Aside from writing your content you also need to design it. Making everything look awesome while simultaneously creating a consistent brand can be a challenge, but it doesn’t need to be. Here are 10 seriously easy content marketing design tips to ensure everything always looks its best, appeals to the right audience, and reflects the personality and values of your brand…
#1 Use Canva
Hands down the best piece of graphic design software for content marketing is Canva. It’s a drag-and-drop system that comes with a lot of powerful tools and is seriously easy to use. The free version is great, but I recommend getting the pro version – it’s inexpensive at $10/month and will allow you to upload custom fonts and do a lot of other great, time-saving things to enhance your graphics.
#2 Nail Down Your Brand With A Mood Board
Before you start creating the visuals for your content you need to know your visual brand. Creating a mood board is a fun and easy way to do this. Figure out your brand colours and fonts, and collect some images that reflect your ideal client, the function of your brand, and the feelings you want it to elicit. Add some words and phrases that perfectly sumarise what your brand stands for, and what it should look like, and you’re done. Here’s the simple mood board I created for the rebrand of The Write Copy Girl:
#3 Establish Elements That Can Be Used Across Your Brand
If you have a logo it’s useful to pull out pieces of it that you can use in other aspects of your branding. For example, my logo for The Write Copy Girl is a typewriter in a circle:
But I often use just the typewriter in the graphics I create for my social media platforms, check out a few of my Instagram posts to see what I mean. I don’t add it to everything, just the occasional template.
I’ve just had a brand new logo designed for the sub-brand I’m creating for my new book, Divine Blogging. I’ve incorporated both the mandala element and the text design into the book cover for Divine Blogging, and will be using both the full mandala and some of the triangles in the mandala design in my social media posts.
#4 Create Templates Using Canva
The biggest time-saving content marketing design tip is by far creating templates for everything you need on a regular basis. From your features images to your social media posts, create a template for everything and use it consistently week in, week out. That doesn’t mean every type of image you create should look the same, just that every image of the same type should have consistent elements like layouts, fonts, colours etc.
This is one of the amazing benefits of using Canva, and there are a lot of ready-made free templates on there to help you get started.
#5 Go Pro For Easily Re-Sized Designs
Speaking of Canva, using the pro version is well worth it because it lets you magically resize everything. Let’s say you create a template you love for Instagram, but you also want to use the same images on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest. The ideal dimensions needed for all these platforms is very different, and to make the most out of your content you’ll want to optimise them to each platform. Canva has a ‘magic resize’ feature – simple design it in one size, hit the resize and select the platforms you want to use it on, and Canva will create new templates in the dimensions needed for the other platforms.
You’ll have to tweak them a little so they fit properly, but the end result is awesome image sets and no need to create new content for every platform you use.
#6 Gather A Stock Of On-Brand Images
Creating all these graphics is almost certainly going to require a lot of images. Unless you decide not to use any stock photography in your branding (and some brands do this very effectively) it’s really useful to have two things:
- Clear guidelines on the types of images you will use, and which will be used where.
- A stockpile of royalty free images that conform to these rules, which you can grab whenever you need them.
For example, my own stock photographs always include women of my ideal clients’ age, if they include people at all. I also favour images of women writing – either on laptops or in notebooks – and recording video content or taking photos, because all of this relates to content creation. When choosing features images for my brand they always include a woman creating some form of content, unless there is a specific theme for the post I want to highlight. For example my recent posts on creating seasonal content had landscape images of flowers, ocean, autumnal leaves, and snow to represent spring, summer, autumn, and winter, while the feature image for this post is a set of coloured crayons.
I’m a little more flexible on images used within outside feature images, choosing ones that reflect the topic, yet they still conform to my core rules wherever possible.
When I decided on the rules for my images I spent quite a bit of time collecting a good stock of photos that fitted those rules, downloading them, and saving them in a dedicated ‘brand photography’ folder. That’s sub-divided into additional folders for ‘laptops’ and ‘notebooks’ etc. to make it easier to find a picture that suits the mood I want.
It’s an initial time investment that makes creating your content marketing graphics a lot less time-consuming in the long run. You’re not constantly searching for images and you never have to worry about finding on-brand images.
#7 Create Image Consistency With A Filter
While we’re on the subject of images, a super-easy design hack that can also be done in Canva is to use an filter on all your images to create a consistent look and feel to them, even when they’re vastly different. There are preset filters in Canva (for example, I use the ‘festive’ filter on all my images), but you can also fiddle with the filter settings to create the perfect look, then copy the filter code and past it into all your templates to ensure they all have the same filter.
It makes a subtle but HUGE difference, creating consistency across images with very different locations, tones and subjects.
Just be aware there are exceptions to the filter rule – very light or dark images will need the intensity of the filter lowering so that it’s at the very minimum to avoid the image becoming difficult to see properly. If you use flatlays that are predominantly white with objects on, you may need to remove it completely.
#8 Create Great Blog Cover Images
In addition to the feature images you upload on WordPress I always recommend using cover images on social media. This is the same image, but with the title of the post included on the image. You can use these as the feature images on your post, and in fact a lot of my clients do, and I did until very recently. Or you can have a plain image on WordPress and save the cover image for sharing on social.
#9 Take Your Own Photos
A great way to infuse a little originality into your brand is to take your own photos. This works amazingly well if you’re sharing things like recipes and book reviews. Get some snaps of your cooking efforts and the finished food, or a few snaps of the book you’re reviewing (ideally with yourself in the image). Photos of your general work environment are great for behind-the-scenes looks, selfies always go down amazingly on social media, and if you’re talking about using a product or service for something specific, images that demonstrate you actually doing it will work well.
If you’re filming videos, get some still frames while you’re at it, either by using a handy app to take photos while you’re filming, or taking stills directly from the video (just remember to keep still for a few seconds on camera, in the poses you want, so you can putt stills that are in focus!).
#10 Have A Branded Photo Shoot
Part of my big new rebrand was having a branded photoshoot done, and it’s probably the best thing I’ve ever done for my visual branding. My whole website is coherent now, and thoroughly infused with me doing my thing – there’s no better way to visually build your branding, or create consistency!