The Power of Good Design: 3 ways good graphic design can grow your business

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Good graphic design is not just the difference between bright and colourful and dull and boring. It can be the difference between your customers choosing between you and your competitors. It’s not just what you say in your marketing channels that matters, but also how you say it – the design needs to say all the right things about your business and be visually compelling to your target audience.

So, who is a graphic designer?
A graphic designer is a professional whose job is to create visual presentations that effectively communicate a desired message. They combine words and images that help to explain what a business is all about, and apply this logic to all areas of marketing communications – corporate identity, advertising, packaging, brochures, websites, social media, newsletters, though some may choose to specialise in delivering any number of these. (Note that a graphic designer is not someone who has a loose knowledge of using Photoshop, but more on this later!)

Here are 3 ways investing in good design will strengthen and grow your business…

1. Memorability
Now more than ever, we are all daily bombarded with endless numbers of brands and logos from huge multinational companies to small local businesses. If you want your customers to easily recognise you and grow awareness of your brand, then good design will help you cut through the clutter and make you stand out from competitors and others in your industry. A design specifically for your business and with your target audience in mind is much more likely to have a powerful impact than a standard design or template downloaded from the web.

Back Room SAM was commissioned to produce a bespoke logo design for semi-permanent makeup artist Sheree Siddall. Throughout the project Back Room SAM worked very closely with the client to produce a vivid and classy design that reflected the core values of her business and would appeal to her predominantly female, style-driven target market.

Back Room SAM was commissioned to produce a bespoke logo design for semi-permanent makeup artist Sheree Siddall. Throughout the project Back Room SAM worked very closely with the client to produce a vivid and classy design that reflected the core values of her business and would appeal to her predominantly female, style-driven target market.

2. Consistency
A good graphic designer will consider how your logo or corporate identity will work effectively on all different kinds of media and marketing communications, both online and offline. Your customers are likely to come into contact with you and your brand via many different channels, and it’s vital that every time they receive the same message and same visual image. If you are working with a graphic designer on your logo design, make sure you and them consider how the design will work in various contexts. How will the logo look on your website or blog? On your letterhead? On your Facebook page? On your business card? Even embroidered on a uniform?

Conistent design1

3. Credibility
Have you ever come across the phrase ‘fake it ‘til you make it’? One of the most powerful elements of design is that you can be perceived as slick and professional even if your workplace is at home at a small desk under the stairs! However you choose to position yourself in your market, good graphic design is one of the easiest and most powerful ways to communicate your desired business identity. First impressions count, and if you haven’t taken any care or attention over your design, what’s to stop people thinking you run your business any differently?

Choosing a graphic designer
I hope I have started to convince you why investing in good design is very worthwhile for your business. But what about finding the right graphic designer to work with? Here are some quick tips for selecting a designer:

  1. Your chosen graphic designer will play an important role in your business, so you need to trust them. Anyone can call themselves a graphic designer, and you want to avoid getting stuck working with someone whose work looks like something your 8-year old could have produced on Powerpoint. So, before commissioning anyone, ask to see their portfolio to take a look at the work they have done previously and the clients they have worked with. If possible, contact some of the clients they have done work for and ask for their experience of working with the designer.
  1. If possible, arrange a face-to-face meeting with the designer before committing to working with them. Explain clearly your requirements, and observe how carefully they listen and take on board your thoughts and ideas. Do they make helpful suggestions, and do their best to address any concerns you might have? And do they take the time to understand your objectives and vision and understand your marketing strategy as a whole?
  1. Make sure that you discuss and are both clear on the agreed cost and budget for the design work, as well as payment terms. Also be sure to set a deadline for completion that you are both happy with.

Thanks for reading!

sarah x

www.backroomsam.co.uk

Need some help with your graphic design? I’d love to hear from you!
Get in touch with me and we’ll arrange a time to meet and brainstorm ideas together. Or visit my portfolio to take a look at some of the design projects I’ve been recently working on with clients.

