Introduction to Designing a Branded Marketing Package
When you’ve got an important message to communicate for your business, whether it’s a new launch or repetition for brand awareness, you have so many opportunities to make an impact with your digital marketing. Audience interests and the actions that you want to inspire them to take may differ, but there are certain pieces of design collateral that every business should have in their arsenal to make sure they are showing up everywhere that potential customers are spending time.
In this 3-part blog series we’ll review everything you need to consider and how to use these pieces in the most effective ways.
Getting Started & Planning
Start by assessing what you want to create so you won’t run into surprises later about images or the type and amount of text (wrong orientation and size, poor quality, way too little content, no attention grabbing text or tagline, etc.).
STEP 1: Determine Your Deliverables & Do Your Research & Seek Inspiration
Determine what you are going to create (in this series we’ll be creating a social media square graphic, informational flyer, and animated GIF) and begin to look for some inspiration – definitely online, but this can also be in a magazine, digital billboard, or other form of visual media in your life. Naturally you will want to search your industry and its big players, but don’t forget about new players in your industry who are researching cutting edge marketing trends just like you are, local or location-specific searches, and search for others who may have designed this type of piece (e.g. lifestyle photographer flyer, fitness training price list). Pinterest is one of the best search engines for these types of visuals.
Even the most talented artists and designers are constantly seeking inspiration – not because they are imposters in their field, not actually that creative, or thieves; it’s because that initial spark of inspiration is just the first step onto a springboard to a world of possibilities once you allow your brain’s natural creativity and curiosity to explore from your unique perspective.
Don’t worry about “copying” the inspiration design – once you insert your own text, images, and other brand elements you will find that the design really takes off in an independent direction. As you further develop and finish your design you can check in and make sure that you have not imitated the inspiration design too closely. Take an honest look and make adjustments if you feel necessary.
STEP 2: Image Needs
Once you’ve taken a look at the inspiration out there, think about what types of images you want to incorporate into your designs. This will depend on your industry and subject matter, but if you need headshots with more depth-of-field, beautifully styled flat lays featuring a collection of goodies, stock photos of gold balloons, or to schedule a time to get a quick snap of your team together in the office, now is the time to do it. Grab your own from your arsenal, snap what you need ahead of time, hire a local photographer, or download stock photos if appropriate.
STEP 3: Content Needs
Considering what type of intention you have behind your marketing, you’ll need to spend some time coming up with the key messages you want to communicate. It will serve you well to have 2-4 main lines of messaging and consistently use and repeat them. For each line of messaging, you’ll want to determine a headline, tagline, short paragraph, and call-to-action. You will also save time if you decide the best formatting of your contact information (hyphens vs periods in phone numbers, abbreviating streets, whether you include “www” in your web address, etc.) ahead of time. You likely already have much of this in mind in some form, and referencing the inspiration found in the research stage can also help guide you to come up with this content and make it your own.
Don’t get frustrated if this part takes longer than you expect; copywriting is not easy. If you run into major roadblocks or want to ensure you’re as clear and effective in your message as can be, consider enlisting a professional copywriter.
This is a big one! Make sure that you have your logo, and you’ll probably want it in a few orientations (see below). If you have any icons or symbols that you associate with your brand, having the files of those will bring your designs to the next level. You’ll need logo files and any other graphics in a format with a transparent background like a .png, .eps., .tiff, etc. or they will have a white or other solid color background when you try to incorporate them into your design (unless you only layer them over white elements!).
What Parts of Your Brand to Consider
These are the elements of your brand that you should give some thought to before trying to pin down an aesthetic that will stand up to being carried across various formats.
You will want to make sure you have a horizontal/rectangular version of your logo for certain spaces, a square/stacked version of your logo for others, and “reverse” version of your logo to use on dark backgrounds.
You should have at least 2 brand colors that complement each other, one neutral color that is a part of your palette, and if possible at least one other color that “pops” (the coverall term for “is very visible”) on your primary brand colors.
It was mentioned above, but if you have any special icons or graphic elements that represent your brand, incorporate them in subtle ways.
Think about the rules you normally adhere to – and then be open to breaking them! You never know what you might discover by trying a dark background with crisp white font, when you’ve only been open to white and light backgrounds until now, stumped for more ideas.
Your brand should have at least two distinct fonts to use in combination or individually, and a third, more decorative or extreme font for special occasions can be good to have. Four is probably the top amount of established brand fonts and even then things can become cluttered and confusing.
Tip: It can be handy to have a go to script font even if your brand doesn’t “feel” like it needs one.
Brand Photography Content & Style
Give consideration to what your brand photography style is – bold? colorful? black and white? muted? monochrome? sharp focus? people? no people? closeup? distant? You’ll want variety within you style, but this consideration will help you have cohesive visual imagery all around.
Different Types of Social Media Graphics
Calls-to-Action – Direct & Indirect
Direct and subtle calls-to-action invite the audience to experience something and then clearly state or subtly hint at how to take part. This can be achieved effectively with or without a photo.
Non-selling – Quotes & Testimonials
It’s also good to create graphics that do not have a direct call to action or point toward your offering but rather allow your audience to get to know you better. This can be done in the form of a quote from someone else that you want to share, a thought that you want to share, or a question you want to ask to engage your audience, or a testimonial you’ve received.
Sharing a Resource – Freebies and Information to Help Your Audience
You may also want to share a resource or series you have or regularly share, like a podcast, blog series, or event. This can also be an informational graphic that conveys an important message about your business or industry but is not a direct proposition to the customer. This supports your sales funnel and builds your email list.
Design the First Piece as a Foundation
It can be tempting to try to tackle multiple things at once, but it’s best to begin with designing just one piece as a base to build off of for the others – the beauty of digital is that you can always come back and change something for consistency if you find a better way of spacing letters or a better blue to use. Starting with one simple piece that contains all of your key elements will help you hone in on a focused aesthetic that you can effortlessly transfer across forms all media, and a branded group of social media squares is a good place to start.
Abhaya Libre Family
Open Sans FamilyColors used:
Green Blue #529299
Abhaya Libre Family
Open Sans Family
Green Blue #529299
Now you have a basis for your branded marketing suite and a cohesive group of graphics that you can use as templates for future messaging. Check out the Canva social media templates below and make them your own!
Design Tips for Social Media Graphics
- -Work from an inspiration piece
- -Use different text sizes, weights, italics, bold, underline, bullet points to prioritize information
- -Compare vastly different text sizes and tighten up and loosen the spacing between letters; striking the balance between two text portions can be tricky and like every science it requires experimentation!
- -Try breaking up your text in an unexpected way
- -Try techniques like putting certain information within or in front of shapes to draw attention
- -Make sure that the piece incorporates your established brand elements – don’t forget to include a logo or web address
- -Check out the blog post “Common Problems: How to Make Text More Readable in Your Graphics”
Canva Tips for Social Media Graphics
- -Use the Spacing tool to adjust both the space between letters and lines to expand a message, fill a space, or make a word less prominent
- -Use the Duplicate tool to ensure two elements are exactly the same
- -Use the Position tool to make ensure certain elements are properly aligned – “close enough” does not exist in good design!
- -Use with the Transparency tool (checkered fade icon) to experiment with visibility levels on solid blocks of color, text, graphic elements, and images
- -Use the Lock function for items you are not currently adjusting (like the background) if you find yourself continually grabbing elements that are in the way