When you start a local business, you instantly gain a lot of competition. You’re in competition with the big national chains that do the same things as you do, and you’re also the in competition with other local businesses! Your customers will search for your type of business on their computers and smartphones, and they’ll see your business alongside its competitors.

So how will yours stand out? For most local businesses, this is a tough question. The secret is something that not all of us fully understand: Design.

Apple product design

Design makes the difference

If you ask a prospective customer what he or she is looking for in a local bookstore, you’ll probably get all sorts of answers. They want to shop locally to support local businesses. They want low prices. They want good customer service. And, certainly, all of these things are important. For many types of businesses, it’s vital to have a good reputation on review sites like Yelp.

But customers aren’t always making their decisions based strictly on the things they say they care about. In reality, they’re often swayed by less concrete things.

This is where design comes in. Maybe one local bookstore has a really classic looking logo, perhaps one that highlights how long the business has been around. The colors are soothing – maybe earth tones, something bookish and timeless. The website is attractive, functional, and easy to view on both a computer and a mobile device. The customer settles on this bookstore, and drives a few minutes further for the privilege of shopping there. This has happened because of design.

Design draws customers to your business by acting as your business’ “personality.” In the same way that the right logo on a shirt can make it seem like high fashion, your business’ logo communicates something – even if your customer has never heard of your business before. The same goes for everything that design controls, from your company’s wordmark to your website.

Logo design review

These are concerns for every type of local business. Sure, car dealerships have existing corporate logos to rely on, but they still need good wordmarks, functional websites, and great advertising. And if you’re starting an independent business from scratch, these things only become more important!

So design is key for your business. And the key to design is to hire professional designers.

Design is a subtle art, full of rules and guidelines. It may seem simple to come up with a logo, but it’s not – even the professionals mess it up sometimes, as we saw with the Los Angeles Chargers’ logo debacle last year. Don’t go it alone. For logos, websites, wordmarks, advertising, and other design needs, hire a professional graphic design team (or a larger firm that employs designers). For a small business, a decision like this can make all the difference.