In today’s crowded market, all companies – large and small – are competing to deliver their brand message.
Marketing is now a key part of boardroom discussions. How is the blog performing? How many people are visiting the website? Do we get any engagement on social media?
Consumers are bombarded with advertising and marketing every single day – emails in your inbox, website banners, social media promoted posts – the list goes on.
And everyone’s asking the same question – how do we cut through the clutter?
The answer could lie in the design of your marketing material.
Aside from being Glasshat’s Content Specialist, I am also studying Graphic Design at Shillington Collegein Sydney.
Here are my top tips on the basic design principles that will help you create simple, yet eye-catching designs for your marketing material.
Why does design matter?
Before we start, let’s get one thing straight – the aim of design is not to make things pretty. In its most basic form, design is the simple management of visual information for a piece of content or a platform.
Design is important because it’s one of the first things that your audience/customers notice. Even if information you are promoting is great, a badly designed piece of marketing or promotional material can turn customers away before it’s even been read.
Of course, not every business has the budget to hire a professional designer, so here are some budget tips for creating eye-catching marketing material that look like they’ve been designed by a pro.
1. KISS – Keep it simple, stupid
Rule number one: just keep it simple.
Simple design can be extremely effective without being boring. The effect can be both clean and modern, and because there aren’t a lot of things going on – it’s much easier to communicate a clear message to your audience.
Below is a great example of a simple design that promotes free wi-fi in McDonalds restaurants.
Here are some easy tips to help you keep it simple:
- Include only the basics and essential information. (Just don’t forget to add a link to where your audience can find out more information.)
- Keep text to a minimum. Simple visual design is not text heavy. Avoid writing large paragraphs of text, and where possible, include headings and bullet points.
- Make one aspect in your design the focal point. This could either be a section of the text or an image.
- Never use images, text or fonts for the sake of it. Visual content should be there to support your overall message. The rule of less is more really applies here.
- If you don’t have anything to fill an empty spot, then leave it empty. We call this white space and it’s a portion of the design that’s left blank/empty. The benefit of white space is that it can increase readability and is essential for balancing out your design.
Apple does an amazing job at using white space:
2. Your Font Choice Matters
One of the most important elements to your design is font choice. Like pictures and colours, fonts have the ability to trigger emotions in people, before they’ve actually read anything.
They also tell the reader what is important and what to read first. A bold and eye-catching font like Franklin Gothic can draw the attention on the text. This works well paired to a neutral font like Arial.
As a general rule, I’d suggest using only two fonts per content piece – one that’s eye catching and the other that’s neutral. Too many font styles can be overwhelming and messy to the reader.
Simple tips for choosing your font
- For a more casual, friendly feeling – I’d recommend Arial and Verdana as neutral fonts. Both are super legible and easy to read.
- For content geared towards a serious audience – Times New Roman and Garamond are safe options.
Here are some of my favourite examples of where fonts have been used in marketing to trigger an emotion. In the example below, the cursive and bold fonts give the design a creative and friendly feeling:
The bold font used for the words “Everybody” gives the design a casual feeling, but the simplicity of the actual font makes it appear universal.
3. Give your design some structure
Structure is another important element to good design. It gives the design harmony, order and a visual connection of how everything is related.
One of the easiest ways to achieve this is to align your elements together. That is, making sure they are somehow connected on an invisible line.
The best way to do this is by having some sort of gridline before you start arranging your items.
Of course, you don’t need to align everything. Your structure should be sound as long as there is some alignment going on throughout the design. Without alignment, you can end up with arbitrarily placed elements that make your design look messy, uncomfortable and all over the place.
Below are two example of posters with some great alignment going on.
Remember, the main purpose of well-designed marketing material is to get your message across. If you want to have a go at designing your own marketing materials, I recommend Canva and Pic Monkey. These two free tools are great for designing social media posts, posters, business cards and more.
Which brand’s marketing material do you find inspiring? Let us know in the comments below.