Everyone has some idea of what they think graphic design is or should be. Some people’s descriptions are relatively true (albeit mildly offensive), such as “graphic designers just make things look pretty.” Most of these confused and overly simplified ideas are harmless, but there are a few design myths that can be harmful for designers and clients alike.
Let’s hash out some of the more common misconceptions and design myths, shall we?
Your logo should tell the whole story.
So many new business owners want their logo to be the design equivalent of a one-man band. This is very bad for a number of reasons.
A logo is meant to be a recognizable icon consumers will associate with the work you do. A logo isn’t your company history, it isn’t your sales team and it certainly isn’t a definitive collection of company values.
Choosing a logo style which matches the overall feel you want your company to exude will take you much further than a logo that attempts to convey everything at once. Trying to tell a potential customer every service you provide, how cost effective you are and the high quality products you work with in a single logo is not only impossible, but it’s chaotic.
Choose a focus area, and then show that off in the best way possible.
Your brand should match the other brands in your industry.
This damaging myth about branding hurts because it keeps your company from standing out. Think about heating and air conditioning companies. If you’ve ever worked with one, either from a design perspective or as a customer, you can probably come up with a few common traits in their designs.
Sure, people know what industry you’re in, because they’re so used to seeing a mash up of hot and cold elements (see: any combination of sun, fire, stars, ice, snow, and water.) But do people who view these logos ever really remember what logo belongs to which company? It seems pretty unlikely.
Instead of asking a designer to give you what everyone else has, take the time to figure out what sets you apart, and let that represent you to potential customers.
All design software is created equal.
It’s understandable that clients wouldn’t know this since most of them have no design experience. Many people have it in their head that Microsoft Paint is just an alternative to the Adobe software, but these programs actually have unique tools and are designed for a specific type of work.
I’ve wrapped up elaborate design projects only to have clients ask when I would send along the file they could edit themselves in Microsoft Word. Obviously no such file existed, since the designs were done in either Illustrator or InDesign.
There are ways to save files that can be used in other programs, but they are sometimes unreliable, and often certain elements of the design are lost. Think of it like using the wrong type of screwdriver. You can maybe make it work, but you’re running the risk of damaging the screw or slowing down the project.
Using the right tools for a job is important, so always talk with your designer beforehand about the end result you hope to achieve.
Every business needs the same marketing materials.
Back in the days before digital, it was really important for companies to have an identity system and it was easy to assume what that would entail. You would have a corporate letterhead, business cards, branded envelopes, etc.
These days brands function differently. What works for one industry wouldn’t necessarily be beneficial for another. I have clients who have no use for a letterhead and envelopes, but they need graphics for social media posts and mobile apps.
Tailoring a design package makes sense both logistically and financially, so always give that some consideration before starting a branding project.
Anyone can be a designer.
This is probably one of the most common and also the most damaging design myths. I’m sure I’m not alone in saying I’ve spent a considerable amount of time cleaning up after a person who let their brother’s coworker or an office assistant who took a photoshop class in high school do their designs for them. By no means do I think I’m the only person capable of helping you with your project, but I do it professionally and have valuable experience that an untrained person with a 30 day Adobe trial probably doesn’t.
There’s something about design that many people don’t take seriously, but it’s not as simple as the final results often make it seem. Just as you wouldn’t rip out the plumbing in your bathroom, think about the results and the level of professionalism you want your brand to convey before you start any DIY design projects.