Five design essentials every business needs

Nov 3, 2021

digital illustration of a graphic designer sitting at her computer working, with a black cat next to her

Read time: Five to ten mins

TL; DR: Your business needs more than just a brand and website to succeed. Explore additional design and marketing collateral to support your online and offline presence.

Spoiler alert: If you guessed that “brand” and “website design” weren’t the only essentials, you’re on the right track.

Ask any start up or small business owner what their “must-have” graphic design essentials are, and I guarantee you’ll get two responses: “A brand” and “a website”.

And while I’m awarding top points for knowing those two (with bonus biccy points if you actually have them), the truth is that success-provoking design is about more than just your brand and website.

Sure, those two are absolutely your go-to investments when you’re starting out.

But the difference between a business that has their style together, and one that’s missing out on opportunities to make an impact on their audience? It’s in the little design details. 

Which is why I’ve curated a list of designs essentials you might’ve overlooked, but that have the potential to add massive value to your biz and brand.

Grab that bonus biccy and let’s dive in.

The five design essentials every business should have

Essential #1: An email signature

I’m a total creeper for email signatures. Not only because it’s where my attention naturally strays when I’m conjuring the perfect email response, but because I’m always curious to see who’s been clever enough to use this precious real estate to their advantage.

Most of us use email these days, so this little spot at the bottom of your messages is a genius way to reinforce your brand brilliance. You can use it to link to your socials, website, latest blog or sale or to make an important announcement about updates to your business.

Example of an Email signature

Essential #2: Social media templates

 I know what you’re thinking. And, yep, we all know Canva has a whooole set of free stuff you can use. But you know who else is using those free Canva templates? Everyone. Including your competitors.

Besides, Canva templates haven’t been specifically created for your business. Which means they’re not going to protect you from blending in with all the other Canva users. The solution? Get your own social media templates professionally crafted especially for your one-of-a-kind brand. You’ll stand out … and maybe even look forward to posting on social media again!

Hand holding phone showing a mockup of an instagram grid design

I have opinions on Canva. Come read ‘em here

Essential #3: Brochures and flyers

 Fun fact: I actually started out my career as a print designer! Which means I have a mega soft spot for printables like brochures and flyers. Not only are they gorgeous (there are loads of exciting print finishes, paper options and print processes available), but these days they’re a special way to influence and inspire your audience.

Example of an A4 sized flyer design with text and colourful boxes

If you’re mindful of your environmental footprint, most print places have eco-friendly options or can set up your designs electronically for e-communication. Speaking of which …

Essential #4: Newsletters

Gone are the days of the printed newsletters (with the horrible clipart – thank gawd!) Instead, these days it’s all about staying in touch with your audience while continuing to build your bond and relationship with them.

I’ve also seen newsletters used to actively warm up and convert potential clients. They’re super powerful and I believe everyone needs to have a perfectly branded newsletter template on hand.

 My fave email marketing tools are ActiveCampaign and Mailchimp.

Email Newsletter Template Design example

Essential #5: Branded stationery

 “Kat, I’m an online business. I don’t need branded stationery.”

I hear you. And for a lot of online businesses who never interact with their customers offline, you might not have a need for stuff like business cards, letterheads, envelopes or thank you cards.

But if you’re a face-to-face business, like to get out to networking events, or enjoy posting correspondence to your customers (a fun way to make them feel extra special!), branded stationery is a MUST.

Plus, I’m an online business, but I still post out thank you cards and keep my business cards in my handbag just in case.

Business Card designs and branded stationery

Missing one of the design essentials?
Don’t stress – I can help!

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I wasn’t even sure I was going to hand it in. I thought about it. Re-read it 100 times. Tweaked a word or two. Then decided, “F*ck it. If there’s a right time to start my own business, this is it: Smack bang in the middle of a pandemic.”

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