The Truth About Business is You Need Design

Cynthia Bartz • April 26, 2016

Ignoring business design is like putting a plant under a bucket. Sure, it might do OK for an hour, a day, a week even. But at some point your business… plant, is going to be anemic and in need of attention.

Now let me be clear, design doesn’t have to be fancy and worthy of hanging in the Louvre. Fancy does not always equal good. Good Design is about marketing and branding in a way that effectively communicates your business to your target audience.

At it’s core, business design is about strategy. I believe every visual aspect of your business has a job to do, and it’s not looking pretty. Whatever it is, the primary job of any marketing, branding or signage is to communicate well. This goes for everything from your website to that sign you made in Powerpoint and printed off your ink jet printer.

You Can’t Just Be Pretty

Well designed ads are useless if they don’t communicate well, like the ad below from Sephora. People have short attention spans. If an ad does not quickly communicate in 2-3 seconds consumers just move on. Let me say again, two to three seconds. That’s it.

From this ad you definitely get that they are selling some kind of face/body product, but it is not immediately clear what makes this product special. The photo is certainly captivating, but the product is forgettable. My first thought was that it was for a super moisturizing lotion, but nope, it’s anti-aging “superfood” skin products. (Whatever that means)

Even if you take the time to study the advertisement, there are still questions. What do super food have to do with skin? Why do I need anti-aging? I am in the target market, and I’m definitely not sold.Consumers want to know what a product or service is going to do for them. And when they are confused you will lose their attention.

Consumers want to know what a product or service is going to do for them. And when they are confused you will lose their attention.


Poor business design advertisement


The marketing of Super was so unsuccessful that it was ultimately pulled from Sephora’s stores. The design of the ad was on target for the 20-something females that Super was marketing to, but the message was unclear. Having a clear business design value proposition in advertisements is essential to turning views into sales.

The bottom line is you can’t just be pretty.

The Basic

On the flip side, simple ads that communicate well can do the job, but may not build brand recognition.

I drive down to Florida from Atlanta at least once a year. As a designer in the marketing industry I’ve always been struck by the simplicity and effectiveness of the ads for numerous farm stands on the drive. The signs are simple, some of them even have spelling errors, but I always know exactly what they are selling: fresh (I mean super fresh) produce.



While these ads are good at driving traffic to the food stands, there is no brand loyalty. I couldn’t tell you the name of any of the stands we stop at. In my mind they are all the same, even though that could not be farther from the truth.

For the farm stands it’s not a problem, because they aren’t interested in building loyalty. Road-side farm stands are banking on pulling in a small percentage of a huge number of people driving down the highway. For most other businesses this tactic can only take you so far. If you want your business to grow you are going to need both: communication and business design.

Good Business Design Communicates

If you aren’t using design in your business you are missing huge opportunities to grow. Growth only happens when your business is reaching the right people. And if the right people are buying from a competitor who is leveraging design you are in trouble.


Does your marketing needs some love?

I love helping small businesses transform into local brands through beautiful, strategic design. Whether you need a whole new website or just a brochure for a tradeshow, I can help you reach the clients you want to work with.

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