Are you making one of these five common visual brand mistakes? Easily upgrade the look and feel of your brand by avoiding these pitfalls.
Creating visuals for your brand, whether it’s a social media graphic, a graphic for your website or a slide deck for your next course, can be quite the daunting task. Of course, my recommendation would be to hire it out if you can, especially if designing doesn’t light you up and/or is not in your Zone of Genius. However, that’s not a good fit for all business owners which is where the inspiration for today’s post came from.
Knowing and understanding design doesn’t have to be your ‘thing’. That being said, even if it’s not your jam, I’d wager that you still want (and deserve to have) professional looking designs. Which is why we’re diving into five common visual brand mistakes I often see. No shame or judgement – but if you’re after consistent, cohesive and impactful designs, understanding how to effectively create your brand visuals will only help strengthen your overall brand experience.
Mistake No. 01: Following what’s on trend versus what makes sense for your brand
I get it. You’re scrollin’ on social media and see a logo or graphic that is b-e-a-utiful. You do a little more digging into the brand and realize you could totally do that for your own business. Thus begins the rabbit hole and wasted time of chasing someone else’s dream.
Here’s the deal. A brand, from the visuals to the messaging, is tailored specifically for the business. So that beautiful brand you see? More often than not, it was created specifically for that brand. For that brand’s ideal client. For that brand’s personality. Could you imitate the same visuals? Yea, of course. But then it wouldn’t be specific to YOUR brand goals.
Following what’s on trend is fun, no arguing there. However, most of what’s on trend only makes sense for a certain type of brand. If you want to test a trend, work something into a graphic and see how it goes. But don’t completely overhaul everything – because trends come and go, and before you know it, you could be wasting a lot of time following a trend versus creating for your brand.
Mistake No. 02: Making design decisions based solely on what YOU like rather than what makes sense for that perfect-for-you client
Yes, you deserve to be excited about your brand. It’s something we pride ourselves on here at Witt and Company – crafting a brand you’re actually excited to share. However, it’s not all about you (!). Shocking statement, I know.
I’m going to go out on a limb and say that one of the top goals you have for your business is to make enough money to support your lifestyle. The argument, then, is that the way to make sales is to be build a relationship with a potential customer. Your brand visuals can help in that relationship building process by being attractive and appealing to that perfect-for-you potential customer.
The way you make your brand visuals attractive to that ideal client is by first understanding who they are. And don’t worry, if you need help in this area, check out these blog posts, all diving into helping you clarify who you want to work with.
Mistake No. 03: Spending too much time on making it ‘look pretty’ and not enough time on the message/goal of the design
As business owners, it can be easy to forget (myself included!) that the graphics, documents, designs, etc. we create are intended to serve a purpose. That workbook you want people to sign up for? Yes, it’s important that it LOOKS professional but it’s also important that it functions appropriately. The ‘Gram graphic you’ve spent the last hour on, trying to find the perfect font? Okay, cool. But is the message of the graphic clear?
Before I create anything, whether it’s for my own business or a client’s, I always start with: what is the goal of this design? That way, I’m going into the project with the goal at the forefront. It also helps make design decisions and speed up the process – I will often start with the most important information of the graphic and work my way down the priority list.
Yes, having a pretty looking graphic is great. But don’t forget that the graphic’s main goal is to serve a purpose and share a message – it’s your job to make sure that message isn’t getting lost or hidden because you’re more focused on making sure it looks good.
Mistake No. 04: Trying to fit too much into one design
From a messaging standpoint, it can be tempting to try and cram a lot of information into one piece of collateral. After all, you want to make sure the receive has all the information they need. However, this can lead to overwhelm and rather than reading everything, they end up reading nothing. A good rule of thumb is to ask yourself: what is the one idea that I want them to walk away with? This will force you to narrow in on the messaging and get clear on the graphic’s core message.
This mistake can also refer to the design itself. You see a design trend, you want to try it out and then before you know it, you have two or three… or more design elements that you’re trying to fit into a piece of collateral. This can easily cause your design to look cluttered and feel overwhelming. There is a lot to be said about simplifying. If you find yourself in this problem, remove all the elements from the collateral and then slowly add them back in, one at a time. More often than not, you’ll see how much cleaner the overall design looks when it’s simplified and pared down.
Mistake No. 05: Forgetting the ‘Big Picture’
When you’re in the middle of creating that launch graphic for your new program or service, that’s the thing that has your attention. And, rightfully so. However, that launch graphic is contributing to your overall brand experience. Yes, it’s just one element and touchpoint that someone may have with your brand. But it still is being consumed under the context of your brand’s big picture.
It’s worth repeating: everything that goes out into the digital and/or physical world on behalf of your business is either adding-to or detracting-from your brand’s perception. Now, that thought can be overwhelming and that’s not my intention. It doesn’t mean you have to make sure everything looks perfect, all the time. Not at all – because that’s boring and unrealistic. What I do hope you take away is that it’s important to at least be mindful of the fact that whatever you’re creating is going to contribute to your brand’s story. Even just being aware of this fact is enough – it allows you to make intentional decisions, rather than ones that are last-minute or rushed.
I know I mentioned this in the post but it’s worth repeating: this is not about perfection. I don’t believe there is such a thing. Pablo Picasso says it best: Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist. Understanding the rules and/or knowing where you’re making mistakes will allow you to create with intentionality, rather than lack of understanding.
For even more design support, check out this post about five quick and easy ways to upgrade your brand visuals.
With that, Happy Branding!
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