Tag Archives: design
If you’re in the market for a design agency, you may be wondering how to choose the one that’s right for your business. In this article, we’ll help you by comparing what you can expect from an agency vs. a freelancer:
A freelance designer doesn’t offer you the variety of work and design expertise that a design agency can…
While a freelance designer may be able to deliver a high-quality final product, the expertise of an agency can offer you so much more. A team of designers working together on your project will not only give you great design work but also a variety of options and ideas that wouldn’t otherwise be possible with just one person doing all of the work.
A design agency can provide you with a team of designers specialised in different areas…
This may be more cost-effective and allow the project to be completed more quickly. For example, while one designer might be better at writing copy and another is great at producing graphics, having both frees up your time to focus on what you do best: developing your brand’s message through strategy!
When you work with a design agency, you’re working with a team that has years of experience and deep expertise in their area of specialisation…
This can be especially important when it comes to building custom websites or creating marketing campaigns.
Project managers are responsible for ensuring that every project runs smoothly throughout its lifecycle, keeping everyone informed at every stage. They also make sure everyone is working on tasks according to the overall plan—which means they’ll ensure everything from design mock ups to code deployment goes according to schedule.
Account managers manage clients’ expectations by providing clear communication about what’s happening with your project at any given time, as well as answering questions about why certain decisions were made during its development process. This helps you feel more confident about where things stand and what’s coming next so there are fewer surprises along the way!
Marketing specialists understand how best practices in marketing relate specifically to your industry; this means they can tailor campaigns specifically designed around your goals and target audience so they’re effective as possible!
A design agency is more likely to meet your timeline than a freelancer…
Why? Because a design agency has access to many designers and an entire team of people who can work on your project, whereas freelance designers rarely have as much time or resources at their disposal. It’s also easier for a design agency to deliver quality work because they have access to better software and resources than freelancers do.
Agencies understand the importance of being on time, on budget and meeting client expectations—a lesson that many freelancers haven’t learned yet.
Design agencies have more experience working with big brands, which means they understand how important it is to be on time, on budget, and deliver what the client wants.
They also tend to have a more in-depth understanding of their clients’ businesses than most freelancers do, so they’re able to provide valuable insight and feedback during the design process.
Plus, since design agencies work with many different types of clients—not just other designers—they often have access to useful resources like stock photography libraries or databases containing designs that can be easily customised for use in your project.
Working with a design agency can give you lots of advantages if you have a project that requires specific design expertise and quick turnaround time…
You might be interested in working with an agency because:
- You need help with your overall branding strategy, or perhaps you’ve already created some designs and now you’re looking to build on them by adding additional pages to your website.
- You want someone who can handle the entire process—from idea to execution—for several pieces of content (like an e-book or landing page) at once.
- You need marketing material that is visually stunning but also simple enough for non-designers to use (such as infographics).
A design agency can provide you with a team of designers specialised in different areas. They have years of experience, which means they will be able to answer any questions you might have about the design process and help you get results quickly. This is especially important if your project requires specific design expertise or quick turnaround time.
We might be a little bit biased, but we think an agency would win every time!
Hiring a graphic designer will bring you so many benefits, especially if you choose the right designer or design agency. As a business, it is important to bear in mind that a logo alone won’t be enough to elevate your business to the next step. You need to think about the bigger picture and how you can deliver your brand message in other creative ways, which is where a long-term relationship with a graphic designer can be invaluable.
Below, let’s explore some of the advantages to hiring a graphic designer in the long-term.
1. They want to understand your needs
If you outsource to a design agency, then they will want to understand your needs and what makes your business tick, as that’s vital to the design process. A good designer will dive deep into understanding your brand & what you want, but most importantly, what you need.
2. They know how to set the right first impression for your brand
First impressions are so important. In business, a first impression is a lasting impression, so you really need to make it a positive one on potential prospects. This is what good graphic design can do for you and a great designer will ensure that the first impression you make is the right one. Often, the first business graphic a prospect sees will be your business card, a page on your website or an online ad, so getting an expert graphic designer on board to help with this would benefit any business wanting to succeed.
3. They will save you time
If you’re running a business, then your time is very valuable. Can you really afford to spend your valuable time trying to come up with a style for your marketing materials? You can’t just throw together a good design, it takes a combination of skills and a lot of experience. Delegating to a professional will allow you to continue your work whilst the professionals take on the design. Good design firms work fast. They are highly efficient businesses that leverage experiences on past projects to quickly arrive at solutions.
4. Their flexibility makes brand communications much more cost effective to you
Employees are expensive and if you hire an in-house design team, you’ll need to keep them busy, which often won’t be cost effective. Outsourcing to a design agency means you’ll only need to pay when you have a project to work on. You can eliminate the burden of employment costs by hiring a graphic design agency that won’t require benefits like healthcare, unemployment insurance and retirement. Essentially, a design agency provides decades of experience, at a fraction of the cost of a full-time employee. Training up internal staff is commendable, but a design agency will give you access to years of talent and expertise.
