I’ve been a TV addict my whole life. It wasn’t, however, until I started working in marketing that I began to pay closer attention to commercials. This past year there was a particular one that was always running on TV promoting Vista Prints.
According to their website Vista Prints is an online service where you can create and customize affordable marketing materials for your business. The ad spot that I kept seeing was part of Vista Prints campaign where they highlight businesses that have used Vista Print services. We met Tess who owns Gardening by Tess (high five for a woman-owned small business!) The commercial tells us how Vista Prints helps Tess (and others) promote and market their services. In the commercial Tess says “They help me stand out …” This is where I disagree.
Before I go further, I should preface this with saying I actually like Vista Prints. I think it is a great resource for clients who have strict printing budgets or who need low quantity marketing materials. My issue with this and most commercials from Vista Prints is that they devalue proper branding and marketing services. Although they are a great resource, Vista Prints is not a replacement for the branding process. People often see commercials like this and then ask me “Why would I pay a company to design my collateral when I can go on Vista Prints spend $10 for 250 business cards?” This is why.
The #1 problem with using a service like this without consulting a marketing expert is you will not have a brand that stands out. A quick visit to the Vista Prints website and I was able to create an awfully close replica of Tess’ business card with my name. Think of it like a nice suit. You (and anyone else in the market) can go to Express and buy a decent suit for $200. Your customization options are limited to sizing and a few styles. Your other option is going to a professional tailor and getting a high quality custom made outfit that fits just you. Sure it will cost you, but you can pick your fabrics, colors and make sure the suit is exactly based on your measurements and your style. Even if someone loved your suit and went to the same tailor they would not leave with the same garment as you. A branding professional is like this tailor. They are going to listen to your organization’s needs (and if they are doing things right your marketing strategy) to create a mark using truly custom visuals that represent your message and create a meaningful and strategic impression.
All in all, I do commend Tess for acknowledging the importance of cohesive branding however, I wish she would have instead opted for a proper branding effort that would have resulted in a look and feel that is true to her business. Her investment in branding would have surely made her business bloom.