Often, design is the one missing element that can take a company from good to great. On the other hand, some companies invest in designing a beautiful brand experience only to go out of business a short time later. So how do you know if you should invest in design?
It’s all about timing. Here are three times that are a great time to invest in a designer and three that indicate you should hold off.
The Time is Right
Your Product has Momentum
You’ve proven your business model works. You’ve refined your product offering. You’ve learned about your customer. You’ve caught up to your competition and now are poised to surpass them. But every time you look at your own website and branding, you know something just isn’t right.
If you have that feeling, your customers do too. It’s likely keeping your business from acquiring new customers or retaining the ones you have. Great design not only helps you stand out from the crowd, it also helps convert more prospects into paying customers and turns current customers into brand evangelists.
Launching an Advertising Campaign
When you decided to create an advertising campaign, it always makes sense to hire a designer to assist with the creation of the ads. That’s obvious- more compelling ads drive more traffic. Your campaign doesn’t end there though. A well designed conversion-centric website and landing page is still needed to convert visitors into leads and paying customers.
Your ads may be performing great, but without a high-converting landing page all your advertising dollars will show little return. Before you spend money on advertising, invest in designing a website that will convert.
A Big Change is Eminent
When you make major changes to your product or your company has made major strides, an upgrade in design can be a great way to communicate that growth to your customers, employees, and shareholders. Let them know that bigger and better things are ahead!
For instance, a growing company moving to a new office can be a great opportunity to rebrand. It marks a major milestone in your company’s growth. Upgrade your customer’s perception of your brand and energize your staff. Use design to tell your team, “We belong here. Let’s act like we belong here.”
With a funded startup, you’ll want to hire a designer as early as possible. You’ll likely be spending money on advertising and marketing right out of the gate to help you reach revenue as soon as possible. You should also have a fairly good understanding of your competition and how you’re going to differentiate from them.
However, the one thing you may lack is brand recognition and trust. A well designed website is a key component of establishing that trust, especially with new customers. Make sure you craft a delightful experience that is going to convert prospects into customers before spending your advertising dollars.
Hold Off For Now
Bootstrapping a Startup
Starting your own business is exciting. You’ve spent years refining the idea and tinkering with the details in your head. Now you’ve decided to finally take the leap and execute. Your to-do list is long, but “create a logo” and “design a website” are likely at the top.
Let’s face it, with all the expenses of starting a company, you don’t have the funds to hire a great designer, so don’t waste money on a subpar one. Use Fiverr or even Powerpoint to create a basic logo, and use a WordPress template for your website. Both will be more than good enough to get you through the first six months to a year.
Companies and brands are always evolving, especially ones in their infancy, so you’ll likely want to update the logo after the first year anyhow. By that time, you’ll have a better idea of who your specific customer is—the perfect time to invest in design.
You’re Struggling to Sell
Design can make a good product great, but it can never save a bad product. When you can’t sell, its easy to start nitpicking your website or sales deck. Take a hard look in the mirror, however, because you can sell a product without a website or sales deck. So, before deciding that the difference between your struggling company and a successful one is a new website, make sure that the real problem isn’t the product.
Validate your product before investing in a redesign. Figure out the root of the problem and then invest in the tools or people necessary to fix that problem. If you determine the problem is design, use the feedback you gather from validation to guide the redesign. The goal should be to make your product resonate with your customers.
You Don’t Have a Budget
Not having a budget is different from not having money. Hiring a designer should be viewed as an investment, not a cost. As with any investment, you should have some type of budget and expectations about the return on your investment. Investing in great design is no different.
You can rebrand your company for $1,000 or $100,000, so you should have an idea of what you’re looking to spend. Without a budget, you’ll likely vet a lot of designers that are way too expensive for your liking, or you’ll hire a cheap designer and be disappointed with the results. With design, you typically get what you pay for, so do your research, set a budget, and find a designer who will give you the most return on your investment.
Investing in design at the right time is just as important as hiring the right designer. When you are ready to use great design to take your business to the next level, find a designer that understands your company and will use design to help you accomplish your goals.
If you’re interested in learning more about how design can grow your business, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.