5. They enable you to focus more on what you’re best at
Outsourcing to experts allows you to return to doing the work that helps your business to grow and focus on what you’re best at. Design is time consuming and if you aren’t a trained professional, trying your hand at logos and branding will take valuable time away from your other tasks.
6. They help build credibility
Credibility is hugely important. There is a clear link between good design and perceived credibility. You need your visuals to be on point along with a fully functioning website where everything works. If you want to build good credibility, then you need to problem solve for your audience, ensure they trust your advice and that you’re seen as an expert in your industry.
7. They will provide you with a whole team of creative talent
An external design team will have far more experience than one, in-house hire. Instead of working with one employee in-house you will essentially have an entire staff at your disposal. A good design agency will give you access to years of talent and expertise. Creatives from a design agency will be highly skilled and come from a host of different design backgrounds, disciplines, and industries, offering a wide range of design expertise to ensure professional and high-quality work. The result is something that could never be achieved by a single person’s point of view.
8. They will provide you with a fresh perspective on your current brand communications
Sometimes, a fresh perspective can be invaluable. Whether you are rebranding, or starting from scratch, engaging a design agency and its experts can help you to see things in a way you may not have considered. An outside perspective has the potential to show you what you may have been missing and need to bring to life.
9. They have the creativity to keep you ahead of your competitors
If you want to stay ahead of your competitors, then you need great graphic design. Your brand voice will flow through everything you do, and a graphic designer can help you to achieve this, after all, great businesses come with great showcasing. A graphic designer can ensure that not only you have stand out branding but that, on an ongoing basis, you are reviewing the competition and constantly finding ways to improve.
10. They appreciate trends to give you that cutting edge appeal
Graphic designers are not only trained and experienced, but on a daily basis, they are immersed in the worlds of design and marketing. It is their job and lifeblood to keep up with the latest trends that are shaping the industry. So, if you want cutting edge and up to the minute advice, you can rest assured the work will have a fresh and modern appeal.
11. They crave accountability
Good graphic designers will thrive on accountability. When you outsource to a design agency, they want a return on investment as much as you do. An agency will be passionate about the project and deeply invested in it to ensure you get the results you desire and working to the highest standard. Not every employee thrives on accountability, so outsourcing can have huge benefits here.
12. They know how to inject emotion into your messaging
Every business has a story and it’s so important that this is communicated well to your audience. All types of designs need to evoke some emotion in their viewer. Therefore, a design without a purpose is a human without emotions. Each and every single element in your design matters and signifies any emotion or feeling that supports your message. A good graphic designer will be able to convey a brand, a message, a story, and meaning.
13. They understand how to design with efficiency
Visuals are vital when it comes to design, but so is efficiency. Your designs need to look great, but they also need to be functional. If the graphics are badly designed, it can have a negative impact. Your business website should be perfectly designed and give no headaches to your customers, a good graphic designer will be able to create practical designs with easy navigation, legible fonts, and attractive colours.
At Creative Fire, we want to work with you to make sure your design is the best it can be. We believe that if you constantly nurture your brand, the results will be truly impressive. That’s why we see our client relationships as long term, we want to build a relationship with you for the long-haul. With each new client relationship, we take the time to get to know you and what really makes you tick. By partnering for the long term we can really immerse ourselves in your brand and work together to strategize, ensuring you’re ahead of the curve and your competitors.
Branding can make or break your business. That said, start-ups and smaller businesses are often so caught up in the technicalities of the business that branding is often put on the back burner. So, whether you’re just starting out or have been in business for decades, here are some crucial branding mistakes you should avoid:
1. Not grasping the meaning of branding
Branding is a blueprint for how you want the world to see your business. An easy mistake to make is not actually understanding what branding really is. So, take some time to really understand the concept and find an explanation that suits you. You need to really grasp it to apply it to your business – more on this in the next point!
2. Getting your marketing mixed up with your branding
Make sure you don’t confuse marketing with branding. Let’s separate this out quickly. Branding is defining who, or what, your brand is. Marketing is making other people aware of it. Whilst they are closely related and there’s a lot of crossover, being unclear on the differences means you can’t do either effectively. Here’s a tip: take care of branding first, then tackle marketing second.
3. Seeing branding as just a logo
Branding is much bigger than one or two brand assets, like business cards or a logo. Branding is in fact the conceptual act of defining your business, not just making some pretty designs in the company colours.
4. Trying too hard to stand out
Unfortunately, trying too hard looks desperate. Instead, aim to let your brand develop naturally and organically, avoiding try to shoehorn it into a trend. The public can smell inauthenticity a mile away, and it never turns out well.
5. Thinking you know best
Let’s be realistic, you’re no doubt excellent at what you do, but not every entrepreneur has a solid understanding of psychology, graphic design and copywriting. This is why we think you should always hire a professional.
