Our attention spans are shorter than ever. When it comes to design, a quickly put together brochure or a mediocre website no longer grabs our attention. There is so much media for us to consume on a daily basis and we can only take in a fraction of what we see.
You need to be able to make your accounting firm’s content stand out amongst others, and a good graphic designer can help you do that. Investing in high quality, professional design will help you engage and interest your ideal audience. Images, illustrations, motion graphics, animation… they all help to build a connection with your prospects.
You could have the best values, processes and systems in the world, but if you aren’t able to communicate them effectively with high quality design, how will anyone know about them? By investing in visual collateral which you share in your firm’s marketing, you will more effectively attract your ideal client.
Experienced graphic designers will help you to better show your values, your expertise, and your approach: which will help potential clients know you are the one who will help them better manage their finances, and how you’re different from other accountants as you do this.
Promote your accounting firm through good quality design
Whether it’s an email signature, a website page or a social media post, visual language helps you attract a prospect’s attention. If you don’t, both you and your prospect lose out. Here are the consequences you face if your design is done poorly:
- Your potential client may not see your work at the high quality it is
- You show a lack of pride and confidence in how you present your brand and your firm
- It takes longer for prospects to get to know you and your firm (which means it takes them longer to buy)
- Prospects decide to go elsewhere because another firm’s design helps them understand the message faster (even though you could have been the right firm for them)
‘75% of consumers admit to making judgments on a company’s credibility based on the company’s website design’ (source). Unprofessional design is usually associated with cheap and low-quality services. Particularly on your website this can lead to visitors being unsure of what you’re offering as a firm. Buyers are cautious in choosing providers of services, especially when it comes to finances because of how important those are. You definitely don’t want your accounting firm to give the wrong first impression.
An experienced graphic designer will support and boost your brand by creating high-quality designs which:
- Give a powerful first impression to your prospects and potential team members.
- Help you to show the value of your brand. (Your brand is the whole experience your client will have with you and your firm and quality design shows this experience and helps your prospects feel all the feelings you want your brand to create).
- Show your confidence, your self-awareness, your self-belief: you know who you are, who you serve and what you’re good at.
- Help potential buyers to decide faster, because they see quickly what they’re looking for
Designers are experts in taking your story, your ideal audience, your values and crafting it into something visual which SHOWS all of these things.
Want to know more about why the brand is so important? You can read these blogs:
- Why branding is one of the most important things for an accountant to understand
- How much does it cost to rebrand my accounting firm, and is it worth it?
- Does your logo need a refresh?
- Why bother creating brand guidelines for your accounting firm?
- Does your brand cause people to hesitate, or hurry up?
Attract your ideal client by showing them your expertise and values through design
Great design helps you attract the ideal client you want to work with every day and encourages them to explore your website and social media accounts. Remember, good marketing divides. This makes your marketing appeal to only your ideal client: those who you genuinely love working with, are profitable to you and who you can do your best work for. (This means it sends everyone else, who is not like this, away.) You can read more about it in this blog.
You may feel frustrated if you’ve put a lot of effort into your marketing strategy (you’ve spent time documenting your values, your goals, tone of voice…) and you are still not reaching your ideal client. This may be because your visual identity – your firm’s logo, graphics, website, business cards, fonts, colours etc.- are not appealing to the kind of people you most want to work with.
This is where a graphic designer can offer you help and support. Together, we identify and fix any weaknesses in your brand, and produce high quality designs which clearly communicate your brand values, and consistently attract your ideal clients. The design stirs up the right kind of feelings and helps you tap into the fears and concerns of your ideal audience, and show them your firm is the right one for them.
With our client Starfish, we helped this accounting firm identify who they are, their values, their ideal client and how they serve them, in our foundation workshop. This all contributed to rebuilding their logo – not changing it entirely, but refreshing and brightening it so it reflected who they truly are, today. (Not who they used to be when they started.) This means they now have not only meaningful and beautiful logo, but designs which match the entire logo and brand, the feelings and emotions and values, which help them constantly attract the clients who are ideal for them.
Brand consistency builds recognition and awareness of your firm
Your firm’s image will be more consistent when you hire a graphic designer. Brand consistency means always communicating your core message and values in the same brand style: repeating the same colour palette, using the same tone of voice, presenting your logo in a similar way throughout your marketing. Consistency creates a sense of structure which helps your prospects recognise your brand. For example, if you see sneakers in the shop with Nike swoosh you immediately know that it’s Nike just from their logo. When people know and recognise your brand, they make their buying decision faster.
An experienced graphic designer will make sure your brand is consistent across all platforms in order to develop brand awareness. The more people see your company’s repeating visuals, the sooner they will start building associations with your brand. Establishing brand awareness is an important marketing strategy and is a major force behind brand trust which helps generate more revenue. Every firm can strive to be immediately recognisable by its ideal client. Think about Apple, Coca Cola, Nike, Chanel… At this level, a customer knows not only a brand name and logo, there is an emotional attachment to a brand.
The talent, experience and knowledge you gain from a professional graphic designer or design team is crucial to building and communicating your firm’s brand. A good graphic designer will take the time to collaborate with you on your ideas and come up with a solution together. They’ll take the time to understand your brand, your message and your marketing goals. When you work with PF, you get to pull from each of our expertise in marketing, content and design to ensure the message you are putting out there is the right one and consistent across all communications. Putting out the right and consistent message, the one that represents you and your values all the time will show your expertise and your experience.
Here’s a mini story about the firm Reach, one of our recent favourite clients we are working with and continuing to use consistent design across all platforms. The firm was initially called Duncan & Co but Duncan had retired, so Fabien knew he needed a new brand to fit the new team and take them forward. The PF team helped him choose the name a couple of years ago and although they didn’t rebrand right away, he did come back for a rebrand because he was finally ready. Ready for all the greatness of having a clear, consistent and effective brand. Now, he loves the new brand!
