How to Win at Graphic Design: 5 Creative Tips for Better Aesthetics


Marketing Insights for ProfessionalsThe latest thought leadership for Marketing pros

Monday, September 14, 2020

Strong visuals are an essential part of successful marketing. Employing these graphic design best practices will help you take your aesthetic appeal to the next level.

Article 4 Minutes
How to Win at Graphic Design: 5 Creative Tips for Better Aesthetics

There are many elements and ingredients that must come together to spell success in marketing, and one of the most important of all is graphic design.

Strong visual content is of paramount importance to effective marketing, as research has repeatedly shown.

  • 32% of marketers say visual images are the most important form of content, followed by blogs (27%)
  • 80% of marketers incorporate visual assets into their social media marketing
  • Combining information with a relevant image can help people remember 65% of that information three days later

Considering the power and persuasiveness of visual assets, it's worth asking the question: is your marketing as aesthetically pleasing as possible?

If there’s room for improvement in your visual content, start by making sure you're sticking to well-established best practices in graphic design.

1. Be clear and simple

For many brands, clarity and simplicity are among the most important concepts in graphic design, simply because bold, clean images often have the greatest impact and prove the most memorable.

Where logos are concerned, the most recognizable and successful are often the least complicated. Consider, for example, the symbols that represent global corporations like Nike, Apple and McDonald's, all of which are hugely powerful despite - or perhaps because of - their simplicity.

Clean and clear design can be particularly important online, especially on pages that have a key part to play in encapsulating your brand message and showing the benefits of your product offering.

Square product pageSource

Mobile transaction processing firm Square has embraced these concepts on its product pages, which feature plenty of white space, striking images and concise copy to deliver an enjoyable user experience.

2. Capitalize on color

Color is one of the simplest but also one of the most effective elements of graphic design. Used in the right way, it can have a powerful impact on your audience and make a big contribution to how they perceive your brand.

One of the reasons color is such an important aspect of your visual marketing is its strong associations with emotion and psychology. Certain colors are traditionally linked to particular emotional responses and states.

Color symbolism - IFP infographic

And don't underestimate the effect you can achieve by throwing together a range of vibrant colors in a visually pleasing way to capture people's attention and provide a fun, engaging experience.

Orangina product page using vibrant colorsSource

Matrix Capital brand designSource

3. Align with your brand message

When you're trying to build a strong brand and make connections with your customers, one of the key qualities your graphic design needs is consistency with your broader message and identity.

For example, if you're a fashion retailer your visual marketing should reflect the style of the items you sell and the aspirations of your customers. A web security firm, on the other hand, will be more interested in conveying safety and reliability through its visual marketing.

Here are two examples of firms whose brand identity is well represented in their visual design: arts and entertainment group Meow Wolf and beauty retailer Glossier.

Meow Wolf - brand identity represented in visual designSource

Glossier - brand identity represented in visual designSource

The visual style and tone you adopt will also need to be adaptable and well-suited to various channels and environments, from your website and social platforms to print and outdoor advertising.

4. Beware basic mistakes

Doing your graphic design with existing in-house expertise, rather than hiring a freelancer or a new employee to do it, might be the most affordable option, but it can also have a downside.

Marketers who aren't experienced or trained in graphic design are more likely to make basic mistakes that could diminish the overall customer experience. Beware common pitfalls like:

  • Making imagery too complicated by throwing in too many fonts, colors or illustration elements
  • Inconsistent spacing, headers, footers and edges
  • Poor resolution

Graphic design mistake exampleSource

5. Gauge reactions

Graphic design is the same as many other components of your marketing strategy in that one of the best ways to evaluate its success is by monitoring feedback and gauging responses to what you've created.

Visual assets - and particularly color - can elicit powerful emotional responses in the viewer, so you're likely to find that people are quick to let you know what they think of your design efforts.

It's impossible to please everyone, of course, and small amounts of negative feedback shouldn't be taken as a sign of failure. If, however, you notice clear trends and an overall consensus in how people are responding to your visual content, it could point you in new directions that take your graphic design to the next level.

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