6. Playing it too safe
By the same token, there are business that play it too safe when it comes to branding. If there’s nothing unusual or unique about your brand, it’s going to be tough to carve out market share. You can combat this with lots of research into you competitors – it will help you find a niche and root out gaps in your competitor’s offering that perhaps you can fill.
7. Being too edgy
Some businesses try very hard to differentiate themselves from the competition. This is a good thing, but more than one company has crossed a line in their quest for uniqueness and it’s ended badly. Interesting is good but keep it in the realms of respectable.
8. Forgetting brand guidelines
Don’t forget about brand guidelines. These are vital for success, because as well as helping ensure consistency and authenticity in-house, they’ll be a huge help to any 3rd party professionals you employ to help with marketing, content, graphic design, product design.
9. Lacking consistency across channels
Once you’ve got branding in place, you must ensure it’s represented similarly across all the channels your business is present on. Being inconsistent sends a mixed message to the public. Keeping your brand guidelines at the forefront will help with this.
10. Lacking consistency across collateral
It can be easy to ensure consistency in the obvious places and forget about areas that don’t spring to top of mind. Make sure anything that is issued by your business, from letters to compliment slips to invoices, is as on-brand as your Instagram account.
11. Refusing to admit mistakes
Even the most experienced brands make mistakes sometimes and everyone makes mistakes. If this happens, the only way to recover is by owning up to the error. Admit your mistake early and you’ll hopefully be in with a chance to remedy it.
12. Attaching your brand to the wrong things
By the same token, there are business that play it too safe when it comes to branding. If there’s nothing unusual or unique about your brand, it’s going to be tough to carve out market share. You can combat this with lots of research into you competitors – it will help you find a niche and root out gaps in your competitor’s offering that perhaps you can fill.
Be really careful about what you allow your brand name to be attached too. For every association that brings in new business and extra revenue, there are 10 more that just leave customers scratching their heads, which is never a good sign for business.
13. Neglecting the update
If you’ve already got your branding done and dusted, set a reminder to look at it on an annual or bi-annual basis. Whilst you don’t want your brand to be moulded by every passing trend, you want to avoid it looking tired and irrelevant. You just need to work on getting the balance right.
14. Attempting to appeal to everyone
You can’t be all things to all people. Instead, embrace your brand and walk the walk – this clarity will help your people find you.
15. Being too trend driven
Every year brings in new design trends and while it’s ok to use them for inspiration, copying them can look desperate. Jumping from trend to trend is also not advisable, as it’s a type of inconsistency.
16. Forgetting about written content
Don’t make the mistake of forgetting about the text when you concentrate on graphic design. Copywriting may play a lesser role in your branding, but it’s hugely important and worth examining professionally. Great copywriting not only increases sales and conversions, but it also has a major impact on how people view your brand in terms of authenticity. Core messages, mission statement and tag lines are all essential brand elements and they all rest on the written word.
17. Thinking too small
Don’t think too small. Whilst some online businesses are very local, an increasing number have a global reach, even without trying. Make sure your branding doesn’t offend any of your international clients.
18. Stripping all personality
Consistency is key but never varying from the strictest confines of your brand guidelines can make for a very boring brand. Don’t be afraid to inject a little personality and character into your brand actions.
19. Overlooking the brand deadline
Solid branding takes effort and isn’t something you can finish in a couple of days. That said, always set yourself an end goal and a deadline to wrap everything up. Some companies are never happy and continue poking their brand to “get it just right”. A brand that’s always in motion can never grow roots, and it’s those roots that are key to your brand being the foundation your business is built on.
20. Alienating your origins
It can often be hard to get the balance between old and new right, but if your brand has been around for a while, it’s worth remembering that you may have fans and customers who love you for your traditional brand. Updates that stray too far from origins like this can sometimes fall flat, so tread carefully and do lots of research before you refresh your classic brand.
The above are 20 common, but avoidable, ways that businesses make mistakes with their branding. That said, the biggest branding mistake of all is doing nothing! So, if you’re trying hard, then hopefully these tips will help you to avoid the various branding pitfalls.
Luckily, when you employ a branding professional, the person or agency will be the ones looking out for these possible pitfalls. At Creative Fire, we’ll work together on your branding, taking the task off your hands whilst you focus on other areas of your business and helping you to avoid these common mistakes. For consistency, professional designs and high-level expertise, contact the Creative Fire team today.
15 Steps to Futureproofing Your Brand
The way we market ourselves in business is now more volatile than ever. We’ve seen monumental shifts in behaviours during the Covid pandemic and it’s created more pressure on businesses to ensure their brand remains in an optimum position as these changes occur.
One of the biggest causes of failure in business is brand negligence. Far too often, brand development is seen as a one-stop shop; a single visit process which can simply be ticked off, never to be reviewed again. The stark reality is that there are many contributing factors which prove it requires constant nurturing. The best advice we can give is to plan ahead. Think about where you want your business to be in 6, 12, 24 months and ensure that you position your brand to match your goals.
