The Cost of Bad Design – It Can Negatively Impact Your Business

cost of bad designBad design can have negative impacts on your brand. It can cost you in lost revenue!

Consider some of the following:
• Is your logo outdated?
• Is your website hard to navigate?
• Is your existing branding disjointed?
• Are your color choices outdated & tacky?
• Are your images poor quality .jpegs?

If some of these bad design factors apply to you, what might it be saying about your business? As they saying goes, you never get a first chance to make a first impression. And in today’s “social world”, people talk…

Design is more than decoration. It’s a form of visual communication and an investment in your business. It’s about delivering an authentic message that connects you with your audience allowing them to better identify with your brand or business — and with the products or services you offer or are looking to promote.

That being said, lets look at some of these potential design concerns as they can have negative ramifications…


Letting go of an outdated logo…

A while back I was contacted by the marketing manager of a local company. They had been competing for large government contracts – but kept losing the bids. Taking a deeper look at their overall image, I wanted to see how they were presenting themselves. The goal was to see if I could gain a better sense of what the underlying issues may be. Could bad design be working against them?

At first look, their brand image looked juvenile. Apparently their logo had been designed years ago by the owner’s 14 year old daughter. While that may have been great when the business was getting started, it was time to let it go. In its current state, it looked like hand-drawn balloon letters. For a company that wanted to communicate hi-tech services to government agencies, it was not working in their favor. It was time for something professionally designed!

Apple's logo from 1976.

Apple’s logo from 1976

Mentioning this concern to the marketing manager, I about had my head handed to me! Updating their image to one that better represented currently was a golden opportunity to convey how the company has grown. A “before” and “after if you will. However, in this case it was nothing doing!

Countless businesses – large and small recognize when it may be time to let go of the old and bring in the new. Yes, rebranding your business image may initially be a chunk of change. However, the price of not doing so may ultimately be far more costly in the long run!

Look at Apple’s original logo from 1976. It certainly did not look as polished as it does now!

Do Note: A logo alone does not sell a brand. It is however, part of a business strategy which can assist in defining your business to the outside world.


The negative implications of a badly designed website

Moving on to a review of the website, it lacked a clear message of what they actually did. No where on the site did it specify their services. I literally had to go to some of their competitor’s websites to figure out what they did and who they did it for. The existing content – or lack there of left me scratching my head for answers.

Poor design and site structure left it hard to navigate. There was no supporting imagery which could have helped clarify what they did. Basically all the design elements combined lacked a polished, professional appearance. Furthermore, the site was sorely lacking in search engine optimization – even on the most basic level. You could not tell what their targeted keywords were – ones that would allow them to be found in organic searches. Also, they were a local company targeting local customers – yet no local optimization had been applied either. In this day and age, any marketing manager should know how important SEO is!

Compared to the other companies who were submitting bids for these large government contracts – and winning – this company’s overall image was a train wreck. Now mind you, there could have been other factors that were working against them too – but first impressions left a lot to be desired!

Sadly, the marketing manager resisted any suggestions for improvements. One would think he had a responsibility to stay on top of trends and adapt as necessary for business growth.

Who is to say if they won any more contracts presenting themselves as they did?


What do you know about building a website?

With so many do-it-yourself website builders now available and their claims of building a “stunning” website, they make it look super easy to throw a site together in no time. And that’s not to say you can’t. But the question is, should you?

— What do you know about good site structure, navigation, load speed?

— What do you know about high-quality, relevant content for EACH page?

— What do you know about SEO (this is a biggie if you actually want anyone to find you online!).

— What do you know about imagery or photos? Just cuz you can find it via Google does NOT mean it’s free. You could get into trouble with copyright infringement and that can cost you!

Don’t make the mistake of thinking these things don’t apply to your website – cuz they do!

Bottom line:
Just because your website is “stunning” doesn’t mean it’s functional.


About Facebook… not everyone is on it!

facebook logoWhile this may not be directly design related, it still bears mentioning as ignoring your website if favor of Facebook can have negative and costly implications as well.

Your website is your business hub. And you need to keep it updated with easily accessible and current information about your business. This includes upcoming events, new products or services etc.

If you only update your Facebook page, then you are likely alienating an entire segment of non-FB users and potentially leaving sales on the table.

Furthermore, Google tends to look more favorably upon websites which are updated on a more frequent basis.


Advertising in a local publication?
You’re never too cool for contact/location Info!

local tabloid magazineYour biz is not some underground club where you need a secret password to get in. You WANT folks to find you!

You may be the cool coffee shop, brew pub or bike shop all the locals know. But what about tourists or other vacationing visitors? If you want their business, they will require a bit more information to find or contact you.

So it makes good business sense to include both location and contact info (such as a tel#) in your local ads. Don’t think they can just “Google” you with their phone. Trust me, many locations still have spotty cell service. Make it easy for people contact and or find you. This is design 101 – no excuse for bad design here!


A poorly designed business card could hurt you too

For the record, YES, business cards still matter. Without including all the pertinent info, you once again could be losing sales! Depending on your industry, profession etc., there may be other elements you’ll want on your business cards. But here is a breakdown of things you should include on your business cards.

  • Simplicity does it – go for a clean, quality design.
  • If you have a logo, be sure to include it.
  • Business name and contact info – phone, email
    – in today’s digital age YES, you DO need an email address.
    – it’s not necessary to include your physical address if your
    business is a home office but do include your city or town.
  • If you sell arts, crafts etc., include a small image or two of your works – allowing folks to remember/visually identify with you.
  • Include links to your website, Etsy shop or other online property.
  • You SHOULD have a website – NOT just a Facebook page!


Is bad design plaguing you? At some point you’re going to need to step up your game!

There are a host of outside factors that are constantly throwing curveballs at businesses large and small.

“Adaptation, foresight and a bit of fearlessness is absolutely essential to stay competitive.”

money bagsKeep in mind, professionally designed materials (logo, brochures, website) are a business investment. They can work together to communicate your credibility and trustworthiness to folks who may want to hire or work with you.

And there comes point where you have to be open to the possibilities of change. Yes, there can certainly be budget constraints. However, the investment necessary to go from bad design to good is more than likely a fraction of what the ROI will be. And change is good 🙂


Related Reading:

Do the Visuals Alone of a TV Commercial Inspire You to Listen?
Local Magazine Advertising- Don’t forget to include this info!
Alienating People by Sending Them to Your Facebook Page


eco-conscious graphic designer barbara rogersWritten by Barbara Rogers of Future Primitive Graphics. Graphic Designer and Nature Inspired Art photographer visually enhancing client’s print and digital media. Creatively collaborating with those who genuinely want to make the world a better place.