There’s a lot to learn about graphic design, but here are seven lessons I learned in my first years as a church communicator:
1. Form and Content
The most memorable and effective messages almost always have the right blend of form and content, regardless of the medium. Every design has a message (content)—either literal or symbolic. Everything about the appearance of the design (form) should help reinforce the message. For example, you wouldn’t design an apple in purple right? Unless using that particular color would help you reinforce a specific message. Communicate with purpose, don’t just make eye candy.
2. Define Your Audience
Who are you speaking to and what is the objective? Having the message and its intended audience sorted out before you start designing will help you communicate more effectively and save you from creating tons of unpublished work. Graphic design is simply a plan that visually articulates a message, and it starts with developing a solid understanding of what speaks to your audience. Defining your audience will help you stand out from the noise.
3. Repetition, Repetition, Repetition
You want your message to stick. Chances of that happening are greatly increased by repeating the message. Again. And again. And again.
4. Failure Is Always an Option
I hate to break it to you, but not all designs will hit home. Failure is always an option. And all you can do is pick yourself up, dust yourself off and fail all over again. In fact, I encourage you to fail often, but learn something from each failure your make.
5. Experiment Often
Get out of your comfort zone and experiment with a new style you’ve never tried before. It’s so easy to become victim of the predator of routine. Force yourself to take chances with color, form and style. Perhaps you can use a different technique or medium to create something new. Being unfamiliar and uncomfortable can lead to creative break through. Even if nothing turns out like a masterpiece at first, you might find yourself learning new techniques.
6. Tell a Good Story
Effective branding and design tell a good story quickly. Sometimes it’s a single image or just 30 seconds. In writing it’s often the first few paragraphs that determine whether people will read it or not—the same is true with visual stories. Good stories are more than just empty words. Good design is more than just pretty pictures. Visual storytelling explores ideas, feelings and experiences on a deeper level. It should resonate with your audience but drive home the message in a clear and concise fashion. Pair your design with content and an overarching story to keep people engaged.
7. Break The Rules
Now that you’ve read all the rules, feel free to break them. Make something happen. Create outside box. Have fun!
- Get more communication lessons for beginners in our Getting Started interview with Denisse.
Starting out and need more help? The Certification Lab is coming to Nashville in October. This two-day training event includes six months of virtual mentoring and is designed for those new to church communication.