Graphic Design: Why You Should Keep It Simple

Even when it comes to graphic design, sometimes simple is better. It’s hard explaining this to the client though. For one reason or another when they involve a “graphic designer” they need to make magical things happen. In some instances though magical isn’t always necessary. As a graphic designer you need to know when to make a design sparkle and shine to WOW the audience, and when to make a design look flat (or simple) so it does not take away from the message that needs to be portrayed. This is a learned trait.

Brixel Creative - Simple Graphic Design Blog

I’m what you might call a “self-taught” graphic design aficionado. I did not go to college to learn all the valuable graphic design techniques I use every day, I just sat down with Adobe and embraced my one-on-one time. I’d like to think my 15+ years creating wonderfully creative graphic design for various types of companies gave me more hands-on experience than any college would have done. With that being said, I’m sure there are some techniques I may not know about in PhotoShop or Illustrator, and I’m Ok with that. There are tons of amazing tutorials online I can take a look at on YouTube or read about on a blog. Some things in life don’t need to be complicated and are better if they remain simple.

When you strip away all that is unnecessary – get rid of the fluff – you’re left with a simple message that speaks quite loudly to the audience. Take a moment to think about the some of the most well know logos out there. I bet the ones you thought about are very simple designs. The ones that come to mind for me are FEDEX, Gap, NBC – all pretty simple, huh? But that’s what makes them memorable. It is less information for the brain to process and therefore makes it easier to remember.

Rather than piling on the effects, may I suggest you cut through the noise with white space, choose a clean type, incorporate simple shapes and limit your color palette. Sometimes it’s best to keep your graphic design simple. Get back to the basics because less will always be more, especially when it comes to graphic design.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this subject. Do you like to keep your designs simple?

Creativity…

When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something.
– Steve Jobs

creativity-brixel-creative

Being a graphic designer you have your really creative days and your not so creative days.  You have to have thick skin and learn to take professional criticism. And if you get poor feedback on one design, you have to pick yourself up, brush yourself off and move on. Learning not to dwell on the past is an important skill that all successful graphic designers must learn to master.  In some instances the title “graphic designer” has become a generic term given to anyone with Photoshop installed on their laptop.  Unfortunately it’s a little more complicated than that – you must know the history of design, technical aspects of design and be able to answer the how and why of your designs.

But there are times you need more than just creative programs and knowledge of history- you need inspiration. And  I know I’m not alone when there are days I don’t feel creative. Awful, right? Then of course something inside me whispers “hey wait you are creative…look what you’ve accomplished” and of course I move on. So in the end just because being creative might be second nature, sometimes you really don’t know where it comes from.  It is just something you see.

The Anatomy of a QR code

You’ve most likely heard the term “QR code” within the last few years and maybe some of you have wondered “what on earth is a QR Code?”. I’ll decode the QR code for you today!  In definition, a QR code is simply a two-dimensional square barcode that’s read by a specialized app on your smartphone with a code scanning feature.

Here is an example of a QR code:

Along with the evolution of the internet and technology, the QR code was created for an instant way to view a page on the web using an app on your smartphone. Once the code is scanned, it will connect you to any online content of your choice such as a web page, coupon, promotional video, etc. The biggest benefit of the QR code is to quickly connect your customer or potential customer to much more information than any brochure, business card or direct mailing could ever display.  It allows you more information and in turn more engagement with your customer.

Here are a few ideas for you properly use your QR code to promote a web page or other content:

  • Product details
  • Coupons codes and special offers
  • Giveaways or contests
  • Instructional Videos or clips
  • Promotional videos
  • Sending an email message
  • Social media page or blog (Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin)

Market your QR code properly
Sure QR codes sound great, but don’t get too excited – they can’t be used in all applications. For instance, you wouldn’t want to use a QR code on a vehicle for the simple fact it would be moving 99% of the time or even on a billboard for obvious reasons. However, QR code can be effective if used on a business card to send an email, brochure to link the customer to more product information, or even within your trade show display graphics to quickly connect the potential client to your website.  As an added bonus you can track when your QR code is scanned, and if you have multiple QR codes, you can view which links had the most interest.

