There is a Real World, Too: Tips From Physical Branding Specialists to Web Designers

There is a Real World, Too: Tips From Physical Branding Specialists to Web Designers

So you’re a young, tech-savvy startup.

Chances are your team has heaps of talent when it comes to website design and development, but this doesn’t necessarily mean you have the tangible design skills to match.

Oh sure, you can put together a stunning website that loads in under two seconds. Your code is functional and elegant, your SEO is on point, but the look of your physical shopfront doesn’t quite have the punch of your digital one.

Online store

The sad fact is, just because you can make masterpieces with 0s and 1s doesn’t automatically make you a dab hand with a paintbrush, and many young businesses are finding they have gaps in their otherwise stellar branding campaign.

The high street still exists people. If, like many technically gifted people, you’re finding yourself in the position of having a great online image but a lousy physical presence, here are some words of wisdom.

Putting your face on: Hire the right people to design your shopfront

Branding is vital to a new business, and it’s important to understand both the online and the offline sides of the picture to effectively market your startup.

Perhaps the most obvious part of offline branding is how you present your actual premises. And if you don’t have a background in some sort of visual design, this can be quite a daunting task.

Whilst the type of service that you provide will dictate how important your shopfront image is, an amateurish or boring shopfront will undermine any business and discourage interest from new customers.

To make sure this doesn’t happen, working with professional designers to get the right shopfront is a worthwhile investment.

Dear Seattle storefront design
photo credit: Trevor Dykstra

Ryan O’Donnell of audio visual solutions company Perception Live says “there’s so much to get wrong when you’re putting together your window display, and this is essentially the face of your business. It baffles me when I see half-baked window displays that were clearly thrown together as an afterthought by the shop owners, it rarely looks professional. A lot of people underestimate the power of lighting, for example, and what looked modern and exciting in their head comes out looking cheap and dingy”.

But if you’re looking to do more with your shopfront than just project the right image, a programmable LED sign can offer you more versatility. Chris Hollidge, from G2 Digital explains “You could set up an LED sign pretty easily with a mini computer driving it. It’s actually really effective as an eye grabber, particularly to high street regulars who often don’t notice a shopfront unless it changes. Moving text just demands to be read, and the signs are a great space for info about sales, new products, or even your company’s twitter feed”.

A professionally designed and managed installation is not only eye-grabbing, it also assures people who see your premises that you are a company that has things together and takes the care to get every aspect of their business just right.

And don’t forget: Print is not dead

Many young startups often make the mistake of ignoring physical advertising altogether, because as young and technologically literate as they are, they assume that internet based advertising is the only thing that counts.

But there is a lot to be said for the power of print.

When it comes to generating pre-launch buzz, an intriguing and attractive flyer that is widely distributed is one of the best things a startup can invest in.

Brochure design
photo credit: Behance

“In our high-tech world, it’s often the low-tech measures that make the most impact” says Ross Venables of Ro Am Printing. “Custom flyers, attractive posters, bespoke business cards; all these things can be far more memorable than an annoying pop-up or a banner ad”.

Be aware though, using flyers effectively is a delicate thing. Poorly-made, spammy flyers will just look like litter, and could start to create a sense of resentment for your brand among those are annoyed by them.

However, strategically placed, well designed flyers can be a very powerful (and comparatively cheap) marketing tool.

In terms of both design and distribution, less is more is often the right approach. Not flooding an area with flyers can create a sense of exclusivity, which raises the value of your brand.

A minimalist design approach, perhaps just an image that hints at the tone of your business well without giving too much, can work wonders here too. Remember that in most cases, a flyer is not there to do the work of a business card. You’re usually aiming to create brand interest with a flyer, particularly pre-launch, so a wealth of contact information often just detracts from the impact.

Ivan Widjaya

Ivan Widjaya is the Owner/Editor of, as well as several other blogs. He is a business blogger, web publisher and content marketer for SMEs.