The Value Of Design And Why To Sell It

About the show:

The Agency Spark Podcast, hosted by Sara Nay, is a collection of short-form interviews from thought leaders in the marketing consultancy and agency space. Each episode focuses on a single topic with actionable insights you can apply today.

About this episode:

In this episode of the Agency Spark Podcast, Sara talks with Stacy Farrell on the value of design and why to sell it.

Beginning her career in education across the Asia-Pacific B2B sector across education, aviation, professional and human services and NFP, Stacy’s passion for dealing with people, communication, and visual engagement, led her into the field of strategic marketing, content creation and design.

Having established a design studio in Shanghai China before returning to Australia, she ran a design and print company until she established Content Box in 2018.

Content Box works on the premise that design and marketing for businesses does not have to be overly complicated, difficult, or expensive, but strategic, creatively engaging, thorough and consistent.

Content Box works closely with a range of professional and human service business to provide strategic marketing, graphic design, and content services.

Stacey is also a member of the Duct Tape Marketing Consultant Network.

Key topics:

  • How graphic design and visual elements help guide the customer journey
  • Why design is such a fundamental part of how our brains are wired
  • How to set yourself up for success with design and branding clients

More from Stacy Farrell:


Sara Nay (00:00): Welcome to the Agency Spark podcast. This is your host, Sarah Nay. And today I have Stacey Farrell, founder of content box content box works on the premise that design and marketing for businesses does not have to be a really complicated, difficult, or expensive, but strategic creatively engaging thorough and consistent content box works closely with a range of professional and human service businesses to provide strategic marketing graphic design and content services. Stacey is actually also a member of the duct tape marketing consultant network. So welcome to the show, Stacy.

Stacy Farrell (01:07): Thanks Sarah. Thanks for having me.

Sara Nay (01:09): Yeah, I am really excited to have you on the show. I know you, we know each other based on you being part of the duct tape marketing consultant network. And I've heard you talk about design and know how passionate you are on this topic. So I'm really excited to share with our audience today. And so the topic I wanna start with, because I know there's a lot we could talk about is the value of design in your eyes and why to sell it. And so let's start with the value of design and then from there, we can go into the why behind selling it. So the show is your Stacy.

Stacy Farrell (01:38): Yeah. Thanks Sarah. Thanks very much for having me look, I think the thing that we need to think about before we even start thinking about design and the value of design is we've gotta consider our brains and how our brains are wired. The interesting thing is that 40% of our nerve fibers are linked to the retina. 90% of our information is transmitted to the brain is visual and our eyes can register 36,000 visual messages per hour. So visuals are faster at processing by 60,000 times in the brain than text. So when you think about those types of things, think about the impact of that when you're designing for social media or website content and for design, that is like really poorly designed. So really graphic design is just another form of communication between your business and your audience. And the fact that visual content is so important in conveying meaning it's a bit of a no brainer that you need to really think about the type of graphic design services that you sell and also how you actually engage those services.

Stacy Farrell (02:41): You know, one of the things that I always say to people when they look and they say, oh, but it's a cost. I say, no, actually it's an investment because you've really gotta think about the first impressions that that is made when somebody actually sees your book, sees your brand. And when you think about it, you think about a movie or a card or an experience that you've had yourself. And when it's highly impactful at that first instant, it really makes stimulates the emotional center of our brain and helps us as the ability for strong, complex ideas and stories. And then it unlocks the communication and makes the whole experience more memorable. One of the other things to also consider is that information that is given visually is retained in the long term memory. The brain has a short term and long term memory and to help recall and influence human behavior information needs to be stored in the long term memory.

Stacy Farrell (03:33): And we know that people that are stuck struggling with dementia or Alzheimer's, they can't remember maybe what they had for breakfast or yesterday, but they can recall in great detail things that have happened from many years before. So the, once the information is locked into long term memory, it's harder to forget. And to ensure that this happens, it's really important to use visual images that are directly linked to the concepts that you are trying to convey, convey to an audience. Look, I talk about brand quite a lot as well and brand integrity when I'm talking to my customers and, and people generally, and the more consistent your brand is with your visual content across the platforms, the more credible and trustworthy your brand is perceived. So creating a unified look and feel across everything that you do really just uses trust and credibility. And it also is that consistency that stimulates the emotional engagement and breeds credibility.

Stacy Farrell (04:28): So when we start to take some of these things across into the graphic design world and into our brands and into our customers, we really bringing so much more value into what we do for our customers as marketers, visuals give the ability to convey lots of information fast, whether it be through an infographic or a chart or a very complex diagram. And if you think about that in the history of evolution as well, human beings have been around in one form or another for millions of years. And the first talk, the written communication was in pictographs and then evolved into Hily flicks. And then we got the individual alphabet and the letter formations, and it tho that evolution of writing took so many years, thousands of years and continues to evolve today. And even today, if you think about the communication that you have in emails in messages, think of the use of emojis and the abbreviations for the acronyms.

Stacy Farrell (05:26): They are very much forefront of the way that we communicate today. So again, that visual content that facial expression from an emoji really conveys the message fast when we've got all of these visual content working together, improves comprehension. And when we are thinking about the messages that we're trying to convey to our customers in the marketing materials that we put together, we wanna make sure that they can fully comprehend the information and the services that we're trying to convey. So the higher, the level of comprehension, the more likely a person is going to be to take an action and to buy something or click or download. And apart from that, one of the really big things is that emotional connection with the visuals people often take action based on emotional connection and getting the visual and the emotional centers of our brain linked is very important.

