If you’re in charge of marketing in a company or work with creating marketing materials, then this article is for you. Graphic design for marketing materials and ads aren’t the same as other designs. Just because something looks great doesn’t mean it works great. Your design usually has a particular focus, whether it’s to attract clicks, entice user to perform a specific action, or convey your brand/company’s message quickly and clearly. So here are 12 things you can do to improve your overall marketing graphic design and get better results for your marketing efforts!
1. Do extensive research
This might come off as obvious, but a lot of times marketing teams just don’t do their proper research before creating their marketing materials. What are your competitors doing? What kind of content are they putting out? How are they crafting their content? And what kind of language are they using in their marketing graphic design? Before you even start designing your marketing materials, make sure it’s needed. And make sure it’s competitive relative to your competitors.
2. Create a smarter “Ideas” folder
You probably have ONE idea folder clumped with everything under the sun. It’s probably become just a dump for anything you find remotely interesting. And going through it is likely more work than just doing your research all over again. Don’t let this happen and create an “Ideas Folder”. Within your Ideas Folder, have sub-folders labeled based on criteria relevant to you. It could be organized based on social media networks, ad-types, marketing material types, or different target audiences. And every time you decide to save something to these folders, don’t just accept the default name. Rename the image to something more relevant so you can recall it later. Let’s take a look at “FB_CleverSlogan_1.PNG” vs “IMG7918762.PNG”. Which one do you think will be more helpful to you down the line when you’ve completely forgotten why you saved this item?
3. Test Your Headlines/Taglines
If you’re designing an ad, promotional material, infographic, or social post, then you’ll likely need a solid headline/tagline to entice your viewers. Come up with at least 25 (yes, you read that right) taglines/headlines. Then whittle them down yourself to the best 10-15. This process is important because only through the elimination process will you know what you don’t want in your ultimate design. Then present your final list of 10 – 15 to your office mates. Just grab them while they’re having lunch or getting coffee and run down the list asking them which one resonated with them. Keep a simple tally next to the ones that people are checking off, and there’s your list of winning headlines/taglines.
4. Design for your audience
Here are some examples of good marketing designs that clearly had their audience in mind. Designing and creating content/marketing graphic design specifically for your audience may seem like common sense to marketers, but it’s one that’s easily forgotten. Your marketing materials are only effective if your target audience “gets” it. And they’ll only get it if you design it specifically for them. When designing your marketing graphics, keep your audience in mind and ask yourself, “Would they get this?” frequently. Putting yourself in their shoes and asking that question allows you to see from your customer’s perspectives. Often times you’ll catch yourself designing for your boss or for people in your industry instead of customers who don’t have your knowledge or understand your lingo.
5. Have good Photography on hand
Don’t you dare use the same photos that all your competitors are using from Pexels or Unsplash. Don’t get me wrong, they’re great resources, but after a while everyone starts recycling the same “business” photos again and again. In order to make your marketing graphic design more effective, invest in good photographs. Either hire a professional photographer or ask one of your office mates who happen to own a good camera to plan a few good shots around the office. Don’t worry too much about how they will be utilized just yet. Just take a bunch of photos and save it to your collection for use later. When the time comes, you’ll have a large selection of professional (hopefully) photographs to use for your marketing materials, and it’ll always look 1000x better than stock images. Most of the images used in this blog are images our team took during our photoshoots. Not sure how/when the image below will ever be used. So we’re using it now. Enjoy!
6. Have a clear style guide/brand guideline
You definitely don’t want to just wing it and use whatever colors/fonts available to you. Make sure your company has a clear and intuitive style guide or brand guideline (they’re the same thing). And make sure you follow it. People don’t just recognize your message, they also identify you with your brand. And the more consistent your brand is, the more likely they’ll be able to quickly and easily identify your brand and your service in the future.
7. Space = Elegance
If you happen to not be a graphic designer – don’t sweat it. I’ll show you a quick trick that will turn you into at least a C-grade designer. Inexperienced marketers like to fill empty spaces. Don’t make this mistakes. A general rule in graphic design is that space is elegance, and you’ll want to use this minimalistic graphic design style to your advantage. Having space around any particular element brings focus to that element. If you want a message to be read loud and clear without distractions, put it in the center without anything else around it. Simplicity and space creates elegant designs that truly speaks to the your customers. The following marketing graphic was made for an article. We intentionally left a lot of space around the text in order for your eyes to zero in on our message.
8. Diversify your materials
If marketing graphic design is primarily digital and will be shared through various networks, then consider diversifying your style a bit. Don’t always show the same types of design, in presented in the same fashion etc. If you’re always presenting text on left, and image on right, then consider text on top, image below. If you’re always using stock photos with text overlay on top, consider using a solid background + flat image + text. These are just some examples. The idea is you need to be diverse with your presentation, even if you’re presenting the same ideas/message to your audience.
9. Capitalize on holidays
More companies should do this. Take a look at your calendar and see what major AND minor holidays are coming up and plan your marketing graphic design around those themes. But don’t just focus on the major holidays that everybody celebrates. Take advantage of the minor holidays – they’re often more fun/witty and provide a bit more value to your audience since they probably didn’t know that holiday exist until they saw your content. Did you know April 12 was national Grilled Cheese day? What about April 14th International Moment of Laughter Day? Didn’t think so. Now imagine how much more fun/entertaining/memorable your marketing materials would be if you capitalize on these fun holidays. You can find more of these fun and whacky holidays here.