Location, location, location
There’s a restaurant in my neighborhood in Philadelphia that has a nondescript doorway; in fact I still have trouble finding it at times. The entrance is flanked by two dying potted plants, the paint is peeling on the brick facade, and there’s a small sign that’s shabby, worn and hard to read. There are even metal bars over the small window on the door. Whenever I bring a friend to this restaurant, they give me a concerned look as if I’m taking them into a shady dive bar with a broken jukebox, dim lights and creepy guy with missing teeth at the end of the bar giving you the stink eye when you walk in.
Don’t judge a book by its cover
But the minute you step inside you’re welcomed into a cozy and warm restaurant and bar with warm wood tones, comfortable lighting and a friendly host. Work from local artists cover the exposed brick walls and the atmosphere is always lively. Even better, the food and drinks are delicious, there’s a constant rotation of creative specials and the servers are personable and attentive. The restaurant has also been a very dedicated member of the local community providing free meals for people in need and ever present at community events. Even though I’ve been to this spot countless times over the years, it still surprises me that there’s such a drastic difference from their presentation on the outside and what you experience when you’re inside. Some people may call this a “best kept secret” but I think of it more as a lost opportunity. This restaurant has everything going for it on the inside, and with a little effort on their facade they could be killing it.
Need a fresh coat of paint?
How many organizations out there do you know who are doing great work but their brand doesn’t reflect it? As the owner of a graphic and website design studio, I’ve worked with countless clients in this exact situation. They’re running a non-profit, a department at a university, or a fast growing medtech company. They’ve hired an amazing team, do incredible work and make a major impact in people's lives except their “front door” is really looking a little shabby and their “business sign” is in need of some touch-up paint and repair. The common thing I’ve seen over and over is that most people don’t know where to start when addressing this mismatch problem or they’re stuck in a cycle of DIY-ing things themselves, even when they know they need help.
What you can do
The good news is there are many easy places to start and it doesn’t require tens of thousands of dollars or “blowing up” your existing logo or brand. Here are a few examples:
Put together a well designed and written, sell sheet or case study. This allows you a vehicle to showcase the great work you do and reinforce your mission and vision. You may even have a bunch of great photos that have been sitting in a dropbox folder collecting digital dust. Share those babies; this could be a great place to use them.
I’ve seen organizations who are in a good habit of posting regularly on social media and have a decent following and engagement, but the quality of their graphics doesn’t match the quality of the work they do. Hire a professional designer to design four posts a month to sprinkle in with your own posts. This variation of visuals makes a huge difference in your feed and is a very cost effective way to start elevating your brand.
If Powerpoint is your go-to tool for presenting information about your organization, investing in a professional redesign of your core slides can have a huge impact on the quality of your entire presentation. And if we’re talking about presentations that are geared towards donors or investors, a well designed deck could literally make you more money. A core deck can be a real workhorse for your organization, too. Once you have a good set of slides you can easily repurpose them into different decks and tweak messaging, getting a big bang for your buck.
Is your website embarrassing and you know it, but you just don’t have the time or budget to do a total redesign? Start with redesigning just the home page. The majority of users learn what they need to from a website's homepage and it makes a huge impact on retention and click through to other pages.
So, whether you know an organization that falls into this category or that organization is you, there are no more excuses. Don’t be that organization that people pass by because they’ve made the wrong assumption about what you are. You know what you need to do to change your image and taking that first step is always the hardest.
Matt Wolf is the the Owner and Creative Director of Wyndetryst Graphic Design Studio and an adjunct professor at Temple University’s Tyler School of Art, where he teaches students the Business of Graphic Design. He is passionate about listening deeply to his clients needs and making sure their brand reflects the incredible work they are doing.
After many years of working in house in higher education he founded Wyndetryst and over a decade later he has developed a reputation for providing strategic design solutions paired with excellent customer service. As one client recently said, “I view Wyndetryst as an extension of my marketing team and a partner invested in helping me make a successful brand. They push me to think bigger.”
In his free time, Matt loves adventurous travels, exploring and photographing the world (and trying lots of wine and food along the way).