Stacy Farrell (06:21): And that's why when we look at negative images, we can have a strong, negative, emotional response. And conversely, so we've got the positive images that will provoke positive emotional responses and also drive an engagement there. So when we think about what does this mean for our customers? We are really thinking about increasing the customer engagement from uniquely designed pieces that, uh, give all of that visual content and support the words we're thinking about establishing or get using a well-established brand recognition that breeds trust and credibility. We're thinking about building stronger audience relationships, which the bra stronger the relationship is. It makes it harder for them to leave. So we are actually trying to create a barrier to exit, and we are thinking about how it's better value for the clients, because if we know if we are designing properly and we are doing a lot of graphic work that their brand integrity is actively managed and stays really closely aligned with their marketing strategy.

Stacy Farrell (07:26): And that's a really important thing for a brand to invest in as well. Another thing that I often hear people say is that they don't need graphic design because they do it on do it yourself platforms. So that's fine. But the question that I ask that the best use of your time, if you're a business owner, possibly not because we know that people running businesses and in jobs, do you ever hear anybody say, oh, I've got plenty of time. They always say, no, I'm really busy. I'm really flat out. And the other thing is despite the fact that they're all still good templates and fonts that you can chop in and chop out at the end of the day, often people are not designers. So the content becomes ad hoc and you do risk corrupting that brand integrity. And then it costs more money when you have to actually spend money to repair the damage done to a brand. So these are some of the things that we actually think about when we're talking about the real value of this two to our customers.

Sara Nay (08:22): Yeah. I so many great points in there. I mean it, decade marketing we're really big on, well, I'm really big on connecting with your audience, telling the story, educating people along the way, and you shared so many great examples, how graphic design and visual elements can help guide that journey. You mentioned very early on it's about getting people's attention. So being really graphically interesting on social media, for example, might help you stand out from all the other concept that's out there. Mm. But then you talked about how it can help people connect and be memorable and tell a story and retain the information like to me, that's big parts of getting people to like and trust you. And so I love the examples you shared, and I think it absolutely comes back to, you know, a lot of what we're doing from a marketing and branding perspective is standing out, getting the attention from the front end, but then developing a relationship and providing so much value for people throughout the journey. And so those are some key points that I think you touched on as you talked through all of that.

Stacy Farrell (09:18): Yeah. And look, the other thing that I think, because I, because the design is such a fundamental part of the way that our brains are wired as well. If you think about babies and young children, when they're born, they spend the first two, three years of their lives watching and observing and reading those facial expressions. And that for the develops the fundamentals for the way as adults, we start to communicate. We hear of people that have, we know children often struggle to learn, to read, talk about vis visual literacy in a lot of the work that we do as well. And you very rarely hear about people having difficulty interpreting a picture or interpreting an image. And when you think about children's books, the ones that young children engage with are all the ones that have got all the beautiful visuals right throughout them, because they can't actually access the words. So there is so much meaning that comes out of world design visuals. And if we thinking about how we're going to market our business, we've gotta think about the cost of not doing something as well. If we don't invest in decent graphic design, what is that going to do? Because we're pretty sure that our, probably our competitors are going to be doing it. So it's the cost of not doing something and not engaging good graphic design services to really build your brand and build that relationship.

Sara Nay (10:35): Yeah, absolutely. And we are getting toward to the end of our time together, but I wanna throw one more question at you to close this out. And so someone's convinced, let's say on the value of graphic design, that they haven't put a lot of effort into it up to this point. And they're looking at hiring someone like you for graphic design services. My question to you is what types of information should they come prepared with in order to set up a graphic design team for success? So obviously like fonts and colors and images, they like, what all do you ask of people in order to be able to design for them effectively?

Stacy Farrell (11:07): Look, one of the things that we really pride ourselves on is doing a briefing because really, if you don't have a proper briefing, you can't get the output. And if they've got brand guidelines that always helps, but one of the best things is to also come, just do Google searches and look at the things that you like and the things that you don't like, and the things that resonate with your brand and the things that don't resonate with your brand. Some of the questions that we ask are we ask people to describe their brand in a few words, because they might say trustworthy, conservative out there, punk cartoon style, all of those things can be represented visually. And we look at the types of look and feel that their brand, we ask them to look at different things and think about what type of emotion that evokes when they see things for themselves.

Stacy Farrell (11:49): We talk about the simplicity and the busyness of design and color psychology makes up a huge part of design as well. So there's lots of different things that we take people through with the process. It's not just a case of all. Can you design me this? And away we go getting the right briefing and taking people through the thoroughness of the briefing will ensure that you have got the right output, really think about that. And then when you're using the online platforms, there is no briefing because you've got all the tools there to go ahead and do it yourself. So there's some of the things that you really need to think about before you even start putting pen to paper, so to speak.

Sara Nay (12:25): Yeah, absolutely. I think that's a great point in terms of looking for other examples and talking through what it resonates with you, how do you feel when you see those examples? I think that's a really great starting point. Whenever I'm working with clients on new, like logos or updating websites, like that's where I go first it's I can't get anywhere until I understand what you like and why you like it.

Stacy Farrell (12:44): That's right. That's right. And understanding what your competitors are doing too, because you don't wanna do the same thing. You've gotta make yourself stand out.

Sara Nay (12:50): Absolutely. I love chatting with you as I always U C C if people wanna connect with you online, where can they find you?

Stacy Farrell (12:56): Look? The best thing to do is to go to our website, which is content do AU, or I do a lot of posting on LinkedIn. And it's just on LinkedIn, just search for Stacy Farrell, which is S T a C Y. There is no E in my name F a R E. And yeah. And I'd be happy to connect with anybody. Just send me a quick message and have a look at some of the blogs that I've written to. I've written quite a lot on design just recently and previously.

Sara Nay (13:22): Awesome. Thank you so much for sharing. And we have that in common as well. I always have to say my name is S a R a without an age. your explanation there? Well, thank you Stacy for being here and thank you all for listening to the spark podcast. This is your next.



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