April 5, 2022No Comments

Where do you seek inspiration?

Back in September, I wrote about how comparison can be both a blessing and a curse for creatives. I talked about my own experience with ‘imposter syndrome’, and how we need to strike a balance between allowing other design professionals to inspire us and becoming intimidated by what others are creating.

The Important point here is to strike the right balance and not get into a place where you’re allowing yourself to be overwhelmed by comparing your work to what you see on social media and other places around you. Designers, I think, are often more susceptible than other creative professions to this because design is all around us. We’re tuned in to analyse images that we see in everything – the ads we see on TV, posters and branding on the high street, websites we visit, social media posts, stuff we buy…it all has an impact on us.

And as long as you can keep it in perspective, allowing those influences in can be a positive thing. For example, I really enjoy browsing through image-heavy coffee table books, design magazines, and websites. I love to save images that speak to me in both online and paper-based scrapbooks to search for inspiration when I’m feeling like the ideas just are not flowing.

No matter what kind of designer you are, there is an abundance of inspiration that can really help to get the creative juices flowing. But you have to allow it to inspire and not overwhelm. As a designer, you can do plenty of things to seek out the right kind of inspiration, as long as you remember to filter out those thoughts that lead you down the path of inadequacy.

Professional design goals 

I know from bitter experience – it’s so easy to get lost in the never-ending tide of images and design online. But the one thing that always pulls me back is remembering my own design goals. Thinking about my own style, the kind of projects I want (and love) to work on, and the type of people I most want to work with can often be all it takes to clear my head. 

Using those filters helps me question when I’m comparing myself with other designers – their designs might speak to me, yes, but their goals are completely different from mine. They might be targeting a completely different audience to me. 

If you feel that pang of envy on seeing someone else’s designs, think – would that style really appeal to your audience? How does it fit in with your own goals, realistically?

Test it out

In a previous post, I talked about how I created my own’ portfolio book’, or coffee table book, “Ten Yrs later”. As I mentioned, I enjoy looking through books created by other designers, so I decided that it might be good to see if I could create my own version of that. This is a great example of me testing out something that had long inspired me.

Making time to create your own personal projects, in my experience, is always a positive thing. It allows you to explore things you ordinarily wouldn’t when working on client projects. It lets you stretch yourself creatively and try out new techniques, technologies, and materials that your day job simply doesn’t allow.

So if you find that you’re drawn to a particular style or designer whilst you’re browsing, explore that. Test out the techniques they used, and see if that inspires something new. Try creating your own version of it.

 Social media…in moderation

I use my Instagram page to share my ideas and follow other designers I like and admire. Instagram is a fabulous place for visual creatives because it’s predominantly image-led (although video is also a big part of it now). 

By following people who are perhaps within your own design realms, you can use Instagram as a place of inspiration when you’re stuck for ideas – it’s a useful way to get you back on track.

Like everything, it’s easy to fall down the rabbit hole here, so if you find yourself feeling those pangs of envy or losing confidence, then pull yourself back (remember your own goals, as I mentioned above). Design is subjective – every one of us has a different style and approach, so don’t allow yourself to fall into that comparison trap.

Take it offline

Even if most of your work is online, don’t dismiss design in the real world. Sure, print is a different animal, but many elements and ideas are the same. Use that to spur fresh ideas and techniques.

Ideas can be found in the most unexpected places, from print media, books and magazines, store-front styling, the fashion people wear, and the colours of nature in our local parks and countryside. Seek it out, and use it.

Who will you inspire?

As with all of us, there will be days when you might feel as though you’ll never live up to your competitors. But remember, someone out there is looking at your work right now and thinking, ‘I wish I could create stuff like that’ (hopefully)… 

February 17, 2022No Comments


Are you talking to your clients?

Being a designer, having a regular stream of paying clients is a big deal. Without them, we’re nothing more than hobbyists. But here’s the thing; we have to know how to talk to them to have people hire us. It’s essential that we speak their language and not bamboozle them with our jargon.

If people don’t understand what we do, and more importantly, what we can do for them, why should they ever want to pay for our services?

Talking to your clients is a skill that is hard to master for some, yet it’s so important that we learn it. For what it’s worth, here are my thoughts on the subject.

