Good Design should tell a story

It was a bright summer’s morning, when a lowly café owner by the name of Bill Whitlock opened the doors to his family business; “Whitlock Café”. Bill had worked in this eatery since he was a young boy, when his grandfather, Edward Whitlock, set up shop, over thirty years earlier. He remembered the sheer amount of people who would come and look through the window in anticipation of it opening. He remembered the passers-by stopping and pointing at the sign above the door, then overhearing the comments, acknowledgements and glowing reviews. He couldn’t remember the number of times customers would take him to one side and say, gesturing round the room with their hands; “Your café is the best café in the world!”. It was a proud time for Bill’s family.

For Bill, however, there was a harsh reality he had only recently confronted. No matter how many new exciting recipes landed on the menu, or despite the effort he put in ensuring the café retained it’s look, or how he kept it spotless and always came in early to prep; it was mainly Bill or his own family who were coming in through the door. Business had been getting progressively worse over the years, until it had reached the point where he was considering selling up. It hadn’t helped that a new, garish, chain takeout had opened down the street just over a year ago. Every time one of their adverts appeared on the radio, Bill would switch stations immediately. What did they have that he didn’t?
whitlock cafe

As much as I’m getting into it, I’ll stop this story here. The purpose of it was to give you a situation – a very common one. No matter the industry, take a walk down your local high street and you will spot dated, dull, tired and empty businesses. Take a walk down the same high street twelve months later, and half of those businesses will be gone.

Using Bill’s plight as an example, this is not what anybody wants. As with any company, a majority of these will be set up with care, love and passion. So where did he go wrong? Well, the clue was in the timeline; Bill’s café was opened by his grandfather three decades ago. At the time, people were blown away by how striking the place looked and how it stopped them in their tracks. If this café existed today, would you choose to hold your business meeting at a place that was still clutching on to the sun-faded window menus of 1988? Didn’t think so.

So, in this instance, how does Bill remedy his depleting footfall? Well, there was another clue in the story. The new chain spot that had opened up around the corner may have vibrant posters and commercial radio play, but let’s face it, a largescale corporation will always lack the same care and quality as an independent. Given the choice, as well as the rise in apps like Spot, RWRD, BestCoffee, and Neverspoons, it’s safe to assume that most people prefer the little guy.

“How on earth does all this tie in with Graphic Design?” I hear you thinking. Well, we’ve told you Bill’s story – you now know it. However, a Designer’s job would be to tell that story to the people who aren’t necessarily paying attention. He’s based on a high street – there must be hundreds, if not thousands, of people passing his café every single day.

Therefore, the main thing holding Bill’s business back is how the place looks – it doesn’t stand out any more, the shine of yesteryear is gone. It’s now dated and subsequently it’s uninviting. Good design should take us on a journey; getting information across clearly in a way that people will remember, will want to know more about, and will enjoy. Remember, Bill is still clearly working hard and putting effort into the day-to-day operation of his business, plus he holds customer interaction close to his heart. If we can convey those qualities and that ethos across, as well as promote certain specialities, offers or USPs; then we have a winning recipe on grabbing attention.
For more information on PCE Social’s Graphic Design, have a look through some of our work – or even better; drop us a line and speak to us. We can’t wait to hear your story and help you express yourself!

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