Refresh your brand ahead of 2014: Five lessons from 99designs chief executive Patrick Llewellyn

With new figures from Sensis revealing 67% of businesses expect to see an increase in sales in 2014, 99designs chief executive Patrick Llewellyn saysrefreshing your business’s image could be the key to boosting sales.

Just as you need streamlined back-end technology in business, a company’s image is also fundamental to its success and longevity.

Llewellyn told SmartCompany if a business is underperforming, or if it wants to address a new market, it needs to consider changing its image.

“If things are going great, I wouldn’t be changing up your look for the sake of it. You need to have a purpose for why you’re doing something and have a clear reason,” he says.

“But if your brand feels and visually looks dated, you should clean up and use flattering design principles. It’s an element of taking stock and having a good look at all of your materials and asking yourself hard questions about how your design represents your brand and reflects you.”

For businesses in need of a facelift, Llewellyn has the following advice:

1. How does your design translate?

Llewellyn says businesses need to consider how their design works on the different mediums.

“Think about how it looks on social media, on mobile devices, on websites and whether or not your site needs to be more responsive. All of these things need to be considered,” he says.

Llewellyn says when thinking about redesigning, businesses should find out what customers think of the brand.

“Think about it as though you’re taking stock of yourself. Survey your customers and ask them what they think of the brand, how they perceive it and what values it represents to them. This process can give you a springboard,” he says.

2. Start with a clear vision

Businesses need to start with a good understanding of what they want to achieve through the redesign process.

“Spend some time trying to articulate this and engage others in this process,” Llewellyn says.

“When coming up with a vision about making these changes, engage with your staff and try and involve as many stakeholders as possible.”

Llewellyn says businesses can have fun with the process and use it as a way to bring everyone in the business together.

3. Think about the future

When redesigning, businesses need to think about what they want their brand to present going forward.

“Think about the future and your audience going forward and combine the best of the old and the new elements of the brand,” Llewellyn says.

“Any new brand needs to be able to work on mobiles and also consider how the brand will interplay with the importance of content marketing. We will continue to see the rise of this in 2014 and any new branding effort needs to take this into account.”

From here, businesses need to construct a design brief.

“Talk about what the industry is, who the customers are, your mission and vision, and what visual styles you’re looking to represent,” Llewellyn says.

“Look at brands you inspire to be like and where you want to go and really articulate this.”

4. Refresh all brand interaction points

Llewellyn says brands now need to consider how they’re presented on every medium.

“You also need to refresh your social and visual representation – so things like Facebook covers, blogs, emails and different interactions points with the brand could benefit from a redesign, rather than just your logo,” he says,

“With content marketing a key trend, also think about repurposing existing content and turning it into something else, like an infographic or video.”

Llewellyn says the notion of needing to stay relevant and be present on a “myriad of devices” is only just starting to take hold.

“The trend is starting to permeate down to smaller and smaller businesses. The old paradigm of small businesses just caring about how their advertising looked in the Yellow Pages is changing. Small businesses now also care about SEO and SEM,” he says.

“Every time there is a new device, your design needs to be rethought and redone. We’ll continue to see an evolution of these trends going forward as lots of small businesses still need to go online.”

5. Aspirational businesses

Llewellyn says businesses big and small are reinventing in positive ways.

“Looking at the big players, Google has done a really great job of enhancing its individual style. There’s been a noticeable change and it’s brought its products together in a more unified way with a good aesthetic and responsive design,” he says.

“In terms of smaller sites, The Next Web and TechCrunch are trying to reinvent pretty often. They’ve done an okay job with their latest reiterations and their visual design styles continue to evolve.”

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