Reach went through a full rebrand with PF. The new name Reach represents all they strive to be: positive, open, modern, creative, motivational, empathetic. In other words, a team you can “reach” out to. Their logo: lowercase, rounded and extended to communicate the modern and welcoming way they do business, while the thick type shows that they are bold with what they do. The triangular wordmark represents the journey they take their clients on – Reach In, Reach Out, and Reach Up – and the three niches of business they specialise in. All other design pieces follow the consistency of their logo. Reach finally has a brand that reflects who they are and is appealing to their clients. They have a brand they are proud of.
Here are some examples of the design work we have created and collaborated with them:
Investing in good design is worth what you will get in return
As an accountant, you are interested in the numbers. You want to know if your investment in design work will be worth it. In the same way, your prospects want to believe they are investing in the right things when they choose you as their accountant.
It’s easy to quickly skip over the design part of the budget. It doesn’t seem like an important point and viewing it as an investment can be difficult. But actually, searching online for a quick design fix is not the solution.
Most of you will have either considered (or actually done) just grabbing a quick logo design from a nearly free design website. Or you’ve asked a friend with a little experience in design to throw together a website for you. Initially, those small investments seem like they are working. You even get a few compliments on the website or banner because it’s better than your previous one or it’s better than the nothingness you had before. But in the long run it will not pay off. A nice looking website or pretty poster is great but if it’s not creating conversations with the right people, and sharing the right message to those people, then it’s just imagery. It’s not doing its marketing job.
Professional graphic designers know how to create those conversations within their design. User experience is key for potential clients. If you create an ad that leads them to your website and your website is hard to navigate, you’ve potentially lost a sale. If your website is pretty but shows no clear path to the next steps, again most likely to lose a sale. The user experience is the journey your clients take before they make a sale. You want to make the next steps clear for them so they get excited to sign-up and work with you. For this to happen, you will need to have an effective strategy, with good content and design – the golden trio. With PF, you get to work with CMMs who will take you through the foundations workshop where you will dig deep on who you are, your goals and values, your brand and website, and a marketing plan. You get to work with content writers who will help you figure out your brand and tone of voice so we could create the right content and message to reach your ideal clients. You get to collaborate with graphic designers too who will help you make your content and ideas visually appealing and effective. Investing in a good marketing team supports you in setting your business up for success.
Developing your brand takes a lot of work and a lot of time. We know crunching numbers and doing all the heavy lifting for your clients isn’t easy (although they may imagine it to be before they get to know you). Imagine hiring a team member and telling them to have a go at something without the proper training. It’s a disaster waiting to happen and one that will only cost you more money in the long run. You recognise if you want good results you have to invest. The first impression is the most important and it leads the potential client to hurry up or slow down. It may even be the deciding factor between going with your firm or someone else. First impressions count. Hiring a designer that knows your brand and has the proper training will leave a lasting first impression that’s worth the investment.
Also, in order to grow your business, you have to set yourself apart from competitors. A consistent visual message will help you stand out from the crowd. Clients are more likely to view your company as trustworthy, reliable and professional with impressively consistent visual designs which represent your brand authentically. A graphic designer will help you to create a lasting impression with the right clients and begin to develop relationships and build trust.
Good design is an investment, bad design is an expense. By investing in good design you are significantly increasing your ability to stand out from your competitors.
When is the right time to hire a graphic designer?
As with most marketing questions, the answer is always “It depends.” It depends on how clear you are about who your firm is and who you serve, and how frustrated you are with the kind of leads you’re currently getting. Deciding the right time to hire a graphic designer can be tricky and you want to be hiring effectively. We recommend anyone who’s doing marketing to hire a graphic designer, or outsource the design work to a professional designer.
This doesn’t mean you have no input. Actually, your input is absolutely critical to good design for your firm. We encourage our clients and all accountants to use Canva so you can try new things and experiment with different templates and options. Each of us are creative in our own way. That includes you accountants, you are creative. You can start by working with a template and making it your own. Plan it out. Write your own content. Use your brand colours and fonts. Add images that are on brand and work with the content you want to share. Put something out there – not perfect but done!
However, you are not graphic designers. Just like graphic designers are not accountants. We all have our own expertise and you will need help from graphic designers when it comes to creating designs for you to share in your marketing. Design can get overwhelming and there’s only so much you can do on your own. When it comes to bigger design projects, you’ll need a good designer’s help. We have clients who have tried designing pdfs, social posts, banners and swag items themselves, but eventually asking for our help and end up loving the designs we create for them.
As you grow your firm and invest more in your marketing, you’ll need to go higher level with your images. You don’t want to be using the same stock imagery in your marketing forever. You can instead get support in coming up with original ideas that are based on your own firm’s process, services and values. You may have ideas you can sketch out or write down, but you aren’t always sure how to use them to get the message across. Although your brilliant ideas may not always be easy to explain, collaborating with a designer can help transform your ideas into something more visually appealing and easy to understand.
A graphic designer takes all your knowledge and ideas and experience you’ve had running your firm and with your clients, and creates marketing materials that will resonate with your audience. You’ll get input from a professional who knows how to communicate your message more effectively.
You can work with a creative agency like PF. Working with PF means you get access to the knowledge and experience of graphic designers, content writers and marketing strategists – a whole team of experts working on your firm’s content, design and strategy.
The other option is to define your goals and priorities, and use those to help you inform when you’re ready. Then invest in your marketing through hiring skilled individuals who can help you step up your presence in all kinds of media.
If you’d like to have a chat about how we can support you with design for your firm, fill in our diagnostic form and tell us about your current brand, website and any other marketing you’re doing.