We all like to think that we’re completely rational

We all have a favourite shop. That one place we can’t help nip into “just for a look” every time we walk past.

 

And generally, it won’t be somewhere flashy. It won’t be the place with the gimmicky displays, the random ad campaigns, or God, forbid! the ever changing store layout.

For me, that shop is GAP. Even when I was in San Francisco the other year… I stepped out the train, luggage in hand, blurry eyed from back to back movies on the flight – I just never can resist! and the first thing to catch my eye was that trusty GAP sign. There it was, staring lovingly back at me, offering that comfortable feeling of knowing you’re in the right place, even if that’s a strange city on the other side of the world.

And that feeling? They do that on purpose, because in that case, I am the ideal customer. I’m practical, no-nonsense and all about design… as is GAP. That connection right there breeds a kind of loyalty that can last a lifetime [a short-lived Levi lust notwithstanding].

 

We all like to think we are rational, and we’re capable of making rational decisions but ultimately we are creatures of emotion. Our emotions control our decisions.

Especially when it comes to parting with our cash.

 

And the cliche is true. Beauty is absolutely in the eye of the beholder. Just remember that when it comes to your business, that beholder is your customer base, and it’s your job to appeal to them. Any kind of design work you do should have that laser focus.

I’m not talking about investing thousands in pro designers or branding experts… it’s just about being aware of how your appearance affects your audience.

So how can you make sure your business is the right kind of beautiful?

 

NAVIGATE THE “INSPIRED BY” LINE

It’s pretty common for a client to tell me they want a brand like Miss So-and-so, or a site like Mr Big-shot-guru, and that’s something I want to stamp out right here, right now.

That kind of innate copying, no matter how unintentional, is hurting your ability to really connect with your customer base.

Sure, look around and get inspired, but don’t assume that by emulating someone’s style you can emulate their results.

Here’s a fun quiz I put together to help you figure out what your own brand style should look like. 

 

STEP AWAY FROM THE PICK-N-MIX

With all the fun free tools and the endless wells of design elements, it’s really easy to pick out a whole mess of stuff and fling it into your visuals. You will find yourself shovelling in a bunch of bits and pieces that simply don’t belong together. It’s like chomping down on a black jack, a sour snake and a chocolate coated peanut all in one go. Ick. No matter how much you love each one, together…. just no.

Stop incorporating things just because it’s pretty, or trendy, or in your favourite colour.

Every single design element you select should be intentional, picked with your audience in mind.

Just walk away with no more than 3 fonts, main brand colours and visual design styles, and you’ll be sorted.

 

STOP SETTLING FOR LESS

I hear a lot of people saying “good enough is good enough” and while I agree that done is better than perfect, I’ve started to see a LOT of sloppy design work out there and that really ISN’T good enough.

This is definitely a mark in the “use templates for your biz” column.

They just make the whole process easy, and they help you slam those results with a fraction of the effort.

 

HEAD OUTSIDE

It’s far too easy to get trapped in your own bubble of sitting behind a desk and watching what others are up to online. Tell me, where has that go you?

Try stepping outside of your business for the day. Take a look around. Which signs draw you in? Which products end up in your basket? Which displays intrigue you?

Note down they WHY for each of these too. Track the colours, visual styles and fonts of these items, and look for a common thread.

This kind of investigation can help fuel your brand design, and provide a whole bunch of reference materials for your next marketing endeavour.

 

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