How many different fonts should you use within your marketing materials? What is the difference between CMYK and RGB and why is this important when designing for print or digital? How can you make sure that your design is effective and conveys the message you intend?
In This Podcast
- 8 mistakes to avoid
1. Too Many Fonts
The first mistake that stands out when looking at novice design versus professional design is the number of fonts used. It’s hard to understand the message of the piece if there are too many distracting fonts involved. Brands should pick two or three fonts maximum on any design piece.
Using a single font can also be impactful since it adds continuity and establishes your brand identity. Make sure you keep the size of the piece in mind when selecting the number of fonts as well as the amount of text. A logo, for example, can usually only support one or two fonts, however, a website can handle a bit more creativity.
Suggestion for a set of fonts for a brand:
- Headline: curvy / serif
- Subheading: serif / sans serif
- Body: sans serif Brand style guide
Too wordy – communicate in imagery/only include NB text Readability! (Kerning/space between lines)
2. Using Stock Images
Stock images can be a helpful and affordable solution when you’re working on a project that requires specific images. However, using too many stock photos can make your project look cheap or unprofessional.
Many common stock photos become used over and over again, which makes it a dead giveaway when you put them in your marketing piece. Also, make sure you are properly purchasing the photos you do end up using to avoid sending out photos with a watermark or ones that are low resolution.
3. Not Proofreading
Make sure you are always checking over the spelling and grammar before sending a piece to print or publishing a digital piece.
To avoid making a mistake in this department, get a second pair of eyes to look through your work, or don’t look at it for a few hours / a day and then review.
4. Choosing the Wrong Colors
Similar to using too many fonts, choosing too many colors or choosing the wrong colors can also make a design ineffective. It can be distracting to use too many bold colors in one piece.
When creating a new brand, it’s important to start by creating a color palette. Each color palette you create should include both primary and secondary colors and should include contrasting colors.
5. Using Incorrect Hierarchy
In graphic design, hierarchy is how a piece is organized so the audience knows which elements are most important and how their eyes should move over the piece.
Hierarchy is the top design technique that ranks the importance of your information. Whenever you’re creating a new design, there is typically one general message you want to communicate.
ow you create hierarchy in your design will dictate what your audience takes away from your design. Hierarchy doesn’t just have to be font size or placement, you can also create effective hierarchy through colors, graphic elements, or the weight of the fonts you use.
6. Designing for the Wrong Medium
The first decision you should make when you are starting on artwork is where it will be appearing. Whether it will be used on social media or printed in a magazine can make a big difference in how you should be creating your design.
- Print design: use CMYK color mode (cyan, magenta, yellow, and key/black), which is used for four-color process printing.
- Digital screen design: create it in RGB (red, green, blue) – the colors of light screens use to display a range of colors.
7. Saving in the Wrong Format
When choosing a file format for your design image, think about where or not the image needs to be in raster or vector format.
- Raster images are made up of pixels
- Vectors are made up of geometric lines and curves, which means they can be scaled to any size while keeping their shape. You may also hear vector files referred to as AI files because vector artwork is typically created in Adobe Illustrator.
If you are worried about your design getting pixelated, a good rule of thumb is to make your design bigger than it needs to be. You can always reduce the resolution, but you can never increase it. Also, consider if the design will be printed or displayed online’ all of these things will make it easier to choose the perfect way to save work.
The three most common file types for web-based images are JPG, PNG, and GIF:
- JPG: JPG images are ideal for files with gradients and allow for a smaller file size through compression
- PNG: PNG images are lossless, so they do not lose quality during editing, support transparency, and tend to be larger than a JPG
- GIF: GIF images can maintain a low file size while being able to support animation
8. Not Creating a Versatile Design
The best graphics are evergreen and multi-purpose! If you’re creating a logo, think about how it will look on promotional products, how it will look in one color or full color, and how it can be simplified to ensure you’re able to use specific design processes with your logo.
This will help establish your brand consistency and save you time and money from having to redesign artwork for new projects down the road.
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Meet Sam Carvalho
Sam Carvalho is a graphic designer living in Cape Town, South Africa, with over five years of experience in both design and marketing, with a special interest and experience in the start-up environment.
