Graphic Design Tips and Hacks (For Non-Artists)

Use These Graphic Design Tips to Maximize Your Brand Influence
Choosing a Compelling Colour Scheme Appropriate for Your Brand

Hacking your way through graphic design starts at understanding how colour schemes affect your brand’s influence over your audience. Creating and designing under the authority of a colour scheme is no cakewalk. You may initially find some colors to be very appealing, but as time goes on you can feel restrained by their use. No matter what you’re designing – email campaigns, sales materials, marketing collateral – the colour scheme you choose should hit right on the mark with your product or service.

All of your design elements will ride on your colour scheme and your scheme should be consistent across your materials, so tread lightly. Don’t choose something that risks overwhelming your audience. At the same time, remember that there is a fine line between simplicity and the mundane.

Staring at a blank canvas is intimidating, and, if you aren’t artistically inclined, choosing a design colour scheme can be even more ambitious. No matter your experience level, there are some solutions and rules to follow that can help you initiate your own design strategy without falling completely down the rabbit hole. Here are some ways to create a colour scheme appropriate to your branding strategy.

Choose a Cohesive Colour Scheme

No matter what colours you decide on, if they’re not cohesive, your design will simply not be appealing. You may decide to pick colours from your company logo, or you may decide to stay in the same colour family or temperature (warm or cool). Choosing the latter is a little more difficult to conceive all on your own, but if your company’s colours are extremely bright or dark, it may be a more suitable and aesthetically pleasing option.

For example, we recently released our eBook, Transitioning to Blended Learning and Development Content, with colours that play outside of Mimeo’s logo, which is composed of the printing colors: cyan, magenta, yellow, and key (black). While our company colours are appropriate to being a print and digital content distribution company, having the four printing colours draped across every design element can be overwhelming. With a consistent color scheme, your design will be more cohesive and will garner a lot of positive attention. However, creating a colour scheme isn’t all that simple.

Luckily for those of us who aren’t graphic designers, there are sites that exist just for the sole purpose of providing you with alluring colour schemes. Coolors is just one of these sites – a colour scheme generator website and app. To begin, simply start the generator and click the spacebar if you’re on your computer, or tap the screen if you’re on your phone or tablet.

Graphic Design Tips are Influenced by Color PalettesCoolors will generate different colour schemes that you can export via URL, email, PDF, or PNG formats. If the generator spits out a scheme that you like, but you aren’t completely sold on it, you can finetune the palettes to your liking. You also have the option to browse popular palettes created by other users from the Coolors community. If this seems too advantageous for your design abilities, you can also upload an image and choose colours from that image.

Consider Your Target Audience

The colours you choose truly navigate around their intended audience. The audience you seek out drastically changes the colours that you choose. Bright, bold colour schemes are attention grabbers. If you’re printing out promotional flyers, you may be more lenient towards vibrant hues that attract attention from across a room or catch the eye of a busy passerby walking down the street.

Likewise, if you’re designing a company brochure, you want to stick with colours that communicate the brochure’s message without losing readability with low value (bright) font colours. The same holds true to any piece of marketing collateral you create. The key to succeeding with a document’s colour scheme is to understand who your target audience is and how to design for them. Translate what you know about your intended audience into the colour scheme, choosing colours that make sense to them while still relating it back to your product or service.

It may sound old school, but choosing your colour palette from a colour wheel is a proven design process. A colour wheel allows you to build schemes from scratch to grab the attention of your audience. Keep in mind the following rules in achieving colour harmony:

  • Analogous colours are groups of three colours that are right next to each other on the colour wheel
  • Monochromatic colours are all the colours (tints, tones, and shades) of a single hue
  • Triadic colours use three evenly spaced colours around the wheel
  • Complementary colours are directly opposite of each other on the wheel

Under the assumption that you don’t happen to have a colour wheel on hand, you can use Adobe Kulers’ Color Wheel. Adobe Kulers lets you choose colour pairings by colour harmony rules. For example, when you click the complementary option, the colours you pick will be automatically paired with colours directly opposite. You can also explore colour themes by popularity or at random.

One of Our Graphic Design Tips is Using a Color WheelLike Coolors, Adobe Kulers provides the option to upload a photo to pull colours from. The only difference with Kulers is that, when you upload a photo, you can decide on the colours chosen by mood: colourful, bright, muted, deep or dark. Adobe Kulers is also a great tool to select appropriate brighter colours for attention-grabbers, like a call to action button, that is suitable to your colour palette’s base.

Use Colour Messaging for Your Brand

Colour is a powerful medium in the purchasing experience. Help Scout helps to summarise the broader messaging patterns found in colour perceptions and their role in branding and purchasing. Colours directly influence how a consumer perceives a brand and immensely affect their purchasing intents. The study Impact of Colour in Marketing provides a snippet of the influence of colour in the buying process. The study’s researchers found that up to 90 percent of snap judgements made about a product or service are solely based upon colour. That’s a tough number to compete with. So don’t. Try to leverage the influence of colour to your brand’s advantage.

Choose a colour scheme that is appropriate to what you’re selling. However, don’t get stuck in the same rut as your competitors. Stylify Me is a website that helps designers quickly gain an overview of another site’s style guide. This includes the site’s colours, fonts, sizing, and spacing. While you should never copy someone else’s design, Stylify Me allows you to research your competitors’ sites to create awareness of current design trends and understand design choices.

Try composing your colour scheme with the mindset that your product or service is different from the other offerings out there, but one whose differences warrant attention.

Of course, there are many ways to achieve an optimal colour design. Have you experienced design success with colour schemes outside of these tools and tips?


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