering the question “What is graphic design?” With this knowledge to back us up, we’ll take a closer look at the benefits of professional graphic design. After that, we’re just a hop and a skip away from pinning down why you should use professional graphic designers in a business context.
Let’s get started!
What is Graphic Design?
Professional graphic designers are creatives who design and use visual content to convey your message. Apart from creating a “look,” they apply visual hierarchies and layout techniques to “speak” to your clients. That also involves combining text layouts with images and other visual elements as well as interactive features with the aim of giving users the best experience possible.
Even in today’s world, where most things are done online, they’ll implement their craft so that elements that might be needed for physical materials like packaging, banners, brochures, and business cards can be used both online and off - and they’ll design these materials if they’re required to. This ensures cohesiveness and economy: no need for a complete rework just because you’re moving from digital to hard copy.
As you’d expect, these visual design and presentation experts are as able to develop physical marketing materials. After all, before the internet became pervasive, that was their primary field. With the transition to online marketing, their range of skills merely expanded to embrace design in a digital format.
The Benefits of Professional Graphic Design
Nobody wants to look like an amateur - and when graphic design is attempted by the uninitiated or unskilled, that’s just how the results come across. Have you ever looked at a website or a brochure and thought: “Nice business, but should they be doing their own design?” The evidence is there for all to see. Even if people can’t quite put a finger on it, they’ll recognise that something isn’t quite “right.”
Here are a few ways to spot amateur graphic designers at work:
Stretched or compressed text: Even when it works visually (which it seldom does) trying to match it to other text is next-to-impossible.
Overdone shadows, radiant glows and embossing: Remember when you were in art class at school and you’d just keep adding shades and highlights to your messy sketch to make it look better? It kinda worked, but deep down, you knew you were just hiding imperfections. Sure, a few effects can add to a slogan or logo, but too many effects detract from visual messages rather than enhancing them.
A mish-mash of fonts: Please, folks, fonts are part of your brand’s presentation strategy. Choose them carefully and stick with them. Only an amateur will be inconsistent in this area!
Work that isn’t proofed: We’ve all seen the famous “sotp” sign painted as a road-marking. It was good for a chuckle, and we all walked away feeling cleverer than whoever painted it. But this kind of error happens all too often, and it’s a lot easier to achieve on a computer than it is with paint and stencils!
Incorrect design formats: Moving to more complex, yet nonetheless inexcusable errors, design format is vital to a professional-looking product. Repeated layering of “borrowed” design elements and incorrect resolution that leads to pixelated edges are just two examples of amateur design formatting disasters we too often see.
Delivering “dated” work: In the eighties, it may have been cutting-edge. Now, it just looks clunky. Even if you’re selling something retro, you’re still offering it to modern consumers. Get the presentation wrong, and you look like an amateur.
How to recognise professional graphic design at a glance:
It’s balanced: The elements of the design are simple, uncluttered and purposeful.
You can see its purpose and “read” its message at a glance: No matter how complex your business is, a professional graphic designer will be able to deliver visual cues that convey your message at a glance. In a world where everything happens fast, and where you can gain or lose a prospect’s interest in seconds, that’s a must.
Creativity and imagination: Let’s not forget that graphic design is an art. Good graphic design is creative. It projects the image you want to convey, and it does so in ways you might not have previously considered. Plus, it looks great!
Every detail is perfect - no corners cut: There is no “close enough for jazz” moment in good graphic design. If it isn't perfect, it doesn’t get submitted.
There’s a high level of technical expertise: A true professional is never going to just photoshop something and chuck it back at you. Using advanced tools, he or she will produce great work with the help of best-in-class graphic design tools. But tools are only as good as the skills of the person who uses them. Take it as read. A real pro achieves mastery.
It’s always on-message and brand-appropriate: Apart from conveying a professional image, professional graphic design is “you.” No self-respecting professional graphic designer will even start work before gaining an understanding of your business and your brand. That’s because a graphic designer’s job is to tell your story, and that means getting to know your business, its goals, and its core message.
Seven Reasons Why You Should Use Professional Graphic Designers
Newsflash: it’s possible to get graphic design done cheap. It’s also possible to get cheap housing, cheap clothing, and cheap food. The problem with “cheap” is that the saving has to come from somewhere, and in the end, you actually pay for that saving. The house’s roof leaks, the clothes and shoes don’t last, the food is unpalatable. And, when it comes to graphic design, the results are unprofessional and you end up having to redo everything from scratch.
Since we’ve already looked at some of the differences between good and bad graphic design, we’ll take this a little further and look at the benefits you’ll get from paying for good graphic design.
