Design is everywhere. It presents itself in various forms and ways, but they’re an important part of our everyday life. They inform us, educate us, entertain us, and engage with us. Any business knows the importance of using great graphic design to stay relevant.
People get bombarded with thousands of designs daily: packaging, websites, products, posters, social media images, business cards, and dozens of other forms of designs. But the general atmosphere around great design is that it’s something that small businesses can’t afford. Of course, big players like Coke and Apple (and virtually any large corporation) can spend fortunes on a company’s design needs. But good design doesn’t always need a multi-million budget.
Today, 73% of companies invest in graphic design to stand out from their competitors and catch people’s attention. That includes small businesses too. The point is that if you’re a business—whether small or large—graphic design is not a luxury. It’s a necessity.
Solidify your brand with great visuals
Around 77% of marketing leaders say that branding is an important aspect of business growth. Branding is not only limited to great visuals, but it plays a crucial role in building a brand that stands out. Small businesses can build long-lasting and highly engaging brands by creating an identity that resonates with a captive audience. Here are some ways to do that.
- Have a great logo. Good visual branding starts with building a visual identity around a great logo mark. With the help of a branding consultant or graphic designer, a small business owner can get a good business logo for a few hundred dollars. You can also create one yourself if you’re confident that you can nail something that you can stick with and be proud of for a very long time. A good logo is simple and easy to remember. Avoid using complex logos that are hard to apply to all kinds of branding materials.
- Select a color palette. A good visual brand sticks to a selective set of brand colors that will become the backbone of your company’s brand image. Colors are a major factor in people’s visual senses. It helps communicate tone, mood, and even drives action. Choose colors that match your brand’s personality. If you want to look professional and formal, for example, use dark shades of blue, grey, or black. If your brand is playful, stick with bright colors.
- Stay consistent. Most importantly, when you land on a brand image, stay consistent. Apply a brand identity to everything and don’t keep changing it every week or so. Decide on a brand direction that you can run with for at least five years and move with that.
7 graphic design tips for small businesses to build a great brand on a budget
First and foremost, design and branding do have a price tag. But don’t think of it so much as a business expense but as an investment. There is a great return of investment too on excellent design.
If you’re a small business working on a relatively small budget for marketing and design, don’t worry. There is so much you can do with a small allocation for great design. Here are a few tips to start using graphic design for small businesses when you’re on a tight budget.
1. Know your target audience
What can sometimes put business owners on a hamster wheel when it comes to design is when we design without a specific audience in mind. Graphic design isn’t meant for the graphic designer nor is it meant for the business owner. It’s for the company’s target audience.
The best graphic design small business ideas won’t matter if we aren’t targeting the right people. Start by knowing your target audience. Build brand personas and enumerate all that you know about people who might benefit from your business’ offerings. Then when you have a good idea of who you’re trying to reach, create graphics for that captive audience. This avoids the needless revisions and design changes that end up costing businesses thousands of dollars a year.
2. Use online tools
Another great time and money-saving hack when creating good graphic design for small businesses is using online web tools for graphic design. Dozens of applications and software can meet all small business graphic design needs for nothing more than a few dollars every month in software subscriptions.
Some of the features of graphic design software that are essential for small businesses include having access to ready templates, the ability to collaborate with other team members, and good online chat support. A good example is the graphic designing tool Crello that provides tens of thousands of templates and hundreds of thousands of stock images and illustrations. Crello also has an easy-to-use collaboration feature that allows multiple people to comment and work on a design at once.
3. Hire a graphic designer to create special projects
There will be instances where the expertise of a professional graphic designer will come in handy. But if you’re working on a limited budget, you can choose to work instead with them on a per-project or freelance basis. Up to 15% of marketers use a freelancer or contract designer for special projects.
Some examples of special projects might include a company rebrand, a good packaging design, a suite of business identity collaterals (business cards, letterheads, and brochures), or other design outputs that can be used multiple times. When hiring a graphic designer, choose someone who you can work with long term and call when you need help.
4. Create templates for social media posts
Any other graphic design for small businesses that can be templated should be templated for repeated use. Take for instance social media posts, which a business owner or employee can simply rearrange or revamp a little for repeat use. A good example of this would be promotional posters where teams can change the price, photo, and details then repost on social media channels.
A business can squeeze out dozens of posts from one single template. It also helps to select a graphic design tool that already has ready templates. Small businesses can then change the color scheme and other elements to match their branding.
5. Be particular about typefaces
Another important aspect of good graphic design is using the right typefaces or what some people might call fonts. A good typeface is clear and easy to read and understand at first glance. Don’t use more than three fonts at a time. Use a select group of typefaces that you will use as the company’s official font list. You can either use free fonts from Google or DaFont or pay for one. Good typefaces can actually be relatively inexpensive.
6. Keep your designs fresh and in trend
While design principles remain the same, graphic design trends tend to change with time. This reality pushes us to update our designs when necessary. This last point can be quite tricky as we discussed early on the importance of keeping a brand consistent for a few years or more. The great balancing act of graphic design is keeping your design fresh every year without veering away from the company’s original branding too much.
A good example of this would be Coca-Cola which has existed for decades but has relatively still created a strong recall and applied only minimal changes to its brand imagery. Accordingly, the brand has become one of the most iconic ones in all history.
Being a small business is no longer an excuse
Being a small business is no longer an excuse to have bad graphics or no graphics at all. By using graphic design software for small businesses or leveraging the freelance graphic designer market, you can get good designs even when you only have a small budget. And remember that any dollar put into good design could result in immense growth when applied and executed well.