3 common graphic design mistakes that non-graphic designers make.

Post by 
Joseph Kinstler
February 24, 2020

an't afford a graphic designer? Don't have the budget right now to cover the cost of a professional brand designer? Then this article is for you - even though you should probably reach out to a designer in your network ... or ya know ... me, before starting a design project. But I get it, you are a go-getter/do-it-yourselfer and I can respect that.

So let's work together and strive to have good design everywhere! Maybe we will make the world a happier place, who knows? 🤷‍♂️

1. Typography

Typography misuse is easily one of the top offenders that non-designers make. It's usually made on the basis that they like a certain font(s) and not a lot of thought goes into the conceptual baggage that comes with a certain font or what that font says about your brand. So keep that in mind when you are picking them out.

Another thing to keep in mind with typography is the visual relationship that your primary font has with your secondary. In other words, choose complementary fonts and not ones that will clash with each other.

Try to always combine sans-serif fonts with serif fonts, never combine two of the same. It just doesn't look as good as you may think.

Contrast can be achieved in a number of ways but try playing around with style, size, weight, and color initially and see what that gets you. In the end, contrast is king when it comes to typography.

2. Color

If you don't know how to manipulate color or use it correctly in your design then this part can be very daunting and can cause your design to go awry.

If your brand doesn't already have a color palette with primary and secondary colors - then get one. The best brands use their brand colors to their advantage to lead the consumer to do or feel a certain way. Try to come up with at least three that work for you. No more. No less. If you are struggling to pick some colors just pick one and then use a color generator for the rest. (My favorite is Adobe CC)

Once you have picked your colors and want to start designing always keep in mind the 60-30-10 rule, it's a common rule that designers try to adhere to. Basically, it means that you take your neutral color and fill it with 60% of your design. The next color, a complementary color, should take up about 30% of your design. That leaves 10% for the accent color. Here is an example below that is applied to interior design to help you understand.

3. Choosing the correct image and use of texture

Successful brand imagery goes beyond them recognizing your logo or colors. It penetrates their subconscious more than anything. Look at Patagonia, If you care about the environment you buy their clothes right?. It's something that can be so powerful and go beyond age groups and markets when consistent. It's important to note that when choosing brand imagery you always want to consider your audience, get brand imagery wrong and it could be a huge turnoff.

GoPro (above) does a great job of producing brand imagery. You can't help but want to be with the person taking the picture using the product. Plus their mood and energy are consistent.

If you use brand imagery correctly then you are creating a fan that sees themself in your product or using your product. The correct brand imagery can also be achieved through brand illustration. It's something that a lot more companies are latching onto because its something that people can relate to - plus looks kind of cool.

Template Tip: If you are going to use a template and think you are getting away with something then you are wrong. Templates are so easy to spot and don't always make your brand look the best. If you have to use them try to customize them to fit your need.

There are TONS of micro-decisions and other factors that designers take into account, but if you aren't going to hire a professional I hope I helped you out a little or guided you in the right direction next time you tackle your design project! Good luck, and if you run into any issues then just let me know and I would love to help you out!

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