I know what you are thinking – who cares about design when you work in tax? It has a pretty profound effect on your firm. There is an intangible value to sound design that goes beyond brand awareness and has a measurable impact on your bottom line. Since I know tax people like data, allow me back that up with statistics. McKinsey & Company published a report on the performance of 300 companies for over five years. Design focused firms had, on average, 32% higher revenue growth and 56% higher shareholder return. It did not matter what type of firm because this happened across all verticals. Why? What is so great about good design?
Taking the time to develop a good design for your firm shows that you are professional and competent, and communicates your value to prospective and existing clients. We all judge companies by their design elements, especially online. Visitors to your website judge it within 50 milliseconds, and 75% of those visitors judge it by your design, not the content. This is because the design communicates on your behalf by creating an experience for the viewer. Is your design creating a positive and memorable first impression in those 50 milliseconds? With many firms beginning to operate 100% online, that impression is more important than ever. When you have a terrible design, visitors are not going to read, trust, or even stay on your site. One study showed that of the factors for rejecting or mistrusting a website, 94% were design related, and only 6% were content related. You can have fantastic services and content on your site, but hardly anyone will know if it is horribly designed.
Think about your brand. Design is an essential part of branding, which is key to every business. What does your brand say about your tax firm? Does it help you stand out from the crowd? Is your brand lost in a sea of other poorly designed brands? How do you even know if you have a good brand? Your brand should represent your firm in all ways and establish what your firm stands for. To find out how your brand is perceived, ask your clients what they think. Ask random individuals what they think of your brand. Do they feel the emotions you hope to inspire when someone sees your brand? Do you feel inspired when you see your brand? Colors, layouts, concepts are all elements that help make your brand memorable to your audience, whether by drawing them in or pushing them away.
Tax is a complex industry. With so many variables and continuously changing regulations, it can be difficult for people to understand. Using design with your content, you can break down these intricate pieces into simple visuals to communicate in terms your audience can understand. That helps you stand apart from other tax firms, making you more approachable. Design then acts as a translator by taking complex tax language and converting it into an easy to understand format to reach a broader client base. 65% of people are visual learners, so it is easier for individuals to digest information that is presented in a logical visual way.
Figure out what you want to communicate to a potential client when they first see your brand and create a design that reflects this. There is often the misconception that design and designers work strictly on how something looks, but a good designer also looks at how design works. When you work with a designer, they are not going to just make things look nice, but they look at whom you are communicating. Who is your demographic, what needs to be communicated, what is of value, and what takes away from your messaging?
Good design equals excellent communication. Everything from typography to colors to images, all are used to communicate your brand. For example, every wonder why so many firms like to use the color blue? Blue brings on the feelings of stability and reliability, which tax and accounting firms want to communicate to their audience. White can evoke fresh and clean or young and modern. Red is bold and helps project feelings of power and confidence.
Ultimately, good design makes you more money. Good design increases your company’s value, boosts sales efforts, and places your firm in a better financial situation. You become more profitable through building trust, strong first impressions, creating successful campaigns, and building client relationships.
Does this mean you need to scrap everything and start over? Maybe. Or maybe you only need to refresh what you already have. Either way, do not dismiss the value of good design. Take the time to find a talented designer and build out your brand the right way. As humans, we have a natural bias to what we consider to be beautiful. When you are competing against other fully capable tax firms, design can help set you apart.