Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Are You Designing Your Own Business Brand? These Graphic Design Gaffes You Have to Avoid

When looking at a web site, business card, brochure or logo, have you ever thought; “I really like the way that looks”, but you didn’t know why you liked it? You probably said, “There’s just something about it”. Well, that, “something about it” is what separates mediocre designers from experienced talented ones – the talented ones know what that something is.

Designers…good designers know there’s a reason, a science behind why some business cards, web sites or logos look better and are more effective than others. It’s not luck; it’s research and it’s knowledge. Sure, you might like a different style than the guy down the street, by as a whole, business people respond to good design when they see it.

Most business professionals have a rough idea of what good design looks like; they just don’t know why it looks good, this might describe you as well. Going though this quick article will give you a better understanding why some marketing materials just look better than others, it will help avoid some common design gaffes that inexperienced artists or “owners turned designers” typically make. Armed with this new knowledge, you’ll have a greater understanding on how good or not so good your marketing materials are, and you can make some appropriate improvements.

No, this isn’t the one that has to do with maps. Typography is concerned with the style, arrangement, or appearance of typeset matter. Our normal language it’s referring to the way letters, words, sentences and paragraphs interrelate to each other and with the overall layout of a design. Have you ever thought, “This brochure is hard to read”, “Why are there so many odd gaps between letters?”, or “Why is there so much space between the lines?” – that’s typography. Interestingly enough, typography is rarely if ever noticed unless it’s handled badly. If you’ve hired an expert designer, you’ll never really notice the typography at all, you’ll just say, “Wow, that looks good!”

Fonts, Fonts Everywhere:
Staying along the typography theme, there are hundreds of font styles to choose from today, just as there are hundreds of types of candy, but that doesn’t mean you should jam them all into your design, or your mouth! I guess the thought is, if one font is good, than 2 should be better – you know the rest: this is dangerous logic. Including a kaleidoscope of different fonts, colors and sizes is something you want to avoid. Designers affectionately refer to layouts like this as “clown barf”. Avoid fonts being the focus of your design; fonts are typically work best in a support role rather than the main focus. A good rule of thumb is to keep the number of fonts you use to under 3 (preferably under 2).

Keep in mind that the fonts you choose should support your content and your message rather than take away from it. Lastly, make sure you test your fonts on your target audience ahead of time to make sure the font(s) you chose are easy to read.

Clip Art:
Ahhh, nothing in modern design and desktop publishing has been so helpful but so hurtful as clip art. Clip art is a lot like dynamite; it’s a good thing in the hands of an expert, if you’re not, you might consider leaving it alone. When used in usually a subordinate role in the overall design, clip art can work well. A couple of quick final thoughts on clip art: if your intended message and image are professionalism and credibility, I implore you, no, I beg you, please steer clear of hokey, cartoon clip art. Between cheesy clip art and no clip art – take no clip art. You can have an effective, interesting layout with no graphics at all. With clip art - use where appropriate, use sparingly and use with caution.

Hey, Look What This Button Does!
If you’ve got a newer computer of any kind it probably came with some desktop publishing or graphics software. Invariably, you’re going to start playing with all of the different effects (in Photoshop many are called filters) you can do to text, pictures and graphics. You know: beveling, embossing, making objects glow, adding a drop shadow, all sort of goofy things. All of these effects are great, but much like clip art, you want to use them sparingly and when appropriate. To get the most out of these effects here’s something you always want to keep in mind, effects are great for adding a little spice to your layout, just a pinch. You can give your audience a slightly different look to a picture or section by applying an effect – just something a little different. When catch yourself adding effects just because you think they look cool, stop, count to ten and slowly pull your hand away from the mouse button.

Hopefully, this article will help you avoid some easy to spot, design gaffes. You might even be able to spot them in your competition’s advertisements and promotional materials.

When it comes to your business, choosing who does your design is a big decision; whether it’s you, the guy at Kinko’s, or a professional. Remember, your reputation and your company’s image, so be careful and choose wisely. If you don’t have artwork that you’re proud to put your company’s name and reputation on, don’t put your name on it and don’t send it out. We all make a direct connection between the quality of the design/layout and the company that it’s featuring. One shouldn’t have any affect on the other, but they do, that’s just the way humans are. I do it, you do it and I promise you that your customers do it as well. So it’s critical to understand that your business card, your web site and all of your other marketing materials all make an immediately statement about how committed you are to quality to the world. What does your marketing and design say about your level of quality?

A business savvy graphic designer is often a contradiction in terms; however, Jeremy is a unique combination of sharp business marketer and creative designer. This one-two punch provides clients with targeted marketing, advertising and design projects that yield outstanding results and a terrific return on their investment; they actually work. Companies looking to feel more confident and credible with their business brand, tired of getting lost in a crowd of competitors and always feeling like they have to compete on price, need to call Jeremy at 480.391.0704.

If you are looking for more free insight and inspiration, you’ll want to get in on the “Can-Do Confidence Builder”. Emailed weekly, the Confidence Builder provides you with essential marketing and design insights that help you get the most out of your investment and help you to stay one step ahead of the competition. Email Jeremy at comments@candographics.com and asked to be added to our list or visit http://www.candographics.com

By: Jeremy Tuber

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