A new blog post that you’ve spent hours on, and you want to promote it.
A sale that you have going on for your products that you want to spread the word about.
Just a quote post that you want to share on social media to get your brand some visibility.
And you’re designing the graphic yourself.
You know you've got good taste, but when you compare your design to the ones you see on the Internet or famous brands on the market, yours doesn't look as cool or sophisticated.
Good design is important. It attracts people to your offering (a product, service, blog), and it tells your potential customers what kind of a brand you have.
On the same note, BAD design affects your brand negatively. It doesn’t matter if your actual product is high quality — if your design is not on par, you risk turning away potential customers.
People take one look at the bad design and instantly decide in their minds that this brand is NOT for them. “Nope, that’s not my style.”
Fortunately, you can achieve good design simply by TWEAKING what you already have in front of you.
What I’m sharing in this post are the commonly diagnosed design mistakes that people make and how to fix them easily and quickly. Each mistake will take less than 1 minute to fix (not including snack breaks).
Common Mistake #1: Not enough contrasting colours.
I LOVE monochromes. Monochromes are different shades of the same colour.
For monochrome design, you pick one colour (like the teal green above) and use its darker and lighter shades as the supporting colours.
But while monochromes are pleasing to the eye, they don't POP. They're essentially the same colour and since there are no other colours, your eyes have nowhere to jump to. The design doesn't grab you by the eyeballs.
And because the design is NOT attention-grabbing, it's so easy for your readers to skip it altogether or not process the text or information accordingly. This is bad. Very bad.
Let's fix this!
Start with your monochrome colour palette that you want to use for your design. In this case, I'm going with the teal green.
Based on the content of your design, which is the message that you’re trying to convey, choose the MAIN POINT that you want to highlight to the people reading. This MAIN POINT is the part of the design that has to ‘pop’.
For the MAIN POINT, you use a CONTRASTING COLOUR. Everything else is monochrome, but the MAIN POINT has to be in a CONTRASTING COLOUR in order for it to pop.
A contrasting colour is basically the opposite of the colour you’re using, based on the colour wheel. Here’s a few contrasting colour pairings for you to use:
Red - Green
Yellow - Purple
Blue - Orange
By the way, it doesn’t mean that you need to use those really bright, kindergarten-style primary colours in order to make your design pop. You can use SHADES of the colours. For example, I’m obsessed with dark green - light pink pairings! (Pink is a shade of red)
For the design above, I used a coral orange shade as the contrasting colour to highlight ‘Summer Fashion’.
Common Mistake #2: Too many contrasting colours!
It's also possible to overdo the colours. While it's important that your design 'pops', too many things 'popping' can lead to sensory overload for your potential customers.
Other than the sensory overload, too many contrasting colours in one design ruins the brand look. Your potential customers can’t get a sense of your brand personality because everything is mixed together like a bowl of nasi goreng. (No offense to nasi goreng)
Let's fix this!
If there are multiple points you want to convey using the design, there’s no need to use contrasting colours on all of them. You’ll need to choose the MAIN POINTS (yes, again) and only keep the contrasting colours for that. Stick to monochrome colours for the rest.
The TITLE and SUBTITLE are usually the main points for any design. In the design above, ‘Raya Sale’ is the title, and ‘Up to 50% off’ is the subtitle. The dark pink for the subtitle ties in nicely with the pink border-shapes at the side.
It’s OK for other points to be less contrasting. The main goal is to catch the customer’s eye and they’ll read the rest.
When in doubt, WHITE is a great option. White usually contrasts with many colours (except for pastels) and are neutral, so they’re a safe bet.
Common Mistake #3: Too much space between each line of text.
The space between each line in a paragraph is called the "leading" or simply "line spacing".
Back when we're doing assignments and needed to achieve the minimum page requirement, increasing the line spacing is our go-to trick. Eh? (Don't tell me you didn’t do this. I won’t believe you)
But when there's too much space between them, each line isn't read together. So instead of reading it as "10 Travel Tips for Newly-Weds That No One Tell You", what the reader is saying in their head is "10 Travel Tips. For Newly-Weds. That No One Tells You."
The sentence doesn't flow smoothly and it reads as if there are three different titles in there. The design also doesn’t look as neat or put-together.
Let's fix this!
If the content of your design is made up of one sentence, the lines of text have to be grouped together.
Simply reduce the line spacing gradually until there's a healthy amount of space between each line, i.e. words in the top and bottom line aren't touching each other. While you don’t want the lines to be too far apart, you don’t want them to overlap either. Give ‘em some healthy breathing space like you would in any healthy relationship.
Common Mistake #4: Using too many fonts in one design.
I get it, there’s so many beautiful fonts out there. I wish I could use ‘em all too.
But your design is the LAST place where you should use all those fonts on. (Suddenly I’m reminded about how excited 11 year-old me was to test all those fonts on Microsoft Word)
Too many fonts in one design makes it look messy and childish. Imagine those fonts like different types of VOICES. Too many voices saying the same thing will be too distracting for the customer.
LET’S FIX IT!
Like the contrasting colours in Common Mistake #1, pick two fonts that contrast each other. One font is considered your ‘base font’ and the other is the ‘contrast font’. More than two fonts will be too many.
There are 3 basic types of fonts that you can choose from:
Sans serif (like ‘My Best’ and ‘Tips & Tricks’ in the design above)
Serif (like your good old friend Times New Roman)
Script (like the ‘Photography’ in the design above)
So if your base font is sans serif, your contrast font can be either serif or script. (Or any other pairing you like)
Use the contrast font for the MAIN POINT in your design. The MAIN POINT doesn’t always have to be a phrase or a sentence. Sometimes you may just want to highlight a single word, like “Photography” in the design above.
If you feel like two fonts aren’t enough, explore different weights of the fonts. There are sometimes semi-bold, bold and black options of the fonts you’re using, which you can use as contrast. But because it’s still technically the same font, it won’t look messy.
Infusing good design into your brand.
The main thing that people seem to overlook about good design is CONSISTENCY.
It’s not always about pushing the boundaries or being creative. If you’re designing for fun or one-off projects, yes, go crazy!
But creating good design for your brand means making consistent choices in terms of colour, fonts and other aspects. This makes your brand MEMORABLE and RECOGNIZABLE.
I have a few more blog posts on design and branding that you can continue reading:
Tell me, what’s your biggest design pet peeve?