Hiring a designer not in the budget? Here are a few graphic design tips to help those marketing and advertising pieces get noticed!

With the influx of apps such as Canva, Adobe Spark and PicMonkey that quickly create text on images for social media, it’s easier than ever for non-designers to try their hand at graphic design. And there are many organizations in which there is one person trying their best to do everything related to marketing and advertising. Use these tips and you’ll be looking good!

Create a Visual Hierarchy

You know how we were taught to make an outline for writing essays? Do the same technique for creating a graphic design, whether it be an ad, a social media image, a poster, a newsletter, whatever. Plan out what elements should be in the design, then in what visual order you want the reader/viewer to experience them. Usually it goes something like this:

  • Headline
  • Company logo
  • Supporting artwork (photo, illustration, etc.)
  • Call to action
  • Body Copy

JBCG popup bad exampleWe’ll use one of our own marketing pieces as an example. In the first one, can you tell what should we read first? What the main message is? Can you see the logo clearly?






And here’s the design we actually used for our pop-up banner. Much better use of the background image and clear progression of how the reader should see the information.

JBCG popup good example







Be Consistent with Your Brand

This might seem contrary to being creative, but actually isn’t. We’ve found that we’re even more creative with our graphic designs when there are certain guidelines and restrictions. Those seem to make people think harder or differently. And being consistent with your branding, your designs, helps you develop trust and credibility with your audience. When they see the same design elements used in similar treatments, they begin to feel more comfortable with your company. This is especially important for the financial industry. We see many community banks and credit unions with loyal members and customers thanks to their consistent use of logos, colors, fonts and images.

Simplify Your Graphic Design

Similar to a clear visual hierarchy, clean design makes it easier for the reader/viewer to understand your message. Use just a few colors, one or two fonts and have plenty of white space for the reader to rest their eyes. Even if your audience is clamoring for chaos, make your marketing and advertising design stand out with clean, proportioned layouts.

Make it Easy to Read and Act

Use fonts, colors and images which allow the reader to clearly see the words and messages you are trying to convey. For instance, small white type on dark backgrounds is much harder to read than dark type on a light background. Sans serif fonts are typically better off as headlines than as large amounts of body copy. Especially in printed pieces, serif fonts are easier to read if there is a lot of text.

And remember to lead your reader into action. Do you want them to click, call, visit, download? Use color and scale in your graphic design to draw attention to your call to action.

Use Color, Contrast and Creativity

Speaking of color, use it with a purpose. Study books or websites on color theory and soon you’ll know why certain colors are used in fast food versus upscale restaurants or why so many large corporations use blue as their main color.

Contrast is another great design element. Contrasts of light and dark or small and large or soft and hard for instance can help your designs be more dynamic and engaging. Try different combinations to see what works for your message.

Lastly, use your creativity! Push yourself, push expectations, try new perspectives and get as creative as you dare! Looking for some new ideas? Try our list of idea exercises to stretch your brain today!

We hope these tips help you when you are in a pinch, but there’s no substitute for professional experience, talent and skills. Hiring a graphic designer will ultimately save you in the long run. We can quickly put together tried and true methods for getting your message looking great, allowing you to focus on your core business. When you’re ready to hand over the designs to someone else, give us a call at 256-714-6596!