So, how do you go about doing this to meet these expectations? Here are 15 steps to ensure your brand is watertight for the future:
1. Review your goals and values
It’s important to regularly review your goals and values, to take stock of where you are. So, take some time to do some introspection on your brand journey to date. Are you clear about your brand values? What are your core values? Are your goals are aligned with the progress the business is making?
2. Identify your USP
What makes your business better than any other? Identifying your USP is vital for understanding the unique value that only you have to offer to your ideal audience, through your experience and expertise. What problem does your business solve differently or better than other businesses in your field? Focusing on what you do really well will help you to focus on your strategy.
3. Understand your audience
It’s important to get very specific with who needs your product or service and more importantly, where they live online. If you don’t know your audience, you won’t know what strategies or media to choose, let alone what messages to give them or how to treat them once they become full-fledged customers. Find out what platforms your audience use, get into their mindsets and really tap into what’s going to make them tick.
4. Create a headline with impact
Create an impactful headline statement that includes who you are, what you do, how you do it and for whom. This shouldn’t be more than a sentence, it can then be used in your online profiles and as an introduction when meeting new people. This headline should clearly communicate your brand, so it’s worth putting your thinking cap on for this one.
5. Stay true to your brand story
A clear and distinctive brand is one that is tells a story that sticks in your mind and gives a company an advantage in the marketplace. What does your brand really mean to your organisation? Does it represent tangible assets with your logo on them? Is it your tone-of-voice? A brand must be the expression of the ‘authentic story’ behind your organisation.
6. Ensure your online profiles are up to date
Keeping all your profiles up to date online is important to ensure you and your brand are seen as current and professional. These channels are a form of branding, so invest in things like a professional headshot. Ensure that your profiles have up-to-date and accurate information about you and your brand, to represent yourself the way you want to be addressed.
7. Monitor your website search ranking
Start with a simple Google search with your name, then your brand name, then the keywords that would be associated with your name or brand. Make a note of where you rank on Google and what links show up for you first. This will help you to become aware of what others are seeing when they are trying to find you so that you can make the necessary changes or updates.
8. Be the master in a particular field
Have a think about what you want to be known for in your industry. What keywords would you want someone to use to find you online? If you had an opportunity to speak at an event, what would your ideal topic be? Figure out your niche and then get more specific with your offering, this will make it easier for the right people to find you. Become a master in your chosen field and excel in it.
9. Demonstrate your compassion
Brands today are no longer just about representing a transaction. Brands must demonstrate that they make a contribution, beyond mere product benefits. They need to be a force for good in our world. For example: improving communities, providing useful career paths for employees, supporting charities and worthy causes to give back to the community. You need to demonstrate this to your audience and make sure they know you care.
10. Create and share content
Content is key! Sharing useful, interesting and innovative content is a sure way to keep your brand top of mind. To make a start, write down the top 10 questions you get asked by your customers or clients. Use this as the starting point to creating content for your audience. Break down each question and decide on the best format, images, video and audio for your content.
11. Comment and collaborate
It’s key to be present and engaged on your social media channels. Comment, like, share and connect with people. Real connection can lead to real opportunities for collaboration that can quickly expand your reach and audience and grow your online community.
12. Focus on the platforms right for you
If you’re wondering what platforms are right for you, then the answer is wherever your ideal audience lives online. Find out where your people are hanging out and engaging online and meet them there. Get familiar with the platforms and start creating content that adds value to your community.
13. Keep it fresh and relevant
Regular content, well written and distributed, continually reinforces your brand voice while delivering value to your customers. Thought leadership is also important, the ideas, concepts and vision your company can own and act upon to influence your industry. This showcases your strengths, your capabilities and your authority and keeps content fresh and relevant.
14. Never stand still
A brand does not stand still. People are continually looking to improve their lives in some way and brands that light the way forward through new ideas, resonate with a hungry public. The market will always change, and your brand will always have to adapt. To future-proof your brand, you must constantly evaluate your environment and think several steps ahead. How quickly and flexibly can you adapt to industry changes and shifting customer needs? Managing your brand is a continuous process, with the aim of continuing to optimise brand experiences and brand values.
15. Get the right expertise
To ensure that your brand is always future proof, you need the right expertise on hand. You can develop this expertise within your own talent pool, but it’s also wise to use external help, especially when your brand planning changes. You might work on the brand with a lot of people within your organisation, but think about who is responsible for your brand when it comes to strategy and design? Experts can provide unique points of view and innovative ideas, to compliment and synergise with your own in-house teams.
Agencies are often hired when it comes to brand strategy and design. By working with us at Creative Fire, you’ll be adding heavy weight skill sets to your team in marketing, design, communications, printing and digital publishing. To find out more, contact the Creative Fire team today.
