Attention. Hopefully we’ve got yours. But now we need to keep it…Did you notice the image first? It’s the biggest thing on the page and that’s important, because the eye will go to the biggest thing first (in newspaper stories it’s deliberately the headline or the image).
As you know, getting attention… it’s crucial in business, otherwise no-one finds you and you don’t make any sales. It’s just part of why powerful graphic design is needed in marketing and business.
Good design helps the customer take the journey through your website or store by creating a visual flow. The aim is to get a person to take an action, a sale, a contact or a showroom visit.
The Simpsons and designing a brand
Design also plays a huge part in creating and maintaining a brand.
In the early days of The Simpsons, creator Matt Groening told interviewers The Simpsons were yellow so that they’d stand out among the hundreds of channels on US television…
Ok, the Simpsons’ success isn’t down to yellowness alone, but the brand’s visual recognisability has helped build a franchise worth a reported $750m.
When it comes to business logos, colours and fonts – each one is carefully considered and weighted towards achieving a marketing goal. It supports the brand values, creating consistency for consumers and employees (and potential employees).
Think about a brand’s personality; it’s aim is to convey itself as a symbol of trust and excellence in its field, the reason why customers come back again and again (and hopefully tell their friends to visit too). Design should visually support those values – you’d know a brand you trust and buy from by the colours, the typeface, the tone.
Design also plays its part in user experience (UX) and the biggest companies are often in a state of constant A/B testing, for example, colours that create greater conversions, or the positioning of other design elements. Packaging design can alter a customer’s perceptions of what’s inside, and how likely they are to enjoy it.
Good design helps content consumption
When was the last time you bought a product without seeing an image first? Have you ever passed over a website in favour of one that has better images (and probably a better product description)? The combination increases trust and confidence.
Logo, packaging, layout; all require a good designer to help deliver the company message and values. Customers who like your brand have programmed themselves to recognise it as a mark of quality and worthy of their money.
If a site is delivering information, a well-designed infographic may help a customer consume the info in an easier way than words alone. They read the information, they see you as an expert and employ your services. It’s a win.
Where psychology and marketing mix
When you think of Rolls Royce, it’s luxury that springs to mind. That’s its brand image. Whereas a visit to retailer Amazon probably wouldn’t be classed as a luxurious experience, but it is the world’s most valuable brand. Amazon is designed to make the customer’s purchase journey seamless, and the layout of the site reflects the brand’s belief in customer convenience. The designers of Amazon’s pages are skilled in User Experience (UX) design, creating not just graphics to gain attention, but creating a powerful navigation flow around a site where it’s easier to purchase online than walking to a shop.
Brand strength – World’s top ten brands
From the Nike Swoosh to the McDonald’s Golden Arches, graphic designers have created some of the most memorable images around. And think about the world’s top ten brands:
- Coca Cola
- Mercedes Benz
Source: Business Insider
Brand image is big business as it can directly influence a customer’s purchase decisions. Authenticity and presence were among the common reasons for the top ten brands’ success too. You could probably recognise each of those top brands by their logo alone. It’s why graphic design is important for any business.
More design elements
Designers will hear the argument that design is subjective. It has some validity, but good marketing means testing creative elements to understand what works, and hopefully why it works. For example, white copy on a black background traditionally has a lower readership than classic white on black. It’s harder to read white on black. If it doesn’t get read, your customer likely won’t purchase. Testing is the only way to know for sure…
There are some other classic design elements to consider too:
- Symmetry and Balance – are the images weighted equally on either side of an axis?
- The Golden Ratio – in nature the ratio 1:1.618 describes the perfect symmetrical relationship between two proportions. For example, the ideal body copy size for a 20pt headline would be 12pt (20/12=1.6)
- The Rule of Thirds – on an image an evenly spaced 3 x 3 grid creates the focal points of where an image should be placed.
- Flow – how the design moves the eye from one part to another
- Repetition – by adding the same elements throughout a design you can create unity and consistency
- Pattern – made up of individual elements that are repeated a pattern is often used on the surface of the design to create texture and structure.
- Typography – balancing the text through letter and typeface designs.
For example, the Apple, Twitter and Pepsi logos all employ the Golden Ratio and it’s in classic paintings – the Mona Lisa by Da Vinci uses the Golden Ratio rule too.
A world without graphics?
Now, imagine a business with no graphic elements. There are no nice labels; boxes and packaging are plain and there’s no logo (even ‘no frills’ supermarket brands have a distinct design element, which has been through a rigorous design process to get the look just right).
How would you pick out your favourite on a supermarket shelf where everything looked the same?
How would you launch a new product?
Or imagine flat pack furniture with no instructions?
It gives you a basic idea of where graphic design fits in.
And when you create a brand it’s important to stand out, for employees, potential employees and customers. Graphic design alone doesn’t build a brand but when you’ve built a reputation as a leader, you’ll want your brand as instantly recognisable as it can be.