Over the past decade, learning and creating graphic design has become more and more accessible. YouTube offers hours of free Adobe tutorials, and platforms like Canva take the paywall aspect out of the equation. With this increase in accessibility and the proliferation of graphics on platforms like social media, more and more communication experts are expected to know how to utilize these platforms to develop beautiful graphics for B2B clients and their respective audiences.
Despite this new “graphic design boom,” feeling overwhelmed by all of the different platforms and tutorials is completely normal. There are a few key things about graphic design in the B2B space – and the fundamentals of design – that are necessary to learn before communicating your brand’s needs to a graphic designer.
- Let brand guides lead the way.
Creative inspiration doesn’t always come naturally. Luckily, most brands will have an existing brand guide that can lead you down the right path.
Brand guides typically contain required fonts, a color palette, and restrictions regarding logos and their uses. Requesting a brand guide from a client before starting on a campaign or project is crucial to capturing a brand’s essence.
However, sometimes brands don’t have a defined guide or style. In these instances, graphic designers at the agency you use should rely on existing designs for campaigns and projects. These can be found on the brand’s social media, advertisements, event materials, and, occasionally, internal communication documents.
Once a graphic designer has done their research and created a moodboard based on your brand’s existing style, it’s time to move forward. At this stage, a graphic designer will present multiple design directions and use your feedback to move forward with future campaign designs.
Sometimes it can be difficult to articulate feedback without knowing the basics of design – in these instances, referencing the Principles of Design can be helpful for both you and the designer.
- Color is one of the biggest components of design.
When working with you, designers should note what colors you’re using and what colors you could be using. If they’re working off an old brand guide with stale colors, it might be time for a refresh. Color research is a crucial step in any designer’s process before bringing new options to you.
Color can stand alone, act as a background, or highlight other elements within your design. It’s also a kickass tool for creating and establishing the mood/tone of your brand.
Develop a color palette early, and test it on all devices to make sure it’s not too bright or clashes in the wrong light. As you create your color palette, it is important to understand the properties that maximize the power of this principle:
- Hue: the dominant wavelength (i.e. yellow); the dimension of color we experience when we look at color in its purest form.
- Value: the lightness or darkness of a color, indicating the quantity of light reflected.
- Saturation (chroma): the brilliance and intensity of the color. When a hue is “toned,” both white and black (gray) are added to the color to reduce the saturation. When a color has high saturation, the pigment intensity is vivid and bright.
The more you know about color theory, the better your chances are for success. Get back to basics with Color Theory 101.
3. Get creative with fonts, but know your limits, for font’s sake!
Fonts are capable of portraying a specific personality and image, just like color and other aspects of design. How a designer uses them says a lot about your brand, so knowing the basics of typography will make communicating with a designer easier.
Fonts should be used with a lot of thought in mind. When making social cards or digital ads, the Call to Action (CTA) should stick out with a bold type or bright button. Lighter, more readable fonts are better for longer copy.
Your logo font should not be the only font used; your designer should be utilizing sans serifs and serif fonts to the best of their ability by finding ones that pair well together. If you need help pairing serifs and sans serifs, this article is a good place to start.
The most important thing when using fonts is making sure it’s true to your brand. The designer should be able to support their font choices, so make sure to ask good questions!
- Respect the space of other elements.
This is perhaps the most important tool for any visual designer, especially when it comes to designing marketing collateral. When you ask someone to design a brochure, white paper, or catalog, you’re probably asking for more than just legible text.
Your content should have ample room to breathe. By controlling the elements and spacing of design, you create direction, rhythm, and motion. The most visually dominant feature in a design should be the most important part of the message.
And remember, white space (negative space) is never wasted space. Applied properly, it becomes an integral part of visual design, acting as the glue that holds the elements together.
If you’re looking for inspiration, check out these white papers we made for our client SUN Automation. Using signature colors, hierarchy of text and subtle design elements make these some pretty successful white papers.
- Feedback is the final frontier.
Once a designer has work ready for review, it’s time for you to provide feedback. Everyone is different; you may prefer to let your designer take the reins on their designs and next steps, or you might want more of a say in the process.
Regardless, feedback is best served with some knowledge of the craft. Reading this article is a great step forward; being able to tell a designer about what you like and don’t like could prevent miscommunication and several rounds of feedback.
Take it step by step
Learning everything there is to know about design is unnecessary – but being able to communicate with designers is worth its weight in gold when it comes to how your clients view your brand. We’ve just covered the basics here, but if you stick to them, you’re off to a great start.
If you need help figuring out the best design opportunities and content for your brand – Don’t wait, Contact Us! The A-Team is here to help.