In the past we have talked about brand voice and creating an image that lines up with that. Check out this article if you haven’t read that part yet. This time let’s talk about the elements of design. Many businesses will have a marketing department or will outsource to an agency, but when they bring you the proofs to approve it is important to know if this is a good design.
It is ideal to make sure any business/marketing advertising or graphical elements your company uses adheres to the principles of design that have been proven over centuries of marketing to be effective tools of communication.
Let's go through what CRAP means and how you can use it going forward. The examples provided should expand your creativity and apply simple easy-to-use guidelines for future advertisements, marketing designs, and social media posts.
From a small business owner creating their own marketing materials to a partner reviewing the campaign presented everyone should know four basic principles of design—contrast, repetition, alignment, and proximity. These are the foundation of every great-designed artwork or marketing material. This is what the design industry lovingly refers to as CRAP.
Ready to give a CRAP? Keep reading to find out more about these important principles.
The idea behind contrast is the juxtaposition of elements in a way that differentiates each element from one another. If two elements are too similar, a better way of displaying them is to make the two elements different in some way.
There are many ways to create variety when it comes to contrast in any design. You can do this by arranging or designing those elements by color, size, font weight, spacing, distinctive font styles, etc.
The only way contrast works well in any design is if the different elements are large enough to provide interest and engagement. Don't be shy about how you create these big differences. For example, it's not going to show enough by changing the font size of two elements from 14pt type with 12pt type, or your color contrast between black and brown. However, if you choose a 24pt type for a heading and a 12pt type for body or subhead styles, you can see the juxtaposition between those two elements. The same goes with color. If you have one element in rich, bold color and the secondary color in a lighter color hue, this shows the contrast between the two.
Utilizing good contrast allows the viewer's eye to flow naturally across your design and create interest as well.
The foundation of the repetition principle is that certain aspects of your design repeat themselves in order to unify your design throughout. This can vary from using the same color or the same font, a particular bullet point, or a certain design element.
For example, when looking at a book you will notice each designed element is formatted consistently. This allows the reader to understand the correct flow between a headline, page title, page number, bullet lists, and so on. If we were to imagine one page had a different kind of headline graphic or different text styling. It would look like that page wasn't part of the book.
Following this rule is much easier than you think. You just have to have an element with a particular style that helps the viewer understand your design. Keep in mind that a little of this goes a long way, and it is an easy temptation to rely too heavily on this technique. Overuse will lead to distraction and confuse your reader.
Some designers starting out may want to put text and graphics on the page where there is empty space for it. For the most part, this can impact other elements on a page without the proper alignment. This ultimately creates anarchy among all designed elements. That is why we need the next principle of alignment to help structure your elements on a page to flow better.
Placing items on a page haphazardly only causes the viewer confusion about the hierarchy established within your design. There should be some connection between each element. This type of placement creates a strong cohesive bond, even when they are physically separated from each other.
Below is an example of proper placement and alignment of elements that show better proximity and layout between each element. You can see from this example elements displayed that show either spacing and/or alignment between each other that properly connects them.
New designers have a tendency to scatter elements (texts, graphics, etc.) around the page in an attempt to fill any empty white space. This tends to make the design look cluttered as well as making it more difficult to locate relevant details.
This is where the principle of proximity comes into play. By grouping elements together that are related to each other, we provide visual unity in a design. If two elements are related to each other, they should be placed in close proximity to one another. Doing so minimizes "visual clutter", emphasizes organization, and increases the viewer's comprehension.
When several objects are close together, they merge into a single visual feature that reflects their relationship. When the rule of proximity applies, the elements are naturally organized.
Congratulations! You now know how to give a CRAP. Remember, these four principles are guidelines to better design, and rules sometimes can be broken. If you have elements that fit outside these norms, do it. Playing with design is half the fun. These simple rules can help you create marketing that is consistent, cohesive, and ultimately successful.
Have fun and get creative!
“The Four Basic Principles of Design.” Penn State Altoona, altoona.psu.edu/offices-divisions/student-affairs/student-civic-engagement/designing-marketing-materials/four-basic-principals-design.
Archibald, Jeff. “Principles of Design Poster: An Infographic by Paper Leaf Design.” Paper Leaf, 16 July 2020, paper-leaf.com/insights/principles-of-design-quick-reference-poster/.
LGT's Profit Sense
Financial Tips from Your Trusted Advisor
Keeping you up to date with: