Creatives are gaining traction in the professional world with the continued emphasis on the web and graphic design. As a result, competition is steep when trying to compose the most effective, fresh, and creative designs.
No matter if you are a career professional composing your own designs, a business novice or a designer just starting out, following these six quick tips will enable you to create the best possible print designs.
1. Branding – It all starts here
Because your brand is essentially how consumers view your product and service, it goes way beyond the company logo and customized letterhead. When designing your brand, remember that it is the overall look of the company, and it should be recognizable in many forms.
For branding in your print design, try to be memorable but also simple, making the company visually recognizable. For example, “When a brand identity really works, you should be able to recognize the brand even if you don’t see the logo. For example, Netflix’s red envelope is a simple yet powerful example of a brand identity” (“Logo, Brand Identity, Brand: What Is Branding?”).
2. Balancing the Grid – Symmetry is more visually appealing
Balance and symmetry are crucial to good design. Most people find things that are symmetrical more visually appealing. But sometimes achieving that balance in a visual, print design can be difficult and challenging.
According to “12 Ways to become a Better Print Designer,” “Building a well-balanced design layout, whether for web or print, is one of the most difficult and excruciating design tasks. Grids provide an instant remedy for this problem: an organized and systematic approach to building layouts that takes away the “trial-and-error” that normally occurs…This enables you to focus on the creative part of your design work, such as concept, typography and atmosphere, while letting the grid guide your layout decisions.”
The next time you are pulling your hair out trying to finalize or begin a design don’t forget to use the design grid so that you can focus more on concept, which is so important to brand and overall creativity.
3. Storytelling – Take a lesson from Marketing gurus…stories work
Just like brand is the overall visual look of your product or company, your company’s story is a contributing factor in how that visual is comprehended and viewed by others. Storytelling is one of the oldest and best used strategies in the marketing handbook, and in print design you are telling a visual story. With that story you are continuing to cultivate and develop your brand, making the story you tell even more important to the visuals. For example, “Great design is less about decoration and more about communication. What makes a designer famous is not the ability to create nice looking work – it’s the ability to send a message and get a point across effectively” (“12 Ways”).
One of the most effective ways to understand how this type of storytelling is effective in branding and thereby design is to study the art of storytelling for marketers. Many of these rules can be applied to your print designs.
4. Content and Copy Writing…know the basics
While the assumption is that a great deal of creative design tasks are interchangeable and can performed by multiple talents, the bottom line is that designers design and copywriters write. That said, it would be a good idea to brush up on your copywriting skills so that, as the designer, you can produce clean copy or in the very least edit and look over the copy written by your writer. For example, “Though copywriters are usually asked to handle the writing part of the project, understanding basic principles of good writing is a mandatory skill of every professional graphic designer. Start small – pay more attention to your writing style in emails, then go from there” (“12 Ways”).
I tell my composition students all the time that behind every good writer is an even better editor. And so, having the ability to recognize basic copy dos and do nots will only improve your overall efforts and hold all of those responsible for the design to a higher standard.
Additionally, visuals are supposed to be primarily graphical. So, be careful not to overload your design with too much content, “Define what’s really necessary and remove any visual noise. It may sound cliche but it’s true: less is more” (“10 Tips to Better Print Design”).
5. The Color Space…switching RGB to CMYK:
Most printers use a 4 cartridge color scale with one cyan, one magenta, one yellow and one black cartridge. All of the colors used on the printed product are a combination of those four colors.
Understanding this is important to how your design will look on the printed page. So, “When designing for print it can be best to make sure you either design or convert to CMYK before printing as colors will appear differently than when using RGB” (“Great Tips and Tricks When Designing for Print”).
6. Stay current in the industry…know what’s going on
No matter if you are a serious designer or if you are a business professional trying to design your own print materials, it is important to know current design trends. By knowing the industry, you give yourself an edge over other designers or in the very least have the tools and knowledge to keep up. This is even more important for those who are not design pros.
For example, according to freelance designer Brian Hoff, “…joining the online design community is a must…Read design-related blogs…The web is in an invaluable resource of information – take advantage of it and actually use it!”(“Tips to Improve as a Graphic Designer”).
When designing your next visual for print, consider the market you are producing the print for, as well as current trends within design. If you know your target demographic and what others are doing to appeal to them, you have given yourself and your design team the knowledge and tools needed to be a cut above.