Here's How to Stop Sucking at Branding & Design

Here’s How to Stop Sucking at Branding & Design

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>> Skip right to the part where you can win a $2,499 Brandtastic Blogover.

I only truly realized a few years ago how bad I am at designing – well, pretty much everything.

I remember the precise moment I came to that realization…

I was working with a startup in Toronto, and we needed a design for our company Christmas card that would be sent to hundreds of clients across Canada.

Our team of roughly one dozen employees had a talented designer on it already. But since I had built the relationships with most of our clients, I thought I would show some initiative by creating the Christmas card on my own.

I got to work.

First, I downloaded a stock image of a snowy nativity scene at night.

Next, I cropped head shots of each of our team members, and placed each of them transparently on a large star in the night sky.

Finally, in some big, bulky white letters, I wrote something to effect of, Merry Christmas from our team to yours!

I thought it looked great. There was our team, decapitated over Bethlehem, and a font that might as well have been Comic Sans.

The reaction from the rest of my team was priceless. I got a lot of compliments, such as,

What the @#$% is this?
Are you @#$%^&* kidding me?
That’s the ugliest thing I have ever seen.

The CEO even asked me,

You didn’t actually waste time on this, did you?

Of course not… it only took me an hour or so.

Needless to say, my design was not chosen for the company Christmas card.

And more importantly, I learned that day that design might not be my strong suit.

Do You Struggle with Branding & Design?

You are not alone.

Even many of those individuals with the technical skill to create stunning graphics and imagery don’t necessarily have the creative capacity to do so. This becomes especially apparent on larger projects, such as web design.

So far as my blog goes, I designed it myself – and clearly I am not a design professional, by any stretch of the imagination. Heck, I even still find Canva tricky to use.

That said, I have picked up on a few design basics since I began freelancing last fall.

I’ll share with you a few things I have learned along the way. From there, perhaps you would be willing to share with me some things you have learned about design? I would welcome any pointers in the comments below.

(1) Increase your white space

Clean, simple and minimalist designs are in. And that isn’t riding the coattails of some fading trend – it is really about user experience. Keeping all of your design elements well-spaced and free from clutter makes your website easier for users to read and navigate.

(2) Create a color palette

Whether it is the design of your website, logo, promotional graphics, or other materials, work within a palette of colors. It keeps things consistent for branding purposes, and looks more attractive. Here is the color palette I use for my website and my free eBook download.

Create a color palette(Don’t have a free copy of A Visual Guide to Email Marketing Mastery? Download now!)

(3) Resize images for faster load times

Everybody loves beautiful high definition images… except for users on their mobile phones, watching their bandwidth get sucked up by gigantic 10 MB header photos. Resize your images to reduce load times, and link to the high resolution file if you wish.

(4) Do not automatically play anything

Whether it’s a flash animation, a video, or a sound file, please do not set anything to automatically play when a user lands on your website. It’s annoying, has the potential to be embarrassing, increases load times, and showcases an utter lack of respect for your visitor to make choices for him or herself.

(5) Brand your content

Whether you use a variation of your logo, a profile picture, or something else altogether, consistently brand your content. This includes eBooks, graphics, featured images, and anything else that might be shared on the world wide web. Of course, this assists with brand recognition, but it also adds a touch of professionalism to the content you create.

(6) Be considerate to mobile users

I’ve heard people talk about mobile being the way of the future, but those people are wrong. Mobile is the way of the present… it’s already here! And if your featured images are designed with unreadable text, or your website is not mobile-friendly, very little you do for your design matters.

(7) Hire a professional

This point might be the most important.

As many of you know, I hired an excellent graphic designer to help me put together my free eBook named Karl Mizen.

And if you are serious about design, it just might be time to hire a professional to do the job.

After all, we can’t all be experts at every single thing…

  • If I need help with traffic generation, I go to Ana Hoffman.
  • If I need help with social media, I go to Kim Garst.
  • If I need help with time management, I go to Tor Refsland.
  • If I need help with email marketing, I go to Ryan Deiss.

And if I need help with branding or design, I go to Andrea Beltrami.

Win a Free Brandtastic Blogover ($2,499 Value)

Win a Free Brandtastic Blogover

Andrea “Dre” Beltrami was my guest on Better Blogging this past Monday.

(If you didn’t catch the interview, you can watch it here…!)

We discussed best practices when it comes to design and branding, and wow…! Dre sure does know her stuff. In fact, if you ever wanted to consider hiring her to work on your design or branding, she would be more than happy to speak with you.

But I also discovered at the same time that she teamed up with Sue Anne Dunlevie and Daniela Uslan to give away an amazing blogover package worth nearly $2,500.

Just look at what is included:

  • A brand new Premium Genesis Theme ($99)
  • Complete blog site makeover or a brand new site ($750)
  • A one on one consultation with Sue of Successful Blogging to choose your domain name, custom palette, and theme ($175)
  • A logo graphic package from Dre at The Branded Solopreneur, including a new logo, a submark (i.e. logo for watermarking), and custom social media icons ($750)
  • A blogging strategy session & 5 custom-written blog posts by Daniela at ($600)
  • A year of hosting and domain name by Bluehost (worth $87)
  • One month of blog maintenance from WP Radius ($37)

If you struggle with design or branding, or you are new to blogging and want to start off on the right foot, entering for a chance to win this package is an absolute no-brainer.

UPDATE / Jul-2-2015 / This contest is officially closed. Congratulations to Dawn K of Beginning Me Again for winning!

>> Yes, I Want to Enter the Brandtastic Blogover Giveaway!

I'm entering the Brandtastic Blogover Giveaway worth $2,499!Click To Tweet

Disclaimer: I was not paid or compensated in any way to promote this giveaway. I am promoting it strictly because the value of this offer is insane and the three individuals behind it are extremely talented. If you do indeed struggle with design and branding, you absolutely must enter this giveaway!

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