Why small businesses should embrace creative risk

September 14 2022

It’s 2017. I’ve just spent many hours designing logo concepts for a new client. It’s a tricky one because they struggled to articulate what they thought their branding should look like. At last there’s one idea that feels right, according to what I understood their needs to be.

But it doesn’t satisfy this creative beast, so I pretend the client’s business is mine for a couple of extra hours and create the logo design I’d want. And I add it to the logo concept lineup to see what happens.

Can you guess?

The client chose the one I made for fun. And this happened many times!

But then, toward launch time another pattern emerged. The client would get cold feet about the riskier option and either need a lot of reassurance it was the right one, or go back to a ‘shrinking into the crowd’ design.

When the standout logo was selected? It signalled a change in the business owner

They were more confident in how they wanted their business to be run. They put themselves in the spotlight more easily. And, ultimately, their businesses grew faster because there was a visual indicator of their differentiating factor (USP).

Long cosmetics box with pink packaging design on burnt orange background

What exactly is a ‘creative risk’?

  • It’s doing something your business hasn’t done before.
  • Doing something your industry or direct competitors haven’t done before.
  • It can mean brightly coloured packaging, or it could mean the most minimal and intriguing web design in the industry.
  • Importantly, it’s being extra creative within the bounds of your business values, personality and audience

Creative risk is not necessarily being the loudest, brashest, most colourful. It’s taking a considered approach to finding a new way of doing something that still aligns with your values and audience, and taking the idea forward. 

Now? I’ve adjusted my logo design process. We do deep strategic work beforehand to get everything out in the open and articulated clearly. 

Only then do I create a single standout logo concept, complete with in-situ mockups so can feel the full customer experience. 

And you know what’s amazing? Without the safe options cluttering the client’s brain, there are usually only 1-2 minimal tweaks needed! 

As a creative and sensitive person, I get it. Making a bold choice for your business can feel like stepping off a cliff trusting there’s a net to catch you.

But here’s what happens when you trust your gut and go with the riskier option:

  • You feel more bold and more committed to your business.
  • You are clearer about your business personality.
  • Your businesses is *literally* more visible because it stands out on a shelf/socials/google search.
  • It’s easier to dismiss the random business ‘shoulds’ and focus on steering your own ship.

So next time you’re at a crossroads in your small business, pondering whether to do what’s always been done or whether to entertain and test a new option? At least try to push the safe option towards standing out rather than blending in!

Photo of Candice leaning against a textured white wall in the sunshine and smiling. She has long curly hair and a colourful jacket on.

Candice is the founder of Design Salad, a strategy loving design studio helping climate-consious women business owners shine brighter than ever before.

Design Salad specialises in thoughtful brand strategy and unique brand identities infused with artistry. 

Need a safe space to explore creative branding or business ideas?

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