When entrepreneurs first start out in business, they often envision having a company image that sets them apart from everyone else. Successfully defining that unique image requires a multi-faceted approach that involves everything from product and service offerings, company story, and unique value proposition.

However, few things can compare to graphic design when you want to create an instant and lasting impression on your customers.

Graphic design is an integral part of your brand image. It’s everywhere – from your website to social media and in all of your marketing materials. Whether you’re just starting out or going through a refresh, graphic design should always play a major role in your marketing plans.

“Developing professional graphics should be considered as an investment rather than a cost, as they’re crucial to building and defining your company’s image,” says Dennis Foot, Creative Director at Amplified Communications. “They also play a large role in creating relationships and building trust with your customers.”

Create a Design that Reflects Your Brand’s Uniqueness

It’s important to create a lasting first impression when customers initially connect with your brand. Much of developing relationships with your audience has to do with they how they respond to your design. You could have the most incredible content on your website, but if your layout, colours, and fonts aren’t doing it justice, your efforts might be wasted.

That’s why it’s so important to get your brand personality right the first time with an effective design strategy that can visually establish the brand image you want.

“Innovative, trustworthy, fun, approachable, strong, traditional, modern – these and more are traits that can be successfully conveyed in branding materials,” Dennis says. “Of course, we can’t convey every trait – as much as we’d like to – so it’s best to focus in on just a few to create the most succinct branding imagery possible.”

Creating customized brand designs is essential for any business, but it’s especially crucial for start-ups who are starting from scratch to establish their image, personality, and voice.

“In many cases,” Dennis says. “Start-ups aren’t sure what they want. They might have a concept, but have trouble choosing the best font and colours to bring it to life. In this case, I usually make branding recommendations based on client-provided reference points, such as what kind of logos they like or which colours and layouts appeal to them, as well as what kind of image they want to build in the eyes of their customers.”

Dennis notes that although established companies also tend to need a helping hand when developing new graphics, they benefit from having existing branding materials on which they can build.

“Established companies generally know what they want from their existing colour and font schemes, but it also helps to see what kind of graphics worked for them in the past in order to come up with most effective, brand-centric designs for their rebrand or new product launches.”

Using colour psychology to create personality

When it comes to choosing the right colours, it’s important to understand the subtle psychology behind colour use to ensure that you’re sending the right message to your audience. For example, orange tends to be a cheerful colour, while blue suggests confidence and strength.

Combining different colours can give you virtually unlimited options to build the exact brand personality you want to reflect. They can also be used to encourage action, such as pressing a button or opening a web page, and can be used in combination with images to sharpen the brand messaging.

“Images are often used to set moods,” Dennis says. “A suit and tie image will suggest confidence and dependability, but not warmth. A lion represents strength and competitiveness, but not creativity. Professional designers can help you design the perfect custom image, using the colours you need to create the right image that elicits the proper response.”

Also, use stock images or shapes in your branding images judiciously. They might work well with your web pages and blog articles, but your logo should be completely unique to your brand. After all, the last thing you want is branding material that someone else – especially your competition – might try to use.

How important is font design?

When we think of design, colours and images often jump to mind first. However, proper font choice also plays a role in creating the best designs possible for your brand, whether it’s on your logo or across your website. Thinking of using Arial or Times New Roman? Consider first the vast amount of more exciting font choices that will really make your messaging pop.

“Font use is very important,” Dennis says. “You can communicate a lot with your font choice, which is why it’s crucial to pick a font that matches your brand. Personally, I prefer clean, legible, simple fonts that can be used in any industry, but I will use custom or unusual fonts if there is really a need for them. I use bolder, more impactful fonts for events or anywhere you need to stand out. Companies just need to be careful not to use strong fonts all the time, as doing so lessens their impact and makes your messaging too ‘noisy’.”

Once you’ve chosen your colours, images, and fonts, be sure to keep them consistent across all of your marketing materials. It helps cement your logo into people’s minds, and also makes every piece of your communications strategy instantly recognizable.

Should you hire a graphic design professional?

Hiring a design professional might seem like an unnecessary extravagance at first, especially if you or a colleague has some sort of design talent. However, before you set them up with a Canva account, be aware that to successfully create the graphics you need, you need to work with a “view from the outside” approach.

That’s because your customers are outsiders, know nothing about your company, and are counting on your design to effectively communicate your brand values. As an insider, your “inside perspective” might prevent you from knowing what your customer needs in order to form the right relationship with your company. Hiring a design professional will give you that important 3rd-party perspective, along with the designer’s eye that will successfully bring your brand image to life.

Plus, you’re assured of quality work. Someone in-house might have some design skills, but not at the level you need to maximize your growth potential. So if you don’t have budget for professional designer at the outset, be sure to invest in one as you start to generate revenue.

It’s just one of the many reasons why unique graphic design is paramount to creating a recognizable brand that sets your business apart from your competitors.