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Over the years, having trained as a professional graphic designer, there have been times I felt that other people didn’t “get it.” They just couldn’t see or appreciate good design. This is frustrating and saddening for me.

In design school you spend a lot of time learning about typography, grids and visual hierarchy. You learn to appreciate the nuances of composition, proper kerning and color management.

Then, you get thrown out into the real world and realize that a lot of people don’t care about these things. In fact, a lot of people can hardly recognize these subtleties even when they are pointed out.

Therefore, designers get a bit of a bad rap for being overly picky and are prone to stressing out about things the average person doesn’t care about.

Some people who don’t seem to value design may be quick to point out that nobody would notice or care about the details a designer would notice or care about.

But, that’s not true.

Let me give you an example. I quickly notice poor printing. I recently looked at a colleague’s business card and saw that the solid blue on the back was very uneven and streaky. He hadn’t noticed the effect previously and felt that his low cost business cards were well printed. But once I pointed it out to him, he joked that he could no longer stop seeing the streaks.

The bar is rising. Everyone is learning about design.

The web has brought everything to everyone, very quickly and easily. One negative (as seen through a designer’s eye) is that anyone can quickly create something, print something or publish something. Much of this stuff is junk. However, on the positive side, people are also better informed that ever.

Many of the things that designers obsess about used to seem like hocus pocus to an outsider. But now that people have so much educational content at their fingertips, and now that so many people have dabbled in their own design, I think we’re actually seeing a backlash towards better design.

I think we’re actually seeing a backlash towards better design.

People are reading about graphic design, website design and branding like they never did before.

American Express has launched an online project called: Project RE:Brand This combination web site, blogs and videos highlight the importance of design and branding to building a successful business by partnering real businesses with branding experts. American Express is helping to bring the idea of high quality graphic design and branding to the masses of small business owners.

What if you can’t recognize a well designed website, logo or brochure?

As a business owner there are many different areas of your business that you need to oversee. Some of these things come naturally, but other areas do not. Would you ever tell someone who didn’t like keeping their books that they could just ignore it? No, you’d likely advise them to turn over the day to day bookkeeping to an expert and then learn enough to understand their financial statements.

The same is true for design and branding for your organization. If you are unable to recognize and understand the value of design and branding, find an expert to help you. Build a relationship with that person, the way you do with your CPA. You need to include them in your business plans, share your goals, and be open about your shortcomings.

Remember that even if you can’t see a poor printing job, there are many others who can, and they are probably judging you poorly.

Again, some will counter that no one should be judging you by the quality of your printed business cards. But the reality is that first impressions, such as those that come from poorly printed business cards are almost subconscious. For people who care about these details, they now see you as someone who doesn’t care, without even consciously making that judgement.

Surround yourself with experts who know about design and branding and use their expertise to benefit your business.

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