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Why You Need a Website

 

Why You Need a Website | Websites are fast becoming a requirement. You need a website to build community, credibility, advertise, and provide information to your clients | Jenn Wells Design

This is a difficult post to write because it seems so intuitive to me. But I realize not everyone thinks or uses technology or even runs a business the same way. So let’s talk about the value of websites.

1. Websites Give You Credibility

I hate that this is my number one reason but it really is. It’s not compelling, it’s not a promise of guaranteed clients, or even guaranteed interaction from potential customers. But you still need to look like a legitimate business. And, these days, that involves a website and at least one social media page – preferably Facebook.

Speaking as a customer and not a designer, the first thing I do when I hear a business recommendation from a friend is to look it up online. If they don’t have a website, oftentimes I won’t go there. This is both because I’m looking for one central place to find the answers to my questions (location, hours, services, etc) and because not having a website makes it feel like that business doesn’t know what its doing.

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Branding: What It Is and Why It Matters

 

Branding: What it is & Why it Matters | An overview of branding and a head start for building your own brand | Jenn Wells Design

I attended a networking event not too long ago that discussed, among other things, what branding actually means. The answers ranged from, “How you present yourself” to “What people say about you when you’re not in the room.” Throughout history, branding has also meant everything from cattle brands to the more contemporary logos and more widespread uses today.

So What IS Branding?

For our purposes, I agree with all of the more contemporary answers provided at the event. Branding IS the way your company/brand/etc “feels” to other people.

Naturally, as a graphic designer, my mind tends toward the visual elements. And yes, if you’re thinking logos, that is a part of it. But by itself, a logo doesn’t make up an entire brand.

Your brand is your logo, your color scheme, and your fonts. Your brand is also the combination of those elements, along with the images you use, and the voice you choose to communicate with your clients. It really is your reputation, but not all of those elements are easy to capture on paper.

Branding Guides

For the elements that are tangible enough to document, branding guides are immensely helpful. In its simplest form, this should include fonts and colors, with enough color information that web and print elements for a company can maintain consistency.

Branding guide for Maria's Italian Restaurant with colors, fonts, and logo

 

Branding guides can also include imagery, including graphics or patterns. Anything that is intended for reuse throughout company design.

Branding guide for Jenn Wells Design with colors, fonts, and logo

Sometimes the branding process stretches out from logo conception all the way to website creation and setting up social media. It can also start with with just a logo and business cards. Either way, the end result should be a set of materials with a consistent look that appeals to your target market.

The Intangible Elements

These are all the things that I, as a graphic designer, can’t necessarily do for you. Basically, you’ll want the way your brand sounds and communicates to be in harmony with the way it looks. If you’ve already defined your target market, this is the time to really think about what approach will appeal to them.

Is your audience tech-savvy or will you need to be careful with technical jargon? Does your target market prefer a formal or informal approach? Think about not only what your message to your clients will be but how you will say it. What kind of wording will you use? Will you focus on emotional aspects or a logical approach?

I personally found it a struggle to define my “voice.” Having run a personal blog for the last 3 years, it was difficult to find the balance between personal and professionalism. For me, it ended up being a place where I don’t hesitate to say “I” or share my personal experiences but I also tone down some of vulgarity I might use in an informal setting. For you, the balance could be anywhere on the spectrum! Maybe your clients don’t mind colorful language, or maybe they prefer strict professionalism.

The best balance is one that will be comfortable for both you and your clients. Customers can tell when you’re not being genuine so don’t think you need to be something you’re not! Your ideal customer is out there – you just need to figure out how to find them and speak to them.

How to Define Your Target Market

How to Define Your Target Market | Why it's important to narrow down your audience and which factors to consider | Jenn Wells Design

 

First off, Happy New Year everyone! I have a post on goal setting planned for the 16th, but today I want to start the new year off in the same place as your business: target market.

Your target market is your client base or your ideal customer. All too often businesses think they can market to “everyone” or “everyone who likes/needs ___ product.” But that’s a strategy that simply doesn’t work.

Have you heard the fable of the old man, boy, and donkey? Like many of Aesop’s stories, there’s a moral at the end, “Please all and you will please none.” Or, as I would put it, you can’t please everyone. It’s simply not possible.

By trying to create a brand or a product that works for everyone, what you end up with is a bland non-entity that doesn’t appeal to anyone in particular and isn’t memorable. You can accomplish so much more by choosing your market and setting out to give that demographic an experience tailored to them and their needs.

How to Define Your Target Market

There’s a few different things that come into play and it’s certainly not as simple as “old men” or “rich women.” I’ve broken it down into 3 different categories of information.

Demographics

This is the obvious, easy-to-assess category. It’s also the one to be most wary of. You should absolutely consider age, gender, income, culture, and so on. And then you should reconsider to make sure that you’re not excluding people based on a statistic rather than the feel you want for you business.

For example, if your preferred customers are tech-savvy, it would be easy to use a blanket category such as “young people” but are 20-somethings really better with technology than 30 or 40-somethings? Do some research and see how each age group uses the kind of technology associated with your business and then make your decision based on that.

It’s also possible that you’ll have outliers. In this case, the majority of people who use/are interested in your product might be millenials, but there are also a few customers in their 60s with those same skills. This shouldn’t change your overall strategy – go ahead and continue to appeal to whichever group is the largest or has the feel you want for your business. BUT don’t necessarily make it exclusive to that group.

For example, it’s fine to have a mission statement like, “Business organization tools for millennial entrepreneurs” that clearly states your ideal customer. But you wouldn’t necessarily want to limit the experience to that group by doing something like selecting a social media network that is popular among only that demographic and then requiring that for sign-in to use your website.

Psychographics

This category is so intangible I had trouble coming up with a name for it, but apparently the word I was looking for was “psychographics.” Basically think about how different brand names make you feel. If you picture a Red Bull commercial, you can logically deduce that their target demographic is young, active, adult males, which is fairly exclusive. BUT the “feel” is active, badass, energetic, and fun-loving. So if you go by psychographic it could be a much wider group of people, while still allowing the company to have a very defined brand and market effectively.

When trying to find your voice, consider how you want to speak to your clients. What tone would you want to use in marketing messages or in your blog. Do you want clients who are more formal or informal? Will they prefer a look that is more classical and sophisticated, or youthful and artistic?

Keep in mind that certain design styles are associated with different qualities. So if you decide you want to target wealthy customers and for your brand to have a luxury feel, you won’t want to use wild fonts and lots of cursing. Choosing an emotional tone for your brand is difficult, and I suggest heavily considering your own personality in the process, especially if you happen to be a solopreneur. You’ll find much more connection to your business when it appeals to you and you can write naturally instead of trying to assume mannerisms you don’t already possess.

Motivation

Digging even deeper into the psyche of your ideal customer, you’ll need to think about why they do what they do. You can’t solve someone’s problem without knowing what their needs are in the first place. And good business is based on what you can provide for your customers and how it makes their lives better.

Again, this is multi-dimensional. You’ll need to consider your business and your products, and then think about who needs them and why. If you find yourself struggling, you might need to reassess whether your product or service is really something that will sell.

But if you can tap into this motivation, you’ll have a great head start on writing your product descriptions and marketing material. Because you already know who you’re speaking to and how you can help them.