Let’s face it – design is subjective in nature so who’s to say there are even such things as mistakes that you can actually make. This is less about actual aesthetic mistakes and more about mistakes that may be standing in the way of getting your message out there. Whether that be in a promo graphic, a page on your website, or just the overall flow of your brand’s design elements.
I get it – design can be an expression of your brand’s creativity so I’m not here to say what you are doing is wrong. I just want you to be on the right track to make your designs cohesive, clear, and able to convey your message in all its brilliance.
Good design can take everything you are doing in your business and brand to the next level.
It gives you credibility. When you put effort into your designs (if you’re DIYing) then it shows that you care about what you are putting out there.
I see so many incredible entrepreneurs and businesses out there making big and small design mistakes that can easily be fixed. Adding a tweak or two to your brand’s design or graphics can really take things from “blah” to “OMG – I want to stay on your website forever because I’m just really feeling it.” See that’s the power of good design, my friend!
One of the top reasons why I love design and always have is because you are able to communicate some things that words cannot. Design can a huge client magnet by just providing a “vibe” that totally clicks with your ideal people. It can be a deciding factor whether someone stays on your website or clicks away elsewhere.
Design can also inspire magical things in your biz! So let’s get started uncovering the 5 most common design mistakes and how we can fix them ASAP… like today!
1. Font & Color Overkill / Overload
This is probably the most common mistake I see around, so it’s best to start here. It’s totally understandable because once you have your specific brand colors and fonts set, it’s tempting to want to use all of them at once and all the time. I get it – I get really excited about fonts and colors too, especially when you finally find something that all works together.
But here’s the thing – we don’t need to use every single color in our color palette in every single thing we create. We also don’t need to use our 2-3 fonts in everything if we don’t need to. Every color, font, and design element should have a purpose. When it doesn’t, take it out! Let me show you a couple examples…
As you can see, in most of my blog post title graphics, I only used 2-3 of my brand colors and these will work together (when placed beside one another) to create my entire brand image. I also only use 2 fonts in my brand. One of my fonts, Raleway, has a lot of font styles so I have some variety to work with.
It’s best to think of your brand style guide (your brand fonts, colors, textures, and brand-specific design elements) as an overall guide for your brand, as a whole. Start adopting this concept if you’re feeling like you’ve gone on font + color overkill instead of thinking of it as a guide for each individual element of your brand.
Are you wondering what the heck I’m talking about? Here’s an example – think in terms of how all these colors and fonts work together on your entire website instead of adding every single font and color you have into just your logo, a single promo graphic, etc. These individual pieces of your brand should weave together to make your brand a cohesive masterpiece.
2. Not Enough Negative Space
White or negative space can be your friend. Don’t be scared of it! I know when we first get our hands on designing graphics for our biz, it can be easy to want to take up all the space provided. I see this with promo graphics, workbooks, e-books, etc.
Here’s a little and simple design secret – you can make your graphics look more legible, clear, and have a more high-end feel if you add some space around your text, design elements, logo, etc. I especially love this mistake because it’s so, so easy to fix. You can literally fix it in seconds and the result is 100 times better than what you had going on before.
Let me show you some examples…
3. Kerning Script Fonts (Or Putting Script Fonts In All CAPS)
I love me some script fonts! I love the juxtaposition of a bold, san-serif font with a flowy script font. It’s one of my favorite font combinations, but sometimes it can go a bit wrong.
Script fonts are usually designed perfectly to flow within each other. They almost always have connectors to the next character to give it that flowing look, like how you would actually write if you were writing it out on paper. When you write cursive you almost always never lift your pen (or if you do, you make it look like you didn’t).
So make sure you keep the design integrity of your script fonts and don’t add space between the characters (also known as kerning). Let me show you some examples and I know you can immediately spot out the ones that are kerned.
And don’t get me wrong – I love kerning fonts. It adds an extra customization to your fonts, but it really should only be done when you are using non-script fonts.
Now that we’re on the topic of script fonts, I must mention that usually script fonts are also not meant to be in all caps. This makes them hard to read and like I mentioned before, script font characters are supposed to connect to one another and these capitalized characters don’t do that.
There are some exceptions, but very few! Let me show you some script fonts that do work in all caps.
They are usually brush lettered fonts, but if you choose to go this route – do it sparingly! A text’s legibility should always be your top priority. I know you have brilliant things to say and if no one can read them then what’s the point of creating your graphic in the first place.
4. Putting Design Before Function
This leads me to my next common mistake. I see this way too often and I admit when I was first designing in college I did it too. It wasn’t until I had my design professors in school tell me that I needed function before design. It’s pretty easy to make things pretty all day long, but all your branded materials and your website needs to work for you.
Good design has both function and aesthetics and to achieve both of them takes patience and some effort. That’s why I love design – because it’s a puzzle that you can sit with for hours and every other person can have a different solution. Now when I design anything for myself or my 1 on 1 design clients, functionality comes first and aesthetics comes closely after.
Functionality of your brand’s design is something that can truly take your brand to the next level. It’s something that can give your brand purpose. Here’s some things to consider – when you are choosing your brand fonts and color keep in mind their specific purpose you need them to fulfill. This is different for every business and every brand.
For example, if are you a photographer you may need to consider having a bolder font so you can have some legible text overlays on your photos. If you’re an artist selling or displaying your colorful + vibrant paintings on your site then you’ll want to choose a color palette that doesn’t overpower your work. This could be black + white with a pop of color that is prominent in most of your paintings.
This is why branding isn’t a one-size-fits-all situation. There’s serious intention behind the colors, fonts, patterns, and design elements you choose.
5. Following Trends Too Closely
Remember when butterfly clips were the best things on planet Earth? Oh, how I loved butterfly clips. I had them in every color, size, and shape. Just as fast as they were in, they were on their way out. Remember that? But the craziest thing about trends is that you don’t know how long they will last… just like those beloved butterfly clips.
There’s some amazing science behind trends and actually trend predicting services that big corporations subscribe to. But even if you do have access to those, you never know how the market will respond to these design trends anyways.
What does this all mean to you? Well, it is best to not jump with both feet into big design trends because they could be here today, gone tomorrow. If your brand design depends on one of these major trends than when the trend leaves us, your site could look outdated pretty quickly.
Remember when ombre everything, chevron, and badge logos were the most amazing concepts in the whole world? Yeah, those went out pretty quickly and now they can look a little cheesy and majorly outdated. So try to stay clear of the next hottest design trends.
But once you do all your ideal client research and decide that your audience does respond well to trends than a good compromise is adding a slight design nod to them. You don’t have to go full-out with it. Maybe you add a texture or a couple elements that relate to that trend so when that trend RIP’s you can easily switch out a smaller element in your brand without the anxiety of an entire rebrand.
Last but not least, have fun designing your brand! Don’t dwell on the mistakes if it feels right to you. You know what’s best for you. If you follow along the tips in this post, you’ll be just fine… well better than fine – totally ahead of the game. Picking out your brand specific fonts, colors, and textures can and will be a fun project. And be prepared because designing your brand and gathering inspiration may cause extreme bursts of creativity… BUT in all the right ways!
PS – Want to learn exactly how to build your brilliant brand, design your own biz graphics, and streamline that whole process like the true lady boss that you are? Enroll in my Adobe Illustrator Masterclass and we’ll rock it all out there.