She has been working with Practice of the Practice since 2016 and has helped over 70 therapist entrepreneurs take their practices to the next level by enhancing their visual branding. She loves working with a variety of clients on design-intensive tasks and is always up for a challenge!
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Thanks so much for joining me today on the Marketing a Practice podcast. Today’s episode features just me and I thought that I would go over some design mistakes. So I’ve definitely been through some of these in previous episodes, but specifically relating to, for example, website design or logo design. So today I kind of wanted to cover some general design mistakes to avoid if you are taking on designing your own materials, or if you’re working with maybe a novice designer and you kind of just want to have this as a checklist to review their work.
So the thing about design is that it either captures your audience’s attention, or it fails to hold it longer than a feeding lapse. As a marketer, however, you’ll come across several instances where you need to create designs and it’s here that you need to be mindful of creating designs that are clear, clutter-free and attractive. So I’ve come up with eight mistakes to avoid when creating designs. So let’s get straight into it.
Number one is using too many fonts. So the first mistake that stands out with looking at novice design versus a professional design is a number of fonts used. It’s hard to understand the message of the piece if there are too many distracting fonts involved. Brands should therefore pick two or three fonts maximum on any design piece. Using a single font can also be impactful since it adds continuity and establishes your brand identity. Make sure that you keep the size of the piece in mind when selecting the number of fonts, as well as the amount of text.
A logo, for example, can usually only support one or two fonts. However, a website can handle a bit more. So obviously it depends on what exactly you are creating, but as a general rule of thumb, never use more than two or three fonts. So as a suggestion for a set of fonts to choose for your brand, you would naturally choose a certain font for your headline, a certain font for subheadings and a certain font for body text. And this can then kind of be used as a guideline for any designs that you create. So I usually play around with using a script or serif font for a headline, a serif, or sans serif font for a subheading and then a sans serif font for body text. Again, you can definitely make use of one font for all three, and then you would use, you would make it large and bold for your headline, maybe in capitals for your subheading and then obviously in regular weight for your body text. So that’s kind of a suggestion of what you can make use of for the three fonts for your brand.
Another suggestion, and this is something that you’d hear, you’ll hear me say often is making use of a brand style guide and indicating what fonts are associated with your brand in that brand style guide in order to maintain consistency across anything that you design. So then whether you make use of different designers or whether you’re designing things yourself, you can always refer back to your brand style guide and see what fonts you have chosen to be associated with your brand and make sure that you use those fonts again and again, in your designs. Also be careful not to include too many words. So that was indicated previously, when we mentioned it depends on what type of design you’re creating. So obviously if it’s a social media post, for example, you don’t want to include too many words. You want to rather make use of imagery or icons, and you only want to include the important text. The rest you can include in the description.
And finally readability is so, so important. So keep that in mind when you’re choosing the fonts that you want to be associated with your brand. Make sure that they are legible, play around with the kerning, which is the space between the letters to see whether that increases readability and also be aware of the space between the lines in any body text. So those are just some tips around fonts and definitely avoid the mistake of including too many fonts in your design.
Second is using stock images. So stock images can be a helpful and affordable solution when you’re working on a project that requires specific images. However, using too many stock photos can make your project look cheap or unprofessional. Many common stock photos become used over and over again, which makes it a dead giveaway when you put them in your marketing piece. Also make sure you’re properly purchasing the photos you do end up using to avoid sending out photos with a watermark or ones that are low resolution. So when it comes to stock photos, you want to try and find authentic images and you want to avoid the cheesy overused ones. Maybe even take a look at what your competitors are using to make sure that you’re not using the same photos, and really try and find ones that don’t necessarily include the cheesy smile or the usual poses. Try and find ones that are a little bit different. As a tip, don’t use the initial 10 that pop up in the search. Maybe try, do some skirting to find some gems that aren’t used often.
Some great free resources for you to use if you don’t want to go for the paid route is unsplash.com and pxels.com. So we’ll have links to both of those in the show notes. Those feature some great authentic photos. There are also becoming a bit more overused now, as more people are kind of cordoning onto them. So again, do some scrolling to try and find a unique one. But there are great free resources for good imagery if you need to include images in your design. Otherwise of course the alternative could be to do, to take your own photos. I know that that’s maybe a more expensive route to take, but that will definitely ensure that all of your marketing material moving forward is unique and stands out from the rest.
