We are all aware that you should not judge a book by its cover, but even if you did, you would have to first take note of the particular title amongst the thousands of other options available to you as a consumer in the global marketplace we all operate in today.

As true as this is for literature, the same rule also applies for your business as an entrepreneur. It is very likely that whatever industry you find yourself in, you are competing fiercely for business against a multitude of other enterprises offering similar services to you. So, therefore, what can you do in order to gain a competitive edge?

One way that you can give yourself an advantage above the rest, is to ensure that the visual branding of your business is designed in such a way that you stand out significantly, yet effectively, amongst the rest of the “herd”, while still ensuring that it is done in such a way that the appropriate and true professional image of your business is correctly conveyed.

If done in a creative way, the golden rule of “first impressions last” will once again ring true for your organisation, whereby you will benefit significantly in the long term. By what you are portraying as a small business owner through your design and visual elements, will very likely give you a foot in the door with prospective clients above others who are all hungry to step in and take your place if given the first possible opportunity.

No need to start panicking – here are three hot tips to implement immediately!

  1. Get yourself trained on the basic packages that are available so that you know what’s possible, which is likely to be far more significant than you thought. Based on this knowledge that you have obtained you can effectively communicate and even speak the ‘lingo’ of your designer or agency. At the very least, educate yourself on the full Creative Cloud offering.
  2. Do some research on how viable it will be for your particular business to up-skill an internal staff member or more than one if required, in order to take potentially up to 50% of your design and branding work in-house.
  3. Find a consultant that you can trust and rely on that can advise you and provide their professional opinions about the offerings, as well as costs and quotes, provided to you by your existing or potential agency.

Up-skilling is the only solution for an ever-changing digital landscape.

This will include far more than just an eye-catching, clever logo and old-school thinking such as professional letterheads. Instead, it is vital to up-skill yourself on the visual movements and most recent trends relating to all business communications.

There’s a massive movement within organisations currently; a trend to bring design work in-house. With the correct training, we believe a lot of work can be done this way, possibly saving the business owner a vast amount of money. However, the individual(s) appointed in this position must have a thorough, up-to-date and comprehensive understanding of how to carry your brand from what can and should be done in-house, as opposed to which parts still require the assistance of a professional agency that are on the cutting edge of the latest trends.

Always keep in mind that a saving in the short term might save you some money there and then, so understanding completely what should be outsourced when relevant is beyond crucial, due to the simple fact that if done incorrectly it can result in massive losses if it ends up doing damage to your business brand, which you possibly have spent years on establishing. I can’t emphasise enough that business owners should take this very seriously as one of the most important points when making business decisions, as it is vital to the future of their enterprise that they comprehend the crucial difference.

Training provides many new opportunities and options

The training courses that are available through experienced agencies, allow in-house creatives to immediately put the knowledge they have obtained into practice. Courses in graphic, web and video design, as well as digital marketing are often very good investments. Training in order to obtain this knowledge is available in a variety of ways, including short, intense and hands-on options, but it is however significantly important to ensure you choose a course provider from who you will walk away with ample material in order to continue learning as you carry on from there in the workplace, or alternatively, an online training school providing more flexibility.

During this somewhat short period, marketing budgets have been cut drastically, leaving individuals in the creative departments of organisations with no up-skill or motivation to want to improve on what knowledge they already have. This is a sad reality, which every organisation needs to address as a priority in order to remain successful and current. Without doing so, the business will not be moving along with industry expectations and will very soon not be able to meet the demands that their clientele are now requiring.

Furthermore, with the coming of age of a world run by social, as well as digital media and marketing, the entire marketing game has and will continue to change. You now only have a couple of seconds to grab your customer’s attention, whether it be through print, digital or social media and marketing. If you’re going to succeed in this game, you must be ready to create collateral at an incredibly fast pace, while still adhering to the highest professional standards possible.

The answer is simple and can be answered in three words… ‘knowledge is power’. And nothing gives your brand more power than for you to know exactly how to use the current media landscape for the ultimate return on investment possible.

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