Designing for Trust: They decide with their eyes first

 In Blog, Brand & Logo Design Tips, Strategy & Improvement Tips

This article will help you:

Think like a designer so you can score a branding win in the marketplace

If you’re not taking any marketing risks, you’re probably not making many gains. If you’re taking too many marketing risks, it may all come tumbling down, Good marketing balances the line between consistent messaging and on-brand visuals with the courage to move forward and try new things. Because if you’re not moving forward, you’re stagnating.

The safe way to experiment with your organization’s marketing is when you have nailed down the following four pillars of designing for trust.

What’s designing for trust, you say?

So glad you asked.

Designing for trust involves a true commitment to being honest with customers about what you offer and how you can help them. You’re seeking the best match in the marketplace – not every match. And what happens when you embrace this approach to business? You can win in the marketplace, not just show up.

My esteemed friend Nick, an authority on nurturing trust ventures, is a brilliant resource for companies who need to jump off the marketing hamster wheel and break through the founder’s ceiling (basically, get your organization’s ducks in a row so you can take marketing risks effectively).

His expertise in deciphering the complexities of trust, coupled with a strategic approach to growth, makes him an ideal collaborator. I wholeheartedly recommend partnering with him and the awesome team at CultureCraft to get go-to-market thinking and powerful execution that will take your business to the next level.

Nick Richtsmeier, Growth advisor to ventures that command trust Nick Richtsmeier, Growth advisor

OK, back to our regularly scheduled program. Think of these four pillars as insulation from failure – and a strong indicator of success.

  1. Pillar 1 – PERSPECTIVE

    Every business has a variety of stakeholders, those people and businesses whose support is essential to your success, even if they are not directly purchasing from you. Understanding the different ways you “talk” to each of your stakeholder groups is the first pillar of designing for trust. I broke down the communication styles to make it easy for you. Do any of the following sound familiar to you?

    • Core communication is what shows up at the top of your homepage, your LinkedIn page, your business card. It’s likely the first “touch” a prospective customer experiences with your business. At this stage, your approach to communication is fairly general.
    • Target communication is direct communication to your target stakeholder markets. More specific to their needs, vision, and your solution.
    • Potential partner or buyer communication is how you communicate with someone who might become your business partner or who might acquire your business. You’re marketing your whole company, as opposed to a particular product or service.
    • Product communication is specific to a particular product or service your business offers. There may be some overlap with your target stakeholder communication.

    Your design and your messaging must be one language in multiple dialects. Each of the different arenas you show up in—like the above—must be carefully designed for their audiences, while still maintaining a central design and voice that is uniquely yours.

    If your communication is too general? You can’t be trusted. You’re just a copycat of the vague average of your competitors.

    Too hyper-unique design? You’ll distract from the message and leave people wondering: who are these guys anyway?

    Playing with Legos

  2. Pillar 2 – GUTS

    You may have a product that is designed exceptionally well, and that looks snazzy, but your marketing doesn’t contain the guts of what it needs to connect with your target market powerfully. By guts, I mean the answers to their deeper questions and crystal-clear messaging that speaks to their pain. Discovering “the guts” comes from doing your homework so you can bring laser precision to your marketing.

    If, on the other hand, your communication to your target market is focused on why you’re so cool, or is heavy on the latest award you’ve scored, you’re missing a crucial opportunity.

    Messaging that expresses understanding and empathy with your ideal customers’ frustration and the position they are struggling with builds trust with your prospects. Because then they know you get them. It also puts your business in the ideal position to offer a solution to those problems.

    Are you taking the time to ensure those important topics are adequately addressed? If not, your marketing may land like well-designed blather. This goes to visuals as well. Nobody likes a generic PowerPoint chart. How you visually express related ideas in custom ways communicates the amount of effort you’re going to expend for your client.


    If your business operates in a highly competitive industry, you don’t need me to tell you that the person who’s crafting your marketing strategies shouldn’t be the same person who’s creating designs. At your level, your offering needs specific and specialized talent. Someone who can translate the strategy into effective design and powerful concepts. A visual-based person whose specialty is taking strategic concepts and making them come to life with colors and shapes. Teamed with a strategic campaign thinker and strong messaging, you have the resources you need to break through the common noise that gets louder by the day.

    Playing with Legos

  4. Pillar 4 – FORESIGHT

    You know where your business is headed. Don’t you? Monitoring economic and industry-specific trends is essential not just for the stability and success of your own business, but for building trusted client relationships.

    Forecasting allows you to step away from reactivity and saves time by reducing surprises. Plus when you arrive at the initial meeting with a forecast, you demonstrate to potential clients that you know what’s coming down the pike and can help them capitalize on opportunities. The message your prospective clients receive is that you’re thinking about and planning for their future in a meaningful way because you’ve got a map of that future you’re guiding them by. Foresight is a natural outcome of design thinking.

Designing for Trust Takeaways:

  1. If you’re not designing for trust, you’re stagnating.
  2. Follow my four pillars of designing for trust to minimize your business risk and maximize wins.
  3. Find a visual design partner you can trust to take care of your business’s future. I happen to know a terrific one. 😉

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Do you want better market positioning so you can command a higher market value? I’ll visually harmonize and effectivize* your brand content so that it can be better understood by the right people.

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*Yes, I made this word up.

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