The third mistake when it comes to design is not proofreading, Some designers may say that this isn’t their job, that the copy needs to be provided by the copywriter, but at the end of the day the overall impression of the design falls on the designer. So the designer needs to make sure that all spelling and grammar within the design is correct. So be sure to check this before sending a piece to print or publishing a digital piece. While a missing coma or other punctuation mark may not seem like a major problem, there are plenty of people out there that will notice common issues like that, and then ignore the rest of the piece, me included. So over and above being a designer, I am a bit of a grammar Nazi and it’s a pet peeve for me to see a grammar mistake or even a spelling mistake in a design. And it really does affect the impression that I have then of that brand. I kind of view them as less professional and less credible.
So to avoid this, get a second pair of eyes to look through your work, or don’t look at it for a few hours or a day and then review. So that’s sometimes what I do. If I spent quite a few hours working on a design, you obviously have been looking at it for a while, so you won’t necessarily pick up any mistakes. So I then leave it for a few hours or even a night and I look at it the next day and I’m able to look at it with fresh eyes and then pick up any design areas, but also any spelling or grammar errors.
The fourth mistake when it comes to design is choosing the wrong colors. So I’ve definitely been over color theory and the importance of choosing the correct colors for your brand in previous episodes. So definitely be sure to check that out, if you want to find out more about color theory in general, but similar to using too many fonts, choosing too many colors or choosing the wrong colors can also make a design ineffective. It can be distracting to use too many bold colors in one piece. So it’s important when creating a new brand to start by creating a color palette. Each color palette you create should include both primary and secondary colors and should include contrasting colors.
So what I usually recommend for a color palette, a color palette usually consists of five colors. I usually recommend having one pop color, one main color that’s a bit more subdued, but that’s not as bold as the pop color, but that’s kind of your main color that features across all your designs and then three supporting colors for kind of like your background and things like that. So those would be even more subtle. You would then use your main color, as I mentioned as the main color on you website and across all your designs. You’d use your pop color as your call to action and you’d use your other three colors as background colors. And then remember that you don’t necessarily need to use all five colors in every design, but that’s just then your color palette to work from and again, to maintain that brand consistency.
So two websites that I always recommend when it comes to choosing color, pallets is htmlcolorcodes.com and color.adobe.com. Again, we’ll have the links to those in the show notes, so be sure to check those out. With both of them, you can kind of move your cursor around the screen to choose some color palettes that you like. With color.adobe.com, you can actually put in moods or even your industry to find color palettes that are associated with that. So if you are wanting to kind of exude a calm, a sense of calm or a feeling of calm, you can type in, calm into color.adobe.com and see what color palettes come up to match that. Again, perhaps look at your competitors and see what they’re using to make sure that you find one that stands out. And then you can kind of have a roadmap to what colors you’re going to use in your design. Again, you can feature it in your brand style guide along with your fonts. So it makes it easy whenever you need to create a design, you know exactly what fonts you’re going to use and exactly what colors you’re going to use.
The fifth design mistake is using the incorrect hierarchy. So in graphic design hierarchy is how a piece is organized so that the audience knows which elements are most important and how their eyes should move over the piece. So hierarchy is the top design technique that ranks the importance of your information. Whenever you’re creating a new design, there is typically one general message you want to communicate. How you create hierarchy in your design will dictate what your audience takes away from your design. Hierarchy doesn’t just have to be fun size or placement. You can also create effects of hierarchy through colors, graphic elements, or the ways of the fonts you use.
So hierarchy is super important when it comes to design. Another aspect of hierarchy is making use of negative or white space. And this is actually another mistake that people sometimes make when it comes to design; not including enough negative or white space. So when somebody comes across a design they’re likely to interact with it more if there’s enough white space and if it’s kind of clear what the focal point of the design is, as opposed to there being too much clouds or too much going on, and they’re unable to, in a few seconds determine what the main message of that design is. And with this, along with hierarchy also comes lack of alignment. So kind of deciding from the get-go what you want the hierarchy of your design to be, obviously emphasizing the main message of the design, and then ensuring that everything is aligned according to that hierarchy, that you’ve included enough negative a white space and that there’s not too much clutter and that the main message of the design is very clear.
