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Do you use “We” or “I” in your marketing material?In this week's episode of the Resourceful Designer podcast, I tackle the longtime debate on whether or not you should use the pronoun “We” or “I” on your marketing material.
For the full discussion be sure to listen to the podcast.
I don’t know if you’re like me, but ever time I come across a URL for a graphic designer I just have to check it out. We’re such a creative bunch and I love seeing the wide variety of approaches when it comes to our business, our skills and our communications.
Besides looking at the structure of the site, reading the about page and looking at the portfolio one, of the main things I look at is the voice that was chosen for the page.
When I say voice, I’m talking about whether the site uses “We” or “I” in the copy. I then play a little game, if the site uses the pronoun “we”, I try to figure out if the site really is a “we” or if it’s in fact, an “I”.
I recently came across a designer's website that used the pronoun “we”. My first thought was that he had decided to go the plural route to make himself seem bigger. However, upon reading the About page, I saw that there was, in fact, a business partner that occupied the role of Project Manager. So in this case, using the “We” pronoun was the right choice.
But I’m not talking about businesses like this one. In most cases, as a home-based graphic designer, you’re running your business all by yourself. And choosing “We” as your pronoun doesn’t necessarily reflect the business it’s trying to describe. But does that mean it’s wrong?
What is the best pronoun for a graphic design business?
First, let’s look at the hard decisions between choosing “We” or “I”. Some people believe that If you’re all by yourself and you choose “We”, you are misrepresenting yourself. But will it make a difference to your potential clients? What are they expecting of you and your business? Will they be willing to spend more money on a “We” as opposed to an “I”?
Let’s look at both individually.
Choosing “We” for your business.
What does using the pronoun “we” do for your business?
First off, if you ever work with partners or subcontractors then you aren’t really misrepresenting your business by using “We”. You could simply explain that you have a team of professionals at your disposal to handle the various portions of a design project. Hense the “We”
- “We” also give your business a more established feel.
- “We” makes you sound more corporate.
- “We” may help you land clients who prefer working with companies over an individual person.
Keep in mind that If you use “We” a client may ask to speak with someone on your team which could cause problems for you.
Choosing “I” for your business.
What does using the pronoun “I” do for your business?
The biggest return for using “I” is that it focuses more on you instead of your business. This makes you sound more personable and accessible.
If the client is happy with the work, you and not the company gets the credit for it.
You’ve heard me talk many times about creating relationships with clients. Using “I” in your marketing copy is the first step in building that relationship since viewers establish a connection with you from the start.
- Using “I” creates a sense of flexibility, giving a sense of ease to clients who may believe that as an individual, you will be more open to listening to what they have to say instead of dictating like a company might do.
- Using “I” will attract clients who want to deal with a person rather than a company. They know the money they spend is benefiting you, someone they have a relationship with, and not a company where it will be distributed who knows how.
- People who are not familiar with graphic design might also feel an individual will be more affordable than hiring a design firm.
- Your clients will also be more flexible to your personal needs. In last week’s Question of the Week, I mentioned how clients can be very accommodating in times of family emergencies, whereas if they hire a company they would still expect the work to get done even if you’re not available.
Other things to consider.
The name of your company could play a part in the pronoun you choose. If you use your own name for your business, like Mark Des Cotes Design, it only makes sense to use “I” in your marketing material.
If the word Agency is part of your business name it would make more sense to use “We”.
In some cases, such as when you have a business partner, using “We” is the right choice. But there are still ways to make you sound more personable. Instead of always using “We” or “us” use your names. Instead of saying something like “give us a call” say “give Ben and Nick a call”. Or instead of “We look forward to working with you” you could say “Ben and Nick look forward to working with you. You may need to change from first to third person to pull this off.
Another way is to assign someone as the face of your marketing. For instance, make either Ben or Nick the spokesperson and say something like “Nick and I look forward to working with you”. This method covers both bases as it establishes you as more than just an individual but it also paints you as individual people.
What do I use?
I personally use the pronoun “I”. Yes, I operate under a business name but call me selfish, when all is said and done I want people to remember me for the work, not my company. Plus, as you know, I’m all about building relationships and that’s definitely all about Me. There’s no We involved.
What pronoun do you use for your graphic design business?
Let me know your goals by leaving a comment for this episode.
Questions of the Week
I didn't have time to answer a question this week. But I would love to answer yours. Submit your question to be featured in a future episode of the podcast by visiting the feedback page.
Resource of the week Fontpair.co
This week's resource is a fun site to help designers pair Google Fonts together. Fontpair.co offers a gallery of Google font combinations for you to look at. You can narrow down your search by clicking on one of the menus to view just Sans-Serif/Serif combos, Serif/Sans-Serif, Cursive/Serif, Cursive/Sans-Serif and many other combinations. Not every Google font is listed but there's enough of a variety to give you a good starting point for your next project.
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Running a graphic design or web design business all by yourself isn't easy. If there are any struggles you face running your design business please reach out to me. I'll do my best to help you by addressing your issues in a future blog post or podcast episode here at Resourceful Designer. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org