What Colour says about your Brand

In recent weeks I have been developing a number of logos and corporate identities for various clients. One of the most important decisions to make about your visual identity is your choice of colour.


What is colour telling people about you?

Colour can communicate a lot more than you may think, sometimes even subconsciously! The infographic below suggests the emotions, qualities and characteristics that are associated with particular colours. It also gives examples of well-known brands that clearly demonstrate the claimed characteristics of each colour.

Colour Emotion Guide

Source: The Logo Company

So when deciding what colours to use in your brand, it’s worth thinking about what you wish to communicate about your organisation, product or service. It is vital to deliver a consistent message to your target audience about what your business is about (also known as your USP or proposition) and you need to ensure your logo, stationery and various promotional material communicates this message, and one way to do this is through appropriate and effective use of colour.


How many colours should you use in your brand?

It’s also interesting to spot from the infographic that for the most part, big brands choose to only use one main colour in their identity. They work hard to associate themselves with a particular colour, which helps strengthen their image and become more memorable.

The strongest brand identities I have designed have had a limited colour palette, and when brainstorming branding concepts with clients, I usually suggest choosing no more than 1-2 main colours to work with in a design.

 

Of course, design is not an exact science and when it comes to making important decisions like use of colour, it’s not always as simple as following a set of rules. But my suggestions above might provide a good starting point to get you thinking about the use of colour in your brand.

I hope you enjoy using colour to bring your brand to life, and if you would like some help thinking through or designing your brand identity just give me a shout!

sarah x

www.backroomsam.co.uk

7 Tips for Becoming a Boffin in Blogging

BLOG

I’ve worked with a number of clients over the last few months who have wanted to get into blogging. Blogs are a great idea for most businesses – as a business owner they give you the opportunity to reveal more about who you are and what makes your product or service special.

If you are still fairly new to blogging, here are 7 top tips to get you going or help you improve your blogging technique.

1. Get a blog that’s integrated into your website
Having a blog that’s integrated into your main website provides fresh content for your site which is good for Google and your SEO. It is also an easy way to get potential customers to visit your website and encourage them to venture outside the Blog section to other important pages that sell your product or service. If you can’t run to the cost involved in adding a blog to your website, then the alternative is to begin a free blog on something like blogger.com. If you do this, then be sure to include links to your main website in your blog posts.

2. The who, the what and the why
Before you begin putting fingers to keyboard, make sure you’ve asked yourself the critical questions: Who is it you are writing for?  What is it you want your blog to do? To connect with others? To share knowledge?  And why do you want to start a blog? To raise awareness of a particular issue? To demonstrate expertise in something? Write your answers down somewhere and read back over them as your blog develops to check you are still on track with your goals.

3. Make it easy to read
Research shows that people scan web pages rather than giving them a thorough read, and this should impact the way you write your blogs.  Make your main points clear, and be quick to explain why the post is relevant and worth reading. Readers spend an average of 1.5 minutes on a blog, so it’s important to hold their attention. Be concise and to the point to make your blogs quick and easy reads – between 250 and 800 words is a good guideline. For longer blogs (like this one!) use sub-headings, bullet points and images to help maintain the reader’s focus.

4. Invite two-way interaction
The best blogs actively encourage a dialogue between the blog writer and the readers. Ask for feedback, invite people to leave comments or let you know their opinions regarding the topic being discussed. It’s understandable to perhaps feel hesitant about inviting this sort of feedback, for fear of losing control or having your authority compromised. However, including other people’s opinions or experiences often makes for a more enriching blog. It’s also helpful to remember that you are always in control of what gets published on your blog. If you are worried then check your blog settings to ensure that any comments made by readers require prior moderation by yourself before being published on the site.

Two-way interaction

5. Use images
The blogs with the highest engagement levels almost always include images along with the text. As someone quickly scans through your web page they will process images much faster than text. Experiment with being creative with the images – how about using images that include some text, or even embedding a short video that is related to your blog post?

