I don’t watch a lot of TV, but one of my favorite shows is “What Not to Wear” on TLC. I’ll stop quickly here to provide an overview for the uninitiated. The premise of the show is friends and family nominate a poor, hapless fashion-disaster soul to give up their entire wardrobe and be flown to New York City for a week to work with professional stylists. There, they receive “THE RULES” – fashion do’s and don’ts for their specific body type and taste, in order to present a more polished and sophisticated look. They also receive a hair and makeup consultation, and then their makeover is revealed to the delighted screams and happy tears of their loved ones.
Now yes, I love the slightly embarrassed nominees being told they look like a train wreck, the fashion advice and snarky comments from the stylists – who doesn’t? But what really gets me is the psychological reaction, the emotional connection the stylists make with the nominees. It never fails that this person has been nominated because, quite frankly, something about their appearance is embarrassing to their loved ones. Maybe they have stopped caring and look sloppy, maybe they’re trying to still look 21 when they’re 45 … whatever the case, the introspection they go through on a deeper level is life-changing. *cue the tears*
So what does this have to do with company branding, you ask? There are parallels drawn between what our personal appearance tells the world regarding how we think of ourselves, and what our company’s appearance is telling our potential clients and referral partners about our business. I love this quote from the show: “There’s nothing superficial about investing in YOURSELF, resulting in feeling good, strong and confident.” Does your marketing project confidence in your company? Therefore, here are my top three RULES from What Not to Wear, as applied to company branding.
RULE #1: People judge you within 3 seconds.
And you better believe they are judging your business that fast too! When you hand someone your business card or send them to your website, you are introducing them to your business “face-to-face.” Subconsciously (or consciously!) they are making a judgment about your experience, education, products or services based on the appearance of your marketing. Don’t believe me? Real life example I experienced this month:
I attended a networking event with hundreds of attendees and vendors. As I worked my way around the room, I spoke with the employee of a company who told me to go find her boss, because they were looking for a new graphic designer. I found the business owner, explained who I was, that her employee referred me, and handed her my card. Before I could continue, she stopped me and said, “I already know I want to meet with you, because I like your card. You LOOK like a design agency. Tonight, another designer handed me her card, and I knew I wouldn’t call her because it was cheap and poorly designed.” Guess who met with that potential client last week? Yes, your marketing can close doors instead of open them.
RULE #2: Dress for the job you WANT, not the job you HAVE.
What does this mean? In life, people have a goal of advancement. On the show, they may be referring to a promotion or dream job, here I’m referring to reaching your dream clientele. I truly mean no offense to the clients one already has, but business owners should continually challenge themselves with goals to gain more clients and/or higher-end clients. Are you “dressing” your business with those goals in mind?
If you are using templates from online printers, you are not dressing for success. Custom designs unique to your company tell the world you are investing in yourself, that you take pride in your business, and you’re doing well and seeking growth. It’s putting on an Armani suit instead of Walmart jeans. If you truly take pride in your company’s appearance, don’t dress it as if you are embarrassed by it. To reach your company’s goals of advancement, branding is a necessary investment in which you WILL receive a return.
RULE #3: Repeat after me: color, texture, pattern and shine – pick ONE (sometimes two)!
Have you ever gone to a website or opened a brochure and had so much information “screaming” at you that you didn’t know where to start? Maybe you even moved on to the next site or put the brochure down without reading it. Poor design can literally hurt your eyes! Too much BOLD, CAPS, COLORS, UNDERLINE and STARBURSTS only confuse and frustrate the viewer, resulting in your message not being heard and potential business being lost.
Gifted graphic designers are artists at heart, with years of training as a fine artist. Trust a professional for spatial layout guidance. Trust our instincts and training in the elements of art. We know how this translates into graphic layouts with the use of fonts, images, colors, line and negative space. Trust our marketing experience – we know what works and what doesn’t.
Now because you’ve made it this far in my blog, one BONUS RULE: We are always right!
Trust the professionals; it’s our job to make you look good!