You’re not selling to designers.

Picture this: You’re at a party, and you get chatting to a friend of a friend. They ask, “So, what do you do?”

If you’re anything like me, it’s a question that strikes a blade of fear into your very soul. I’ll admit that every time I’m asked that question, my brain freezes up for a moment while I stumble to find something that sounds remotely intelligent before I utter, “I’m a designer.”

Usually, that’s followed by a string of incoherent babble as I try to express to them what, exactly, that means, before I excuse myself, half-embarrassed while their eyes glaze over…

Back when I was in college, one of my tutors said to me, “Remember, you’re not designing for designers.” We forget that, sometimes, don’t we? We are creators by nature, and perhaps we’re a bit apt to show off what we can do – but it doesn’t help us when it comes to marketing ourselves. Because we’re also not selling to designers. People don’t much care about the technicalities of design – they just want to know how we can make their websites and branding speak for them.

If we can learn to adapt our language to speak to them on their level, rather than using design jargon, they’re much more likely to see how our vision can work for them – and hire us to do that. Put yourself in their shoes, and think about what it is that they need and the outcome of your design projects for them.

Use positive (and simple) language, always.

We tend to over-complicate things that really should be simple. Maybe it’s through a lack of confidence in ourselves, or maybe it’s to do with ego. But there really is a lot to be said for keeping things simple, including how we describe the design process.

Again, we need to look at each new project from the client’s point of view – they usually have some clear ideas on what they need (but not always), and it’s up to us to coach them to understand the scope of what can be done.

There might be times when what they think they want isn’t in alignment with their brand, or they’re just asking for the impossible. Rather than saying, “No, I can’t do that.”, try to use positive, straightforward language to help them to visualise how things should work. Perhaps, “I understand what you’re saying, although I think if we try it this way instead, we’ll get better results”, or “In my experience, that can appear confusing to your customers – can I suggest we try and do this instead?”

Help them see that you know what you’re talking about clearly and simply. Don’t assume that they will know design terms just because you do.

Who are you talking to?

What about you? Does the way you speak to your clients impress or confuse them? Does your marketing appeal to your ideal customer, or is it geared towards other designers? If it is, perhaps you could look at simplifying your messaging in a way that will grab the attention of future clients.

Need help or advice with your branding or design? Give me a call – I’d be happy to help.

February 2, 2022No Comments

Step outside the obvious

Go local for your next design project

I feel this. I live in a small market town in the centre of the country, where design agencies and studios are very much ‘hidden away’, despite there being a real hub of creative talent here.

Local designers with hidden talents

As a small design agency, it’s so easy for businesses to overlook us, when we’re competing with large, often well-known agencies who have the budgets to make themselves heard. It’s a shame, really, because the little guys like us have so much to offer. Not to blow my own trumpet here, but in talking to other small designers both locally and in other towns, we truly believe that we can offer something unique that city-agencies can’t. That personal service, care and attention to detail, which big agencies simply don’t have the time for.

In truth, local designers know the local market inside out – because we work with our own communities every day. We know the type of people that live around us, and we get to talk with local business owners, who tell us what works and what doesn’t. And more importantly, we have the time to listen.

Small agencies and freelancers

In my experience, businesses are often wary of micro-agencies and freelancers, there’s an underlying negativity around them that they are less qualified, less experienced, and won’t have the proper resources to complete complex projects. That’s simply not the case. Though they might not have the financial clout, they are often more specialist in what they do, and so rather than being ‘all-rounders’ (though some are, and are great), they are able to focus on their specialism without all of the other stuff. For example, there are agencies within your town who will just do web design, print design, or branding, and excel at doing that and that alone.

Look at what your community can offer first

There’s definitely something to be said about ‘shopping local’ when it comes to hiring creative talent. You’d be surprised at the hidden gems that can be found right on your doorstep – and can offer a bespoke, personal service that big agencies can’t.

Perhaps you think that going the local, small agency route isn’t right for you – but then again, in hiring out locally, you could find that avenues are opened that you hadn’t even thought of. It could be the opportunity to completely freshen up your branding, or look at the design of your online presence with fresh eyes.

