Great design is a foundational building block of successful business strategy. It communicates your brand, boosts visibility, drives engagement, and inspires conversion. The visual and creative content your organization pushes out into the world is, simply, a reflection of who you are, what you stand for, and why consumers should choose you.
But despite the lofty goals anchored to design, many professionals aren’t entirely sure what marketing materials and designs are effective, what tools to use, and how they should prioritize their time to maximize results.
The solution? Whether you are just starting to build your brand or refreshing your marketing strategy, you’ll benefit from understanding the fundamentals of compelling creative content and what’s needed to best engage customers through design and visual cues. Consider how you approach the design and creation of these essential marketing materials:
#1. Build a brand identity.
Building a brand identity will anchor your business and its marketing materials, communications, and overall presence. Brand identity is the look, feel, and sound of your brand. As you develop or refresh your organization’s presence, focus on elements like font choice, your tagline, and your vision statement. If you’re looking for a place to start, begin with the visual identity of your brand — that means working with color.
A successful brand color palette is harmonious and flexible enough to provide plenty of opportunities for future creative work. By selecting base colors and, from there, applying the color rules, you’ll develop a solid visual theme that speaks to your brand and the overarching brand experience you’re striving to deliver.
Take these color selections and use them to build the core elements of brand identity — think logo design, basic signage, and the beginnings of a visual framework that will carry through all creative content going forward.
#2. Establish an online presence.
With a color palette and brand identity foundation, businesses are ready to establish an online presence — a website, social media platforms, blogs, and other digital touchpoints. People are visual by nature, and interesting images and relevant creative content can provide clear messaging that will greatly improve your readership and help engage your audience.
It can sound like a tall order, especially if you’re building from the ground up. The simplest approach? Evaluate needs versus wants — what the organization’s website, social page, or blog actually requires to engage and convert customers, versus what’s just nice to have.
For example, ask yourself what information customers absolutely need to purchase your product. They’ll need to know what the product is, why the product is going to benefit their life, and the ability to either purchase the product or contact your company for more information. Focus on creating a compelling design that clearly communicates these essential details.
By taking a needs-first approach, what these key elements are in your particular business strategy will come to your attention — the crucial pages that need to be created and the specific objectives of key audiences. Start there.
As your digital presence grows and evolves, there will be ample time for wants, like interactive elements, new design trends, more images and video, etc. As you add and enhance your digital pages with more information and design elements, be constantly evaluating what draws your attention. If a new element pulls focus away from the needs you established, it isn’t helping your customers.
#3. Engage customers with relevant email.
Great email design is an important piece of the creative puzzle. With consumers receiving more emails than ever before, it’s crucial that you not only consistently deliver valuable information to their inboxes, but also design emails so that customers can quickly understand what in that message is going to benefit them.
How do you know what’s valuable? Focus on customer analytics surrounding your campaigns. Data can show you exactly what your customers are interested in, allowing you to create relevant materials. Also, look for opportunities where your designs and messaging can offer a little levity — something fun, something entertaining, and something that compels readers to click-through instead of clicking “mark as spam.”
While there are a lot of moving parts in solid email design, it all starts with making the process of signing up and managing frequency as simple as possible. From there, be mobile-first. Know that a good chunk of your audience will be accessing your emails via smartphone. With a consumer-conscientious strategy, you’ll be in a better position to deliver epic emails — emails that engage, emails that are cohesive and consistent with the brand, and emails that build your business.
#4. Develop online advertising that leads to conversions.
Now that your business is on the web, the next step is creating online advertising that will appear on websites, blogs, and social media. Online ads should connect the dots between target customers, marketing objectives, and the brand experience as a whole.
It’s important to remember that online ads aren’t just about creating eye-catching designs that get customers to click, though this is very important. They also have to manage customer expectations and create a consistent, cohesive journey from promotion to website to conversion.
When consumers click on an ad, its visual cues give them a sense of what’s coming next. The key is to create a consistent and logical path that takes them from the online promotion to a website or social page to your product to purchase. This seamless flow creates a high value, highly relevant customer experience.
#5. Deliver engaging reports and presentations.
Today’s consumers are natural skeptics who deal with information overload every day. They’ve heard it all, seen it all, and experienced it all. So, why should they do business with your brand?
Reports like case studies, infographics, and brand presentations provide the critical social proof consumers need to engage with your brand. It’s all about creating content that is equal parts visually-engaging and data-driven. That’s powerful, and that drives engagement.
But it doesn’t stop there. With the virality of today’s digital landscape, focus on creating reports, papers, charts, and graphs that can be shared and socialized. This leverages the power of word-of-mouth to share your brand message.
#6. Marketing before, during, and after events.
Throwing an event usually means designing new materials that involve every stage of the event process — creative content delivered before the event as well as during and, even, after. There are many approaches to marketing for an event, but no matter the deliverable, be sure your content is consistent with your brand identity.
When working with posters and flyers, make sure viewers can quickly grasp the most important information. Develop brochures that have purpose and strategy. If the brochure is valuable to an attendee’s event experience, they will be more likely to hang onto it instead of throwing it out. Thank you emails or mailing materials sent after the event keep enthusiasm high and preserve the customer’s connection to your brand. Social media posts on Twitter and Facebook are also great tools to connect with event goers once the event is over.
Make all of it happen with Adobe Creative Cloud.
Adobe Creative Cloud offers the tools needed to create professional, eye-catching marketing materials. Not sure where to begin? Access how-to resources and tutorials to get started.