Friday, July 29, 2005

Good Design is Good Business

I recently saw a business card with an oriental theme. It had a picture of two chop sticks crossing each other to form an "X" for the beginning of the business name. (No I won't tell you. I don't want to embarrass them.) There was an illustration of a Chinese farmer with his hat cocked to the side. The illustration was loosely done like it was made with Chinese calligraphy brush strokes.

The design was beautifully done. Just one problem. It had little to do with the Orient, or even a restaurant. In fact, to this day, I still am not sure what the business is exactly. All I know is that when I read the smaller text copy it alluded to the possibility that this business was some sort of software solution company.

Herein lies the rub. Good design does more than look beautiful. It must communicate an accurate message about who you are, and what you are about. For a business card this is even more critical, because it is often the first-impression many people will have of your business. Either they will be inspired, and connected to what you are communicating, or they will be confused and uninspired.

The design of your brand and marketing materials will determine what sort of customers you will attract. For instance, if you differentiate yourself as a low-quality, low-price business, you will attract customers who are expecting your products and services to be very inexpensive. There is nothing wrong with that, except when it is not what you want to say, or how you want to differentiate yourself.

The unfortunate result of this inconsistency is that you will not meet these customer's expectations when they come to you for service or products. Eventually, you will have to decide whether or not to reposition your company to minimize market confusion. If your customers are confused, it is a sure bet that they will find what they need elsewhere. Perhaps they will find what they need with your competitor, who has a consistent visual message.

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