Take a look at some of your local designers for your next project, and see what they can offer.

December 13, 2021No Comments

Is social media worth it for graphic designers?

Social media marketing is a notoriously difficult beast to master, not least for graphic designers. Gone are the days when everyone was on Facebook, and there were no other platforms to entertain, let alone tricky algorithms to worry about. Today, we’re faced with a whole boatload of different options to choose from – but even if we know where to focus, do we really know what we’re doing, and how to actually get people to see us? Most of us can feel so overwhelmed by it all to the point that we end up just stalling and getting nowhere (please say that’s not just me!). Are we just overthinking this – is social media even worth it for us as graphic designers?

I think by now, we’re all conditioned to embrace social media, not just as part of our marketing, but in our everyday lives. Everyone seems to be on it constantly, so when people urge businesses to get on board with it, and that social media is the one major place where we can make an impact, it’s hard not to believe them, isn’t it?

Perhaps a hard thing to admit, but nowadays, business is done online – traditional marketing, though it has its place, has taken a reluctant back seat. Online content is where it’s at, and where it’s likely to be for the foreseeable future.

So yes, being present on social media is a necessity for businesses. But you can’t be everywhere. How do you decide which platforms to be visible on? And what do you post, anyway?

The fear of comparison

Have you ever experienced this? You scroll through Instagram and see breath-taking posts from other designers, amazing images backed up by a perfectly matched piece of text that you know hits the sweet spot for SEO and is adorned with hashtags that are going to appeal to just the right people?

Yeah, me too. All the time. And it’s paralysing. I can’t possibly match up, right? So I won’t bother. I won’t put myself out there, and let people see how thoroughly mediocre I am. 

But hang on – isn’t that just your impostor syndrome getting the better of you? What if we flip it, and let those posts inspire us instead?

Comparison can be a dangerous thing. It can also give us a marvellous insight into what works for other designers online. Instead of falling prey to jealousy, could you analyse what’s happening? Look into the post – why does it appeal? How are people responding to it? And most importantly, how can you emulate that through your own work?*

(*Note – I’m not suggesting imitation or copy here, but letting the ideas and concepts inspire you.)

What’s your objective?

When I’ve researched the best social media platforms for graphic designers, one of the answers that seems to come up a lot is ‘go where your ideal client is.’

OK, I get that. It makes sense – if you are trying to purely use social media to get leads (never a bad tactic) – but another way to look at it is ‘what do I want from my social media?’

I don’t necessarily want my posts to be all about getting people to buy from me. I want to show my work to the best audience possible. I want to raise opinions and conversations around what I do. I want to connect with an audience and share my story a little bit. Thinking about it – when I look at social media posts, I’m most inspired by those posts that speak to me on a creative level – not those that are trying to get a sale out of me.

This kind of ties in with the question ‘which platform?’, because you’ll want to not only consider where your potential buyers hang out, but more so where your audience hang out. They’re not always the same thing.

I suppose the key is not to just connect with people who might buy from you, but also with the kind of people who are in your own industry. I’m talking about other designers, creative agencies, and the types of people who might enjoy sharing your content and talking about you, and with you. If people can relate to you and engage with you, then those who are looking to buy will learn to trust you through recommendations.

A numbers game?

Like all types of marketing, it’s largely a numbers game – the more times people see your brand, they’ll become familiar with it and are more likely to buy from you. Unlike traditional marketing though, you have other factors to consider. Because social media posts have such a short life span, it’s important that you create posts that grab people’s attention enough to stop them from scrolling and to read what you have to say. And you have to do that often – which (sorry) means posting a lot of content, regularly.

People see your social media posts first, so that’s the place to focus on getting noticed by new audiences – and the place to build trust with them.

So, is it worth it?

I think yes, it’s absolutely worth getting it right. Something else I’ll mention too is that any social media platforms you use should ideally lead people back to your website – people will still want to see concrete proof of what you stand for before they buy from you, and they will do that from first seeing your posts, and then looking at your website.

I hope this article was useful. I’m off to see what I can find to post on my Instagram now…

November 24, 2021No Comments

Rebranding – when should you do it?

