The importance of good design

Design is often thought of as a nice to have, something to invest in if there is money left over in the marketing budget. But my word of warning, don’t underestimate the power of good design.

Over the years, I’ve heard numerous times people say “I need some flyers printing” or “I’m going to have a stand at an exhibition, I’ll need some brochures printing”. The problem here is they’ve missed the first step. Yes, they may need to flyers to promote a new campaign, and yes, it may be useful to have some brochures that showcase their products, but these pieces will only work if they appeal to their target market and communicate the message well.

For a visual campaign, an appealing aesthetic is the first thing that will grab your customers attention. Simply listing your products on a glossy flyer may not be enough, so the design really should be considered too. You’ll not only be keeping up with your competitors but perhaps, more importantly, portray what your brand is all about and why they would want to welcome you into their lives.

The good news is design doesn’t have to be expensive and you may find that there are certain things you can do yourself to ensure you stay on brand, appeal to your target market and get your message across.

Have your brand guidelines to hand

What do you think of when you hear the term “brand”. A logo? A slogan? Well, the truth is a brand is made up of many things. Yes, a logo and slogan (or tagline) may be important elements, but a brand is also made up of other components such typography, grid systems, photo and illustration styles, colour palettes – even the paper stock used for printing your business stationery!

If you haven’t got one already, it’s a good idea to create your own brand guidelines. It will act as your guide which, if done well, will be capable of talking anyone through your brand. As well as detailing the visual elements mentioned above, you can expand further and touch upon the other points that make your company what it is. Include your mission, your vision, your company’s tone of voice. Not only will it help marketers, designers, videographers and anyone else you work with to promote your services and products, but it’ll help them to understand your business and what it stands for. It’ll also help you and your team keep things consistent too.

Swatches from a colour chart
A colour palette is a key part of a brand guide to help create a consistent look for your brand

Consistency is key

You want your brand to be recognisable so I can’t stress enough how important it is to be consistent. Make sure you know your brand colours and what fonts you should use. Do you use one typeface for headlines titles and another for the body copy? Check your brand guidelines and follow the rules. Of course, a good design should include a flourish that will grab attention or appeal to your audience but make sure your brand is recognisable from the foundations of the design first.

I’m sure you’ve heard it before but remember… form follows function

Yes, it’s a term you may have heard designers waffling on about before but there is a good reason for that. A good designer doesn’t just make something look pretty; they get your idea to work.

If you are creating your own designs, my recommendation would be to start with your copy. Make sure your key message is clear and understandable within a split second. If you need additional copy to support that message, make sure it’s legible. If the person reading liked what they’ve seen they’ll want to get in touch, so make it obvious what they need to do with a clear call to action.

Once you have your copy ready, it’s time to style it using the rules set in your brand guidelines. Use the correct fonts, select your brand colours and position it as per the recommended grid system. Do you need an image to support your message? If so, choose one that follows the style and the feel outlined within your guidelines.

After laying out your text and images you may find you have some space left over. Naturally, you may wonder what you can add to fill it but at this point, you must stop. If you have already got your message across clearly within your design, adding any more will start to dilute the message and will just become a distraction to what you wanted to get across in the first place, so my last rule today is… don’t be afraid of white space.

There will be times where to achieve the best results, you will need help from a designer. But, if you have a sound brand guidelines document and you follow its rules and the tips above, there is no reason why you can’t create a design that stays true to your brand and promotes your message clearly.

 

This is a guest written blog by Wayne Thornton at Balance Designs, specialists in graphic design for digital and print.
For more information, you can contact Wayne at Balance Design on 01673 565 321 or follow this link to their website.