Good design sells. Fact.

By: Michael Handley

Date: 3 March 2010

Starting out in the big world of running your own business can be scary but also very exciting. We have come across a number of people setting up their business who don't invest time and effort into their logo, branding and marketing material. This may include business cards, letterheads, leaflets and even their website.

I will call this type of start up "The Hard Work and Cheap Joinery Company" (HWCJC for short). Often, what we hear is: "...Well, I have a mate who can knock me something up in Microsoft Word, using every colour in the rainbow and a font like 'Comic Sans'" or "my son who's at school has done it for me".

This will then be followed by a strict and detailed process as follows:

  1. The logo gets printed onto some card that is just thin enough to go through the printer for the business cards, but will add nice smudge marks to them.
  2. They are cut out by hand with blunt scissors.
  3. The Letterheads, to maintain a corporate identity, are printed onto 80gsm (toilet) paper. But hey, it's cheap.

Onto the website, which again, is to be handled by a mate who's good on the PC. First of all, he's purchased the following domain name:

www. (link does not work just to prove a point)

The site design is then handled by their "web-savvy" mate, who will maintain their corporate style with numerous colours, text saved as images (search engine friendly? No.) and  META tags or keywords. The finished article will be placed into Google's top 1,000,000 results, just below "Betty's Ironing Service".

Then they start their business and wonder why they are not winning on quotes...

As a well known advert says "...there has to be a better way". This is what another person who understands the power of creativity would do. First of all, they would set a budget of let's say £500 to invest in their branding, letterheads, business cards and website.

Lets call this business "Cool Looking Joinery" (or, CLJ for short). CLJ will first of all meet up will with a creative and professional design company. Between them, they would work out who CLJ's customers are, what their target audience is, and what image and branding is needed to attract the right customers. After the initial meeting, the designer would come up with some great creative ideas, using the right colours, a quality font, relevant and appealing imagery. These would then be worked up into business cards and letterheads, linked together by a fresh and implemented corporate identity.

CLJ are very happy with the designs and then look at having them printed. The designer recommends printing the business cards on a high quality 400gsm board,  in full colour, with the letterheads being produced on a 115gsm white bright paper stock which adds to the look and professional style.

The designer and the chap from CLJ progress onto the website and the options available to best suit their needs. As CLJ are joiners, all they need is to have good web presence as they don't need to sell direct to their client base. The designer recommends work on a small, 3 page web brochure, to be produced in the same corporate style as the printed material.

They get the right domain name in "" which helps customers find CLJ. Then, the designer creates the site using relevant keywords and tags so that the little spiders from Google can find it in a heartbeat. Betty's Ironing isn't even on the same page.

Both CLJ and HWCJC get telephone calls from Mr and Mrs Needakitchen. They both go and have a look at the job, then go away and work out the quote.

Both CLJ and HWCJC are going to use the same kitchen units bought from a well known DIY chain, both will do it in the same time frame and both have the same basic quote price. The quotes arrive in the post. HWCJC's quote is printed on cheap paper, with a poor logo and a business card that looks like a dog's eaten it. CLJ's is printed on quality paper, is well designed and comes with a professional business card with the photographs reminding Mr and Mrs Needakitchen of the high class workmanship that CLJ have done before.

So, let's say you have the to quotes in front of you. One looks and feels professional, the other looks and feels poor. Which would you take?

We know which one the majority of us would go for.

So lets say for example the kitchen cost £10,000 an investment of say £500 in branding and professional material was an excellent return on investment. The key point that I am making is good design sells and is cost effective, bad design will eventually cost you money in lost sales.

Mike Handley, Graphic Reults

A version of this post originally appeared on the Graphic Results blog.


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