There have been a couple of quite significant rebrands in the news recently – you’ve probably seen the arguments going on around the BBC one, and then there’s the one in which the Facebook brand has been encapsulated under the new ‘Meta’ umbrella.

I’ve worked on a lot of rebrand projects over my career. And yes, a lot of the time, the businesses I’ve done them for have had good reasons for doing so. Sometimes, they’ve grown to a point where they can afford something a bit nicer and a bit more appropriate for the direction they’re going in. Sometimes, they want to attract a different type of clientele. Sometimes they change direction and want to express who they’re becoming.

But how do you know when it’s time for a rebrand? When is it right to do it, and when should you leave it? What does it mean to rebrand, anyway?

I thought today that I’d share my insight on it from a graphic designer’s experience. Maybe it’ll help you decide what the best thing for your business brand is, and how far you should go in updating your branding.

What is branding, anyway?

More than just your logo, your brand includes everything that identifies you. Things like the colours you use, the style of your images, the fonts you use, even the tone and voice you use across your marketing.

Often, I’m asked by businesses to sort out their website – and while I believe that having a decent website for your business is a crucial part, it’s just as important to consider how the elements you select on your website will translate to other places. The colours and fonts used on your logo should be a big part of your web pages, your social media, and your print marketing, so that when people see your content, they instantly know it’s you. That’s what good branding does.

A bit about your brand name

Of course, your business name is also a big part of your branding – and one that often gets overlooked. I won’t dwell too much on it here, but it is worth a mention – as part of your branding, the name you choose should ideally give at least a hint of what you’re about.

When is it time to rebrand?

Following on from what I just said, if any element of your current branding fails to convey who you are, what you do, and the kind of person you’re trying to attract, then that’s a pretty good hint that you need to rethink your branding.

Some questions to ask might be:

  • Is my current branding old-fashioned, outdated, or failing to attract new customers?
  • Does my current branding hold a certain ‘reputation’ that no longer fits with what the business is about?
  • Has my business evolved and grown in such a way that my current branding looks a bit off/amateur?

You might be in a position where the core of your branding works ok, but some elements of it need updating. Don’t feel that you have to have a total overhaul in order to get what you need. Sometimes you just need a refresh of your style, but the colours and tone you use could be fine. Consider what works, and what doesn’t.

7 steps to rebranding

  1. Look carefully at your current branding, and make a list of what you love, and what you don’t. Be critical, and think about how things look to an outsider – perhaps even ask some people to give their opinions (but not so many that you get tied in knots!).
  2. Look at your competitors. Write down some elements that you like, and how it compares to your own branding. Think about who their customers are – are they similar to yours? What do you think attracts those people to your competitors?
  3. Approach a designer – if possible, set up a meeting to talk about your vision for your rebrand. This is an important step, because designers are well versed in branding, and can give you great advice on what works, what’s contemporary, and how things could work within your particular business.
  4. Set a realistic budget and timeline with your designer so that you can meet your objectives.
  5. Plan your launch – use the opportunity to remarket your business so that as many new people as possible see what you’re about. Don’t be shy about it – celebrate your new branding for maximum impact.
  6. Measure and monitor – identify any glitches where further improvements might be needed.
  7. Remember; change is never easy, but sometimes it’s an essential part of your business growth and evolution.

Are you thinking about rebranding, or do you have questions about your current branding? Give me a call – I’d be happy to help.

October 19, 2021No Comments

Designers: What are your hopes for 2022?

I have recently been reflecting on the changes I’ve seen happening in the design industry over the past months, and how lockdown has brought about shifts in the way we work, and the habits we’ve formed. Yes, it’s been a hard slog for many of us, but now that we’re beginning to operate at a much more normal level again, I’m hoping that some of those new habits will stick. Perhaps you think that’s an odd thing for me to say, but I’ve seen some good stuff come out of this crisis.

Let me explain what I mean…

The pre-covid design landscape

A while ago, I wrote an article about how bad designers are at forming communities, and how my agency, being situated in a small market town, can sometimes feel a little isolating. I think that a lot of creative industries suffer the same affliction – we’re notoriously private individuals, aren’t we? Perhaps a little introvert by nature, and so we shut ourselves away in our own creative bubble.

Part of that extended into other areas too. We were not only sensitive about our communication with other agencies but also with other people seeking our advice – from the businesses we served to the graduates who asked for our support. I’m not saying that applied in all cases, but I witnessed it quite a bit (it was one of the reasons I decided to try and get some of those barriers lifted by starting my own local design community).

Maybe it was just a rut we’d got ourselves stuck in. Maybe it was just habitual. And we might find ourselves sliding back into that mindset – but I’m not so sure it will happen. I think we’ve been through too much, and that some of the new ways we seem to have adopted along the way will become the norm as we go into 2022.

So, what’s changed?

It might be that many of us were forced to work from home during the lockdown, or that we had a lot more time between client projects, but I’ve found that the urgency of projects has eased considerably. Whereas before, I had quite a few projects where the client would stipulate that they needed it done ASAP (meaning ‘drop what you’re doing and do this now’), many of my recent clients have been much more chilled, had more time, more willing to work to realistic deadlines.

The people I’ve been working for over the past few months have seemed much more relaxed generally – more communicative, and more willing to help. I’ve seen evidence of it within online communities too –some of the bigger agencies are more willing to reach out and give advice, to smaller fledgling agencies, and graduates just breaking through.

I guess that we’ve all experienced how frighteningly easily things can break down – it has made us feel vulnerable and helped us to realise that we do in fact need to pull together as a community.

The human touch

For a while – even before covid was a problem – we’ve been seeing a slow and subtle movement that has possibly been led by social media and the rise of online communities. We’ve been taking much more notice of ‘the person behind the brand’, and this has meant that more and more businesses are giving a personal service, rather than being just another corporate body. We kind of expect it now, because it allows us to build trust and likeability.

Perhaps that has been pushed further still over the past year or so. In our isolation, have we learned that we need to connect with people again?

My predictions for 2022

I have to admit, I like this new landscape. I like that those agencies that I’ve spent my career admiring have become much more approachable; more human. And I really hope that the sense of community we’ve learned to enjoy as a collective of designers carries on.

It’s important to remember that people need other people, and that’s no less true within the creative industries. We’re not in competition. We can offer each other so much more, by way of support, friendship, and opportunities to learn from each other.

I’d love to hear others’ thoughts on this. If you are just starting on your path, or have been part of a bigger, or growing agency for a while – what changes have you seen? Have you changed the way you work, or who you work with? Reach out and let me know.

September 22, 2021No Comments

A little industry comparison can be healthy – but don’t get carried away.

As creatives, we all do it, don’t we? We are naturally curious creatures, and as such, we just can’t help but look around at what other designers are doing. That might mean noticing posters in the train station on the way to work or getting design-envy over a book cover or magazine spread or piece of packaging on a shelf.

The thing is, we’re surrounded by other designers’ work, and we can’t help but analyse it. It’s normal to have moments where we compare our skills with others – and that can be a very healthy thing. It can keep us on our toes, help us try out fresh ideas, and encourage us to be better at our craft.

But nowadays, we live in a digital world, where we are not only casual observers of other people’s design but also force-fed it every minute of every day. We see it every time we check our social media pages; we see it on websites and pop-ups and emails and digital newsletters. Right now, many of us are in danger of suffering from a very recent phenomenon; “comparison fatigue”.

OK, so maybe it’s not entirely a new thing, but it’s certainly a lot easier to be exposed to it than it was in the past. I’d like to explore that a little. Because as the title of this article suggests, comparison can be healthy, but it can so easily become an all-consuming, paralysing thing that stops us from being our best.

Should we be checking out our competition or avoid doing that altogether?

Why we might compare

We don’t - and shouldn’t - work in a vacuum. Outside design can inspire us and influence us to break out of our comfort zones and try new things. Purely from a design perspective, a little comparison can fire us up.

Knowing what the latest trends are, how they work and who they appeal to lets our clients know that we have a handle on modern design. And one of the ways we do that is to look around at how other designers are doing it.

It can also be useful from a business viewpoint. Like it or not, most of our clients don’t want to be given old-fashioned or outdated designs. For them to sell their products, it’s vital that they are able to appeal to the masses – and (perhaps, unfortunately), the masses want what’s ‘right now’.

If you’re set on making money from our business, then even in your own branding, you have to be able to balance your appeal to your audience with your own individual identity. Yes, you want to stand out and be recognised, but you don’t want to be so ‘out there’ that your branding is off-putting.

It’s impossible to avoid comparing ourselves to other designers, and while we need to realise that it’s useful to know what they’re doing and how they’re doing it, it’s also important to know when to draw the line…

Being ‘you’

I’ve been doing this for a lot of years, and I still find myself looking at what other designers are doing and thinking, “should I be doing the same as them, or them, or them…”. It’s a trap that many of us fall into from time to time – I think that’s pretty normal and most definitely human. We’re conditioned to ‘fit in’, aren’t we? Right from the days of wearing school uniforms and sitting in neat little rows on the classroom carpet, our lesson starts early. To be liked and accepted, be like the rest.

Perhaps that’s why it’s become normal to compare ourselves so much. We are almost afraid to break out of that mindset, so we seek validation that we’re ‘doing things right.’

But hang on – isn’t it true that the clients who hire you to create their websites, their branding, their brochures, etc., choose you because they like your style and how you do things? So, if you were to do the same things as your competitors, then why on earth would businesses choose you over them? They’d have no reason to, would they?

Sure, you might look at what other designers are doing with a pang of envy, but the thing to remember is that the people that buy from them are not the same people who buy from you. Your clients want something that only you can offer, but if all you’re doing is mimicking another designer, then why shouldn’t they choose them? They are, after all, the genuine article.

This translates not only into your design but the way you do business and conduct yourself. There have been plenty of times when I’ve questioned my own decisions – should I have remained with my last agency? Did I do the right thing by going it alone? Should I have done what X did, and would I have ended up being as successful as she is if I had?

Again, it’s common to feel that way. But trust your own instincts – they’re usually right. Everyone’s path is different, and the fact that somebody else looks like they’re doing better than you isn’t always the truth. And I’d be willing to bet that by following your own way, you’ll find that there are plenty of people who admire what you’re doing and are thinking, “should I be doing that?”.

September 9, 2021No Comments

Silver in the Creativepool Annual 2021 competition.

Our concept for the Emergency Services Self-Help wellbeing app ‘OPPO’ has been awarded silver in this years Creativepool Annual 2021 competition.

The Creativepool Annual showcases the ‘most’ people and companies who have achieved creative excellence in the past year. In its sixth edition, the Creativepool Annual 2021 is a chance to celebrate creativity as we all ease back into a new normal, with a global mix of agencies, brands, and individuals participating in the 2021 competition.

Project write-up

Oppo: A colleague or friend; ‘an old oppo of mine’. Origin the 1930s: abbreviation of opposite number. SEVERN looked into the issues faced by emergency services, initially focusing on the police service in particular.

Research found that public awareness of police mental health could create targeting in some situations, as emails get deleted, and leaflets get binned. The app is designed to work like a personal diary to self-monitor stresses and pressures. It logs working hours and moods at any given time. Users can add notes to say what triggered any changes. Oppo can build up a user profile based on their inputs and offer tips on how to self-help.

Judges Comments

“A well designed and well-conceived app which could help to break the stigma of seeking help and taking time to consider and protect mental health within the emergency services. Perfect to create as a discreet app which people can use on the go.”

Miranda Hipwell

September 9, 2021No Comments

Bronze award for our Market Hall – A Day in the Life project

Our book documenting a day in the life of the Market Hall in Shrewsbury has been awarded bronze in this years Creativepool Annual competition.

The Creativepool Annual showcases the ‘most’ people and companies who have achieved creative excellence in the past year. In its sixth edition, the Creativepool Annual 2021 is a chance to celebrate creativity as we all ease back into a new normal, with a global mix of agencies, brands, and individuals participating in the 2021 competition.

Project write-up

Designed in 1965 by the award-winning architect David du Roi Aberdeen, the Brutalist style Market Hall building in Shrewsbury causes much contention. This record of the day-to-day from inside the landmark building reflects the people who use it. Tony’s team wanted the design to be dripping with references to the Pevsver synopsis; “clean lines and simple forms; vertical black fins in an echo of close studding”. The strong, clean vertical lines outside are brought through to the layout using narrow full-length columns, stark white space and the Compacta typeface from 1963 with its industrial appearance, a popular genre in the early 1960s, used throughout.

