25 years ago, the emergence of the personal computer changed the way we worked. All of a sudden, anyone with a desktop computer could not only write letters and crunch numbers, but they were able to produce newsletters, brochures, fliers and more. This empowered the vice president of sales, the secretary, the mailroom guy, or anyone for that matter to automatically become a “graphic designer.” And, as you can imagine, there was some pretty poor designing going on in the world.
Today, with more sophisticated and intuitive software available, many companies produce their own in-house collateral and marketing materials. Many have their own in-house graphics department. And it has gotten better. The newer software offers a wide array of support and templates that keep the “designer” from making typical errors (other than typos) which we now have spell check for.
Still, unless you have some formal training or a “natural” eye for design, the piece you want to produce could look unprofessional or worse, run of the mill. Fortunately, there is a solution – professional designers. To really appreciate this statement, try this test – take a known professionally designed piece and set it side by side with something similar in nature that was produced in-house by a non-designer. Can you see the difference? The type treatment, colors seem to ‘work’ together, it appears balanced and interesting, you are drawn to it… you get the idea.
Good design is more than just a computer and a person to operate it. It’s about good typography, good selection of images, good color palette, and of course good visual communication. Professional training in the graphic design courses sets apart individuals that use design to express ideas, communicate effectively, and influence others.
Take for example a simple flier. Would you tend to believe or be influenced by a design that use Times Roman type for the headline, underscores and about 13 different colors? Or would you be drawn to a flier that used an interesting headline type that makes a bold statement, used professionally produced imagery to convey the message and a limited palette of colors that actually complement one another? Mmmm, not such a tough choice is it?
My point is this, good designers know how to put elements like type, images and colors together that intrigue the viewer and communicates a message to stimulate a reaction. Now I’m not saying that your secretary can’t do this either. I don’t actually know your secretary or her background. What I am saying is, that when you hire a graphic designer, they apply their abilities of good visual interpretation and creativity to provide a very appealing piece – be it something printed or on the web.
Designers think differently. We tend to think in pictures. Now, I know you are thinking, “well I’m not a designer and I think in pictures”. This may be true, humans do have a natural ability to think ‘visually’. However, it’s the interpretation that sets the designer apart from the rest. We see conversion of lines, the weight of the type, the crop of an image to better set the stage and the balance between positive and negative space. And we do this automatically. We can’t help it… we’re just wired that way.
So why would you not employ a graphic designer? In all the years in the business, I’ve heard a lot of reasons: we have a tight budget, we don’t need it that slick, it would take too long to tell someone what I want, I’ll just do it myself…. and on and on. But in the end, unless you have formal training in the arts, you are hurting yourself and your company’s image. And, when you boil it all down, that’s what it’s all about… IMAGE.
We all know that when we go on a job interview, if we really want that job, we need to project a GOOD image. Put our best effort into it. It’s the same with the materials that your company generates day-in and day-out. If your materials are so-so, your image will look so-so. But, if your company’s collateral material and online presence appears professional, guess what, your company looks professional.
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So why does the world really need designers? Because we tend to be more interested in something when it looks and feels credible. That’s human nature. We want and desire to feel important and we want to be convinced that who we are dealing with ‘know’ what they are doing. The world still needs designers to convey the message. Convey it quickly. Convey it visually. And convey it convincingly. That’s what we do. That’s why we exist. We get off on the idea that we can make a difference. And deep down, our creativity won’t let us off the hook until we do.
The next time you hear yourself saying “we can handle that in-house”, stop and think about what you are actually saying. And ask yourself “Is this the image I want to portray to my customers?”