You went out on your business venture and asked all your friends and family for their honest opinions. And their opinion wasn’t so much critique as it was encouragement. Now you have a business name that confuses clients, a logo that doesn’t relate to your industry, and anyone outside your circle generally has no idea what you do at first glance.
Enter the ever-important design consultation.
A design consultation looks at everything physical and digital that relates to your company. Here are some questions to ask yourself when it comes to your brand messaging.
1. What’s in a Name
Did you decide on your name because it made a nice acronym? I once met a man representing a business called L.I.F.E. It stood for Living Independently For Excellence (or something like that). What did that even mean? The acronym and even the full company name convey implied something pro-life, health and fitness, medical, or even life coaching.
NOPE. This was for a financial consulting firm! I’d have never guessed!
2. Logo and branding
Does your logo convey the purpose of your business? Does it appeal to your ideal client or is it very general? Your client can’t be EVERYBODY and your logo can’t be generic to appeal to EVERYBODY. If your client is high-end, make sure your logo conveys sophistication. If your client is a woman who loves Magnolia Farms and country living, does your brand appear farmhouse chic? And is it unique enough to stand up to your competition?
3. Marketing materials
How much information are you trying to convey in your flyers and handouts? Does your financial packet feel like a dreaded high school book report or is it an inviting piece for investors with plenty of breathing space to digest the bigger picture? Any piece that is printed or published should 100% be sent to a graphic designer for formatting.
4. Email Formats
Are you using 3 font colors, bold, underlined AND italics in your client emails to let clients know about an event, or do you have a pixelated image to promote a sale? Do you use a mail service that allows potential/clients to unsubscribe? Does everyone in your office have a uniform signature?
5. Effective Website Design
Does your website have 10 pages for each of your services when it really needs just one or two? Does it look self-made or professional? Is it information overload? Or is it too minimal? Are you using stock images of “professional handshakes” and “business meetings”? Were your employee photos on the Contact page taken by an iPhone camera?
6. High-Res Photography
Piggybacking off your website, do your employee photos all have different backgrounds? Are some black, some full color? At your company-sponsored events, is the Vice President photographed with an Android instead of a professional photographer? Are you publishing the Android photo in the local newspaper or company newsletter?
I’ve experienced the above MANY MANY times. When non-professional cameras and photographers come out, CEOs, Presidents, and industry leaders are often photographed in front of a trash can, or below an exit sign with the green light providing a hue to the Director’s forehead head. Or the light is SO harsh, that I had to add color back to everyone’s face.
7. Social Media Basics
Is your logo grainy? Does the banner text get cut off if you are using a mobile device? Do you even need Pinterest or Twitter? Who maintains the content?
8. Promotional Materials/Freebies
What are you giving away to your clients as a promotion? People love freebies, just make sure they are the right kind for your business. Pens for a law firm? College sports calendar magnets for alumni? Paper fans at a farmers market in the middle of summer for your handmaid/homegrown products?
9. Dressing the Part: Attire
Do you, employees, or business partners have a uniform or standard dress code policy when interacting with clients?
I once met a guy who wore a Chesapeake Bayhawks polo shirt. And guess what?! He worked for the Bayhawks! But another time I met a gentleman wearing a shirt with guns on it. Know where he worked? A financial advising firm. Can you guess who I scheduled a meeting with?
You may be the founder, director, leader, or marketing manager, or sales rep, but are you the right face for the company? Are you better behind the scenes than on the front lines meeting clients face to face? It’s ok to let go of the reins a little bit and give others the chance to do what they do best: shine and connect. It doesn’t mean you aren’t any less capable.
When I was in undergrad at Stevenson University and ran for student government president, I had a ton of big ideas. I was great at organizing. Know what I wasn’t good at? Connecting to other students outside my major. That’s why the most likable guy in the universe, Nick Farano, made the best vice president. He could rally and inspire students, faculty, and staff where I couldn’t all those years ago.
Admitting weakness can often be our biggest strength.
Remember: critique isn’t meant to tear us down, but to make us stronger, more efficient, and successful. If everyone agreed with us all the time, we’d never push ourselves to the next level.
If any of the above 10 messaging points sounded familiar, confusing, or embarrassingly true for you, don’t worry. We can make a plan to take you to the next level.
Contact me to schedule a design consultation.