6. Get social (and sociable!)
Social blogging
There’s little point in writing a blog if nobody can find it. Use social media to get your blog out there, and cross-promote your blogs and your tweets to gain more followers. There are also free online tools out there that allow you to automatically publish your blog posts to your Facebook or Twitter accounts, giving you one less job to do when promoting your blog. Also, don’t overlook the face-to-face opportunities to promote your blog, such as when doing presentations or chatting at networking events.

7. Keep it up!
It can take a while for a blog to gain momentum, so if you’ve not yet established the readership you desire then don’t give up. It’s important to keep blogging regularly – this might mean once a month, once a week, or even once a day depending on your blogging aims and strategy. If you find yourself on a roll with writing, you can always write several posts in one go and then use the scheduling tool on your blog to automatically publish your posts over a period of time.

Over to you
Are you a regular blogger? I’d love to hear about your experience of blogging – please comment below to share your thoughts or to add your own blogging tips or tricks to the list.

sarah x

www.backroomsam.co.uk

Work Essentials: My Guest Blog on Work from Home Wisdom

Work from Home Wisdom badgeThis month, rather than writing a blog here on my own site, I was asked by Judy Heminsley of Work from Home Wisdom to write a guest blog on the “5 Things I Can’t Work Without”. I love Judy’s blog and always enjoy clicking through to read her posts which are often informative as well as fun to read, so I was thrilled to provide a blog post for her.

Fluffy Slippers and Filofax

My fluffy slippers are definitely a work essential!

“5 Things I Can’t Work Without” is a series of blogs written by various people who run their businesses from home. It’s a very popular read – we are by nature nosey folks who love to learn about other people and what their routines look like day-to-day, especially with so much flexibility and freedom involved in home working.

So here is my guest blog on the 5 Things Back Room SAM Can’t Work Without. I have made an effort to avoid the obvious items like a laptop or mobile phone, and instead tried to include things that explain the nature of my business and give a good idea about some of my character traits (the photo might give you some clues about some of the items I’ve chosen…)

Anyway, I hope you enjoy reading it!

sarah x

www.backroomsam.co.uk

Video Blog: Social media – A picture speaks a thousand words (or tweets!)

A post on social media is twice as likely to be shared or retweeted by others when it includes an image. In this video blog, I talk about how a important it is for a business to get creative with producing images for use on their social media pages, and how this can be done, even without any graphic design skills!

I hope you find this video blog useful, and I hope it inspires you to get creative when using images in your social media strategy.

Thanks for watching!

sarah x

www.backroomsam.co.uk

Video Blog: It’s the Little Things That Count

When running a business it is often the big things that are at the top of our priority list. This is understandable as these are often the sorts of things our business couldn’t run without. But in this video blog I talk about the importance of paying attention to the little details in your business. These smaller things require little extra effort, can work powerfully to set you apart from competitors and can go a long way in helping you succeed and achieve your business goals.

Thanks for watching!

sarah x

www.backroomsam.co.uk

Video Blog: 3 Easy Ways to Encourage Customer Loyalty

Getting customers and clients to stick with you long-term is one of the most efficient and profitable ways to grow your business. I often get asked for advice from my clients on strategic ways to build loyalty and increase repeat custom. In this short video I share 3 ways every business can encourage more customer loyalty in their business. Enjoy!

Thanks for watching!

sarah x

www.backroomsam.co.uk

What’s on your ‘Get To Do’ List?

To Do ListI attended a networking event the other day which had an open Q&A session. Somebody asked whether there was any free software out there to help them organise their ‘To Do’ list. After a couple of people speaking up with suggestions of helpful apps for helping with time management, another person then suggested the idea of dividing your list into things you want to do and things you need to do.

This may well be a useful way of helping you prioritise your tasks, but I would like to make a simple yet bold suggestion for completely changing your attitude towards your To Do list altogether…

Got to do ‘or ‘Get to do’?