1. Make the right first impression
Before anyone reads a word you have to say, they’ve seen your imagery and layouts and they've formed an impression of what to expect. You can compare this to a storefront. If the storefront looks dingy and tatty, you won’t expect much from the business that operates there. Like a well-kept storefront, your professional design says: “I care about my business. I’m professional and I don’t settle for second-best. My customers and what they think of my business are important, so I’ve gone all-out to present my business well.”
2. Share information quickly and efficiently
Let’s face it: everyone’s busy these days. With a picture painting a thousand words, there’s no need to write (and expect your customers to read) a thousand words just to grasp your message.
Infographics provide an excellent example. They contain what amounts to pages of information all neatly summed up into an interesting and informative image. And people LOVE them. Market research shows that infographics are three times likelier to be shared on social media than other types of post. So, if you’ve got something to say, try saying it with graphic design!
3. Beat your competitors
Unless it's just an impulse, most customers will do a little research before deciding where to take their business. No matter whose figures you read, over 80 percent of consumers will do a little online research before deciding to approach your business. How does your business compare? What impression does it convey?
If your competitors have made the mistake of using amateurish design, your professional, polished-looking image will get the attention. If they're already up there and looking good, you’d better make sure that you look even better, or they’ll win the customers before you get a chance to demonstrate your skill.
4. Grab the limelight
If you’re like most of us, you spend a little time every day scrolling through your social media feeds. Suddenly, you stop. There’s a “wow” moment. Something looks beautiful, interesting, delicious, or striking. An image or a line of text catches your eye. Who could have posted this?
If it’s even halfway as good as it looks, you’ll remember it for a time. If it’s totally compelling, you might even engage with a like or a share. From the marketing perspective, just pausing and gaining that vital impression is already much of the mission accomplished. Good design got the message across! And if it’s shared, that’s the cherry on top. Every person with whom that work is shared represents an opportunity, and if they, in turn, share the content, momentum builds. It could even go viral!
None of this will happen without great graphic design. No matter how good the content may have been, you wouldn’t have stopped for a closer look if someone hadn’t purposefully arranged each visual and textual element to make you do just that.
5. Send a strong, consistent message
As we already pointed out, good graphic design conveys an instantly-recognisable message. It’s also important for the message to contain your “signature” in the way it’s presented. That includes all the visual elements: logos, colours, fonts, textures, lines, and patterns as well as textual elements which include tone and brand voice.
Get it right, and all the visual information you’re presenting, and the message it conveys will be instantly recognisable as being from you. To those who already know your business, there’ll be the spark of recognition: “I know this business. I should go there again!” To those that don’t, recognition piques curiosity: “I’ve seen this business before. Maybe I should try them!”
6. Good design is memorable and persuasive
It’s not new. Good design persuades people to take action. For an example, we need only refer back to the iconic World War One “Uncle Sam Needs You” poster. That poster design had its centenary in 2017, and people around the world will still recognise it instantly.
As for its effect, that poster is said to have been very persuasive indeed. Uncle Sam’s accusing stare and pointed finger may have encouraged millions of Americans to enlist, and it drummed up support for a war that most Americans hadn’t wanted to get involved in.
7. Good design is scalable and long-lasting
From giant billboards to tiny social media snippets, good design has impact. Perhaps it won’t last forever, but if it’s genuinely good, it won’t need more than a few tweaks to keep it abreast of the times.
Consider the Coca Cola logo and the designs that flowed from it. While the company has certainly made minor adjustments to the logo several times, it’s still recognisable if compared to the 130-year-old original. While the advertising style and imagery have changed, the colours, the fonts, and the message they convey remains very similar.
Wrapping it Up: Look as Good as You Are
You’re in business because you’re good at what you do, but looking good is almost as important. No matter how passionate you are about your business; no matter how good your work is, first impressions do count.
Graphic design makes those impressions, so if you’re a professional, choosing a professional graphic designer to represent you is an important step. Anything less runs the risk of a slap-dash, amateurish job that conveys the wrong message to your prospective clients - the very people you need to impress to get revenue flowing through your business.
Luckily for you, professional graphic design doesn't have to cost you the millions that global companies invest in getting their look just right - but it’s also not going to be a matter of just asking a buddy who is good at photoshop to do it or paying some kid five bucks to come up with something.
Be considered, strategic, and use your smarts in choosing the right person with the right qualifications - or approach an agency to assign it to one of their experienced and highly-qualified personnel. Image may not be everything, but it’s still a biggie!