Over the years, our family has been passionate about supporting small “handmade” businesses– even before we started our own. We love seeing people creating, using their God-given gifts, and industriously setting that example for their children.
It takes amazing diligence to start-up and run a small business from scratch, and it is a constant process of life-long learning and creativity. Self-employment is an ongoing journey of simplifying, as you prioritize and reevaluate.
As we began the journey of opening our bed & breakfast, we were inspired by Seth Godin’s recommendation to “be remarkable” (as well as “pushing through the ‘dip'”) and Tom Gegax’s inspiration for quality work (among others).
One of our favorite resources in the journey has been talking with other small business owners, including Red Car Studio. We knew this awesome studio would be able to capture the heart of our business, and craft the essential marketing/branding materials we needed to get started. Take a look; here are our new business cards!
I am excited to share an interview with Casey of Red Car Studio today!
(Yes, this post is a bit longer than my usual ones, but his insight is good, and I wanted to share it all.)
FG: From your experience in graphic design, can you explain the importance of quality design/branding in starting up a business?
RCS: I’ve heard it said, “A good product or service will sell itself.” This may have been partially true 25 years ago, but today this statement is very false. Good design and branding is more important now then ever for any business. In the age of personal computers, smart phones, the internet and social technology, customers today have a multitude of options and information to sift through before making any purchase. Studies have shown that people shopping at super markets are incredibly influenced by packaging and often buy based on appearance.
This past summer I was in the show room of a bottle screen-printing company in Napa, CA that prints bottle labels for a lot of national wine brands. The owner held up a very attractive wine bottle and said, “This wine producer’s sales increased 60% after they redesigned their wine packaging.” This blew me away! Nothing about their wine had changed–just the bottle’s appearance. Customers make split-second decisions and subconscious judgments based on design–whether they are shopping online or in a store. This just goes to show that quality branding is extremely important for any successful business.
FG: Do you have some simple advertising/brand-recognition tips to offer for small businesses?
RCS: Mmmm…great question. A couple things come to mind right away. If you are starting a business, it is important to invest in building a visual brand that is attractive and true to your message and goals. Figure out who you are and make sure your logo, business cards, promotional material, website, etc. convey this in a way that appeals to your target audience.
Secondly, if you can spare the cash, spend some money having a professional, third party create your brand identity. They can ask you key questions, get to know your business and objectively create beautiful visuals that accurately represent who you are and what you do. This may seem expensive up front, but a well-designed identity is a lasting asset that will help bring in a lot of revenue for years to come.
Thirdly, if you have the creative and technical ability and want to do the designing yourself, be sure to write a creative brief for your business. These usually include your main mission, messages, brand personality, target audience, etc. Once you’ve established your company’s identity–logo, typeface, color palette, graphic style, etc.–be consistent so you are sending the same message every time someone interacts with your brand.
I hope it doesn’t sound like I think image is everything. It’s definitely not. Quality products and services, marketing, networking and sales knowledge are also key to a successful business.
FG: What sets Red Car Studio’s work apart from other design companies?
RCS: We are a small team, but there is nothing little about our work. We have extremely high design standards and put our heart and soul into every project we take on–big and small. We produce top tier design, are relational, and always go the extra mile to ensure that our clients are very happy. It may sound a bit cheesy, but we genuinely care about the people we work. It’s fun to build relationships with new people, and partner with them in working towards a common goal.
FG: Can you share your thoughts on working for yourself?
RCS: I love owning and operating my own business. It is extremely rewarding working hard on something that is my dream and vision. Family is extremely important to me–more important than work–and I love the flexibility self-employment allows. If I want to take a day off to go hiking with my family, I can. And I can choose how and if I want to make up that time later in the week. Now, I’m definitely not saying that it is easier being self-employed. In fact, it’s definitely more difficult in many ways. I work very hard and it is all self-motivation as apposed to being accountable to a boss. I have learned that it is important to stick to a strict schedule and constantly work on furthering my education in business management, new technologies, design trends, marketing…and the list goes on.
FG: Is there anything else you’d like us to know?
RCS: Be sure to check out our website to see more of our work and learn a bit more about Red Car Studio. Feel free to give us a call or shoot us an email if you have any question at all. (http://redcarstudio.com/)
FG: Thank you so much, Casey!
You can check out Red Car Studio’s thoughts into the design of our logo, as well as browse other project examples on their website.