If you’re anything like me, you wake up in the morning and the moment you open your eyes your brain starts whirring with the mountain of jobs you need to get done in the day ahead. All the things you absolutely have to get done, or else…

This is of course very normal, but with this regular way of thinking it’s very easy for a normal person (let alone a busy business owner!) to end up getting stuck in a perpetual state of fear and joylessness. Our To Do list, for all its value in helping us be productive and prioritise well, can actually start to have a detrimental effect on our well-being and, ironically, our productivity. If we’re not careful, life simply becomes a daily slog of ticking things off, and our To Do list has enslaved us and become a heaven burden to bear. Sure we may be driven, but are we only driven by fear and anxiety?

So how do we stop this from happening? How do we avoid the daily grind and fear factor as we work through our daily, weekly, monthly business tasks?

It’s all about attitude!

I strongly believe that battles such as these are won or lost in the mind. Instead of considering all of the things you’ve got to do today, instead consider all the things you get to do today. Have you ever considered the tasks you’ve got to work on as being privileges? It is a privilege to work and earn a living and serve others with your products and skills, and it is certainly a privilege to run your own business. Yes, it is even a privilege to do you’re annual accounts.

choosejoy2This attitude can be difficult to adopt, and in all honesty at first I found it quite ludicrous! But this just shows far we have slipped into a negative pattern of thinking. If this is how you feel, then I recommend the ‘fake it ‘til you become it’ approach. Whenever you catch yourself woefully looking down your To Do list and risking being overcome by a low-level sense of fear or despair, re-frame your thinking. Remind yourself that these are all things you get to do.

These are all things you have the privilege of doing.

This change of attitude doesn’t promise to make your To Do list shrink or become any shorter, but it does promise to drastically affect the way you tackle your tasks. Firstly, you will feel the joy return that may have long been missing. You will approach jobs with a much more positive and freeing attitude. You will feel the fear and anxiety lift, and in a short time you will notice that your to-do list will have become your slave rather than your master. And interestingly, with an increased level of positivity you are much more likely to be more efficient, productive, persistent and alert as well.

So, what do you get to do this week?

Over to you
Feel free to share any thoughts and comments below.

Thanks for reading,

sarah x

www.backroomsam.co.uk

 

Why I’m Excited About Running Getting Seen 2…

After the great success of the first Getting Seen Marketing Masterclass that I ran back in February in cahoots with fellow local business folk Jane Binnion, Tom Cumpsty and DT Guest, the exciting news is that we have decided to run a second one!

Getting Seen 2 is happening on Wednesday 23rd October 2013, 9.30am-4pm at the Wyrebank Banqueting Suite in Garstang (click here for map/directions).

Getting Seen 2 - Marketing Masterclass

This is a standalone one-day masterclass so you don’t have to have attended the first masterclass to come to this one. However, we have tweaked some elements of the day to make Getting Seen 2 even more packed full of practical and useful marketing tools and tips, even more beneficial to delegates and of course, even better value for money!

The day will consist of a range of sessions to choose from, including how to form your marketing plan, blogging and content strategy, making sense of web analytics, how Twitter and LinkedIn can help your business grow, plus sessions on Getting Seen in 60 seconds and how to create an e-book.

So why am I personally so excited about running Getting Seen 2?

Getting Seen was the first workshop I ran in collaboration with some other marketing professionals.  I personally loved the opportunity to work with others who were as keen to help local business people have the skills and confidence to get themselves out there as I was.

Getting Seen workshop discussion

One of the group discussions in my session at the previous Getting Seen Marketing Masterclass.

It was also a real pleasure running a session for a variety of business people with different needs, yet who were enthusiastic about discussing together how each of them could take the concepts being learned about and apply them to their unique business situations.

