colorsWe’ve all been there – designing a promotional campaign backed by printed materials that you wished looked better. You look at those designed by professional graphic designers and wonder how they got such a brilliant design to look so elegant, and yet simple.

Designers at Colour Graphics are aware that although something looks simple and striking, getting to that point can take many hours of experimenting, moving graphics, changing fonts and so on.

This is why some small businesses and start-ups find it difficult to find the budget to pay for professional design, opting instead to create their own design for business cards, postcards, leaflets, flyers and so on.

With this in mind, we have come up with five design hacks that start-ups and small to medium enterprises (SMEs) can use to create stunning, effective design for their promotional materials;

#1 two contrasting fonts

On one hand, you will be told not to mix fonts as they can make your design look messy and amateur. This is why when you look at professionally designed promotional stuff you will notice that the designer has used two contrasting fonts.

To get it right, do this:

  • Choose two fonts with a high contrast as this will help balance each other out in your design
  • Make the title significantly larger and brighter than supporting text and the colour of the background

#2 Harmonious colour

Colour harmony is one of the most effective ways of making your design stand out:

  • Match colours you use for fonts etc. with your background image – to find the exact match, use a colour picker too as this will provide you with the six-digit hex code. Using this codes means an exact match between your font colour and the main colour of your image, for example

#3 Transparent icons or logos

This is a really neat trick that can see you laying for hours with all kinds of transparency effects for your logo or any other icon you are including on your design.

On most graphic design packages or software, there will be an option within the main menu to make a graphic transparent; there will be different colours and settings, all of which you can use to pay around to create a stunning and unusual effect. Again, match the colour of the transparent logo or icon with the main colour theme of your image.

#4 Don’t rule out infographics

You will have seen these popping up all over the internet. They are a brilliant way of gathering and ordering information, creating a visual display of your information.

You may not necessarily think of infographics as being the design you need for your promotional campaign but the use of shapes and icons is a great visual aid for not only attracting attention, but also conveying the information that you want the audience to remember.

#5 Fix your images

When you take a photograph of a product, you may be more or less happy with the final product.

However, take a moment to really look at other advertising and promotional material, and you will see that the main object has a strong and vibrant colour to it.

So, the satsumas in your photo need to be altered so that they are very orange, the red rose needs to be vibrant red and the blue sea needs to be an inviting shade of blue… and so on. This is known in some programs as colour saturation.

Bonus tip! – Consistent elements

One thing that graphic designers now make a huge difference to how the human sees something is to ensure that the elements of colours, fonts, logos and images and consistent throughout.

Being repetitive in some elements is important when creating consistency. For example, if you are placing text towards the bottom, right hand corner with one image or advert, do the same for the other versions of the same advert.

This helps with something called visual recognition, a familiarity process that we all go through when we look at an advert or a piece of promotional literature.

In this sense, when you start your next project instead of reinventing the wheel, take key elements from a previous campaign and use them in your new promotional campaign. Just keeping the font the same can be important in creating a sense of cohesion from one campaign to the next.

Designing your own promotional material may be a necessity as you start out, especially with budgets being tight and cash flow trickling rather than flowing. But you can design your own professional looking marketing material.


Colour Graphics is a design and printing agency who work with businesses of all sizes, including start-ups and micro businesses. With this in mind, they create vibrant, high spec printed promotional material of all kinds and with an in-house design team, it is simple to get advice and design help.