Image by Steve Keys via FlickrBy: Colleen Davis
I have to wonder how many companies have hired someone to do their graphic designs for something like their business card printing, and have told the company they hired, "Make it look different but authentic at the same time."
If you didn't design something yourself it's never really going to be authentic. That's just the reality of the situation. The real question is whether or not other people are going to be aware of this or not. You might be able to pull a fast one over on some people, but don't expect to fool them all.
But what exactly is authentic about your company, and what will make people question whether you're being authentic?
This goes to the core image of who your company is. What is the central theme that you promote, the thing that makes you stand out in the marketplace?
You skirt the lines of authenticity when you attempt to change what that image is you've spent so many years before cultivating, or you attempt to force people to see you in a way they really don't.
One example is Microsoft's recent attempt to improve their image by hiring out people like comedian Jerry Signfeld to promote them. The image Microsoft previously locked onto was as a leader in the field of technology due to how prolific their products are. If you own a Microsoft based system you can be pretty sure you can use any kind of file, because odds are good everyone else will be using Microsoft as well.
Now they're trying to say people should use their software not because it's practical, but because it's cool to do so. I'm sorry, but I don't buy it, and I have a feeling a lot of other people won't either.
And whatever your core idea is, this will be present on your marketing material, with your business card printing of particular note. A business card needs to carry with it the central idea of a business, no matter what that is.
If you start trying to place emphasis on designs and themes that are drastically different than what you've been doing in the past, people are going to notice, and odds are good they won't be pleased with it.
Because this kind of strategy just feels false to me, like a company is going through a mid-life crisis and doesn't quite know who they are anymore. You need to feel authentic for people to trust you, and the more you try to force a certain image, the less authentic you're going to be.
You don't have to do all of your design work yourself to make something authentic, but you do need to have a strong focus on what you're trying to get out of your marketing, along with what has made you successful in the past.
It isn't easy to change your company image, and while it can be done, it has to come naturally. The more you force changes, the less likely people will be to accept it.