Dummies’ guide to good design
Good design is an important way to differentiate yourself from your competitors, and I would hope to be pushing against an open door with this concept, speaking as I am to an audience of professionals with an interest in aesthetics.
Experience has taught me though that very often this isn’t the case. If corners can be cut at a dental practice in regard to design, branding and marketing materials, they often are. So, why should you care?
Ten reasons that good design matters
- Reflection: if your logo looks substandard then the public will naturally infer that the dentistry on offer is too. You might come up with a million reasons why that isn’t true but it won’t matter – in their mind it is
- Comparison: you may not like the comparison, but you are up against the retailers in terms of discretionary spend. Do they have the dental implant or that holiday they fancy? If they put off the family check-ups for six months, they can go away for the weekend and so on. As you are ‘competing’ in that marketplace, to be successful your brand and design really has to look the part
- The look: what should your ‘brand’ look like? Who are you? What do you stand for? Why should I come and see you rather than the very nice practice down the road? Take the time to consider these questions so that when you come to speak to a designer you have the brief to give them (by the way, ‘I’ll know it when I see it’, does not constitute a brief!)
- Aesthetic appeal: what colours do you like? What fonts do you like? Will your target audience like these too?
- Time for design: really invest time in the design of your logo – everything else that you do will be derived from this, so take the time to get it right. You have to like it but do remember it’s actually your target audience who have to identify with it
- Brand guidelines: produce a simple set of brand guidelines that stipulate how the logo, straplines and brand materials can be used, eg, four-colour, mono, reversed, scaled up and down, and so on. This may seem like overkill for a dental practice but really focus and ensure all the material produced is on message
- Get the professionals in: however great the temptation, employ a design agency, not a friend of the family who ‘is really good at design’. Even if they are, you will be bottom of their list, you won’t get a timely service, it can sour a friendship – the list goes on. I may be biased (!) but I would say it is worth the money to pay a professional
- Less is more: when designing promotional literature such as leaflets and fliers, remember that less is more, particularly when considering words. Don’t be afraid of the white space!
- Promote one thing at a time: human beings find it difficult to concentrate on more than one thing at a time – when writing and designing advertisements and fliers, stick to one key message and avoid the temptation to list everything that you do
- Get the best you can afford: when you print anything, don’t skimp on it! Go for the heaviest weight paper that suits the format that you can. It will only cost a few pounds more and the effect is palpable. When investing in welcome packs and business cards, do consider those options that will add a touch of class such as foiling, matte lamination, spot colours and so on. They make a difference.
‘Good design doesn’t cost, but it pays’ – Richard H Driehaus.
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