Turning to a design agency for your marketing will yield significant rewards. Not only will you get the benefit of professional designs, but you’ll get the expertise of an experienced team who will help you navigate the marketing and branding elements of your business. At Creative Fire, our ground-breaking Creative Time package will also ensure that you get the most value from your investment. Let’s explore the benefits of working with a design agency.
Get your time back
When it comes to running a business, time is money. Some business owners or managers might like the idea of adding ‘designer’ to their list of jobs, but design is time consuming and if you aren’t a trained professional, ‘having a go’ at logos and branding will take valuable time away from your other tasks. A professional design agency can take the task of design off your hands completely and thus free up your time. Working with a team of experts will allow you to focus more time on your business and the things you’re good at. Not only that, but a team of graphic designers gives you more resources, knowledge, and support than you’d get from going it alone.
Decades of experience
Did you know that an external design team will have far more experience (on average 10+ years) compared to 1-3 years for an in-house hire? Essentially, a design agency provides decades of experience, at a fraction of the cost of a full-time employee. Training up internal staff is commendable, but a design agency will give you access to years of talent and expertise. Creatives from a design agency will be highly skilled and come from a host of different design backgrounds, disciplines, and industries, offering a wide range of design expertise to ensure professional and high-quality work.
Marketing when you need it
If you hire an in-house design team, you’ll need to keep them busy every working day of the year and this often won’t be cost effective. Outsourcing to a design agency means you’ll only need to pay when you have a project to work on. At Creative Fire, Creative Time is our structured design package to provide you with the solution your business needs to drive it forward. It offers all the benefits of having an in-house designer, but with flexibility. This isn’t like a usual ‘retainer’ package, we’ll work to your timetable, not ours. So, if you don’t use all your allocated Creative Time hours, we will roll them over for you and you’ll get the very best value for your money. Traditional retainer packages mean that if you don’t use the time allocated, you lose it.
Our ground breaking monthly subscription
We understand how important the creative input to your branding and communications is. If you constantly nurture your brand, the results will be beyond anything you could ever have imagined. That’s why we see our client relationships as long term, we want to build a relationship with you, immerse ourselves in your brand and partner with you for the long haul so we can strategize. That way, you get the most out of your investment. We believe this works far better than ad hoc projects.
At Creative Fire, we know first-hand the pain points of dealing with big agencies, so we’ve taken out the middleman, meaning you speak directly to your creative partner, from brief through to delivery. This ensures direct, fully transparent communication.
Our fully cloud-based, integrated project planner provides complete transparency, so that you know the status of each project, along with how much time has been allocated and spent. We have super-fast response times, and our client portal facilitates real-time project tracking and efficient response to your requests.
What else does our Creative Time package offer you?
- On call creative support whenever you need it.
- Discounted rates compared to our ad-hoc service.
- Automated payment setup so that you don’t need to worry about payments.
- A 1 hour review call every 2-3 weeks.
- Access to our project management interface, where you can review, comment and upload content.
- Monthly time reports to show your current usage in live time.
By working with us at Creative Fire, you’ll be adding heavy weight skill sets to your
team in marketing, design, communications, printing and digital publishing. To find out more, contact the Creative Fire team today.
Designing marketing material for your business is a hugely important process. However, companies often try to find the cheapest option when it comes to graphic design. So, what will get you the best result? Let’s explore the various options, from DIY design to using an external design agency.
When it comes to designing marketing material, the idea of doing it yourself can be tempting. After all, you know your brand inside out. You wouldn’t have to spend much money doing it yourself, plus you’d have full control and instant approval.
That said, it’s not an easy task to create a logo without any design knowledge. Your marketing material is critical for your brand identity, if you get it wrong, it will have a hugely detrimental effect on your business.
Don’t forget that design also takes time. Professional designers spend countless hours on company logos. Have you got the time to refine a logo properly? There is also a danger of your design looking amateurish, without the tools of a professional designer. Only someone experienced in designing a professional logo can make it look truly professional.
Outsourcing to Freelancers
Sites like Upwork and Fiverr host plenty of freelancers who will be happy to help with producing designs. For small projects at a lower cost, you could achieve some success utilising a freelancer. You’ll also likely receive an overwhelming number of responses to your requests, which is a positive in terms of easily accessible help, but negative in that you’ll have ideas flying round left, right and centre with no clear strategy.
Your freelancer may also have limited resources, as they aren’t coming from a design agency, and a limited skillset if they are still learning the ropes, so a freelancer gives no guarantee in terms of professional design or reliability and remains a bit of a gamble.
Crowdsourcing is sometimes a cost-effective way of getting a particular design for your brand. The process involves getting multiple designers to send in designs for you to review. You then work through these examples and pay for the design closest to what you want. Whilst you could get lucky and receive some good ideas for your spend, a public call for designs involves working through a lot of submissions from inexperienced designers.
Part of the process of design is also collaboration. You might like the font of one design and the colour of another, and a professional designer can weave these two elements together to come up with your ideal design. Crowdsource designers are unlikely to want to collaborate with other designers, they’ll produce the work, take payment, and move on to the next project.
