Successful insurance marketing can often rely as much on graphics as on words. Good graphics enhance any message. But what if you’ve got an appealing message, accompanied by poor visuals? Poor visuals put a greater burden on content, so if the message isn’t well structured and compelling, the entire slide show, website or newsletter suffers. More importantly, good graphics can mean the difference between someone noticing your website, newsletter or ad—and your message getting through—and just bypassing it.
That’s why any good insurance marketer needs to be aware of some design basics. Even if you leave the design details to others, you should know what works and what doesn’t. Fortunately, there is a great resource available that’s clear, straightforward and easy to read, “The Non-Designer’s Design Book: Design and Typography Principles for the Visual Novice,” by Robin Williams.
Every well-designed marketing communication piece, as Williams points out, follows four basic design principles that you should be aware of:
Sameness may be okay for the words on the page of a book, but the elements of an ad, slideshow or website should be very different from each other, depending on the content. Contrast makes the page visually attractive. Williams says the key to this rule is making elements look very different from each other and not being wimpy about it. Wimpy creates conflict, not contrast. Contrast means pairing a thin line with a thick line, a graceful old-style font with a bold sans serif font, a cool color (like blue) with a warm color (like orange), a wide-spaced column with a narrow column.
Group related items close together. That means, for instance, on a business card don’t put your address, phone numbers and city in all four corners of the card because you think this looks fancy. Think of people trying to read your contact information as their eyes wander all over the card: it would be confusing and annoying. By organizing your contact information into a single unit – for instance, below your name and company (another single unit) in the middle of the card – the card will communicate better visually and intellectually.
Text and graphics should not get splashed about anywhere there happens to be space on the page. Items may be grouped differently (according to the proximity principle) but they should all follow the same rules of alignment. On this page, for example, every element of this article – headline, dateline, social media buttons, text – are aligned along the same invisible left border. This creates one cohesive unit and tells the reader that all these elements belong together.
Another word for repetition is consistency. Use the same font and font size for all your headlines. If you use a certain kind of graphic for bullet points in one place on your website, use it everywhere you have bullet points. Pick a set of colors as your theme and use them consistently. Repetition unifies the design of your communication piece.
These four principles of design from Robin Williams’ book are one highlight of her book. I highly recommend the entire book.