Number six is designing for the wrong medium. So the first decision you should make when you are starting an artwork is where it will be appearing. Whether it will be used on social media or printed in a magazine can make a big difference in how you should be creating your design. For example, if your design will be printed, you will need to use CMYK color mood. That stands for cyan, magenta, yellow, and kiwi or black, which is useful for color process printing. If it’s going to appear on a digital screen, however, it should be created in RGB, which stands for red, green, and blue.
These are the colors of light screens use to display a range of colors. So it’s very important that depending on where your design is going to end up, you make sure that you are using the correct color mode. Over and above this are things like bleed. So if you are designing for print, you’ll always include a bleed. You’ll probably have the bleed specifications provided to you by the printer or the template that you’re making use of. Otherwise, there is kind of a rule of thumb. For example, it’s usually three millimeters if you’re working in millimeters or 0.125 inches, if you’re working in inches. So be sure to include a bleed if you are making use of a print design. If you are designing for digital, something to think about is your mobile friendliness. So remembering that most likely your design is going to be viewed on mobile. So again, are your words big enough? Are they too many words? Is your design going to stand out when the person is viewing it on mobile?
Number seven, another design mistake that people make is saving in the wrong format. So in choosing a file format for your design image, think about whether or not the image needs to be in raster or vector format. Raster images are made up of pixels while vectors are made up of geometric lines and curves, which means that they can be scaled to any size while keeping their shape. You may also hear vector files referred to as AI files because vector artwork is typically created in Adobe Illustrator. If you’re worried about your design getting pixelated a good rule of thumb is to make sure that your design is bigger than it needs to be. You can always reduce the resolution, but you can never increase it.
Also consider if the design will be a printed or it’s for online, as all of these things will make it easier to choose the perfect way to save your work. So the three most common file types for web-based images are JPEG, PNG, and Gif. And here’s a rundown of what makes each of them different. So JPEG images are ideal for files with gradients and allow for a smaller file size through compression. PNG images are lossless. So they do not lose quality during editing. They support transparency and they tend to be larger than a JPEG. Gif images can maintain a low file size while being able to support animation. So as a rule of thumb, if you’re not sure which one to go to, to go with, go with PNG. It’s kind of the highest quality file format and it’s great for digital. If you’re going for print, then you’re more likely going to be making use of JPEG or PDF, or actually sending the original file to the printers.
The last mistake that people make when it comes to design is not creating a versatile design. So the base graphics are evergreen and multipurpose. If you’re creating a logo, think about how it will look on promotional products, how it will look in one color or full color and how it can be simplified to ensure you’re able to use specific design processes with logo. This will help establish your brand consistency and save you time and money from having to redesign artwork for new projects down the road. So again, making sure that you are consistent with your designs and that your designs are versatile.
So that’s it guys. Just creating a run through again of the mistakes I’ve mentioned, don’t make use of too many fonts. Be careful when you’re using stock images. Try to find ones that are more authentic and not overused. Be sure to proofread your designs, be sure to choose the correct color palette, one that includes the right amount of contrast, and that kind of matches what you’re trying to communicate. Be sure to use hierarchy in your design so that the main message that you want to communicate is clear and designed for the correct medium. Make sure that you save the file in the correct format and make sure that you create versatile designs. So if you’re on the move while listening to this, we’ll definitely have all of this summarized in the show notes so you can be sure to head on over there and get the summary of the podcast.
I hope you’ve enjoyed today’s episode and I’ll see you in the next episode. [inaudible].
Thanks for listening to the Marketing a Practice podcast. If you need help with branding your business, whether it be a new logo, rebrand, or you simply want some print flyer designed head on over to www.practiceofthepractice.com/branding. And if you’d like to see some examples of my design work, be sure to follow me on Instagram at Samantha Carvalho Design. Finally, please subscribe, rate, and review this podcast on iTunes if you like what you’ve heard. Talk to you soon.
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