Avoid These Graphic Design Pitfalls to Keep Your Brand Current, Modern, Competitive (Part 1 of 2)

Have you looked – I mean, really LOOKED – at your marketing collateral lately? How long has it been since your brochures were originally designed? Your website? Your business cards? Your logo?

Retro designs are eye-catching when served up in the right context. But if your company’s marketing collateral is littered with outdated, overused design elements, then that’s not retro — that’s just a disaster. And it could be costing you in the form of lost sales.

If you have your own in-house graphic designer or graphic artist, then a full-on graphic design makeover across all print and digital media may be within your budget. If not, you may have to baby-step your way by hiring a graphic design firm to simply remove outdated art elements from your existing collateral and replace them using more contemporary design techniques.

The list below serves as a handy reference of graphic design elements that are past their prime. To keep your brand looking smart and competitive, avoid or replace these items as soon as possible.

8 Problem Design Elements and How to Fix Them

Problem #1: Complicated Logos

It’s important that potential customers be able to look at your logo and immediately understand what your company is all about. But in years past, the temptation was to “pretty it up” with a lot of extra elements like clip art, swooshes, or long taglines.

Solution: Simplify and Streamline

Unless you’re a brand with worldwide fame, you likely won’t be able to completely remove your company name from the logo (like Starbucks has done), but there’s a good chance you can simplify it by removing unnecessary and distracting elements.starbucks-new-logo-transformation7

Problem #2: Generic Stock Photography

outdated_design_stockStock photos can work well in situations where you’re trying to evoke certain emotions on the part of the reader, such as in a fundraising email or newsletter. But for websites and corporate brochures, they now fall into the category of “been there, done that.”

Solution: Custom Photos or Illustrations

Your own custom photography, with shots taken by a professional photographer, would likely resonate much better with prospects. Or, depending on your brand image, you might take a tip from Dropbox and use custom illustrations instead.outdated_design_dropbox

Problem #3: Reflective Objects

outdated_design_reflectiveThis is another technique that has had its day in the sun. It was once used to indicate products that were sleek, innovative, and on the leading edge, but after several years of over-use, now it just indicates a website or brochure in need of a facelift.

Solution: Floating Objects

With modern flat design trends, usually less is more. In lieu of a reflection, you could try seeing what the image looks like without any sort of adornment at all, or try it with a modest shadow. If you still feel like the image needs more visual punch, try turning it into a floating object similar to what Apple does on their website.outdated_design_apple

Problem #4: Small Text = Reduced Legibility

Tiny 10-point type just doesn’t work anymore. With over 100 million adults over the age of 50 living in the United States, the issue of easy readability in both print and digital design has become a top concern. For mobile users in particular, text needs to be large enough – and provide enough “breathing room” between lines – so as to prevent visual screen fatigue.

Solution: Larger Font Size and Line Height

The current trend online is to set body text at anywhere between 13-point and 17-point type. In addition, limit line length to a comfortable reading width, no longer than 600 pixels wide. And for optimal legibility, increase the line height (the vertical space between lines) to about 175% of your base font size. You can see this in action in the Huffington Post example below. Their base font size for body content is 16-point type. Multiply 16 by 175% and you get 28, which is the point size of their line height (or leading) from one line to the next.outdated_design_huffpo

This is Part 1 of a two-part article. In next week’s blog, we’ll review four more problem design elements and provide tips on how to fix them.

In need of a graphic design makeover? Contact EXHIB-IT! today for help with logo design, business card design, brochure design, web design, and more.

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