Graphic design is the soul of marketing. There’s currently a great deal of focus on the science of marketing, including data analytics and SEO. Marketing is much more scientific than it was 25 or 30 years ago and this applies as much to design as it does to analytics. Yes there is an artistic element to design but there is a serious science here too.
Through design you can create emotional reactions. Through imagery, you can create excitement, develop trust, entertain, and connect with your audience. But to do this well you need to understand what Good Design really is.
What Makes Good Graphic Design?
The beauty of graphic design lies in taking something simple and making it extraordinary. It’s never been easier to put designs together and that’s what makes it harder to stand out today. Here are three basic rules for making a lasting impression.
Create Something Unique
The job of a Graphic Designer is getting harder by the day. With endless templates and many people becoming amateur Designers, it can be difficult to stay authentic and original. You need to stand out. If you create something too generic, it will be overlooked.
With many brands out there producing fantastic designs, being unique can be challenging. It’s wise to look at the competition to get an idea of what they’re doing well, but avoid copying – it won’t make you unique and there’s no way to know if their design strategies are working or not.
Look for inspiration outside of your product, company, industry. Look to completely different fields of business, art or nature.
Overcrowding and cramming too much information is ineffective. Keep the design clean and concise to get the message across. People today have very short attention spans and these are even shorter for advertising messages. Also human brains only tend to remember 1-2 things at the most from any article, image, lecture etc so over-complicating your design will be self-defeating.
Catch their attention with something clean. Make the important point stand out, focus on the benefits, and have a strong call to action. If the design is intended to invoke a certain feeling rather than promote an action, the same principle applies.
What is the Design's Purpose?
In marketing, the purpose of any design is about more than looking good. The question you should ask is: does it fulfil its intended purpose? You need to test your designs to find out. Make sure you test out variations of the colour scheme, imagery, fonts, and other important elements.
There’s a great case study I was told by Google many years ago around design and click-through rate. A company was struggling to generate a high enough click-through rate despite having good traffic to their home page. Visitors were just not clicking on their main call to action. They had a lead image of their product on the homepage but it was clearly not effective. So, the company changed this to a picture of a person on their homepage and their click-through rate improved (people react better to people than products). Next, they changed the photo to a person smiling instead – click through rate increased (people love positivity).
After a while, they pulled out the trump card – babies. With the smiling baby, the click-through rate improved once again (everyone loves babies). And finally, they made the smiling look at the button and click through rate increased again (signposting is important in conversion rate optimisation). This case study is a great example of how graphic design is both an art and a science and it shows how it’s important to continually test.
Effective Graphic Design for Social Media
Your designs don’t have to be perfectly polished on social media. In some cases, that’s almost the opposite of what you want – social media is about connecting with your audience, so creating a polished, corporate persona might not resonate.
At the heart, social media is about humans connecting with each other and sharing things that will have a positive impact on their life; it’s not just a marketplace for you to advertise. You stand out by being authentic and having real conversations. Even as a brand, being human makes you approachable which is in-line with what most consumers want these days.
When you look at social media in recent years, companies are engaging with customers in a relatable way. For example, look at this social media post from Wendy’s. Their graphic design is on point and so is their messaging. It’s definitely not corporate.
This is the human factor at-work. The social media managers behind these brands are engaging with the audience and having fun, and that’s what consumers love to see on social media. They don’t particularly love engaging with a cold, corporate box-ticking messaging.
Graphic Design Tools for Marketing
Graphic design is a necessity in the digital age and, thankfully, technology and has made it accessible for aspiring designers. Below is a list of must-have tools every designer can benefit from.
Canva makes your work process much simpler and has endless templates. The best part is that multiple users can collaborate on a design – you do not have to worry about making all the minute changes on your own. It encourages teamwork and with an easy-to-use, intuitive interface, it turns everyone into a graphic designer. It’s a necessity for all marketers!
Having Adobe Sparks is essential for graphic designers using the Adobe Suite. When you have an overwhelming work load, you might not have time to generate designs from scratch. On days like this, Sparks can be a blessing. With ready to use temples, you can make custom designs on Adobe in the blink of an eye. Graphics created on Canva can sometimes lose their originality because it is a popular platform; Adobe Sparks is a useful alternative.
From smart mock-ups to web design, this site has it all – and for FREE (minus pro templates). Feeling overwhelmed and need a little push? Freepik will give you the inspiration to create better designs.
Need something more than Canva and a little less than Photoshop? Figma is the way to go! You can create all sorts of designs, be it for your website or advertising.
It has the simplicity of Canva and the unlimited possibilities of Photoshop. Your clients can view your work in real-time and suggest edits, and Figma makes developer hand-off much easier. This tool has it all – a helpful community, easy to learn interface, tools for collaboration, and much more. With the tagline, “Where teams design together” they definitely deliver what they promise.
Finding royalty-free images and videos for your designs can be a challenge. Pexels provides you with a range of high-quality images and videos to use in your projects.