We all know that design is crucial to any business and good design can really make you stand out. But not a lot of people realise that great design can also be sustainable. Here are a few of my top tips on essential design for your business and how to keep it as environmentally friendly as possible.
Your logo is selling point. If itâ€™s not right, then you wonâ€™t feel comfortable about giving out your business cards or your website address. Investing in a good logo will do wonders for your business confidence and â€“ if done correctly â€“ will give you the edge.
Choose a designer who you get on with to design your logo, as it needs to reflect you and your businesses personality. Simple, clean logos work really well, so unless youâ€™re selling rainbows keep the colours to a minimum. Block colours are also great as they look really good when printed and on the web.
Keep typefaces to a minimum (no more than two) otherwise the design can look cluttered â€“ less is more.
Nowadays there are sustainable printers everywhere and printing quality is better than ever. Block colours look great with vegetable-based inks, as these dry quickly and evenly.
Print your business materials on FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) approved card as the paper can be traced to source forests. You could even go for recycled stock as these can give you a great rustic look.
Sustainable printing uses less water to clean the presses (because itâ€™s easier to clean than oil) and there is also less need for solvents â€“ so itâ€™s better for the people working at the printers too. Also, because more and more printers are changing to these new presses the prices are much more comparable than a few years ago.
Some printers will offer bio-degradable laminates which are great for business cards, and if you want something a little bit special, then dye cutting can add that little something extra to business cards or brochures. Be aware that techniques like foiling may look lovely, but can be harmful to the environment.
A brochure or leaflet used to be the first choice for marketing but now a website is your most important investment. Sometimes you wonâ€™t need more than a few pages, and if you get it right then it becomes a great selling tool.
Although a website may seem far more environmentally-friendly than printing lots of brochures, most people donâ€™t realise just how much energy is used to keep one going. The servers which websites are kept on can churn out the same amount of CO2 as a car over a one year period; depending on how many are on a particular server and how big those websites are.
Consider using a company to host your website that offsets their carbon by planting trees. Thereâ€™s even a company out there which have their servers in an old nuclear bunker. These companies are now as competitive pricewise as some of the bigger companies and as some of them are family-run businesses, so you get good old-fashioned service too!
When designing your website think of the following:
There has been talk of black or coloured sites using less energy than predominantly white websites, but this depends entirely on the screen the site is being viewed on. Donâ€™t be scared to use colour, just be aware that some people may have trouble seeing the copy on a website if you have a black background and white text. Shades of grey can also be a problem on top of strong colours, so itâ€™s best to avoid them.
Weâ€™re all being encouraged to add video or flash to our websites but if you can keep these to a minimum then do so â€“ the smaller your website, the less carbon it will emit.
So, whether youâ€™re printing a brochure or setting up a website I hope Iâ€™ve shown that with a bit of careful planning you can do your bit for the environment too.