We very often deal with companies that have badly designed websites, not the ones we've designed of course, the ones we are brought in to fix! Our entire experience of these companies comprises looking at their website and talking to somebody on the phone - and sometimes we get completely the wrong impression.
We had a meeting recently with a company that we thought was a couple of dodgy geezers in a dingy back room - and it turned out to be some very smartly-dressed city gents in a georgian town house! We've now fixed this image problem and the company's sales are increasing, but having bad design at this level can actively put people off from buying from you.
Design gives a face and a personality to your company and all of the designed material from your company is going out into the world and communicating its message to people - is it saying dodgy geezer or trustworthy professional? So, what can good design do for you? Well, for one thing, your company will have documents that you send out into the world - letterheads, invoices, business cards etc - and they all say something about you. Are they giving out a coherent positive message about you, or is it a bit chaotic and contradictory? Do you have a logo knocked up by a printer, a letterhead done in word, an invoice designed by your accountant and business cards from a machine in a motorway service station? Good design could help you to: sell to new prospects - first impressions count and you will be giving them all the cues that they are looking for; get repeat sales from existing customers - your customers will trust you more; give suppliers confidence - as suppliers ourselves we know the value of maintaining business relationships and a huge proportion of that is down to communication and trust. Encourage loyalty from staff - a logo is like a flag, it's something to rally round.
It's all about personality. Good design can make your company look like a trusted family doctor or a cutting edge surgeon or an internet whizz kid, keep all of the messages reenforcing one another and this message is made stronger. Portray the right image to your target audience and punch above your weight. It's easy to make a 2 person company look like a 200 person company but if you don't pay attention to design you might find that you've made a 200 person company look like 2 dodgy geezers in a dingy back room.