You can buy almost anything online these days. Socks. Coffee. Brand elements. Once you’re done ordering your new brew, you can shop email templates. Create your company logo from an online logo generator. Design your website in a day.
Does this sound like a quick solution to your brand identity needs? Think again. Brand elements represent the heart of your business. They represent you. Your mission. Your value proposition. They shouldn’t be treated like everyday commodities. Short cuts will save you money in the near term, but in the long run, they can be costly. For example…
Want to create a logo in a jiffy? Go online, walk through the steps in the online logo generator, and — poof! — the software generates dozens of logos to choose from. Or go to one of those sites with hundreds of graphics designers who will create one for you . . . cheap.
Your new logo might look slick, what are you missing?
Inexperienced marketers are often tempted to create brochures and other marketing collateral in Microsoft Word. Microsoft Word is a great program that offers a lot of flexibility. You can insert text and images, create columns, and change fonts and colors, but that doesn’t mean that you should use it to design your brochure. Images may not be proportionately scaled or sized. You cannot create bleeds. Word cannot properly separate colors, resulting in inconsistent and unpredictable results.
Word is not a layout program. It will likely cost you more in time and frustration to create a brochure this way than to pay a professional designer. It might look fine to your eye now, but when both are sitting on your customer’s desk, how will it stack up against your competitor’s professional design?
Looking to cut costs by reusing last year’s direct mail designs? If it still gets results, why mess with a good thing? The answer is that trends change. Customer needs change. By staying up to date, how much better could your results be? Plus, if audience keeps seeing the same design, what message you are sending? You never want your message to grow stale.
It might be tempting to use that free online template for your website, but there are a lot of drawbacks to that option. Your competitor could be using the same template. You risk site slow-downs if it’s hosted in an overloaded shared environment. You could also get hamstrung by proprietary platforms, poor security, and lack of backups, among other things.
It’s also important to consider SEO. Sites built with popular template-based site builders like Wix or Squarespace may look cool, but they can be limited in their SEO capabilities. How many customers will you lose because those people never find you on the web? To maximize a website’s SEO potential, you’re better off with a custom-designed site.
When it comes to brand elements, there are lots of places you can take short cuts. But you will pay a price in terms of the hit to your brand. When your brand erodes, so does brand recognition, customer engagement, and customer loyalty. That translates into losing real dollars.
Before cutting corners on elements that are the heart of your brand, you need to ask yourself: How much is your brand worth?