Small Business Advice: Graphic Design is Vital for Branding and Not Always Expensive

graphic design tipsSmart investments in graphic design can help bring new business, encourage return business and establish your company brand

Many small businesses don’t spend enough time and money on good graphic design. With hourly rates hitting $400 for a top graphic designer and the prospect of spending precious time reviewing designs and proofs, all too often this significant component is overlooked.

The value of aesthetically pleasing logos, signage and supplemental materials (think product packaging, business cards, brochures, fliers, newsletters, reports, etc.) shouldn’t be underestimated. These often provide customers with that vital first impression, and a smart graphic design investment can help bring new business, encourage return business and establish your brand.

Here are some guidelines to find good graphic designers without draining your bank account or robbing you of valuable time



Pay a Smart Price

Let’s say you’re starting a sandwich shop in the bay area. You haven’t budgeted a lot for graphic design, but you need a chic look that will attract passers-by. One good option is to research and hire a graduate or a current student from a top graphic design school in San Francisco. Use your business savvy and browse the Internet to find the right graphic designer for the right price.

This is easier and cheaper than you might think. These up-and-coming graphic designers are looking to build a portfolio, and they’re up to speed on all the latest and preferred techniques.

Hiring the most expensive graphic designer in your city isn’t necessarily the sure-fire way to get the look you want. It will, however, cost you an arm and a leg. This is your first opportunity to get creative.

Save Time on the Proof Process

Once you find your graphic designer, ask what software they use to pass proofs back and forth. Adobe Acrobat is the primary program designers use, and it’s common practice now to supply proofs to you in its ‘pdf’ format. If you don’t already have it, download Adobe Reader – it’s free, and will save you time and effort.

Know What You Need

Don’t forget to make an inventory of what you’ll need in the course of daily business. In the case of our San Francisco sandwich shop, you’d need a logo, signage, a menu and a take-home menu.

A graphic designer will work with you to pick out color combinations, fonts and imagery that communicate your brand’s message. The more direction you give your designer, the faster and more accurately he will be able to incorporate your vision into the design.

If you already have a color scheme and fonts picked out, communicate this information when you meet with your designer.

Finally, Keep In Mind…

When it comes time to go to print, it can be tempting to go with “the cheap stuff.” Remember, the cheap stuff is, well, cheap. You’ve gone and gotten yourself a great deal on a crackerjack graphic designer, don’t skimp on this vital step, either.




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With nearly 30 years of integrated marketing experience, Diane is the founder of SBMarketingTools.com and author of the award-winning book PR Tools to Toot Your Own Horn. Diane also runs Marine Marketing Tools, a site that bridges her passion for boating and small business marketing, and two boating lifestyle sites: MyBoatLife.com and BoaterKids.com.