Today it’s standard practice for businesses to list their social networks (facebook, twitter, instagram, etc.) on their marketing materials. Did you know that each social network has guidelines for its logo? These guidelines include what logo version you should and should not be using, and the proper way to display it. This is called a Branding Guideline and almost every business has one. For example, Twitter is commonly misrepresented with the small ‘t’ square logo. The small ‘t’ logo is not the official Twitter logo and according to Twitter’s Branding Guidelines, it should not be used. Twitter is very specific (as all Branding Guidelines are). Only the Twitter bird icon should be used when representing Twitter. It’s important to research the Branding Guidelines for logos included in your marketing material to make sure you are using them correctly. The proper use of logos is a contributor to making your marketing materials look current and up-to-date. Here is a list of links to the most commonly used social networks, and their Branding Guidelines:
Whether you’re an experienced graphic designer or an amateur who wants a couple solid hints on how to create an eye-catching piece, here are 12 tips for great graphic design.
1. Work backwards. Put all your info into the layout before you begin designing. This way, you can know how much space you have to work with, where you will make folds, etc.
2. Choose your fonts wisely. Less is more, in this case. It might be a good idea to have a couple of contrasting fonts that compliment each other. Make it a rule of thumb to have 2-3 font styles max in your design.
3. Choose a focal point. Use a big bold font, color, or picture to create a sense of hierarchy. Your design should flow so the viewer’s eye travels smoothly across the piece.
4. Be careful of placement. You may have 20 pictures that you just have to use but resist the urge. This goes back to the previous tip. You want to have flow in your piece and slapping on pictures in random places will make the design look awkward and uncomfortable. It is, however, a good idea to group a couple of pictures together. Grouping is a good technique for catching a viewer’s eye.
5. Keep it consistent. This goes for your entire draft, in general. Keep the spacing equal and the font sizes consistent in that you are not using five different font sizes within the same piece.
6. White space can be good. You don’t have to fill every inch of the page. Sometimes it is good to have some negative space to compliment or balance the positive. Utilize it.
7. Use the right software. Consider the capabilities of your software and make sure it fits your needs before starting on the design. Use your program based on the purpose for which it is intended. I.e. Adobe InDesign does not have the same use as Adobe Dreamweaver.
8. Be careful of font and graphic resolutions. Just because it looks good on the screen doesn’t mean it will look as good on paper. Resolution needs to be almost 4 times higher for print compared to the web.
9. Don’t be afraid to experiment. Mess around a little, try new things. Test out an unfamiliar tool, or a design you saw in a magazine. Though your design usually does need to abide by a certain template, you can sometimes get away with straying from it.
10. Consider using vector images. These are especially good for logos. A vector image is an image comprised of shapes, points, lines, and curves. They look good on the screen and in print without any major modifications, unlike pixelated images (known as raster images) which lose quality when zoomed. Another benefit of a vector image is it saves as a small file, unlike raster images.
11. Choose your colors wisely. Avoid using cliché color schemes, such as rainbow or black and white. Sometimes it is good to have a lot of color (or none), but generally, it’s good to stick with complimentary colors. And don’t feel limited to the color swatches that your program provides. Kuler is a useful website that lets you create your own color schemes with the color wheel.
12. Don’t flatten your artwork. Leave the type layers unrasterized and the different art layers as they are so that you can go back and make changes or manipulate separate items later.
Graphic design is an art that requires special training, but you can still create a fantastic piece without a degree by keeping a few tips in mind. Using these tips as a guideline in creating a finished piece will allow your company or concept to stand out in the best light possible.