Where do QR codes come from?
So, I’m sure by now you are really wondering where you can find these QR codes. There are many sites online that can convert a standard website link into a QR code and in many cases they would be free.  One site you can try would be http://www.qrstuff.com/. All you have to provide is the webpage you’d like to link the QR code to, then you can download the QR code file. It can be used for print, you can upload it as a photo or post it on your website.

QR code do’s and don’ts
There are a few tips I’d like to provide to make sure you are getting the most out of your QR code:

  • MOST IMPORTANT: Size: QR codes have to be a minimum size of 1 inch by 1 inch. This will insure it is large enough to be scanned by your smartphone.
  • Color: Black and white works best for this application. However, you can use colors with high contrast from each other.
  • Space: You must leave a white border around the QR code so it stands out and to give it a better scanning ability.
  • Be clear: Be sure to provide clear instructions on how to scan the QR code and where they will end up once they do scan it. One example could be, “Scan this code to receive 5% off your next purchase.” You’ll want to make sure you make will be worth the customers effort to scan the code, so they will be more apt to scan it if they will benefit in some way. Just make sure your information is clear and they will be more willing to take out their phone and scan the code.
  • Test it…twice: You must not assume the QR code will work because you put in a valid URL. Once you’ve inserted the code onto your marketing material, make sure to test it many different ways to insure it will work for anyone no matter what. And have others in your office test it too. That’s the last thing you want is for the code to not work for even the most tech savvy the customer and it leaves them frustrated and annoyed.
  • Track it: It’s always important to track when and how often your QR code was scanned. This will give great knowledge to how you should or shouldn’t use the QR code in the future. It also gives good insight as to what your customer wants most.

In the end, QR codes can be a great marketing tactic to use when you want to engage your customers and give them more information about what your company can do for them. Use them wisely but don’t overuse them.

Comment below and let me know how you use QR codes to promote your business.

Happy QR coding!

What to consider when hiring a Graphic Designer

Consider this…you’re a business searching for a graphic designer to work with on a consistent basis to create the necessary graphics to get your brand out there. I’m sure a couple questions come to mind like “Does anyone know any local graphic designers?” or “Should we search for a designer online?”. It’s definitely a tough decision to make and there are lots of qualified designers out there that would suit your needs, local or not. However, to some it may seem like an impossible business relationship if your designer is not within arms reach, but nine times out of ten it can work out quite well with the help of technology of course. So let’s say you choose a designer that is not within your local area or maybe not even in the same state, there are a few things to consider when making this decision.

1. Trust is always a must
If doing anything online scares you – online banking, online shopping, etc. – you are not alone. Being able to meet someone face to face certainly can develop more trust than just talking on the phone or through email. Whether you are hiring someone local or in another state, there is always the chance your design relationship will not last. But in my opinion, you’ll know right away if this is going to happen. You have to trust your instincts just like anything else and you’ll know if the designer you chose will be the right fit or not.

2. Developing a way to communicate
What if you’re horrible at communicating through email and sometimes just can’t get your message across? What if you don’t know how to express what you want over the phone? What if you don’t know how to provide feedback or suggest changes? While all these may seem like valid reasons for you to hire locally, there is always a way to simplify any communication barrier. It’s all about getting to know each other and find a comfortable way to communicate. As with all things, this does take time but with a little patience things will fall into place and it will become easier to communicate your thoughts and ideas more efficiently.

3. Working together as a team
Teamwork makes it easier for both you, the client, and me, the designer, to effectively create the best possible design that everyone is happy with. Whether it takes one revision or several, its most important for everyone to be on the same page and come together as a team.

Having had 10+ year’s experience creating designs for clients all throughout the US, I can assure you developing a long distance design relationship is actually a lot easier than it sounds. I’m fairly new to the Freelancing community, but definitely not new to the design world. Freelancing just gives me the opportunity to work where I want and choose the hours that I want. More often than not, this just means you’ll be paying less for the same quality of work you’d get if you hire a large design firm. If you can look past the fact that your designer is not down the street or even in the same state, just remember they are only a phone call or email away.

So, how about we work together? Contact me now so we can discuss how I can improve your business image!

