Your logo and marketing materials have many jobs, but one of the things that they can do really well for you is to introduce you to new clients and to help those potential customers feel a connection with you and your business. Alas, many small business owners overlook this valuable role for their materials when designing them, and so any connection often happens by accident alone.
Considering that the connections that most small businesses are making with their logos marketing materials, and websites are happening by accident, these businesses are actually doing rather well. But what could their business growth and sales cycle look like if they could improve the way that they connect with their ideal clients?
The top 3 ways to ensure that your designs will appeal to your target audience and begin to form this connection with them are:
1. Design your materials with your customer’s preferences in mind. The most common mistake that small business owners make when designing their brand identities is to create the design to reflect their own tastes. I met a financial planning consultant at a networking event a few months back, and she wanted to “pick my brain” about her thoughts for a logo. She mentioned that she wanted her logo to be an aqua-blue seahorse, because those were her favorite image and color. But when I questioned her further about her business, I found that she worked largely with male heads of households on their families’ financial planning needs. While an aqua seahorse might represent her preferences, I suggested that it might not catch the eye and the imagination of her projected client, and that she think more about the types of images and color palettes that would appeal men who were hiring her to manage their money. I believe that I convinced her that this approach will result in a better connection with her potential customer base, and will help her to close more business with her prospects.
This approach to establishing connections extends beyond your company’s logo: picking appropriate layouts, fonts, and photos for any marketing piece can make that piece connect with your target audience much more quickly. Something as simple as choosing stock photos that feature people of the same ethnicity or gender as your target audience can greatly increase your sales and decrease often subtle, hidden resistance to your business image.
2. Test your materials with your target audience. This means asking not just whoever’s hanging around, but with real potential clients. I can’t tell you how many times I have completed the first round of logo designs for a client, just for them to come back and say, “My mom HATES them!” I certainly sympathize with this impulse to check your ideas with a respected friend or family member; I tend to run my own designs by my mom, against my better judgment. But if your mom-or whoever you’re running your design focus group with-isn’t part of your target audience, then it really doesn’t matter if she likes it or not. In fact, if you’re trying to sell your products or services to college-age men, for example, it’s probably a good thing if your mom doesn’t like it!
So, where do you find potential clients to test your materials on? Ask your past clients what they think about your new designs, or poll friends in your target demographic. I even had one client who would ask potential customers that she stood in line with at the coffee place and post office about their thoughts on her logo.
3. Make your materials magnetic. Don’t misunderstand: not everyone should love, or even necessarily understand, your logo and marketing materials. A small business’s logo should make the prospect react emotionally to your company, pulling the right people toward working with you and pushing the wrong people away. Unless you’re a big company selling a mass-market product, designing a logo that everyone loves is not necessary, nor even in your best interests.
If you’re creating a logo and marketing materials and you want everyone that you meet to like them, then you’re in for a very long design process. And your logo won’t be able to perform one of its most important jobs: making sure that you’re spending your time talking to the most qualified clients. As a small-business owner, you probably run the business, do the sales, and have a bunch of other tasks as well. If people in your target audience like your logo and marketing materials, but people outside of that demographic don’t connect with them, then it’s less likely that the people you don’t want to work with will become engaged in the sales cycle with you. And it’s always better to sell to interested and qualified prospects rather than people who are just “kicking the tires” or getting competitive quotes.
Keeping your customer’s perspective in mind when designing your materials makes those materials relevant to your customers, creating a valuable tool for your business. A client wants to feel understood and well-cared-for throughout the sales cycle. If your designs truly take your clients’ tastes into account, are tested and approved by your ideal clients, and make people react in an emotionally positive way to your company, then those designs will be more than just a pretty pieces: they will help you to talk to the right customers, to connect with them, and, ultimately, to grow your business.