Rare as unicorn sh*t

Today I found out I am a unicorn.

No, I’m not prancing around in rainbows and glitter. I am a Graphic Designer, and it seems, not many people understand what we do, and the ones who do are as rare as the proverbial.

I have had an online business directory try and sign me up for a week or so. I was interested in hearing how I could gain business from the business directory. The conversation about the best category for my company to feature in came up quite quickly. The directory rep knew precisely where to put me, under web design. I don’t design websites.

I explained that I’m a Graphic Designer. I design logos, brochures, exhibition graphics, reports, in fact, anything that is visually engaging and falls within a companies marketing.

After a bit of digging, and establishing I don’t make large relief signs that go on the outside of buildings, or laser cut out logos to go on display or do PR, or print brochures, it was clear there was nowhere on this directory for me.

Of course, this isn’t the first time, and I am sure won’t be the last time, someone doesn’t understand what Graphic Designers do. Want a brochure: go to a printer; want some leaflets doing speak to a photographer (yes this has happened); need a logo, ask your friend’s mum who did a good drawing of your neighbours cat (yes, and this one!).

So, what do Graphic Designers do?

In short, we take information and through magic (and graphic design skills), present the information, in an attractive, easier to digest, memorable way. We present companies and brands visually, so their customers can understand their offering. We make sure important information is easily digestible, so the public is informed and not confused, whether that be a public health leaflet, or signage (in a legible font) to get you somewhere.

In short, if you need anything for your business that falls under marketing, speak to a Graphic Designer first. Once they have designed what you need, they WILL know the Printer; the Web Developer; the Signage company; the Photographer; the Videographer; the Exhibition Builder; the Marketer to write your marketing strategy in the first place; and the PR person to shout about how the campaign rolled out.

You will save yourself lots of time, and hey, you might spot a unicorn!

Let me tell you a story

In this digital age, it is more important than ever to, make sure your communications get across what you want to say quickly. What is the best way to do this? With imagery.

As a designer, I will always advise my clients to get their own imagery created. Whether this is a photographic shoot, commissioning a set of illustrations or making a video.

Most, smaller companies, shy away from this route because of the cost. True, it is more expensive. Initially. However, over a period of 4-5 years a set of images that tell the story of what your company does, and are completely unique to you, are invaluable. They soon pay for themselves as they help to uphold your brand identity, and create a shortcut so your target audience understand you better.

You should expect an illustrator, on average, to take a day to complete a relatively uncomplicated image, anything really detailed will obviously take longer. Illustrators work on a day-rate, it is best not to be guided by price alone. Take a look at their portfolio, and see if the style is right for your business. With an illustrator you may be able to negotiate copyright of the image, many pass this over to the company once they have been paid in full. Many graphic designers are illustrators too.

Photographers also usually charge by the day. This price varies based on experience, equipment that needs to be used and mileage to the shoot. Again, photographers usually specialise, so take a look at their portfolios to see if they are right for your business. You don’t want an amazing food photographer taking photos of buildings. There is always a right photographer for the job.

Last to mention is video. Video, these days for your online presence, is key. Everyone loves to watch film, so imagine having a film that does all the talking for your business. Fabulous. Expensive, but again, done well it soon pays for itself. Hey it might even go viral!

What happens if you really can’t stretch to bespoke imagery? Well, you can use stock imagery. This is imagery that is already created and can be bought at a much lower cost. It is NOT bespoke. It will not be perfect for your company, but if used in a creative way, often as a metaphor, it can fill a gap. The downside to stock imagery is that anyone can use it. So your competitors could be using the exact same images. Not ideal.

Whatever route you take, talk to your designer and take their advice. Decide what the story is that you want to tell about your company. Imagery used willy-nilly without intention can tend to wash over the viewer, having little or no impact. Less is more, and there is no place for poor quality images, so leave the camera at home!

Image used: Copyright Ladybird Books.