Five Tips to help you choose photos wisely

When used properly, photos are a very effective and powerful content tool that can quickly send your intended message to your viewing audience. However, using the wrong photos can degrade your viewers experience. In this article, I’ll explain 5 tips to help you choose photos wisely and use them wisely.

Tip 1: Choosing the Right Photos

In any type of design – ad, brochures, website, signage – photos are very powerful tools. Experts suggest that users pay closer attention to photos and other images but ignore fluffy text.  However, photos are only useful when the right ones are selected. So how do you choose the right photos anyways??

  1. First consider the fundamentals of the photo – image quality, composition, exposure, etc.
  2. Next comes effectiveness; ask yourself “how well does the photo create appeal for my company” in terms of emotional appeal and brand appeal.
  3. Now you’ll want to consider if the photo is sending the correct message to the viewer.
  4. And finally, would the photo create desire for your product or company.

Tip 2: Don’t Use Generic Photos or Elements

In most instances, generic photos or elements really don’t serve any purpose other than being visual components or a space filler. You need to make sure the photos are unique to your company and not just the same old “stock photo” every other business uses out there. Hire a local photographer to take some shots of your employees in action so your customer can form a connection with your company. Using a photo of the business owner or actual people within the company have positive effects on a visitor’s first impression and creates trustworthiness of the company.  They in turn feel a personal connection with the company and would be more apt to make a purchase. If the client or end user can add a face to the name, this provides a personal connection and possibly a long standing customer.

Tip 3: Using Photos Purposefully

Photos can do many things that simple text does not – quickly tell a story, indicate your brand, show products, etc. Their ability to guide your users towards specific sections of your web pages is also an added bonus.  The usefulness of a single photo can oftentimes speak louder than words. When selling products, photos are a great asset which can allow the consumer to see view the product first hand which could never be achieved as effectively with using plain text.

Tip 4: Optimizing Your Photos’ File Sizes

Your website’s responsiveness and speed are very critical factors – you have less than 3 seconds to grab the visitors attention and keep their interest to stay on your site and browse further.  If your image sizes are too large, your page will load too slowly which may often frustrate the visitor and cause them to leave too soon.  To improve web performance you’ll need to reduce the file size of your photos/images as much as you can to make them download as quickly as possible.  An easy trick is to save images for ‘web use’ which turns high-resolution photos into a web-optimized format. I typically use PhotoShop for this and choose a preset setting because it doesn’t lower the quality of the photo but makes it much smaller.

Tip 5: Underestimating the Size of Your Images

The effects of placing a big photo as the background of your designs can create a huge impact and it’s definitely an easy way to catch the viewers’ attention.  It also allows them to quickly see what your company is all about within a matter seconds. Just keep in mind, this large image should be selected carefully – you certainly don’t want to send the wrong message.  However, large images may not always work in all designing applications, so tread lightly with this one.

Hope this information helps in your future photo selections.  And I’m always available to chat so let me know how I can help with your company’s graphic design needs!

“If you think adventure is dangerous, try routine — it’s lethal.”

If you think adventure is dangerous, try routine — it’s lethal.

Nobody wants to be stuck in a rut…that makes everyone unhappy! So my question for today is: are your business graphics stuck in a rut? Do they need help getting out of this rut? It’s OK to admit, sometimes the image of your business gets overlooked. Maybe you thought your image looked “cool” or “welcoming”, but in turn it has been looked at as a disaster! You must consider this image of how you portray your business to your consumers or clients could make or break their decision to work with you or move on to the next guy. The image of your business should be the first aspect of selling your business whether you are offering a service or product.

Your task for today: analyze how your business image is helping or hurting the bottom line.  And if you need help, just ask!

Contact me today!

Phone: (207) 333-1131
Email: brie@brixelcreative.com

Connect:
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One of the MOST IMPORTANT parts of running a business…

Ever wonder what one of the MOST IMPORTANT parts of running a business is that often gets overlooked or even forgotten? Did you guess it….GRAPHIC DESIGN! Designing your image may seem like a daunting task – it can either come across as professional (good!) or cheesy (you certainly don’t want that!).

That’s where I come in…I’m here to help you sort it all out! Contact me today!