You’ve probably heard the following concept: What you don’t know isn’t necessarily the problem. It’s what you don’t know you don’t know.
Put more simply, we all have gaps in our knowledge. Often, we know about those gaps (“I don’t speak German”) and we’re OK with them. But when we don’t realize there’s a gap (“Of course liquid dish soap will work in the dishwasher”) it can lead to all kinds of trouble.
What does this have to do with graphic design? Well, some business owners we work with come to us only after learning about one of those gaps — for example, they’ve been making any number of design mistakes over the years, without realizing it. Or they knew they were making mistakes, but the gap was not recognizing how much damage they were causing.
At Chalkbox, we want to help you bridge those knowledge gaps. (Design knowledge gaps, that is; we can’t teach you German.) Here are four of the most common mistakes we see business owners make when it comes to logos and design:
- Doing their own work. Maybe you think that logo you created is pretty good, especially for someone who isn’t a professional designer! And maybe it is. But is “pretty good” what you’re really after? Prospective customers can feel when something is a little off, even subconsciously, and the message they’ll pick up is this: That “pretty good” is good enough for your business. “Pretty good” might not be good enough for them, though.
- Letting things get stale. Years ago, before Chalkbox existed, a close family member of our founder ran into trouble: His business was successful for decades, but he never updated his logo or branding. And while his business was stuck in time, his potential clients weren’t — they got younger and younger. They wondered if he could speak their language, and eventually stopped seeing him as someone who could meet their needs. He lost clients and staff as the business suffered.
- Crowdsourcing a design. Today, a number of websites make it easy for businesses to run “design contests,” where people from all over the world generate ideas and designs. You pay only for the one you choose. This approach presents a number of problems, the most serious of which has nothing to do with design — frankly, it exploits people who are trying to earn a living. Beyond that, the work often is duplicative, or stolen outright and repurposed. Even if you do get an original design, it still won’t be thoughtfully crafted to reflect and represent your business: Would you put a lot of time and effort into a project if you weren’t likely to be paid for it?
- Shopping by price alone. Everybody has a budget, of course. Still, placing too much emphasis on price often leads to the three mistakes above. The most important thing is to find a shop that can deliver the level of quality your customers need to see. Skimping on design might save you money in the short term, but there’s a significant opportunity cost: Potential customers will gravitate toward competitors that have better branding. Even a quick visual impression can have a big impact on buying decisions (wine labels are a famous example of this), so an investment in good design will more than pay for itself over time.
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