Graphic design is an all-too-often overlooked, but extremely important aspect of great marketing. Think of some of the most successful and iconic brands you know – Apple, Coca-Cola, Nike. Now, if a partially eaten apple, red scripted letters, and a swoosh symbol all just popped into your head, that’s why graphic design is so important. Graphic designers take a brand’s message and essence and distill it into an image that will stick with customers. And when it’s done right, graphic design ensures that all marketing materials are consistent and cohesive, so that the brand is recognizable and makes a stellar impression at every turn.
Today, we’re talking to corecubed’s graphic design guru, Jan Curnutte, to learn more about why graphic design is so important to your marketing strategy.
Leigh-Ann: Jan, thanks so much for taking a minute to talk to us about graphic design. How long have you been a graphic designer?
Jan: 23 years.
L: Wow, so you really know your stuff! What do you love most about your job?
J: I love the variety of projects and clients that I’m able to work with, as well as keeping up to date with ever-evolving software which makes designing easier and/or less complicated.
L: Can you briefly walk us through the graphic design process?
J: I typically start out with rough sketches when creating a logo and then put those ideas into the program and start streamlining from there. For design pieces (i.e. brochure, rack card, etc.) I typically start by adding all text to the correct page’s size to see how much room is available for design elements. I then look for appropriate font pairings and images and other design elements and put those into play. From there, it gets to a point where I’m ready to show it to a project manager or client so we can start streamlining and/or editing the project.
L: I’m glad you brought up font. I don’t think those of us outside the design world think a lot about font, but it really brings a lot to the design of a project. Is there a right way to choose a font for a brochure?
J: Yes. I typically start by looking at the client’s logo and the overall feel of the item that I’m creating. You do not want to use the same font that is in the logo or it diminishes their logo. A font should complement the logo, not detract from it. But, you also want to choose a font that is easy to read and prints well. Another thing to take into account is who will be reading the designed piece. For example, if it is for an elderly person, you don’t want the font size to be too small or have too many embellishments. You would also want there to be plenty of contrast between the font and background so it’s easy to read.
L: What are some other things that clients should think about when looking to design a new logo, brochure, rack card, etc., particularly for the home care industry?
J: For a logo, a client needs to identify exactly what it is that their company does and what they want others to know about their company. Do they want their company to come across as warm and trustworthy? Are they hoping to stand out and be a bit flashier than their competition? Are there graphical elements that they would like in their logo? If so, they should express those ideas to the designer who can likely streamline their concepts and come up with a unique design.
For print items like brochures and rack cards, we need to think about the audience the client is trying to reach and how they want to reach them. Will the item be mailed, placed in a doctor’s office, hospital or other setting? Are they promoting a new, unique or updated service? They will want an eye-catching image to grab the audience’s attention to make them want to pick up their piece to find out more. Text should be kept minimal. People tend to skim items, so they’ll want a call-to-action for them to call or visit the website for more information.
L: What if a client has a bunch of pictures that he took on his cellphone and wants to use them in his brochure or website?
J: Most pictures taken with a cell phone are of low quality and composition. For a designed piece that is going to be printed, the dpi (or dots per inch) must be a minimum of 300 dpi to 600 dpi at 100 percent of the size on the designed piece. High-end printers prefer a 600 dpi image. Websites can use lower resolution images because typical monitors can only show 72 dpi, but we always recommend using the images with higher resolutions whenever possible so that everything looks polished and professional.
L: Color is another thing that clients need to think about when they are looking to design or update a logo. How important is color when designing a company logo?
J: Color is very important when designing a company logo. It sets up the basis for all of the client’s collateral, website, etc. If the logo only consists of one or two colors, it’s always good to provide a couple of complementary colors that go well with the primary colors for designing future items and to keep all items looking like a “family.”
L: Even the most iconic brands have altered or updated their logos over the years. Why is it important to update a company logo?
J: Sometimes logos become dated because of new design trends or business growth. Just as a business evolves and grows, the logo may need to change to reflect that growth. It might be as simple as a color shift or just simplifying the logo to make it more streamlined.
L: Excellent advice, Jan. Now, let’s talk a bit about design from your perspective as a pro. What is one thing about the design process that you wish clients understood better?
J: I wish clients had a better understanding of the time it takes to create a project. For example, fonts need to be researched, prospective images need to be found and many times manipulated to change colors, add in more background, remove/add elements before or during the initial design process. Many times, text will need to be cut in order to allow room for a picture or design element. It’s a very detailed process.
L: You’ve worked with so many clients over your 23 years as a designer. What is the most helpful type of feedback you can receive from a client? What is the least helpful feedback you can receive?
J: The most helpful feedback is when a client can identify design pieces or styles ahead of time so that we know the overall “look” they prefer. For example, some clients like a very clean, modern or corporate look while others prefer a soft, warm feel. If they can provide examples of websites or actual brochures that they like or have a look and feel that they want to emulate, that can minimize concept time. Of course, we won’t copy another designer’s work, but being able to see examples helps us know what the client is going for. The least helpful feedback is when a client dictates what they want, you provide it and then they completely scrap the idea and want to start from scratch.
I’d like to extend a huge thank you to our graphic design expert, Jan, for taking the time to talk to us about how important design is in the marketing process. Have more questions you’d like to ask our graphic design guru? Leave them in the comments below or contact the corecubed team to learn more about our design services and how we can help improve your agency’s marketing look!
Also, don’t miss the first blog in our Home Care Marketing Expert series, where we talked to SEO expert, Beth Jackson, and our third blog where we talk to content marketing expert, Jennifer Logullo.