Lauren Kaye

If you don’t have an eye for design, it can be hard to make effective marketing graphics. Even if you have great ideas for graphics that can take your campaign from bland to beautiful, it can be difficult to articulate them to designers.

We’ve all been there. You have this vision, and you start explaining it to a graphic designer, who in turn stares back and you with a confused expression. Perhaps it’s even dismay? You wonder if it’s the worst idea ever, and instead back down to something safer, something that wasn’t really what you had in mind at all in the first place.

To help you avoid those moments, we’ve gathered 15 tips from our designers about how to make great marketing graphics.

1. Help us understand your business and your goals

„Understanding the business model is paramount to beginning a good concept. We need to know who you are and what you want to communicate to your customers. Good creative comes from constraints, constraints from the client’s business model and brand requirements.“ – Ken Boostrom, Design Director

2. Provide brand guidelines to direct the theme

„Typically brand guidelines are fairly basic with examples of color, font, how to place and use a logo and how not to place a logo. Some are more in-depth with form and color (such as: Use a triangle in the design). If you have strong brand guidelines, it’s easier to find a theme that’s appropriate for the brand (an anchor manufacturer would be a nautical theme). This helps us match the brand guidelines, the business model, the goals and be relevant to the audience.“ – Ken Boostrom, Design Director

3. Find a way to relate the topic to an everyday theme

„I always try and think if the bigger picture, and relate it to something from everyday life, or something more fun than the original topic. There are a lot of concepts in life that overlap and can be applied to graphics.“ – Brittany Cornell, Graphic Designer

„Try and avoid being too literal and worrying if people will „get it.“ If you stay safe, you’ll end up with 100 pictures of someone hunched over at a computer.“

4. Bring inspiration to the table

„Research successful relevant designs, advertising and other inspirational materials before you bring your concept to a design team.“ – Ken Boostrom, Design Director

5. Be open to „unexpected relevance“

„I always listen and take notes to synthesize what the client expects, and deliver an idea that makes a leap from safe to „unexpected relevance“ based on a review of the company’s corporate communications, tone, style of graphics and photos.“  – Ken Boostrom, Design Director

6. Think about what the topics makes you feel

„Not to be cheesy, but I try to step away from the actual content and think of the feeling that it portrays. That usually send me in a new direction.“ – Brittany Cornell, Graphic Designer

7. Brainstorm ideas (that are wildly different from your original concept)

„Coming up with great creative is slightly personal and based on talent, but we do deploy some tactics like 180-degree thinking* process and a more traditional problem solving process.“ – Ken Boostrom, Design Director


*Ken explained that 180-degree thinking is a brainstorming process that challenges you to consider unexpected approaches by taking a concept and thinking about its polar opposite. If your first instinct to show a computer, figure out what’s 180-degrees away from that. No technology, cavemen? Then, you work your way back across the spectrum until you land on the best visual to convey the concept without being too literal.


8. Pick a strong theme

„Anything that seems ‚fun‘, aspirational, or makes the job seem important usually makes for a great theme. Try and avoid being too literal and worrying if people will „get it.“ If you stay safe, you’ll end up with 100 pictures of someone hunched over at a computer and that’s super boring.“ – Brittany Cornell, Graphic Designer

9. Ask for feedback from someone who isn’t on the team, and LISTEN

„If your theme IS too far of a stretch and not making sense, people will usually pump the brakes for you by asking too many questions that – in your mind – seem *obvious.*“ – Brittany Cornell, Graphic Designer

10. Revise for relevance and utility

„The hardest challenge is making sure the graphic makes sense and is easily understood. The theme shouldn’t overpower or hinder that. If people are instead too focused on the superhero capes you’ve used in the pictures and they’re not quite reading the graphic as it should be interpreted – then you’ve failed and it’s back to the drawing board.“ Brittany Cornell, Graphic Designer

„The most important thing is that the stats 1. slap people in the face 2. seem visually accurate and to scale and 3. highlight the correct parts.“

11. Leave your comfort zone

„If you don’t try to stretch the limits of the project you’ll never be successful. You need to burn to learn.“ –  Ken Boostrom, Design Director

12. Pick the most compelling data and lead with it

„The most important thing is that the stats 1. slap people in the face 2. seem visually accurate and to scale and 3. highlight the correct parts. If a certain stat is very impressive, make sure it really sings so people get it.“ – Brittany Cornell, Graphic Designer

13. Ask questions to avoid graphic disasters (and wasting time)

„Make sure you understand the purpose of the graphic as much as possible before diving in, ask questions! The biggest disasters happen between too much back and forth and miscommunications, which end up wasting time, creating frustration, and not meeting expectations.“ – Brittany Cornell, Graphic Designer

14. Listen to your designers – they know what works

„Designers are keen on what will work best stylistically and come off most clearly. They can envision the new edits, so if they are pushing back on you on something visual,  they’re nicely saying PLEASE DON’T DO IT!“ – Brittany Cornell, Graphic Designer

15. Give honest feedback

„The key for giving productive feedback is to be as honest as possible. Designers have thick skin, so don’t hold back your feelings or sugarcoat any feedback for fear of coming off as rude. If you’re direct and the designer understands the edits correctly, then that clarity and efficiency is the nicest thing you can do!“ – Brittany Cornell, Graphic Designer

There’s nothing worse than coming up with an infographic concept that you think your audience is going to love and drive lots of traffic to your site, only to get something back that isn’t at all what you imagined. That’s why you need to bring clear ideas to the conversation, listen to professional designers and be willing to take risks (with reason, of course). When you make the leap and do something different than your competitors – or even than what you’ve done in the past – you have a fresh opportunity to connect with your audience and make a lasting impact.

The graphic could even generate hundreds of leads, like it did for this client.