We've had countless conversations with clients whether they were starting a business or had an established company, and more often than not their branding was done out of order. What does that mean? Well, as with anything there is a process that affects the success and outcome of any project or task. For example, when you start a business you typically have a business plan that lays out the structure and tasks that you need to complete in order to launch a business. The same applies for how that business appears and is presented to the public for consumption.
While it's extremely exciting to have setup all of the intricate legal pieces to establish a business, DON'T jump the gun and set out to build a website or business cards, or anything else for that matter without first establishing your brand's design. It is equally important to take the same approach with the appearance of your business as you did with your business plan. Be methodical, plan ahead, make a list, however you work best â€” do that.
1] Look at other businesses websites, business cards, catalogs, flyers, brochures and other marketing materials and get an idea for what you like and don't like. Think in terms of your business: What are your goals? What are you selling or offering to the public? The more you know about what you do and don't like the better able you are to communicate with your designer about what you want.
2] Figure out your budget. What are you willing to spend? What are you able to spend realistically? You need to know this and understand what it costs to build a website, what it costs to have a brochure designed, a catalogue or magazine, etc. Each of these things has a range in price from the economical to expensive, and with that certain expectations: economical â€“ cheap, subpar to poor design quality; mid-level â€“ moderate pricing, good to very good design quality; high-end â€” most expensive, very good to excellent design quality. Keep in mind this is a very generalized scale, but it is a good reference point to keep in mind. As with any product the best stuff usually costs the most money, not ALWAYS but a lot of the time. Don't skimp on your branding and design budget, this is a really important piece to the puzzle of starting your business, how you look and appear to your customer base speaks volumes about who you are and how you operate your business. If your site looks dysfunctional, poorly designed and/or hard to navigate it can and will be interpreted negatively by potential clients and customers.
3] Find a designer â€” whether it's a freelancer, a small firm, or one of the big design houses you need to find somebody that's going to be able to match your aesthetic and ideas well. Remember, the design of their own branding doesn't mean they can't design for your aesthetic, BUT, if their stuff doesn't look like it's up to snuff that's important too. Trust your instincts.
4] Establish a timeline with your designer on what you'd like to do and when it will be completed. Keep in mind that this is a fluid marker, your ability to communicate effectively, efficiently and in a timely manner will drastically affect how onâ€“time your schedule and deadlines are. Your designer will also be able to tell you whether your schedule and deadlines are practical and achievable. If they tell you an item needs more time than you've allotted, listen to them. They do this for a living and want you to succeed just as much as you do.
5] Expect to pay a deposit to your designer to begin work, this can typically be anywhere from 30% to 50% of the entire project budget, some or all of it may be non-refundable. Some firms will be slightly different in their terms, but generally this is a good rule of thumb to budget by and expect.
6] ALWAYS PAY YOUR DESIGNER ON TIME. Whether you've established a monthly billing plan or your doing a lump sum, pay them. They've worked hard for you to succeed. Treat your designer as you would like to be treated â€” you like to get paid, right? So do they.
7] Expect hiccups at launch time, this mostly applies to website design and development, but you can also run into issues with a printer too. Everyone's first instinct is to get mad at the designer/developer, and that's understandable, BUT remember we're all human â€” mistakes happen. A lot of the time with technology moving as fast as it is the issues and problems that pop-up are and were completely out of the designer's/developer's control. So, take a deep breath and establish a plan with your designer/developer on how best to deal with the problems or issues. In the end, it will all be okay, it just might not feel that way at the time.
8] All of your materials have been designed, your website is complete, up and running and looks fabulous! Great! You're done, right? You don't need to communicate with your designer anymore, right? WRONG While it may seem like you're all set the likelihood of needing assistance with one of your marketing pieces at some point in the near future is extremely high. Whether it's a tweak on your brochure or a printing error, or an issue with something displaying correctly on the website, or an issue you're having using your new CMS system [Content Management System]; who are you going to call on when you have a problem? You're designer. They know you, they know your business â€” they've lived, eaten and breathed it for weeks, months and sometimes longer. They know your brand. They designed it.