From your digital marketing to brand awareness, here’s how you should use graphic design to stand out from the crowd and communicate your brand effectively.
A high-quality visual strategy and good use of graphic design can help your business reach more customers, impress target audiences, and in turn sell your products or services better. But how?
Here is some of the best advice to help you turn design work into an effective asset in your marketing efforts.
Create a brand guideline
A brand guideline is like a Bible that speaks gospel principles when it comes to everything branding and marketing. It is a document that consists of all the elements that comprise a company’s visual identity, such as brand colors, fonts, alternate typography, logo and logo application, brand marks, photography, symbols, etc.
The designer that creates your branding identity should also develop the branding guidelines so that you can use them in all future marketing and branding efforts; this includes social media marketing, content marketing, PPC, presentations, print marketing, and other promotional projects.
It seems like very basic advice, but with a brand guideline, you will have a direction every time you need to produce something new.
Branding guideline for a ManyPixels client
Create a graphic design strategy
Once you have your branding guidelines, a design strategy won’t be that hard to conceive. You have your basic elements, and now you need to create a shortlist of what works best for both your brand, and marketing trends and needs in general.
So, work with your in-house designer, graphic design service, design agency, freelancer, or whoever is in charge of your design works, and try to think what best defines your brand and will promote it in a good light.
Here are some questions you need to answer:
- What is your brand’s vision? How can graphic design help you achieve your vision?
- What is the character of your brand?
- What can help you stand out from competitors?
- What design trends coincide with your vision and look?
- How can you measure the success of your design strategy?
- Where will you use graphic design?
Find out how to build a strong and unique brand
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Improve your storytelling using graphic design
If you have a content marketing strategy and regularly update the company’s blog, you understand easily that data visualization, branding your articles and employing a unified look throughout the whole blog will greatly increase the number of visitors on your website.
There are many reasons for this. Firstly, apart from good SEO analyses and answering the search intent for the visitors, by designing good blog covers and additional graphics, you create an impression that the blog is regularly updated, treated professionally and spent a lot of time on. A stock image in your article is not necessarily going to do it for a reader. Instead, try to design unique graphics that help describe the subject matter, or visualize important and hard-to-grasp concepts in a clear way.
Secondly, you can rank the images in search engines too. By adding alt text to images, when people search for something, your blog’s images can show up. Then, people click on the image and get to the article.
Another point is that large and hard-to-comprehend pieces of information can easily be visualized with infographics, charts and interactive images. With good graphic design, you can help readers easily understand what you’re talking about.
Example of a pie chart used in a research article
Lastly, you can break the monotony of large chunks of text with illustrations, photos and icons. Another trick to help the viewers relate better to the text is to add a persona or character that guides the reader through the article (illustrated characters are a good idea here). For free illustrations, you can use in your blog, check out our illustration gallery.
Illustrations for keyword ‘meeting’
Stick to the basics of visual communication
When we say visual communication, we don’t mean graphic design itself. There are some basic principles of graphic design, and you can learn more about them in order to understand and objectively judge design works.
However, the basics of visual communication are a way to better relay a message through a visual concept and storytelling. Here are some of the main elements that will help you emphasize messages in visual communication:
Color is one of the most noticeable, important and obvious components of graphic design. It can be the focal point, the background, used to manipulate depth and proximity, or simply add dynamic and playfulness to the design.
Color, and also the lack of it, can completely change the way we perceive a certain design, since different colors have different meanings, as well as evoke certain emotions. Color theory and color psychology are studying the way we see and perceive color and designers also know how to utilize each and every color as a strong element in their creations.
Shape plays a vital role not only in the visual appeal of graphic design but also in relaying a particular message and spirit of it.
For example, circles, ovals and lines that are not straight аrе associated with organic, natural movement and objects that one can find in nature. Rectangles and sharp lines are never seen in nature, and they make viewers think that something is concise, organized and made by humans.
Typography can make all the difference in graphic design. Different typefaces bring different qualities to the table, and designers need to decide on a font that bodes well with the overall creation but also helps it be legible and fit well with the other elements. Fonts can be sorted into many categories, but the basic ones are serif, sans serif and script typography.
Contrast means a drastic difference between the two opposing design elements. It can be achieved with color, where opposing elements can be designed in dark or cold colors versus strong, warm and light elements.
Another way to achieve contrast is to have some elements small and others very big, in which case the balance will again be achieved with colors and shapes.
As of late, designers often create stark contrasts through playing with different styles, like contemporary versus old-fashioned, or a smooth versus rippled texture, etc.
Contrast also helps guide the eye of the viewer to some key elements.
Hierarchy is a principle that means arranging elements in a certain structure so that the viewer can absorb the information in a simple and comprehensive manner.
A graphic designer knows how to accentuate one element over another and put the visual focus and natural movement, so it leads the viewer’s eye to the centerpiece. They can achieve this either by putting extra visual weight to the important elements with a much different color, different texture or putting them closer, perhaps even using completely different typography to help the viewer focus on what they need to read.
Use a consistent aesthetic
Repetition is the mother of remembering, and that proves to be right in marketing too.
If you want audiences to remember your brand, you need to use consistent visuals in all your marketing campaigns.
Through a consistent usage of colors, logo, typography and other visual elements, viewers will think of your brand immediately after seeing them. This greatly helps with recognition, brand awareness, and in the long term, brand loyalty (which is something you want to have in audiences).
Create a unique visual language for your brand
The color palette, imagery, logo, typography, and design elements your brand will use, form a precise language through which you communicate with potential clients. Great graphic design can help you create your visual identity and brand guide, but also a unique narrative.
For example, the use of red and white and cursive typography in the Coca-Cola brand communicates that it is welcoming, homely, and warm. It sparks joy and makes us think of family and friends, of the times we spent on a table with a glass of Coke on it.
For Apple, the metallic and minimal designs, the lack of lettering on the products and the connection to groundbreaking innovations, give us the idea that they don’t want fluff, color, and emotion. They rely on quality and good design.
But, here is another wonderful example that might not spring to mind right away—Durex. As a manufacturer of condoms, they have to use objects that vaguely symbolize what they are advertising. Censorship often leads to ingenuity, so they found a way to be creative and smart with the little they have. They created their own, symbolic visual language.
Design a unique website
A branded website that sticks out of the mold is an amazing opportunity to showcase your branding, mission and vision, especially if you are a startup. For a business that doesn’t have a physical presence and storefront, a website is a central place to showcase your brand.
Everything in your business website, from calls to action, buttons and illustrations, is an opportunity to flaunt a unique look and set yourself apart from the competitors through quality web designs.
Have astonishing printed marketing materials
Finally, even though it happens less and less, producing print materials that are well-designed and branded can greatly improve your marketing success. It’s hard to imagine you’re going to offer your business card to many people nowadays or give away leaflets, but in some industries, print design is here to stay.
So, don’t settle for cheap or stock designs, because print materials are still relevant.
From the conception and strategy, through the implementation of your branding and consistent use in marketing, graphic design should be detailed, unique and true to your image.