In-house Design Team
An in-house team would bring you in designers who could give their full-time dedication and attention to your brand only. Having all your design needs in one place can be convenient and if you hire correctly, you can create a passionate team.
That said, the cost and practicalities of this may not work for your business in terms of the salary and benefits you’d need to offer, depending on their level of expertise, and the time it takes to assemble a skilled design team.
An external design team will have far more experience, on average 10+ years compared to 1-3 years for an in-house hire. In-house teams can also prove expensive, particularly for periods of down time.
Working With a Design Agency
Companies often turn to some of the options above because they want to cut costs, but if you work with a trustworthy design agency, it can be a lot more cost-effective in the long run. This is because of the relationship you’ll build, the expertise and the unique, polished results you’ll get first time round.
Design agencies are reliable, you won’t have to deal with the rookie errors of freelancers or your own mistakes. An experienced graphic design agency will get to know your business and tailor designs to your target market, putting design at the centre of the ethos, with a clear strategy to drive things. With hugely talented teams, knowledge and design tools at their fingertips, designs will be professional and impressive.
The teams at design agencies will bring with them years of talent and experience. Designers know the common design crutches and specifications, which enable them to create something memorable, yet functional. This expertise won’t be found with a freelancer or by giving it a go yourself.
At Creative Fire, we like get to know you and become familiar with your business, values and goals. We’ll work together to create high quality designs, first time round, taking the task off your hands whilst you focus on other areas of your business. For consistency, professional designs and high level expertise, contact the Creative Fire team today.
The design and branding process takes time, thought and skill, so it’s no surprise that when it comes to getting designs and graphics done quickly, people will look to find an easy, quick fix solution. Cue Canva, a simple, online design program which gives anyone the tools to create professional designs in minutes. Does it sound too good to be true? Well, that’s because it is! Let’s explore why Canva will never be a good substitute for a proper graphic designer.
If it sounds too good to be true then it most certainly is
If you’re a blogger, social media manager or business owner who wants to create marketing collateral quickly, then Canva might present as the answer to all your problems. It’s a web-based design tool which allows people who have no graphic design experience to very quickly create designs, from logos to social media graphics and flyers. It’s packed with trendy fonts and templates, so that all you have to do is to drop your text in and you can have a brand logo ready in half an hour. However, like we said above, if it sounds too good to be true then it most certainly is. Behind the quick fix illusion of Canva, there are actually quite a lot of drawbacks.
Creating the branding and marketing collateral for your business is one of the most important processes you’ll ever go through. You only get one chance to make a great first impression and the branding you choose will be the cornerstone for your whole business image and the foundation for your success. There’s a time for a quick fix solution, and there’s a time for doing things properly. We very much suggest doing design properly, with the help of an experienced graphic designer, for the reasons we’ll take a look at below.
Limited options for a saturated market
Firstly, Canva offers a range of pre-designed templates and asset libraries for users to pull images from. However, Canva has more than 4 million users. That’s over 4 million people using the same selection of templates for their branding, flyers, logos and social media posts! Whilst the templates are stylish, they are being used over and over again. If you use Canva for your designs, then all the other Canva users will know it. If it’s seen by non-Canva users, they might not know where your branding was generated, but they’ll know that they’ve seen a lot of very similar designs before.
Your highly visible marketing collateral needs to be original, unique and well thought through. Your core brand assets, like your logo and business cards, are the first thing customers will see and they are what a customer will remember you by. Do you really want a design that’s eerily similar to lots of other companies branding? At Creative Fire, we take the design process seriously, using it as a valuable opportunity to bring your personality into your branding and creating brand recognition. Trust us, you don’t want Canva recognition.
No substitute for experienced, skilled graphic design professionals
There’s also the more technical side of things to think about. Your highly visible marketing collateral needs to look aesthetically pleasing, but it needs to be crafted with fundamental design knowledge in mind. Graphic designers are trained in how best to prepare a piece of design work for print or digital. Without this knowledge, you could find yourself in hot water. Are the graphics optimised? Are the file types adjusted correctly? Using a graphic that isn’t optimised properly on your website can slow down that page and harm your SEO. Having a flyer printed without properly adjusting the file for CMYK printing can produce unexpected and odd colour results. If you incorrectly configure the margins on an image destined for print, that could cause issues with sizing and stretching, it could even chop off areas of graphics or text. It’s situations like these where an experienced graphic designer’s input is absolutely vital, as a designer will cover all these things off for you!
Another issue with Canva is that it is one hundred percent based online. That’s great if the internet is working as should be, but if your internet goes down, or Canva goes down for maintenance, then you have no access to your images and designs if you haven’t backed them up. So, if you quickly need to edit an image or create something, you won’t be able to.
