Design Principles and The Business Imperative Behind Good Design
BY Lauren Milewski
September 13, 2023

Have you ever decided not to buy something because the brand looked a little … unprofessional? Maybe you got to the website and something just struck you as not trustworthy. Chances are, it wasn’t a big-ticket item, it was something less expensive. And you may have passed on buying because of that feeling you got.  This visceral, often unspoken gut reaction influences just about everything people buy, which means it’s vitally important for how we market and sell things—even if we’re selling big-ticket B2B solutions. 

Whether we are aware of it or not, design matters. It’s more than embellishment to words or art. When something is poorly designed, or not designed at all, it has a negative effect on the would-be customer, and it could hinder trust-building and lead to lower sales. Good design solves problems, presents information in an easy-to-consume way and communicates messages effectively. It can help connect businesses with their ideal clients, build trust and cultivate loyalty. According to a survey, 46 percent of consumers say that they would pay more to purchase from brands they can trust (Salsify, 2022).

What makes design good or bad? 

What makes design “good” as opposed to “bad” is not entirely subjective. Sure, a brand may use a color palette you are drawn to or one that you don’t find pleasing. Good design rolls up to your overall marketing and business strategy—design decisions shouldn’t be just aesthetic; they should be business-driven. 

There are 12 principles of design that are essentially rules designers follow to create effective pieces like websites, logos, sell sheets, ebooks, infographics, etc. When something is well designed, it’s easy for users to: 

  • Make the connection to a brand or company
  • Understand the content faster and easier
  • Know who the content is for
  • Process things faster
  • Know what you want them to do next

Principles of design

Using these design principles throughout your organization’s visual brand can help build connections and trust over time. 

Good design builds trust and strengthens your brand

When your design creates and strengthens connections, educates your audience and delivers the right messages easily, it bolsters your brand. Here are some examples of how good design creates trust and boosts your brand.

  • Your website, collateral, sales decks, email signatures, etc. should look and feel the same to build connection and help your brand feel real to prospects. Your B2B company sells a big-ticket solution with a six-figure price tag and your sales cycle is likely a few months to more than a year. It’s vital that all channels and brand elements are consistent across touchpoints.
  • Elements like kerning, hierarchy, emphasis and white space make a marketing collateral piece easy to read. If it’s poorly designed, you’ll know it instinctively, even if you can’t articulate it.
  • Stock images help your target audience see themselves in your brand and connect with it.  It’s your job as a marketer to create a seamless connection for your prospective customers so they don’t have to guess.
  • Colors are emotional. Blue is calm and responsible, red is excitement and danger, and green is energetic and fresh. If you look at visual brands for B2B companies, you’ll see these colors representing feelings throughout. It’s important to convey the right sentiment to your audience so they have an accurate perception of your company and solutions.
  • Tone, both visually and verbally, helps people understand your brand’s personality and get the right feeling across. Your tone could be playful or serious, casual or professional. Your audience will get to know your tone over time and will identify if or when it differs.

To achieve success, particularly for businesses dealing with high-value products and solutions, it’s essential to view design as a strategic investment. Neglecting this investment can lead to challenges in distinguishing your organization, maintaining a consistent image and fostering trust. Your CFO might say that “it isn’t worth the cost” or “no one ever mentions it/complains,” but they are ignoring the very real opportunity cost when you cheap out on design. 

Buying is always an emotional decision. Design helps to create the emotion in the buyer.

If you ignore design, you’re going to struggle to close sales.

Prioritize design. Build trust. Stand apart from the pack.

It’s just smart business.

Let’s talk about growing your company.

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