Almost all marketing is extremely visual. Before customers even start to understand what you sell, or read the pitch for your business, they’re taking in visual information — like color, font choice, graphic design style — and making impressions extremely quickly.
Graphic design, whether it’s good or bad, is usually the first thing that customers will use to form their first impression of your brand.
Good graphic design can be expensive. Like everything else in marketing, it can be costly to find someone who can provide high-quality design advice, graphics, illustrations and similar services.
Even when it requires a significant investment, the benefits of graphic design typically outweigh the costs. This is why it is so important for all businesses, no matter the size, to invest in good graphic design.
1. Shape Visitor’s First Thoughts
There are a lot of brands out there and the internet has made research on businesses easier than ever before. No matter what a customer is looking for, they have a lot of options — and a lot of info to sort through.
No one has unlimited time to research the companies they buy from, which means that customers are incentivized to make snap judgements about the brands they see online.
Research on customer behavior has found that these snap judgments happen extremely fast — for example, we start forming opinions about new web pages within just 50 milliseconds (or 0.05 seconds).
Customer testimonials, certificates and awards are all good ways to prove your business is legitimate — that you have a history of good work and that you have high standards when it comes to both your work and how you interact with customers.
These testimonials may not play much into that 50 millisecond-impression, however. Potential customers will interpret graphic design much faster than text. As a result, graphic design can often be a major influence when it comes to whether or not a customer shops with a particular business.
2. Leave a Lasting Impression
In addition to strengthening your first impression, graphic design also tends to have a lasting impact on potential customers.
Long after visitors have navigated away from your site, they’ll probably remember something about the design decisions they saw. If positive, these impressions can easily help you generate sales and build customer loyalty down the line — even if they don’t encourage a purchase right away.
We know from market data that the benefits of graphic design can have a striking real-world impact. For example, around 69% of customers say that the graphic design of a gift card has at least some sway over whether or not they buy another. 67% say that special and unique printing techniques — like foil prints — also have some impact on future purchasing decisions.
3. Build Your Brand and Signalling Brand Values
Small and medium businesses don’t have the monster advertising and branding budgets that big-name corporations have. This means that they need to use the most cost-effective tools at their disposal to build strong brands that customers will remember.
Good graphic design — and especially elements you’ll use over and over again, like logos or color palettes — can really help a business to lay the foundation for a strong brand.
Even if a particular graphic doesn’t see much use, the design decisions that a graphic designer makes for your business — like choice of color and shape — can be used again and again to help you reinforce certain aspects of your business’s identity. Repeated use of these elements will help ensure that if potential customers engage with your brand several times, they’ll be more likely to remember both your brand and what your company can offer.
Graphic design is an essential part of that first impression that customers develop before they really begin to really know what you offer. This means that you can use effective design to start brand-building early on.
These graphic design choices often have a long-lasting impact, as well — which means both good and bad graphic design can influence customers’ perception of your brand well into the future.
Because customers are making snap judgements about brands and forming opinions on web pages extremely fast, graphic design will play a significant role in how customers feel about your brand and respond to future marketing efforts.
4. Make Narratives More Compelling
Stories are a powerful tool when it comes to effectively communicating your brand identity and selling products. Brand, customer and product stories can also be a great way to prompt action from your audience — encouraging them to buy a product or just investigate your business more.
Strong images are often one of the best ways to make stories more compelling. A good graphic can make a brand story much more immediate, or help to set the scene before someone actually starts reading or listening to the story itself.
When taking advantage of narrative — whether you’re telling a story in a newsletter, offering advice in a blog post or explaining how your business solved a problem in the past — graphic design can often make a major difference in how that narrative is interpreted.
Even the design of the website that a blog post is on, for example, can help to reinforce or undermine an otherwise effective narrative.
5. Streamline Communication
Graphics can help your business communicate in ways that you wouldn’t be able to with just words alone.
For example, businesses with complex products that need to reach a wide audience often rely on graphics that combine the technical and the visual. A product graphic can show off how a particular item works, helping to break down the complexities of the product in a way that potential customers can understand.
A graphic representation of features and benefits can help communicate why a customer should consider a product. In some cases, it can communicate much faster and sometimes more effectively than a written description of what a product does.
Graphics can also be useful for product comparisons. An image or graphic can break down the differences between two similar products or services, showing off the choices available or what customers can get if they upgrade.
Visual learners can also benefit a lot from content that leans heavily on strong graphics and interesting images. An electronics manufacturer that creates a pamphlet or booklet about electronics recycling, for example, can use images and informational graphics to break down the complex recycling process — showing what really happens to electronics when they’re sent back to the manufacturer or to a recycling center.
Even when graphics don’t have a specific job, they can make written and non-visual content much more engaging and enjoyable to interact with. A bit of graphic flair added to your weekly newsletter, for example, can help make your communications feel both more professional and more visually interesting, encouraging readers to stay subscribed.
6. Bring Data to Life
Hard numbers can be convincing — but when displayed back-to-back-to-back, they can also create dense and difficult-to-understand content. A useful statistic often works best when it’s communicated with the right graphics — typically data visualizations like charts and graphs that make the number easier to parse.
Infographics, for example, make it easy for businesses to chain together stats to make a compelling argument on just about any topic. Creating infographics that are relevant to your business’s niche is often a great way to generate highly shareable content that encourages users to investigate your business and industry.
7. Improve Navigation
The visual design of a website often has a real impact on how easy it is to navigate. Graphic elements can help to draw visitors’ eyes, pointing them in the right direction.
Good navigation headers stand out from the rest of the page but don’t take up too much space. A landing page or front page can clearly show where potential customers should click next if they’re interested in moving towards a purchase.
Navigation is often one of the top issues with poorly-designed business sites and apps. Finding ways to make your sites, apps and similar resources easier to navigate will make engaging with your company both more frictionless and enjoyable.
Even if graphic design doesn’t directly improve the navigation of a site or app, it may help to create the perception that a page is easier to navigate. Research on web page design, for example, has found that visual appeal is positively correlated with perceived usability.
The Key Benefits of Graphic Design for Businesses
No matter how big a business is or the niche it’s in, graphic design is typically essential for success. The right choice of images, fonts and colors will have a major impact on how customers feel about your brand.
Because the internet encourages us to make quick decisions and navigate through sites quickly, graphic design can help to grab the attention of customers and let them know what kind of services you offer.
Investing in graphic design will help you ensure that all of the small decisions you make when building a website or creating new advertising materials will be carefully considered. A graphic design budget will also help you create resources, like logos, that you can use again and again to build your brand.