Everyone needs a strong company image. People quickly make assumptions about who someone or what something is based on their own set of experiences and expectations.
A first impression is the “make or break” moment; this is why branding is so important, even for startup companies. When customers think about buying, you want your company to be at the top of their list or be a part of their solution set.
A positive first impression is vital to your potential customers, especially when you consider the correlation between confidence level and customer acceptance. If you blow it right off the bat, you’ll have to do double-duty: not only will you have to undo any negative impressions, but you must also rebuild trust and confidence.
The Importance of a Logo
Your company’s logo should immediately explain what the company does. The most effective logos capture the nature of the product or service through a visual graphic and appropriate business name.
In an effort to save money, small business owners often take on the role of graphic designer. With the advent of the personal computer, this may seem like an easy task, but it is not.
Small businesses, in particular, need to hire a designer because they are all the more tempted to do it themselves or find a cheap solution. A $200 logo may seem like a bargain, but once it appears everywhere it becomes a nightmare if poorly designed. Most designers would rather create a client’s image from scratch than have to rework an inadequately developed logo. Sometimes it is impossible to undo the first impression.
How a Graphic Designer Can Help
Graphic designers reinforce the need for professional logo design and consistency. Other businesses — your competitors — achieve the professionalism and aptness of a well-designed logo, and you should allow your company the same benefit. Small business owners need to recognize that this is an important investment.
Effective graphic designers have a strong sense of shape and space, and they can develop imagery that you might not be able to develop on your own. They can help to create a feeling or convey a message with shapes, colors, and light.
Often, a designer begins the image creation structurally. The company’s personality and its short-, medium-, and long-term goals are studied to create an ongoing identity plan.
Business Owner Input
This does not mean that the small business owner is excluded from the design process. Much of a designer’s job is to listen to the client’s own ideas and gather the information needed to think the project through.
A graphic designer can take a business owner’s ideas and translate them into a graphic representation of the business. Working with a graphic artist can also save you money in the long run. They can propose corporate identity elements that are cost effective and still convey professionalism and personality. In addition to logos, these elements can include stationery, business cards, Web site design, presentation templates, and more.
How should a small business owner begin to brainstorm about his company image? Start by observing your community, your industry, and the media. Look at other company logos and images as you drive from one location to another. Observe billboards, watch television advertisements, read the local newspaper, and thumb through magazines.
Creative Sources of Inspiration
Spend time in the library. Children’s books can be a wonderful source of inspiration. Visit a museum. Surf the Web and simply observe — not only what you see but also your emotional reaction.
Don’t discount any idea. Oftentimes, a seemingly silly idea is one that leads you to valid design.
Play association games using names, ideas, and verbs. Free-play with simple geometric shapes to see if something starts to germinate. Consider using source books, design books, and annuals to jumpstart the process.
In the development of a company image, inspiration can come from anywhere. By partnering with a professional designer, you increase your chances that the image you select will be a lasting one.
Carol Parenzan Smalley is an educator, innovator, and entrepreneur. She is the creator of and instructor for “Creating a Successful Business Plan,” an online course offered by colleges and universities around the world.