There is a wealth of design information outthere that concentrates on things you “should do”, offering such sageadvice as “Know your audience”, “Say it with pictures” or”Write clearly and distinctly”. All well and good, but you shouldalso know what not to do. Hence, this article is about what mostdo-it-yourselfers are tempted to do, but shouldn’t.
Nothing screams “design novice”like the following 10 mistakes:
1.Don’t enlarge your logo so it’s the main focus of the page. Yes, your logo features the name of your company, but it’s not themain point. People are interested in what you’re selling, not who you are. Infact, the smaller your logo, the more established your company will appear.Check out ads by pros like Nike or Hewlett-Packard.
2.Don’t place your logo in the text of your piece. Ofcourse, it’s fine to use the name of your company in the text of any of yourmarketing materials, but inserting your actual logo into a headline or bodycopy is design suicide.
3.Don’t use every font at your disposal. Choose oneor two fonts for all your materials to build brand equity. Your font choicesshould be consistent with your image and your industry. For example, aconservative industry needs a conservative font.
4.Don’t use colour indiscriminately. More colourdoesn’t necessarily make something more appealing. Often, it just makes it loudand off-putting. When someone screams at you, do you want to listen or runaway? Most, if not all, your text should be the same colour, preferably blackfor readability. For a unique look, try duo-tone photographs or print in twocolours.
5.Don’t be redundant. Don’t repeat the name of yourindustry or product in your company name and your tagline and your headline.It’s totally unnecessary and even harmful. Potential customers know yourindustry; restating it implies you don’t.
6.Don’t choose low-quality or low-resolution photography. A photo may look great in an album, but unless it features balancedlighting and good composition, it’s not printworthy. Photos need to be at least300 dpi. And yes, people can tell the difference.
7.Don’t fill up every inch of white space on the page. White space, or negative space, brings focus to what’s importantand gives the eye a rest. You may have a lot to say, but cramming it all increates chaos and minimises impact. Your piece will end up being visuallyoverwhelming.
8.Don’t focus on details of your product or service – focus on how it benefitsyour audience. Unless your product is extremelytechnical, make your offering relevant to your audience by emphasising itsbenefits, not its features. Otherwise, it’s like going to a party and talkingabout yourself all night – not the best way to win friends or gain customers.
9.Don’t do exactly what your competitors are doing.When you’re positioning your product, it’s good to know your competition. Butdon’t copy them. Find out what your customers want and are attracted to. Standout without sticking out.
10.Don’t change design styles with every marketing piece you create. Strive for a consistent look and feel, keeping the same fonts andlogo placement. If you use photos in one ad, don’t use illustrations inanother. If you place your logo in the middle of one brochure, don’t place inat the top-right corner in another.
Finally, be clear, clean, compelling andconsistent. You’ll end up looking like a pro.