Judges Comments

“Beautiful photography, smart layout and well-crafted typography that work together to evoke the architecture of the building and the 1960s. Overall, a lovely piece of graphic design.”

David Alexander

January 22, 2021No Comments

Using graphics in social media in 2021

Compared to 10 years ago, when social media was still in its infancy, how we use it has changed dramatically. Back then, we only knew about Facebook, and as a platform, it was used in a much simpler, more personal way – we didn’t utilise it for business until more recently.

Looking at how things are today, we have a much more diverse landscape. There are several additional players, including Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, and Pinterest – and within those, there are several ways to communicate, with things like Stories being rolled out to almost every major social channel.

Over the years, social media platforms have become much more visual. As we scroll through our various social feeds, we will likely see less text and more images. Marketers have realised that having well-placed images on their social feeds helps to increase engagement – particularly now that most of us are using our phones.

In response to this, many new developments in online tech have allowed the average user to find their own images and even create their own. Apps like Canva are becoming the go-to for creating images and infographics that can be used on all social media platforms. There are plenty of websites where you can purchase stock images for content marketing.

I’ll get back to some of these a bit later. Still, I wanted to touch upon some of the ways we can use graphics in social media, some trends and fresh techniques, and the differences in using online tools versus having custom images created by a designer.

Why are images important for social media posts?

We process images much more quickly than words, so when we’re scrolling through our social channels, we’ll naturally pause when we see something stimulating our senses. Pictures, in particular colours, can convey messages to us on a different level.

In saying that, because there are so many images to process online, we need to plan what we post with care and attention. Finding that key element will not only stand out enough to make the viewer stop scrolling to take a closer look but allow them to instantly recognise you through that imagery. That will help create that ‘know, like, trust factor which is so important on social media.

Planning your social media images

It used to be adequate for us to take a snap and post it to our social media platforms when we felt like it. That’s no longer the case. If we want to get noticed online, we have a lot of competition; therefore, we need to plan out what we share and how we share it.

Social images, and social content as a whole, should fall into common categories, namely;

  • Entertainment
  • Educational
  • Inspirational
  • Thought-provoking

Think about how you want the viewer to react when they see the image. Do you want them to take a particular action, like clicking through to your website or blog post? Does it serve to give them a piece of information or news about your business? Does it help them in some way or encourage them to open a conversation with you?

There’s a huge trend, especially on Instagram, which is all about imagery. There will be some images that you might feel don’t fit into any of those categories – but if you’ve set them up correctly, then at the very least, they will serve as a recognition piece. Having a recognisable ‘pattern’ to the grid, and even a brand overlay, ensures that the brand has its own ‘look’, therefore being recognised by the viewer.

Suppose you can tie the overall look of your social images with other mediums, like your website and printed material. In that case, this will all work together as part of your branding, an important factor for content creation.

Stock Images or Professional Graphic Designer?

I get that many businesses want to have the ability to take ownership of how they post on social media, and part of that is being able to either use stock images or create images of their own. And there’s nothing wrong with that – if you have a clear idea and strategy in place.

The trouble is, many people don’t, and if you’re not careful, you could end up with a scatter-gun approach across your content marketing, which can be off-putting for your audience.

It all comes down to branding – and you must get it right across the board. It’s likely that you’ve paid someone to create your website, and tie all of your branding together, so don’t allow your social media to let it all down.

Yes, perhaps having a graphic designer on-call to create images every time you want to upload to your social media channels is overkill, but if you can get a set of templates, overlays, and brand colours set up and on hand, at least then you’ll have something to work with.

If you decide to use stock images (or take your own photographs), at least have some kind of consistency which will let your viewers know they are your images.

Get in touch if you’d like help or advice about anything you’ve read in this article. We’d be happy to help.

©2017–2023 Tony Clarkson/&Something Studio
&Something Studio is a design and digital studio based in but is in absolutely no way limited to Shrewsbury. Shrewsbury has trains and roads which lead in and out.