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Graphic design hacks for small business owners

Whatever your business, and however small it might be, it is important to consider how it’s portrayed to the outside world.

If you are using Moneypenny, then you have already considered the experience your customers receive when they pick up the phone or chat with your business online. The next stage is to think about how customers see your business.

Small businesses sometimes see themselves as too small to invest in things like design and marketing, but whatever your opinion, they’re such a vital part of any business’s development. Although this doesn’t necessarily have to mean significant financial investment, it’s worth remembering that even the world’s biggest brands started out small, with design and marketing strategies being big drivers of this.

From logos to websites, leaflets to social media, most businesses require some element of design. Employing a graphic designer or commissioning a design agency might be the best approach for small businesses, but there are lots of things you can do yourself.

We’ve compiled some of our top graphic design hacks that will help you to uncover your inner designer, and create engaging design work that will present your business to audiences in a professional way.

Consistency

One of the most important things to remember is to be consistent. Being consistent with your logos, positioning, fonts and color palettes will all help establish your brand and ensure your customers will be able to identify your business among the crowd.

Think about the sort of style that suits your organization and try to stick to it. For your color palette, take note of the individual hex code or Pantone associated with each color. This way the same precise color can be used across all marketing materials in line with your branding.

If you’ve got a couple of people helping out with your design efforts, creating a simple brand guideline document can be useful to ensure everything is uniform. Of course, this doesn’t mean you can’t change your branding further down the line, but making sure you’ve always got at least a basic guideline in place will keep your design coherent.

Choose the right design tools

These days, there are countless design tools to choose from. Adobe Creative Cloud is arguably one of the most well-known design software programs out there, and for good reason too, as its design capabilities are fantastic and easy to use.

For those looking for a simpler way to create engaging designs, an online tool such as Canva is also a great option. A simplified graphic-design tool, its drag and drop functionality makes it ideal for non-designers as well as professionals, and it can be used for both web and print designs.

Utilize grids

One of the tell-tale signs of a professional design is composition, for example making sure all your text is aligned and images are equally spaced. This can be achieved by using grids to balance your design, and provide an effective guide for each design element. Software such as Adobe Creative Cloud includes various design programs, i.e. Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign, which also allow you to create your own grid or guidelines if you have a certain composition in mind.

Consider the end format

Think about whether you are designing something for print or online. If you are designing for print, for example a leaflet or poster, you will need to make sure any images are of a high enough resolution. If you print with low resolution images, these can often appear pixelated when printed. And don’t forget, if there’s anything you’re unsure about, you can always speak to your printer for guidance. They’ll be able to advise on the required resolution and answer any other queries on issues such as file types and paper weight.

Make sure your sizes are correct  

Ensuring your marketing materials have been designed at the right size from the outset will ultimately save you a great deal of time and effort. When creating social media visuals, headers and profile images, make sure to research the correct sizes first. You can then save a blank template in your design software so that each time you come to create a new one, you can get started straight away.

Practice, practice, practice

The best way to build confidence when it comes to graphic design is to practice. There are countless tutorials out there on sites such as YouTube that can talk you through certain design techniques on any number of design programs. There is no real shortcut to great design, but practicing will help improve your skills, technique and knowledge. Spend time getting to grips with your software and setting out your brand guidelines. This will save time in the long run so that you have everything you need in place to start your designs.

For small businesses, it’s important to remember that graphic design doesn’t need to be daunting. Often the best design comes from simplicity and therefore, when starting off, we would always recommend keeping your designs simple. Keep in mind your key messages and the impression you wish to convey, and always check that all the important information such as dates and contact details are accurate and clear.

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