There are plenty of marketing workshops out there that business owners could attend. But I believe what makes the Getting Seen Team special is our combined knowledge of various marketing aspects and platforms, as well as our practical, clear and down-to-earth nature in delivering informative as well as fun and interactive sessions. The overall aim of Getting Seen is to empower delegates to use marketing methods in a smart and efficient way. The goal is not only that their business gets seen, but gets seen by the right people (and without wasting valuable time and money doing it). What also makes the workshop special is the offer of one-to-one follow up support with the workshop leaders, which previous delegates found invaluable, all included in the price of course.

For all that you get from Getting Seen, I think that’s £120 well spent, don’t you?

To find out more about the Getting Seen 2 Marketing Masterclass and to book tickets click here.
Please note that places are limited and an early bird ticket price of £120 is available until 23rd September 2013 (after which the ticket price is £150).   

Thanks muchly for reading, and I hope you’ll come along to the workshop if you can make it.

sarah x

www.backroomsam.co.uk

Writing a tagline for your business: 4 quick tips for getting started

Nike - Just .....errr?

If you’ve ever had to try coming up with a tagline or slogan for a product, service or business as a whole, you’ll probably agree with me in saying it’s not an easy thing to do. Many of my clients have commented that writing an effective tagline has been one of the biggest challenges for them in their marketing communications development.

A tagline needs to be concise, to the point and memorable, while also telling your potential customers or clients something about your business (preferably the most important thing – we’ll come back to this in a minute).

So, here are 4 quick tips to help with coming up with an effective tagline…

1. Have you done the strategy groundwork on your business? Do you know what the most important thing is that your target audience most care about from your product or service? Is it quality? Expertise? Customer care? Or maybe something more emotive like the feel-good factor. It’s also worth considering what it is that sets you apart from your competitors, and what you want to be well-known for in your field or industry. It’s useful to try and pin this down to just one (at a push two) things. I know this is hard, but doing this will make constructing a tagline that typifies your business’ most important feature lots easier. You also need to think about the extent the tagline is also required to communicate what it is you actually do. The name of your business or product might already do this so your tagline doesn’t need to (e.g. If the name of your business is ‘Photo Restoration Services’), but if your name doesn’t explain what you do, you may also need to think about how to work this into the tagline as well.

2. Find inspiration! Sitting down with a blank sheet of paper and pen might not be the greatest way to get creative coming up with a tagline. You could begin by reading testimonials or feedback comments from past customers if you have them, looking at the sorts of words and descriptions they have used when speaking about your business. Ask friends and colleagues who know you and your business well for ideas; people process concepts in different ways and they might be able to capture things in a way you wouldn’t have come up with on your own. You can also test out your ideas on people who are less familiar with what you do and ask what they think you are trying to communicate about the business, product or service. Alternatively, a good tip is to go for a walk, both physically and mentally. There is no ‘correct’ process to arriving at a tagline – use whatever you think will help you to arrive at a clear and compelling message.

3. Play around with words and phrases. I have seen good taglines in the form of commands, descriptions and even questions, so play around with the structure a little. Look up synonyms and related words to those you think help say what you want to say. And don’t forget to test out different ideas by saying them out loud, not just seeing how they look on paper.

4. Allow scope for growth. Your tagline is part of the business identity. You don’t want one you’ll have to change every time you add a new product or service to your portfolio. This is especially important if your business is still quite new as you may wish to change things about your business in the first few years. So is your tagline specific enough to clearly convey what you’re about, while being generic enough to allow for some future change and growth?

Above all, don’t panic if a suitable tagline doesn’t come to you straight away. Be prepared to be patient and give the ideas chance to develop in your mind.

Over to you
How have you gone about formulating a tagline or slogan? What has led you to finding just the right words to sum up your business or product? Leave a comment below, let us know what’s worked for you.

I hope you find these tips helpful. Please do get in touch if you would like to chat more about your marketing communications for your business.

Thanks for reading,

sarah x

www.backroomsam.co.uk