Designing professional-looking content may seem like an easy task on the surface, but many of us realise very quickly that it is a lot hard than we think. Equally, some of us may have a knack for design but just can’t get their designs to have that last bit of finesse. Personally, I’ve seen this quite a lot, elaborate pitch slide decks that are so close to perfect but lacked that one design principle which would have taken little to no time to fix. Or social media marketing content that was too cluttered to understand what was being said, resulting in me ignoring the post.
For many small businesses and startups, the visual design of assets is often left to the marketing team who may not have any design training. Being a digital marketer means being able to create content in order to promote your brand, product or service. Balancing planning content to put out and making content can be a struggle for many marketers, and many may not have the time or interest in committing to graphic design courses. Whether you are a designer or not shouldn’t be a barrier to creating stunning content!
Why are visually aesthetic and presentable assets so important? Well designed assets communicate a professional brand. Humans are visual creatures and aesthetic designs actually can subconsciously make us like content more, regardless of how valuable or invaluable the content actually is; this is called the aesthetic usability effect.
Leveraging this effect in your digital assets can make worlds of difference to your social media game, or even give you the edge in a sales pitch. The bottom line is that visual design is what creates the first impression of your brand.
Let’s start with the basics. Here are some general rules that your should follow when designing and sort of visual content for your marketing campaigns, whether that is social media posts or an email campaign.
You should never use more than 3 fonts in a design.
If you don’t have a branding guideline limiting your typeface, then you should ideally choose 2 fonts that complement each other and use them consistently. One font would act as your title font and the other one for your body. Equally, you could choose one font family and choose a heavier weight to use as your title font, this will guarantee that the font will match and is less hassle. Approaching fonts in this manner will prevent your content from looking too overloaded, and balance the reading hierarchy- guiding the reader’s eyes through the content, and increasing readability. Note that even if you are only using one or two fonts, you can still overload it by using too many font weights. Finding a balance is key.
There are also fonts that you should never use under any circumstances, some of these include, but are not limited to; Comic Sans, Papyrus, Kristen or Bradley Hand. If you want to be taken seriously as a brand you should not use fonts like this.
While looking for your fonts you may come across “display fonts” these are fonts that should only be used for main titles which aren’t too long, never for body text. Display fonts are a great way of drawing attention to your content as well as making them modern and unique.
Your choice in colour can really make or break your designs. Choosing complementary colours are really important for making your content easy to look at. Incorrect use of colour can be jarring to look at or even impossible to read, driving impressions away from your content in seconds. There are plenty of online tools you can use to create great palettes such as coolors.co or Adobe colour wheel.
You might be limited in your choice of colour by a branding guideline, in this case, why not try to experiment with different transparencies or play around with some tasteful gradients?
One major life hack in creating eye-catching designs lies with the assets you use. Adding images, patterns or illustrations to your designs can really take them to the next level. The only roadblock with this is these often aren’t free. You can get started by playing with assets like these on a platform such as Canva.
Now for the juicy tips! Maybe you have got the fundamentals down already and are looking for a way to improve the content you have already.
Something I see too often is a lack of margins. Your margin is the invisible frame that sits on your canvas. All text, images or whatever content you are displaying will sit inside these margins. Margins stop anything from getting too close to the edge of the canvas, framing it, making it easier to read and more presentable. Where I see this go wrong is when they aren’t used or used incorrectly. The margins should be even on all sides from the edge of the canvas, like a frame and everything must stay inside it! This also means that appropriate content should sit/ touch the margins. This is what creates the illusion of the frame- the content frames itself. For example, left-aligned texts should start at the left margin, touching. Logos in the bottom-right should touch the bottom and right margin in the corner.
Having too shallow or too wide margins is problematic too. Too wide and there isn’t enough space for the elements, too shallow and it looks crowded. Finding a happy medium is the key.
White space on the other hand is what draws attention to certain elements of a design. White space is the ‘breathing space’ in between elements such as a block of text of an image. Increasing the white space around an element draws attention to it as it sits in isolation, whereas decreasing it takes the attention away as it starts to group with other elements. If you want an easy to read a piece of content, you should keep the white space even. This creates an even flow to the composition, making it easy to read.
Hopefully, you learned something new from these tips and can use them to improve the quality of your visual marketing content! If you want to be updated on more blogs like this, why not sign up to our mailing list for updates? Don’t worry, we won’t spam you! If not, why not follow us on Twitter or LinkedIn?