What Makes Good Design?

Can anyone become a great designer with the right tools? Can good design be purchased from a box, downloaded in a software program, or installed from a template online?

As much as we would all like to believe that there is some magic pill or program out there that can take your message and turn it into a professional and effective design, it just isn’t so. First impressions matter and good design creates a message with an impact that is quick to understand and has a purpose. Good design is the craft of creating solutions for customers and clients faced with a communication challenge or a story that needs to be told. It’s the craft of balancing brand, business and the information hierarchy, and assembling them into an organized and effective message.

Good design is the making of a few hundred intricate choices that build on each other in the process. It starts with defining a goal, and determining what information and branding elements should be used to create a solution to that goal. It’s then determining where the challenges are, and how to turn those challenges into positive assets to create a message that inspires and leads to an action. Preferably a sale.

Great content, or copy, is a good place to start, but it takes training and experience to shape typography, color theory, white space, and an information hierarchy, to name a few, to create a sophisticated and successful solution. The goal should be to create a message that executes your desired purpose. Here’s a tip: look away, then look back at the piece again quickly. What is the first thing you see? Where does your eye go to immediately? A well-designed piece will not leave that aspect to chance. It is almost a science on how to direct the viewer’s attention around the page to send a very clear message. And that message should come across quickly, and cleverly too, if it is appropriate. Your eye should ultimately end up at a clear call to action. Invariably, this would include company name, and of course, contact information.

What mood or feeling is your piece trying to portray? Do the colors inspire, calm and relax, make you excited with anticipation, or portray stability and dependability? Colors can be subtle or bold. They are just as important as the copy, maybe more so, because of the emotional responses they create so instantaneously. Is there enough open space, also known as white space, to give the viewer’s eyes a rest, producing a sense of calmness and sophistication, if that is the desired effect. If you want to create a sense of endless adventure, maybe the approach should be an overwhelming amount of imagery, or a busy page. It’s all part of the responses and reactions you are trying to create.

Is there balance, for solidity and strength, or a deliberately weighted element to draw attention and create excitement? Is there a sense of movement? Good design can use shapes, balance and weight to anchor or complement, to create motion or movement, or to mystify and tease the viewing experience. Good design is the execution of skilled visual direction with a purpose.

And then there’s typography, or typefaces, and how to use them. It takes experience and time to get to know how each font has a quality, or character, of its own. Pun intended. Bold or soft, bright or calm, busy or clean, there are infinite combinations that can present a unique message with each design. With the experienced and craftful use of graphic elements, along with purposeful direction and precise execution, good design can be timeless.

PR Boosts the Effectiveness of Your Marketing

Public relations (PR) helps reinforce your marketing, advertising and brand position. It makes your marketing work better, especially if you have unique key message content that can be a starting point to use for different mediums on and off line.

It can’t guarantee 100-percent control over content, display, position and frequency, as does advertising. But what it lacks in frequency, PR can make up for in reach. And, it’s a great way to spread your marketing and advertising budget.

PR can deliver your company’s product or service messages through a variety of media that could never be included in the most lavish advertising plan.

Sound PR is an integral part of maintaining a successful business. Competition for customers is keen. Having a successful business depends on properly building a solid foundation through effective public relations, marketing and advertising that supports your brand.

The public (your customers) can be cynical. They have lots of advertising messages thrown at them on a daily basis. But, when people read articles, hear or see something about your company, they’re going to take the published reports more seriously than they do ads. Articles written about your company, executives, products or services give you enormous credibility. It’s good content that’s not coming from you.

Media relations should always be a key part of your PR plan. Successful media relations – nurtured over time through relationships with media contacts – can help establish an ongoing, positive awareness of your company and the products or services it provides. It can inform and excite customers, investors and employees.

Third-party endorsement by the media sells integrity, quality and extraordinary service like no advertisement can. PR has the power to persuade the public.

Not promoting your company through public relations can take quite a toll on your company. It can mean lost revenue. Your company competes with thousands of others. The main difference for sustainable awareness is whether your PR program is established by default, or as a result of careful planning.

Well-organized, ongoing public relations programs make a big difference for building the awareness of your company and what it sells. The payoff for doing strategically planned, proactive public relations can be tremendous.

Public Relations = Good Business

Public Relations = Good BusinessPublic relations (PR) is a cost-efficient and effective way to find new customers and build a quality reputation. Awareness and a good image are what can set your company apart from your competitors.

PR is a carefully planned, sustained effort to establish your identity, maintain credibility and promote communication between your organization and its public. It’s a way to keep your name and good deeds in front of the public. It should be part of your overall branding strategy for your business to build brand awareness.

PR is one tool to be used to achieve a communications objective. Advertising strategies are another. In advertising, you’re paying to control the message that you want delivered. Public relations means getting stories written or broadcast about your company on and offline in the local press, business media, trade publications, radio, television and other media outlets depending on the audience you want to reach. PR is an information message about your company.

The public can be very cynical. They have lots of advertising messages thrown at them on a daily basis. But, when people read articles, hear or see something about your company in the news, they’re going to take you more seriously than they do from your ads.

When someone makes a claim, you typically say, “How do you know?” The reply you most commonly hear is, “I read it in the newspaper; I heard it on the radio; I saw it on the Internet.” Not, “I saw it in an ad.” Using the media to deliver a message is a type of endorsement that is impossible to achieve through any type of advertisement. With its message of integrity, quality and extraordinary service, it has the power to persuade.

Writing and placing good and informative content – user case studies, company profiles, product and market overviews, section briefs – in publications or getting one of your executives interviewed by a local or national reporter have a much longer shelf life and greater pass-through value than ads. This becomes especially true if you get permission to reprint from the magazine publisher or rebroadcast your television or radio appearance, which allows you to circulate them further to your employees, customers and others. Also, you can then put the material on your Website or in your next e-newsletter.

No company can expect much return from the marketplace if not enough prospective customers know what it does and how it operates. Some argue that attempts to create greater recognition, or to sculpt public impressions, are in some way unnatural. These skeptics feel that if their company is doing a good job, the public will “beat a path” to their door.

Waiting to be discovered can take a financial toll on your company. Your company competes with thousands of others. Oftentimes, the main difference between you and your competitors is whether your communications or marketing program are established by default, or as a result of careful planning.

Many of your competitors already are actively doing public relations, media relations, community relations, employee relations and marketing communications. You’ll never stand far unless you also proactively seek attention. It’s an extremely crowded market in the online and offline space.

Getting attention takes an ongoing, dedicated effort. You need to have an ongoing plan to communicate ideas and messages to the public, creating marketing support for services and products, and developing and nurturing media relations. You focus on your key brand messages. Until you clearly differentiate the appeals of your company – its products and services – you cannot market your company effectively.

Having a well-developed public relations campaign gives you several advantages. For starters, when stories are done on your industry, the media will have a spokesperson within your company to contact. This way, your company, and its executives, will be mentioned prominently in such articles, positioning them as leaders in the field. Most importantly, though, it will convey information to the most important audience of all: your potential customers.

So, what is news? Anything that is of potential interest to the people in your community. People make news. Employee promotions and awards make news. Events make news – business openings, special promotions, anniversary celebrations, participation in or sponsorship of a community event. Innovations are news – a new product or service.

In addition, you should be using social media. It’s an attractive public relations method for interacting with the general public, customers and community at large.

The more customers read, see or hear about your company’s accomplishments, the more they know about you, and the more they want to know about you. Your commitment to a sound, ongoing PR program makes a big difference if you want to capture solid awareness of your company. Why are you waiting?