June 29, 2022
Fewer things suck harder than spending literal hours on a design, fully expecting it to knock your socks off, only to step back and notice…something is just kinda off.
Maybe it’s that your headlines aren’t popping like you thought they did. Maybe you’ve given yourself a headache because it feels a little too cluttered.
Or maybe you can’t exactly pinpoint what the problem is, and things can get frustrating AF fast. Your creative energy is zapped, you lose excitement in that post or even in your newest offer idea — and we don’t want that.
We’ve seen too many clients struggle with their brands because they don’t know how to identify what needs to be tweaked, just to end up wasting time AND money. Double yikes.
As a business owner, you’ve got to juice your time and money for all its worth, and when you’re barely getting a drop, it’s enough to make you want to throw in the towel, at least for the time being.
But it doesn’t have to be this way, especially when it comes to design. DIY design is a great way to get some extra squeeze.
The good news is that DIY design is less about being the most creative designer than it is knowing what to keep an eye on. You don’t need to rush off to take a few design courses from Skillshare — you just need to know 4 basic principles to build your DIY design foundation.
While we believe your brand is so much more than just your visuals (we’re all more than just a pretty face), we still think they’re pretty important. And you can’t get any more foundational in a design than with colors and fonts. Everything else you do will stem from these two elements, so it’s important to make sure they flow well with the bigger picture of your brand.
Working with colors can be the most exciting part of brand design…that is unless you start throwing colors together until it ends up looking like unicorn barf. #NoThanks
The goal of great design isn’t to choose pretty colors. The goal is to meet your business where it may be in the next three to five years.
Your color palette is a big part of your visual identity and is easily one of the most recognizable pieces of your brand. Having one with a wide enough range to provide flexibility (but not so big that you lose consistency) is key as your business grows.
You can do that by:
Ultimately you want to choose colors that speak to your people, create a cohesive brand environment, and have enough flexibility to stay fresh across multiple platforms.
Your visual identity is also deeply rooted in your typography (aka — designer speak for fonts), and certain styles tie into certain visual styles.
Are you more traditional, modern, artsy, gentle, professional, or irreverent? Make sure your type styles match your brand persona and that there are guidelines that dictate how to use them.
For example, there should be a typography guideline in your style guide, consisting of four different fonts:
And listen, we know there are a shit ton of free fonts out there — but that doesn’t mean they’re the best thing for your brand. Free fonts aren’t bad, but sometimes spending a couple of extra bucks on a professional-looking font can completely transform your visuals.
At the Design Lab, there’s one BIG mantra that guides everything we do — “make the biggest thing the biggest thing.”
When we start a design for a client, we always ask: “What is the most important thing for people to take away from this?” When you focus on the biggest (and most important) thing in your designs, you’ll find that they naturally become more intentional.
Before you dig into your designs, map out the information that will be included, top to bottom. What’s the #1 thing they should take away from this image? What’s nice to have but doesn’t have to be there (or can be provided in the caption, the email body, or the sales page instead)?
When you do this, not only will it be easier for your audience to read, but you’ll be much faster when creating graphics because you know where everything goes. Truly a win-win.
Have you created an awesome design only to realize the text looks boring AF? You need to break it up.
It’s easy to get carried away on bigger designs like in a PDF or on your about page, but not everything can stay. If you want your designs to be readable, keep the focus on…the yup, biggest thing.
Make your designs powerful by making them easy to read.
We really love vector icons, because they allow you to add small designs to virtually anything you use for your online presence or marketing efforts, but it’s important to keep in mind that they’re just design dessert.
Use icons, logos, patterns, and prints sparingly.
Do this part last to ensure you’ve got the meat and potatoes taking up space first. But once you get all of that in there and decide there’s enough room for a little ✨pizazz✨ here’s how to do it:
You don’t want to overwhelm your design with decoration (and potentially undo everything you just spent hours building). You just want enough to spice things up!
The key to making a design stand out not only relies on knowing basic design principles, but also knowing how to add little touches to make things pop!
While you could sift through pages and pages of Google for free icons, or utilize ones from a Canva Pro membership, they aren’t always customizable (and can be a little cookie-cutter). Wouldn’t you rather have a ready-to-go library full of easily customizable graphics and icons that are as fun as they are useful?
That’s why we’ve created our graphics library, filled with hundreds of illustrations and icons, so you don’t have to waste any more time hunting down icons that actually fit your brand.
No matter what industry you serve, we’ve got something to help you up-level your graphics game, including an essential icon bundle, a marketing set, a money set, and even a self care set! And yes — all of these illustrations and icons are fully customizable, resizable, and can be used in Canva, Adobe, or other editing software.
Shop our graphics library to bring a little spice (and a lot less stress) into your DIY designs!