As a small business owner, your time is precious.
Every day brings another to-do list and when you're starting out on your own, your time is your most valuable asset. One simple way to get your time back, is by streamlining your brands graphics.
If design or graphics aren't your expertise, you're probably spending a lot more time creating a new blog post image, social media post or icon than you need to be. With a few simple tips, I can help you create a brand, set design guidelines and begin utilizing templates that make your graphics run like a well oiled machine.
Let's get started!
1 | Create an inspiration board
A common issue that people run into when creating their brand graphics is they haven't curated a visual direction for their brand. This means each time they create a graphic they are pulling inspiration from new sources, which leads to visual inconsistency and makes your brand hard to recognize.
Before you ever create your first brand graphic I suggest you create an inspiration board.
An inspiration board is a resource that aids in guiding all of your brand's visual elements. It should include colors, fonts and general aesthetics that communicate your desired outcome.
To create an inspiration board I recommend searching Pinterest and saving a few of your favorite images. The type of images that you think would speak to your target audience. Once you've gathered a good amount, select a few of your favorite images and play with combinations until you have created an overall aesthetic that communicates your brand message.
Related: How to Create an Inspiration Board
2 | Utilize a color palette
Colors are one of the most communicative resources a brand has. Colors can create a sense of peace, excitement or urgency. The color palette you use for your brand graphics can welcome your target audience and grab their attention.
When beginning to create brand graphics, I suggest utilizing a color palette. When you have selected a few colors that are always at the ready you can quickly and easily create new graphics that are within your brands visual identity.
To create a color palette for your brand, you'll want to start with pulling color inspiration from your inspiration board. From there, utilize color theory to round out your palette. Color theory gives you insight into what emotional response people tend to get from a color. Think about how you want people to feel when looking at your brand, are they happy, excited, calm, tranquil...
Once you have a few colors selected, round out your color palette with primary and secondary colors. Your brands primary color palette should be the foundation for your brand graphics. For example, font or logo colors should remain within the primary color palette to create consistency. The secondary colors can be used for backgrounds and accents to create a more dynamic visual. Learn more about creating a color palette with the resources below:
Related: 15 Minimalist Color Palettes
3 | Identify brand fonts
Identifying brand fonts can be rather difficult, similarly to the color palettes you may need to know a little more about what font categories exist.
To keep things simple, you can generally categorize fonts into four categories: serif, sans serif, script and display. Each font category evokes a different emotional response, just like colors. Serif leans more traditional and formal. Sans serif is informal and modern. Script and display fonts are open to interpretation, so the emotional response can range widely. For more in-depth information, use the links below to learn more about the font families.
Each brand requires between 2 to 3 fonts. This gives you enough room to create visual hierarchy and improve legibility without overwhelming or confusing your audience. When selecting these fonts you'll want to keep in mind how well they pair together. Generally, the more contrast the better as it creates more visual interest. Learn more about pairing fonts with the links below:
Related: 7 Feminine Font Combinations
4 | Create design guidelines
The easiest way to streamlines your graphics, is to have guidelines in place. This takes all the thinking out of the equation. Before you ever open Adobe Illustrator or Canva you know exactly what fonts, colors, backgrounds, patterns, etc. that you will be using.
When you first create your brand, you'll compile a style guide. A style guide is a reference document that holds all of your brand information. It will includes things like; hex codes for your colors, fonts and font pairings, patterns, logos and much more. One of the most important things your style guide will have is your brands guidelines.
Let's take fonts for example. When you've selected your 2-3 brand fonts, you'll give each font a role. For example, You may have a script font dedicated solely to your logo. A serif font may be dedicated to headings and accents. Lastly, a sans serif font dedicated to long body text and your website.
When these guidelines are in place, like what colors should be paired and which one's shouldn't, you'll be able to quickly and easily plug in this information and have a brand new graphic ready to go in no time.
5 | Utilize templates
Templates are a great resource for streamlining your brand's graphics. They ensure consistency across your brand and significantly decrease your time creating graphics. Templates take out all of the questions for layout, fonts and color choices. You just plug in the updated text and press save.
Depending on your software, you may want to purchase a template. My favorite resource for purchasing templates is Creative Market*. They offer a wide range of options plus you're helping to support small business owners.
If you are using a free software, you may be able to work off of an old graphic and adjust for color and text. Whatever software you use, find a system that helps you save time and focus on what matters in your business!
*Creative Market is an affiliate partner. If you purchase something through this link, I may receive some cash-money. Thanks!
What tips and tricks do you have for streamlining your brand's graphics? Let me know in the comments!