Acknowledging Bad Design & Seeking Help
With her background in education and course creation, business owner Samantha Groff is a no-nonsense kind of entrepreneur. She knows what she wants and doesn’t have the patience for companies that frequently overpromise and underdeliver.
When I met Sam, she had just put together her first free marketing handout. She showed me the pdf and told me upfront that the design required a significant redesign. She knew it was bad.
I was able to quote her on the spot and promised I could have it done within the week. She warned me not to overpromise.
When I received the go-ahead for the redesign, Sam walked me through some of the designs of other course creators to establish her expectations. She wanted something cohesive, not-so-glitzy, free of distractions, clean, and professional.
Aside from logo and website, her brand was never established, and she gave me free rein to explore different options to implement it within her new layout.
Identifying What’s Wrong
- There is no introduction to this handout. You open it and BOOM you are looking at content.
- There is an overall lack of hierarchy, with no headers to distinguish the three sections of the handout.
- Dramatic background changes from page to page: color to white to gray/black.
- Placement of logo over an unnecessary textured background
- No reference back to the website or who to contact.
- The phone number is broken up into two lines on the last page.
- Icons that do not contribute to the text and float without seeming connected to a paragraph. Not all paragraphs have an icon associated with them.
- Leader dots/lines that are meant to act as dividers but still do not define each section.
- The brand is only implemented through the use of color blocks on page 1.
Implementing a Brand
With almost eight years of corporate branding experience, I put my expertise to work.
Step 1. Always start with a blank slate/document.
Step 2. Break the material into the three sections it was intended to be. Create a proper hierarchy.
Step 3. Keep the paragraphs narrow/in columns for easier reading. Ensure the font size can be read on a screen or printed.
Step 4. Make sure to reference back to the website on every single page. Use page numbers and create a brief Table of Contents on the first page.
Step 5. Implement brand colors and fonts, draft from the OmniBiz Logo. In this case, the designated blue & green and Futura.
Step 6. Subtly sneak in the brand. I implemented this through the use of custom bullets inspired by the O/Cycle of the logo. I enlarged the cycle and reduced the opacity/transparency as a watermark on several pages that did not hinder the legibility of the text.
With the project completed within a few hours, I nervously bit my nails as I messaged Sam to inform her the design was complete. I prefaced with, “Would you like to see the first draft?”
I would never have expected the response. And I quote, “Holy Hell. That is AMAZEBALLS! I’ve never seen something I’ve done look so nice!”
Phew! *insert the biggest sigh of relief!*
Later in the week, when we met at a local networking event, Sam proudly showed off the before and after.
I couldn’t ask for a higher compliment! Thank you, OmniBiz Services, for the opportunity to help establish your brand and to create a fantastic piece!
Branding + My Expertise
Did you know you can have a logo but not have a brand?
Did you know you can have a few colors and typefaces but still not have a brand?
A brand is how you implement the various aspects of your company’s identity—visual, written, interpersonal. The more cohesive these three areas, the stronger your brand messaging.
For business owners that dove straight into work and never had a chance to catch their breath to establish their brand, this is where a skilled designer like myself can step up to create the powerful pieces your company deserves.
What can building a brand do for your business?
It makes you seem established, that you won’t go out of business within a year, and that—while you may be a small business—you know what you are doing.
I worked for Wells Fargo Securities for almost eight years in the Publishing Department. With multiple company rebrands, I converted old pieces to new formats and layouts. I love layout design.
When should you contact a graphic designer for layout design?
Are you distributing pieces to clients made in:
- Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint?
- Apps like Canva?
You need a graphic designer! Just see the difference a few hours can do!