Is Your Creative Business Suffering From An Identity Crisis?

This is article 1 of a 3-part series contributed to Fast Media Magazine by James Leal-Valias, Creative Director  at iStockphoto

Independent photographers, designers, and artists alike, enjoy their creative freedom and the privileges that come with working single-handedly.  The liberty to select their own projects, and the ability to complete them how and when they desire, are just some of the incentives.  For most, the pros outweigh the cons, but even the most successful artists understand how crucial it is to keep their visual image current and fresh, especially in this business climate. What is your brand idendity?  Is it working? Or are you in need of an identity overhaul?  These are some questions to consider while working as an independent artist and cutting through the competitive clutter.

More on Visual Identity

In brief, visual identity is a system of the design elements such as a color scheme, logo or  symbol representing a business.  Visual design is always the first point of contact between a business and its potential customers. Today, to be taken seriously, you need a clean web presence, supported by professional stationery and collateral to help reinforce your visual identity.
Creating  a cohesive visual identity does not have to be either complicated or expensive. Tech tools and sites geared toward simplifying web site design, brochure and marketing collateral development have made it much easier to foster creativity and establish a unique presence.

At iStock, for example,  you can more easily find the right materials, for say a promotional postcard for your creative business by using our CopySpace feature.   Copyspace allows you to choose images that will easily allow for type to be overlaid on a segment of the image, and the colour picker tool allows you to filter by colour.  On a budget? Use the price slider to choose images, videos and illustrations within your price range.

Is a Redesign for Me?

How do you evaluate whether or not the materials you do have are in need of a facelift? By remembering that design is a means to an end.  Sometimes, especially for creative personalities, it helps to get an outside view, particularly from potential customers. We can be so passionate about our focus and our work that we have trouble standing aside and considering what a potential customer might think.

Good visual design is the state of perfect harmony of verbiage and aethetics  Is there a good balance between the words used to describe your work and the images used to convey the feelings you wish to evoke?   Does your brand still scream innovative and fresh or outdated and dull?

In addition to such internal criteria, there are numerous external factors. Has it been a long time since you’ve considered your presentation? Do you find yourself scrambling to put something together every time a prospect asks for information? Has your industry changed since your business was established? Is there a lot of competition, and how do competing businesses’ materials compare to yours?  If you answered YES to one or more of these questions, it’s time to upgrade your design and overhaul your identity!

What’s Next?

You are poised and ready. You know what you need to do, but where do you begin?

As any other successful endeavor, a redesign begins with a plan. You’ll need to prioritize your design projects, decide whether you can handle any of the needed writing, design and photography services in-house, and find vendors for the rest. You already run a business, so planning should already be second nature—and if its not, the next installment of  of this series will explore the design planning process in more detail.

Coming up next:  Design for Small Business: Print Materials and Ads.

Marco | Editor

Editor at large and founder of a bunch of stockphoto businesses