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It's been a year since moving into a beautiful home here in gorgeous Ohio. God blessed us with a home that was fully renovated as a "flip house," which is good because I am not what you would call a "handy-man." We wanted to have a home that didn't need to be fixed up or redone at all, something turn-key and move-in ready. Well...God provided! We absolutely love our new town and our home.
That being said, you can imagine my frustration when a few months ago during the heavy rainy season we discovered a leak beginning to form right above our kitchen sink. Now, the blessing is that it happened over the sink so it could drip directly into the drain, but the frustration was that this is basically a new house...why is there a leak! Even though we had the initial inspection done on the house and the inspector wasn't concerned about the condition of our roof, we still ended up with a leak that was growing with every rainstorm. I tried everything to fix it. I crawled around in the attic. Went to home depot and asked their "aisle experts" what they would recommend. I watched YouTube videos. You name it, I tried it. The DIY mentality wasn't working. Finally I started calling roofing companies. Everyone I called was swamped with roofing projects around Northeast Ohio.
Finally a company came out and claimed it was our chimney flashing. They fixed it. That helped the leak, or so we thought. About twelve inches to the right of that first leak, another leak started about a week later. We had just paid for a chimney flashing that didn't need done. Finally we found another roofer that, unlike the previous guys, went onto the roof and actually began to tear back the shingles. He began taking pictures and then explained to me what he believed was happening. After feeling confident of his diagnosis and his professionalism, I agreed to book him to come by and fix the roof. He came by the next week, tore up several rows and sections of the roof, matched the color of the shingle, and he came within the budget he had promised us. All was well. A week went by, and low and behold, the leak was still dripping!!! I immediately called the roofer and explained my frustration. He told me not to panic and that he would come out as soon as the rain stopped.
Long story short, he came out and fixed the problem and we haven't had any issues since his fixing the roof. On top of that, he didn't charge us for the revisit since he didn't fix the initial problem. What professionalism!
What does my roof experience have to do with graphic design?
Many times churches and businesses will act like me when it comes to graphic design. They will try a DIY mentality. Maybe they will ask a volunteer or secretary who "dabbles" in Photoshop. Perhaps they will even hire a person on their staff that will "give design a shot," only to have it take a backseat because of a "full plate." These may not sound bad, but neither did my options. In fact, it saved me lots of money buying a couple of tubes of caulk and trying to fix the leak myself. It cost me nothing to ask a roofer to come give me an estimate and his "opinion." However, the painful realization came when I acknowledged I was out of my depth...I needed an expert. Someone who was certified, reliable, professional, and ready to diagnose my problem.
Graphic Design is an important tool that enhances how you communicate with your community.
Graphic Design transcends borders, language, and culture. Design is subjective and can be interpreted differently by each person that is touched by it. Effective graphic design attracts us to brands. It is more than just aesthetics, graphic design is a communication tool. Because of these facts, you can't entrust something as serious and important as graphic design to just anyone. It is communication, and should be treated with care. Just as you wouldn't call the Home Depot aisle expert to fix your roof, you shouldn't call just random people, willing volunteers, or busy amateurs to fix your communication problem. The most reliable option is finding a professional designer or design company to partner with you.
Here are five reasons why graphic design is important and why you should consider hiring a professional to your staff/team or outsourcing it to a designer/design company.
Reason #1: First Impressions
It’s plain and simple—great graphic design makes you look good. Aesthetically pleasing, professionally designed graphics will cause people to form positive opinions about your product, service or brand. Think about everything that communicates to people interacting with your brand. Posters, flyers, signage, digital and social media, websites, car decals, and so much more, are now part of your digital curb appeal. No longer is it the physical campus that is important in forming opinions, it is the digital and graphical designs that are retaining or repelling people. It's not just about making graphics that look cool, it's about making them with purpose and intention. The messaging of the design is just as important as the colors you choose. First impressions are everything!
Reason #2: Saves Time & Money
Poorly designed graphics don’t last long. When businesses don’t take graphic design seriously, they will more than likely go through a re-design eventually; and maybe more than once. Quality design has longevity. We have worked on designs that have held their effectiveness more than one time around. In fact, the designs that can be "reused" more than once by a client tell us that it was effective the first time around. Also, it may take a professional designer 30 minutes on a design that would take your volunteer or youth pastor 3 hours or 3 weeks to finish. In the long run, you are paying that youth pastor a salary, insurance, and other perks to take three weeks on something he is struggling to complete with efficiency. Talk about pressure, and talk about a waste of time and resources. Just because someone may have Photoshop on their laptop or have a Mac doesn't mean they are prepared for the task of developing a well communicated graphic design piece. Good graphic design has a price tag, but it is one that has a high rate of return when treated as an investment.
Reason #3: Sets You Apart from Competition
People have choices. You may think your message is important, but you have to convince people before they entrust you with their business or patronage. It’s important to know that the graphic design that you choose to represent your brand can set you apart from your competition – whether negatively or positively. Great design stands out in the minds of decision makers and can influence their choices, both deliberately and subconsciously. I can't count the amount of people who have contacted us and other designers we have interviewed via our podcast, simply because one of our designs or our specific style was appealing or effective. We understand that you are not the only church in your community, you are not the only business trying to get customers, and that is why great graphic design communication is vitally important in helping you stand out. Will you get everyone you are trying to reach? Most likely not, but you can corner off a good size portion of the available market. I think of Apple, who doesn't have a large portion of the computer market, but they have been trend-setting and enjoy a type of cult-following solely based on their effective communication. Even their packaging and product design is copied by their larger competitors...how flattering.
Reason #4: Conveys Credibility & Professionalism
Have you heard the phrase "Perception is everything"? Companies that invest in quality graphic design are perceived to be more trustworthy. As a designer, I am drawn to a business, no matter the size, when I see something that captivates or resonates with my style or situation. Customers are looking for signs of professionalism to convince them that you can be trusted. When they see a church event flyer printed on basic paper with faded ink because no one switched out the toner, I doubt they will remember your event let alone your church. Now, if every church in the area uses that approach, then at least make sure you print on thicker basic paper and color ink or at least ink that is sharp, bold, and more noticeable. Many of the basic mistakes that lack professionalism and credibility are a result of either something being last minute or not important. If it's not important to you in the preparation and design process, it will not show up as important to your audience. Period.
Reason #5: Tells Your Story
Everyone wants to be part of a story, even if they don't realize it. That is why people will stick with brands, because that brand has not only successfully told their story but also included their audience in that story. Graphic design extends beyond your logo and your website—it transforms thoughts and words into visually appealing representations of your ideas. You want your message to be heard? Give your audience something they can be proud to stand behind and even communicate to others as ambassadors. Your story and message deserve quality designs that will compliment and increase engagement not repel people away.
Do you see the importance of graphic design? These are just five reasons, there are so many more that could be included in this list, but I hope something you read helps you take your designs to the next level.