Why You Should Invest in Design (and How to Fund It) Guest Author Starting a company is expensive—that’s a given. There’s so much to spend on in every stage of your business, and expense seems more necessary than the last. Equipment? Real estate? Accounting software? Legal fees? The costs add up. Investing in marketing can sometimes feel frivolous when you’re just trying to keep your doors open and pay your outstanding invoices. But the truth is, small businesses need to start thinking about design as an essential investment. In the right circumstances, bringing a level of polish to your brand will make waves in far more places than you might expect—and create big returns. 3 Very Good Reasons Why You Need to Spend on Design Although it might be hard to wrap your head around now, investing in design can directly drive revenue and customer retention. Refreshing your branding can even impact how your employees feel about your leadership, and whether or not they want to stick around. Consider these three reasons why you might want to spend money on design: 1. Customers judge a book by its cover Stop being a business owner for a moment, and think about yourself as a consumer. When was the last time you made a judgement on a brand due to its website, or chose one product over another based on its packaging? If you can’t think of something recent, you’re not thinking hard enough. No matter how much you think your goods or services stand on their own—and they probably do—you don’t have the ability, much less the time, to explain your point of difference to every single customer out there. And, frankly, some consumers don’t even care. Part of the good design is creating compelling branding that’ll capture consumers at first touch and create an emotional reaction. Maybe they identify with your brand, love your messaging, or just think your place looks cool. Invest in great design where your customers interact with your brand at point of purchase so you won’t lose them for not putting your best foot forward. 2. Good design makes an impression How many times have you walked into a store and said something along the lines of, “I don’t remember the name of the brand, but the label looked like…” You know exactly where we’re going with this: Professional design is memorable. And if someone’s had a positive interaction with your brand, they might remember it through your design alone. Even if they’ve never actually patronized your business, customers might feel compelled to favor your goods or services just by recognizing your brand. If they’ve seen it before, then they’re more likely to associate it with value. 3. You strengthen your brand both outside and within your walls If you choose to invest in designing all of your platforms to be consistent, that’s a great signal—both externally and internally. First, you’re signaling a commitment to all-around quality to your customer—everywhere they look to find you, they’ll see the same brand message and high standard of visuals. The last thing your customer wants to feel is that they were duped into buying something. Next, creating a strong brand can help your internal team feel that they’re working in an environment that they can be proud of. Whether it’s something as small as wearing your company’s T-shirt outside of work, or feeling good that their leadership is confident enough invest in making the company look and feel modern, the investment can boost morale and retention. The Best Way to Finance a Brand Refresh Overhauling your brand visuals won’t be cheap, sure. It might not be the kind of expense you want to put on a business credit card unless your cash flow forecasts say you can 100% pay it off. On the other hand, some designers might not even take credit card payments. With that in mind, looking into small business financing could be the best solution depending on who you bring on to help. To do a brand refresh the right way, you might want to hire a branding agency that’s fluent in multiple platforms. That way, their team of designers can overhaul all platforms you’re on: web, print, packaging, etc. If that’s the case, consider applying for a business line of credit. A line of credit works as a sort of hybrid between a business credit card cash advance and a traditional business loan. You’ll work with a lender to get approved for a certain amount of money, but you’ll only draw from it what you need. Then, you’ll just pay interest on the amount you draw. It’s great for investment purchases in which you need to bolster cash flow. *** Investing in design may not be at the top of your list, but it should be. Getting your branding just right can make a world of difference when it comes to attracting valuable new customers. With the capital to do it and the professionals to make your changes, you’ll hopefully find that investing in design could deliver you unexpected returns that are very worth the cash. Author Bio Meredith Wood is Editor-in-Chief and VP of Marketing at Fundera, a marketplace for small business financial solutions. Specializing in financial advice for small business owners, Meredith is a current and past contributor to Yahoo!, Amex OPEN Forum, Fox Business, SCORE, AllBusiness and more.