All businesses rely on good graphic design in one way or another, whether that be printed promotional materials such as business cards, leaflets, posters or similar, or things like banners, social media graphics for posts, logos, brochures or anything else in-between.
Poor design really lets the side down and can end up having a negative impact on your business, or worse still, deter potential customers altogether and send them running off into the welcoming arms of your competitors – with better designed stuff.
Understanding what is and isn’t important with design can make all the difference and can really strengthen your brand image and improve customer perception and confidence.
In this 2-part blog, we look at the main design requirements for businesses, and what to think about when designing artwork for many uses. The blog will cover:
- Business Stationery & Promotional Material
- Logo Design
- Artwork for Social Media
- Adverts in Magazines & Similar
- Photos & Images on Websites (Product Photography)
- Slideshow Banners on Websites
So, lets kick proceedings off with Business Stationery and take a look at what you need to think about when getting creative!
Business stationery & promotional materials
Decent stationery is the staple to any business. Most, if not all businesses have (at least) a business card, however many businesses tend to have letterheads, compliment slips (in some cases) and usually a flyer or leaflet of some sort.
It is always best to employ the services of a graphic designer as this will ensure all your stationery and print will look professional, however if you are going to have a go yourself, then you need to remember the following points below. Likewise, if you are going to use a graphic designer, then there are some other points below that you need to think about before you meet with your designer:
- Colours – remember that artwork needs to be created using Pantone or CMYK references. More information on Pantone can be found here, and CMYK here.
- Bleeds – all artwork that is destined to be printed will need a minimum of a 3mm bleed. A bleed is a printing term that is used to describe a document which has images or photos that touch the edge of the page, extending beyond the ‘trim’ edge and leaving no white margin around the edge of the page. When a document has bleed, it must be printed on a larger sheet of paper and then trimmed down to the correct ‘designed’ size by the printer.
- Images and photos – If you’re getting a designer to create your artwork, remember to provide all images/photos as large as possible. The bane of any graphic designer’s life is when images and photos are provided at such a small size that they would be best suited as a postage stamp, rather than used as part of the design. Another important point here is to only use images you own or have purchased – going onto Google Image Search and sourcing images is a big no-no and could land you in a lot trouble. There are plenty of websites online that offer free stock images – (see this blog) or for paid-for images, some great websites to purchase images from include Adobe Stock, Shutterstock, iStockphoto or gettyimages.
- Too much text – remember to think about the contact details and the text being used on printed materials. For example, in the case of a flyer, remember that there is only a certain amount of space allocated for text within the overall design, so write just enough text to fill the space, but not chapter and verse. As another example, on business cards its best to just stick to the main business contact details and include your logo somewhere.
- Contacting you – Include only the details you are happy for people to contact you on and don’t overload a business card with loads and loads of contact info; keep it to the main options such as telephone, email, address and website. Secondary contact details can include mobile phone numbers, social media details, direct dial numbers, Skype (if you use this) and so on.
- A word on business cards – these are important, in fact the most important piece of stationery you will ever have, they give that vital first impression to all potential customers so don’t go cheap – spend the money on good quality design and print so the look-and-feel of your business cards convey quality with tasteful design. Do-it-yourself business cards, or cheap, flimsy cards that are dog-eared from being stuffed in a bag or pocket for too long is not the way to go and definitely won’t give the right image.
Your logo really is the crowning glory to your business – the icing on the cake … the jewel in the crown, so it should look clean, sleek and professional. The following tips will help you achieve logo greatness!
- Fonts – one of the most important considerations in logo design, so we will start with this point first. When designing a logo (or having a logo designed for you) the font choices are so … SO important. One of the biggest traps many people fall into is choosing a font choice from the pre-installed Windows fonts that comes with your operating system – this is a huge logo faux-pas. The font style not only determines the style of the company, but also the image. Using a font that is completely off-kilter to the business activity (such as Comic Sans font for a night club) will give off completely the wrong impression. This is where using the services of a Graphic Designer is worth its weight in gold. Designers will have access to a huge choice of fonts that will really suit your business.
- Colours – whilst there’s nothing wrong with pushing the boat out a bit with colours, don’t go silly – try and keep the colours tasteful, and in-keeping with your business / sector. Gaudy colours on a logo looks awful as it can cheapen your business and give off the wrong impression. It’s also worth pointing out that a logo should work well in black and white too, so consider this when designing a logo or having a logo designed.
- Icons and symbols – people can have a tendency to unnecessarily over-embellish a logo by adding an icon or symbol to it when it may not be needed. If you’re thinking about doing the same then consider how your logo would look if it needed to be printed in a small size, on a business card for example, or if you had the logo embroidered on work-wear. If you really need to add an icon or symbol to your logo then the best option is to use a simple icon or symbol and not an overly-detailed graphic as the detail in the graphic might look okay when viewed in a larger size, but it will be lost when it gets scaled down to business card size or smaller.
- Research – when coming up with a logo design make sure you do your research. Look at your competitor’s logos to get a feel for what does and doesn’t work. When researching, think about what makes your business unique and how you do things differently to set yourself apart from the competition – if many other businesses within your industry go for a dark / monochrome font design, maybe going brighter with colour will help you to stand out, or if everyone else is traditional in their logo designs, consider something fun and modern to attract attention.
Coming up in part 2 of 2
We’ve come to the end of the first part of this 2-part blog. In the next blog we will look at artwork for social media, adverts in magazines, using photos and images and also banners for website slideshows. In the meantime, if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask us on Social Media (Twitter or Facebook) or send us an email! Thanks for reading!