“Canva makes you a graphic designer in the same way a microwave makes you a chef”
Our firm belief is this at Creative Fire; if you need help creating something that is crucial and central to your brand (such as creating your branding) or logo, then get a designer on board. Jon-Stephen Stansel, a Social Media Strategist, sums things up pretty well – he said, “Canva makes you a graphic designer in the same way a microwave makes you a chef”. On this one, we have to admit that we agree!
Design is often thought to be a subjective process, yet how does this work when it comes to branding for your business? Your target audience is key to your marketing success, so building a brand on your personal tastes and feelings alone won’t necessarily work. So, does there need be a balance of subjective and objective thinking? Let’s explore this concept below.
Balance subjective and objective thinking
Developing your brand is incredibly important and it’s easy to be led by your own preferences, but in fact, one of the biggest mistakes you can make is to create a brand identity that suits only your own tastes. Whilst design should be influenced by your personal values and opinions, you’ve got to keep in mind the audience who you’re trying to target. Their tastes could be the total opposite to yours, so a purely subjective approach won’t suffice.
Always listen to your clients
Let’s look at some examples of where this might happen. Joe Bloggs is a 45-year-old male who runs a children’s play centre. Sam Space is a 30-year-old female who runs a Stag Do activity service. John Doe is a 52-year-old male who owns a women’s skincare range. Based on gender and age alone, what do you think would happen if they let their own tastes lead the development of their brand’s visual identities? This is where design has to become objective. If these individuals want to develop a brand that resonates with their target audiences, they’re going to have to work on branding that isn’t necessarily influenced by their own feelings or opinions. Your branding and the way you communicate it visually is there to serve the purpose of attracting new business. It’s got to get your audience engaged. So, as the business owner, or as anyone else representing the business, your own tastes become irrelevant because the opinion that truly matters is that of your customers.
Research, research, research
A key part of the process when we work with clients is to research their target audience and explore their competitors, in order to establish how we can transform their brand into a market leader. We often find that it’s helpful if you share your brand identity with a variety of different people, each with their own demographics, and get them to critique it. This is a good way to see how it’s viewed by different individuals and whilst you’ll find the feedback varies, it’s a key part of getting your branding spot on.
Remember that good design and branding is about successfully communicating ideas into real forms to an intended audience. At Creative Fire, we want to try and marry your values and personality with the needs of your target audience so that we can create a brand that will truly resonate with them. We want you to love your brand, but together we can balance the subjectivity of design with a little bit of objectivity too.
If this sounds good, get in touch with us today for an informal chat about your project!
At Creative Fire, we’re not just here to make things look pretty (although that comes with the territory). Graphic designers are actually problem solvers by nature. It’s built in us to find solutions to problems. Below are some of the creative ways we can solve problems for businesses and improve success with your customers.
A lot of companies underestimate the importance of having a strong brand and this can lead to cutting corners. Your branding is normally the first thing people will see, so you want to get it right and create the best first impression possible. Poor branding can actually give customers an inaccurate representation of your business or leave them unclear about what you can do for them. So, whether it’s your website, social media or marketing material, your branding is what’s representing you in the world both online and offline – getting this right can be the difference between success and failure.
Thoughtful design can tell a story, which in turn can resonate with a target audience. This is really important as you’ve probably realised, you’re not the only business in your chosen field. Many people want a quick solution and don’t put time or money into their branding, but if there’s no meaning behind the design, it might not make any sense to your customers. A good brand tells a story and gets to the heart of your business, which will help you to stand out amongst others in your field. At Creative Fire we’ll get right to the heart of your business and get to know you, so that we can reflect your values and expertise out to the world through creative design.
When graphic design is good and your branding is strong, it will allow you to connect better with your target audience because your branding will reflect your business accurately. People connect better with businesses that share the same values as them, so if you’re clearly conveying your message through branding, customers will have a greater understanding of what you do. This ultimately coverts to more leads and solves the problem of not attracting the right customers.
A great graphic designer can get in your head, understand the company, your morals, your target audience, what you stand for and what you are all about and take your message and ideas and make it into a reality. This is why clients come to us to take their ideas and their business and create something special. The ability to visualise what the customer is thinking is a very important aspect of creating a great design.
Having an agency team on tap is cheaper than hiring an in-house designer. Our Creative Time support package has been specially designed for businesses who don’t have an in-house design team but who want to improve their branding and visual communications. Hiring an expert with a different perspective can also be helpful as often, it allows us to come up with creative solutions to problems that you may not have thought about.
For an initial chat about working with us, get in touch. We can go through everything with you, step by step!
In an increasingly digitised world, print media is often overlooked. At Creative Fire, we champion the world of print as a viable part of your communications strategy. Here are a few key ways to use print media to your advantage:
Emphasise the physical
As more and more businesses exist solely in the digital world, don’t underestimate how reassuring a physical presence can be for many customers. Not only does this help some demographics to trust your brand more, but it can also be a great way of sharing important information such as promotions and coupons. While customers are often resentful of spam, a well-timed leaflet or brochure which gives them visible benefits is seldom cause for complaint and could help keep your brand top of mind.
