Anytime you share updates on social media you only want people to do three things: read, remember, and take action.
That can be a tall order for today’s busy newsfeeds, and that’s why adding graphics to your story is more than a worthwhile practice. But before you dive in with choosing fonts, colours, and layout, there are two “pro tips” you should understand to ensure your graphics work and you don’t get overwhelmed.
#1 Your graphics must be INTENTIONAL.
Ideally, the choices you are making in your business are deliberate and purposeful, and design is no different. The ultimate purpose of any design is two-fold:
- to represent the heart of your business in the most authentic way, and
- to capture the attention of your most desired, ideal clients.
Having a deep understanding of these points makes the creative process infinitely easier because you’ll have a clearer picture of your end product before you even begin. You’ll know what types of headlines to write, the style of images to choose, colours and fonts to use, and the overall “feeling” of what you’re creating.
Not to mention, you’ll also save yourself from the mistake of creating graphics that are simply pretty or trendy and don’t truly connect with your people. Of course, knowing these two areas requires another level of clarity, so here are some questions to help you narrow in if you’re struggling:
About your business:
– What are your top three strengths?
– What are your three core values?
Given these answers, what three words best describe the overall feeling or tone of your business? Get specific, unique, and creative. (For a list of descriptive words, I have a Word Bank you can access here.)
About your ideal client:
– What is her personality?
– What attracts her?
– What frustrates her?
Given these answers, what aesthetic is most appealing to her? You can use the same Word Bank as above.
#2 Your graphics need visual HIERARCHY.
You can have the intention component, but still miss the mark if you don’t tell your viewer what’s most important by creating visual hierarchy.
What should your client see, read, or feel first? Do you want her to read the headline, notice your logo, or feel drawn to a compelling photo? How will you get her there?
One way to create hierarchy is through FLOW. In Western culture, our eyes move from top left to bottom right, so consider this when spatially arranging your visual information.
Secondly, you can establish hierarchy through the use of individual, or groups of, ELEMENTS. Elements that typically draw more attention are larger, brighter or lighter coloured, or more ornate than the surrounding information.
By contrast, you can minimize an element’s importance by making it smaller and simpler, or darker or muted in colour.
For each design, consider what your client needs to see or feel first, then visually shape your graphic through FLOW and ELEMENTS to effectively grab their attention.
So now what?
Consistency in your graphics is paramount for creating a brand design your viewers come to recognize and trust, so take the time to choose an overall palette that’s in line with the aesthetic and tone of your brand and your audience.
At a minimum, this is a simple 1–2–3 palette: one logo, two fonts, and three colours. However, you may also choose to include a secondary logo, patterns or backgrounds, and a photo style.
If you are working with a professional designer to help create your brand, they should provide you with a custom palette. If not, ask if you can work that into your contract. Whether you’re DIY-ing your palette or working with a pro, the most important thing is to stick to it!
At the end of the day, building your visual foundation with intention and hierarchy means not reinventing the wheel every time you need a social media graphic.
Not only will you save tons of time that you can spend doing more important things in your business and life, but you’ll also establish consistency and credibility with your audience. And who doesn’t want both of those things?
Michelle Clayton is the designer behind Woolly Wren, a studio that creates noteworthy branding for entrepreneur moms that will represent the heart of their business, attract their most desired clients, and free them for more of what really matters. She lives in Calgary with her husband and two tween daughters and spends her spare time knitting and renovating their nest. To receive more of her noteworthy tips, sign up for her biweekly Nest Notes here.