Make Good Graphic Design Great!

Posted on Oct 11, 11 in Blog

When asked to explain what “good art” was, a man once said, “I don’t know how to explain it, but I’ll know it when I see it.”

Art and design are often misunderstood, under-appreciated, and over-simplified.

Begin with the end in mind
Even the best artist prepares effectively for each piece that they produce. They generally research the subject, carefully plan their approach, and maintain a disciplined focus towards the completion of the task.

When designing for business communication or promotion, the same holds true. Solid research and strategy should lead the direction of the design. The target market and the product subject will help to identify the proper imagery and components to develop effective communication.

Often at this stage, designers aren’t given enough information to create an effective piece. Many times this stage is overlooked and there’s a desire to begin developing concept, without a sound basis. Avoid leaping to conclusions or decisions without carefully answering the following questions:

  • What is the focus of the sale?
  • Who is the target market/consumer/audience?
  • What is the desired response from this piece (what do we want the recipient to do after they have read the material?)

Wow…What a Concept!
How many times have you been in a situation where you’ve fallen in love with an idea before defining or truly understanding the objectives of your efforts? It’s human nature to get swept up in the process of “creating.” Sometimes the programs borne out of these moments are exceptional. Many times they are ordinary.

The best ideas are like a good old-fashioned stew that has been simmered and tasted until its finally ready. Use a brainstorm meeting to outline the objectives of the communication and see what develops. Never disregard any idea, it may end up being your best solution!

We don’t plan to fail, we fail to plan
After defining the objectives and clarifying the goal, you can now begin to select the components necessary to create your promotional piece. Make a list of the components you’ll need and the resources required to complete the project.

Photos or Illustrations; People or Things, Chicken or Fish?
You’ll have to make some choices. Your graphic selections should reflect the primary imagery that will be used throughout the material. For instance, you will want to try to convey information in a more straightforward manner and communicate using objects. Other projects might require that you utilize photography. The use of people helps to convey feelings better than using objects. So if you want to create an emotional-based offer, photos of people help you relate to the buyer more.

Color my world
The intentional and focused use of color is one of the most powerful tools in a designer’s toolbox. Color should never be used arbitrarily. Much like spices in our stew, color should always perform a function.

The strategic use of color can help you:

  • Communicate an attitude or feeling (warm vs. cool; bright vs. muted, etc.)
  • Establish/reinforce an identity
  • Hold various elements of a campaign together, or keep them separated

Build a “palette” of colors before you begin. Select the colors that best represent the feelings that you want to convey within your material. Use the complementary colors and hues to help you assign priority within the material. Don’t deviate from your palette… unless you purposely want your material to look like a circus flyer.

Type Selection Affects Readability
Finally, the best design is useless if it cannot deliver the message. There is a natural tendency to test limits when it comes to font selection. There are thousands to choose from! However, your entire piece should never include more than 3 different fonts throughout. Any more and your reader may get lost in the layout or lose the purpose of the piece.

Type size is more forgiving but general rules suggest body copy should range from 10-12 point, subheads at 12-14 point and headlines from 24 point and up.

Less is often more
Think of your project as a light meal, not a heavy feast. When your reader enjoys what they have sampled, they’ll beg for more. Good luck!

If you have any questions, please feel free to email me at .