Starting a business requires a lot of work. This is especially hard in the digital age — a time when most businesses need to adapt to new online norms or flounder and die.
One factor that entrepreneurs need to get right from the beginning of the startup process is how they should deal with competitors. In a highly capitalistic society, businesses thrive when there is healthy competition. And, for one to be successful in this field, they need to master almost every business strategy available.
Topping the list of those business strategies is the creation and use of a good design in developing any of your business projects. When done in an excellent or even a satisfactory manner, it will not only help a business grow, but it will also deter or widen the gap between you and your competitors — with them trailing behind.
But you may ask, “Can good design really increase our company profits compared to our biggest competitor? How can tweaks in a website design, for example, do that?”
Well, a good and intelligent design does that and more. In fact, numerous business case studies and research surveys have proven that over the last few years. For a more detailed look at just how thoughtful designs help businesses outpace competitors, we have compiled the top seven ways on how you can make your business stand out from your competitors with design.
#1. Make a good first impression
Nowadays, it is not uncommon for consumers to see a business’ website or social media profile for the first time and make assumptions about that brand or product solely based on that first interaction. The rise of the Internet and smartphones have made all these possible.
That is why wizened entrepreneurs now insist on having a good website design and make sure that they also update their social media profiles. According to a 2007 Design Council report, design-conscious companies performed better than their competitors who did not engage in design-conscious activities for their web and social media presence.
If you want any potential customers to form good and positive assumptions about your brand based on just your website banner design or Instagram profile, it pays to make these digital assets as beautiful and as eye-catching as possible.
#2. Engage customers right off the bat
New startup owners should also take a page out of the books of established businesses who have successfully driven their competitors to scale down with the help of effective copy and design.
Companies like Nike and Apple have done this by making sure that they use highly engaging design elements in their websites and other online channels. These two companies captured the attention of their potential customers and retained their attention by making use of functional marketing designs.
#3. Target a specific audience or market
To differentiate your business from your competitors, one thing that you may do is to make sure that your marketing plans are targeted specifically at your desired audience or market.
To illustrate, if you are running a real estate business offering high end listings, it may be best to incorporate design elements that appeal to this audience on your website, menu and banner designs. You may use trendy design elements like colors that represent class and sophistication. And, if you are doing any open house event, it may be best to incorporate the same design elements into your marketing peripherals like business cards, brochures, etc.
#4. Intelligently follow design trends
Trends come and go. But, in the design industry, the trends that tend to stick are the ones that exude functionality and practicality. Startups can capitalize on this, for example, by making sure that they are among the first ones to take up a new trend on logo design.
Conservative companies may find this daunting because they can threaten their brand’s recognizability. However, when done right, redesigning a company logo may help invigorate your brand and help increase your business lead against your competitors.
Use this marketing technique cautiously and only after different split tests to determine if it really is the way to go for your brand.
#5. Marketing activities
Businesses can choose different ways to market themselves. For instance, they can use print ads, email ads, website ads, radio and TV ads, etc. And, in order for these marketing tools to work, you first need to create a good copy and design—only then can your marketing strategies begin to work.
For startups, investing heavily in advertising may not be an option. That is why new entrepreneurs may rely on more subtle (and cost-effective) ways to market their business. A good way to do that is content creation or blogs, social media posts and engagements, and even boost SEO to highlight their new businesses.
#6. Express your brand’s image and values
In the digital world, it is often difficult to differentiate between what is real and what is fake. That is why authenticity plays an important role for consumers both online and offline. Business owners who want an edge over their competitors should seriously consider their brand’s image and values as a way to stay and appear authentic in the digital age.
When done right, sticking to your own brand’s values will feel natural and normal, and your customers will appreciate you for this. Take a cue from companies like Apple, Unilever, and Facebook. They stuck to their own company and brand values, or have crafted a good business mission that highlights their different brands. Years later, they are still competitive and they continue to provide products and services to millions of loyal consumers.
#7. Design for experiences
There is a design principle that says that good design should be invisible. On websites and online properties, it means that a website layout design, for example, should be functional and intuitive enough for users not to take notice of it at all. In this sense, users should only realize how they are able to easily do the tasks that they want to do with that website’s interface.
When you keep your user’s experiences in mind when making a company website, social media profile, or even marketing peripherals, you help create a positive and rewarding experience for your customers. People will remember how they felt while engaging your business and this will encourage them to become loyal to your brand.
There are many ways to do this. But everything starts with good design. If you want to make sure that your business is set apart from your competitors, you should begin to brainstorm for ways you can apply all these principles to your own company.
It does not matter whether you are operating a startup brand, all these best practices in design and marketing will undoubtedly help you gain more customers and stand out from the rabble of your competitors.
So, start now and begin to follow these actionable steps to help yourself and your own business.
What are you waiting for?