The design of your marketing materials says a lot about your brand. Poor designs can make your brand look cheap or sloppy, but a good design can give your brand credibility and value. Not every business has the means to hire an in-house graphic designer, and those that outsource often don’t know what to look for in a great design, they just follow the consensus of their peers or adhere to the designer’s suggestions. Here are a few graphic design tips that will help you critique your own design, or that of the person you are trusting with your brand:
1. Know your audience.
The beginning of a great design involves research of your target audience. It is very important to know who you are designing for before you can create something that is appealing and eye-catching to the audience that matters most. For instance, if you are designing an ad to entice young couples to purchase a new vehicle, they probably wouldn’t be drawn to an image of an elderly couple in a convertible. Also, don’t make assumptions about your target audience without backing it up with data. Graphic design can be costly and time-consuming, so you want to make sure you get the most effective and successful design possible.
2. Ensure readability.
No matter if your audience is young or old, make sure your message is easily read. One of the first rules of thumb for readability is to use contrast. When you have a dark background, for instance, make sure your text is light enough to read, and vice versa. Although fun, crazy fonts are tempting, refrain from using fonts that may take a few seconds to read. If you do use a fun font, use it for the header and use normal fonts for areas of long text. Also, limit the number of fonts you use to 2-3 per ad or other print material. Make sure fonts are large enough to read, especially the fine print at the bottom.
3. Complement colors.
The use of color is very important, and should usually match your brand colors. In some cases, though, it is appropriate to stray away from brand colors to make your materials stand out. However, don’t go overboard with wacky colors that might send the wrong message. We recommend using up to 3 main colors.
4. Simplify photos.
Although it is easy to get carried away with the hundreds of Photoshop effects, you’ll want to keep your photo edits to a minimum. Too many effects or strange cropping can make your photos look tacky. Instead, use clean, high-quality photos that go well together. Use drop shadows and borders when appropriate—not just to try to make it look professional.
5. Embrace white space.
White space is the term given to portions of the design that are left unmarked (for instance, no photos, text, etc). White space is used to separate elements in a design or to emphasize text or images, and can really add to the look and feel of an advertisement. Apple is a great example of using white space in its ads. Check out this example of an ad designed for the iPad Mini in 2012—using white space to draw attention to the imagery.
The design of your marketing materials can change how others feel about your brand, so make sure it’s positive. Pay attention to these 5 design tips to ensure a clean and professional brand presentation.