Looks Matter

I’m judging and so are you.

Congratulations! You decided to break free from cubical nation and put your own stake in the ground by opening your own business to sell your widgets, knowledge or both. And, congratulations, you’ve just been placed in the “competition arena” with other like businesses who are also selling similar widgets and knowledge.

With this in mind, how do you make your business stand out? How do you attract potential customers and gain their attention short of standing on a street corner holding a sign saying “$5 for my widget or .02 cents of advice”?

The thought of where to start often times leaves many business owners paralyzed, having just caught the bug “I don’t know where to begin” or “I have limited funds and need something cheap now” flu. Which often times can lead to the very wrong path of choosing the most inexpensive branding, marketing and website that you think may get you to your goal of getting customers to see you and buy your widget or knowledge.

Many times our team is contacted after a new business owner chose to go down that wrong path – purchasing their $10 logo from a bidding website, throwing up a free or close to free template website and then, getting a free “or close to free” business card (from a company seen in a commercial with their name is printed on the back of those cards) and going out into the word trying to get business. And as a result they hear crickets.

The problem with choosing the “free or close to free” path is not a good strategy to attract the customer you really want to attract. In fact, you may be receiving customers, but all they may want to do is to “pick your brain” or “barter for services”. Essentially, what you are putting out into the world is “I’m inexpensive, just started my business or don’t know what I am doing”. Keep in mind that you are being judged by every person who has come in contact with the branding and marketing of your business. If your first impression isn’t a good one when they find your website on Google your potential customers, will click on the next link to see what your competitors have to offer.

The “free or close to free” path is a very dangerous one. You have one chance to make a good first impression.


Often times, the “going cheap” path leads to a much more expensive path of rework and a number of the clients you really want to attract passing you by because you “don’t look serious”.


To create a successful and memorable brand experience, you must start with a strategy for your brand and understand the best way to attract your ideal client before you begin any design work. And this takes a team of strategists, designers and developers to ensure that the end result is successful.



It is often said, “you must dress for success”. This is very true when it comes to creating a successful brand.

Here are some tips to lead you onto the path to success:

  • Have a branding and marketing budget. It takes money to make money. You must look the part to be attractive to your ideal customer.
  • Perform a competitive analysis. Google your competitors. How are their brands portrayed? How are you different?
  • Get in the minds of your customer. After all. Branding isn’t about you, it is about them. It is a “what is in it for me” society. If you don’t know what is in it for them and what is your secret sauce over your competitor, potential customers will pass you by.
  • If your budget is low, the minimum items you will need to set you on your path to success are a logo, business card and mobile friendly website. Work with a team who understands strategy to attract your ideal customer. Going it alone can be dangerous and damaging to your business.

Your business branding and the marketing of your business will evolve over time.

As you are advancing in business, so should your business branding, marketing and website. They also have a lifecycle that should be kept up to date with the business you are today. Logos can be timeless, but marketing has a 6 month lifecycle and a website has a 2 year life-cycle. If you haven’t updated these in a while, it may be a good time to start.

Don’t be paralyzed when creating your brand. Seek the advice from professionals who can set you on the path to success. You shouldn’t do this alone. Do what you do best and leave your brand identity, marketing and website in the hands of professionals who will have your back.


Gina O'Daniel

Gina is an award-winning designer and brand strategist with over 30 years experience in the design industry and has worked with small start-ups to large corporations both nationally and internationally to ensure their logos, business sets, marketing materials, signage, display advertising, social media design and website work together to ensure brand identity and maximize the company's image potential and profit.

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