Print media can be personalised with relative ease, particularly in the area of promotional merchandise marketing. This offers significantly higher engagement than email marketing and has been shown to have a higher response rate, which is great for your engagement.
Measure your ROI
Print media was around long before digital media, and whilst we are strong advocates of all things digital, we do appreciate the benefits of print. Some arguments against printed media focus on the difficulty in measuring the return on investment (ROI). We have been spoilt by a plethora of highly targeted options with our digital activities, and so reverting to print can seem uncertain.
It is worth remembering however that print does have ROI advantages in some respects. The mere presence of something physical means it is more likely to remain circulating around its end destination, when compared to (for example) a marketing e-mail.
Keeping your focus local is another fantastic way to keep customers happy. What is your company doing in the area pertinent to your recipient? Customers can be targeted for local benefits and perks via print media. One localised example is billboards, they are often overlooked, but can ensure companies get their name in front of significant footfall.
Use branded merchandise
Print media is also a great way to create stunning branded merchandise, which will work its way into the everyday lives of your customers and keep your brand in their minds the next time they need your services.
Client relations is one of the most important aspects of choosing an agency, yet it is often overlooked by both brands and the agencies that work with them. If all goes well, your chosen agency will be a close ally as you work to strengthen your business and pursue creative new avenues, so making the right choice is essential.
At Creative Fire, we help our clients meet their ambitious goals by being:
Friendly and approachable
With each new client relationship, we take the time to get to know you and what really makes you tick. At Creative Fire, we strongly believe thatbreaking down barriers to communication is the only way to really understand your company, so we treat everyone we work with like friends.
Like all good friends, we pride ourselves on remaining trustworthy and approachable, so you can chat to us about whatever may be going wrong. Like the best of friends, we’ll work hard to address your branding or communications issues using our comprehensive skillset.
Honest and open
An honest, open dialogue is necessary so we can get to the core of problems and solve them efficiently. We know how daunting it may be to discuss your company with an outside party, which is why we help make it simple, keeping channels of communication open throughout the time you work with us.
Whenever a problem arises, we strive to be your go-to people to call and have the communications know-how to get things fixed.
We’ve developed a three-stage process, which is comprised of an initial consultancy (during which we identify your strengths and weaknesses, and find out more about the company), before conducting ample research into both your existing design strategy and competitors. Following these stages, we will then develop concept designs which are drawn from your brief and our findings, carefully keeping your objectives in mind throughout the process.
As may have become evident from our other attributes, at Creative Fire we are big problem-solving people! We are able to see whatever dilemma you are facing from multiple angles and will work closely with you to find the most creative and effective way through. Interested in working with us?
Creative Fire is an award-winning design agency based in Essex. We’re always happy to arrange an informal discussion of your business goals and challenges, helping you forge ahead with a more cohesive brand and a more effective strategy.
Digital content has been growing stronger in the last few years, but 2020 saw a rapid acceleration as the global pandemic keeps many of us behind doors. In this climate, digital becomes more important than ever before, as both a tool for businesses to gain(and retain) custom and as a crucial means of ongoing communication and connectivity.
The digital difference
Digital has not only helped transform many businesses but allowed them to stay afloat during a trying time for all industries. While some are already accustomed to remote working, others have had to quickly adapt to a new way of communicating. The same principle applies to their means of communicating with customers. Many businesses are already aware of how important it is to keep a strong online presence, and lots have also begun adding extra digital elements to their offering. However, the Covid-19 pandemic has suddenly shown the strong divide between those businesses which take their digital seriously, and those which are still playing catch-up.
How can I use digital content for my business?
There are several key focus areas which any savvy business owner can look at when transforming their own company into an effective digital operation. Before making any changes, it’s essential to understand why they’re being made. This will help eliminated wasted spending at a time when few companies can afford it. Effective strategies include:
Blogging has come a long way since its earliest days, and today blogs and articles are the cornerstone of many great digital strategies. Whether long-form or short, a blog with bite will help you position yourself as a market leader, introduce your customers to thrilling new ideas, or simply keep them informed about the latest happenings at the HQ.
Video continues to gain traction as an accessible way of appealing to your audience, and it’s also fantastic for boosting your search potential. In addition to traditional video, you could also go for live streaming or cultivating a YouTube presence –all fantastic methods to diversify your digital media.
SEO (search engine optimisation) is still a crucial part of any digital content strategy and will help form the content you create.
Ready to broaden your digital horizons?
Creative Fire is an award-winning marketing and design agency based in Essex. We’re on hand to help you solve all your digital problems, delivering an expert service tailored for every area of your communications strategy. Get in touch with us today to discuss your unique requirements.
June 28, 2022 Why You Should Use a Design Agency Over a Freelancer
January 11, 2022 Common Branding Mistakes Businesses Make