Social media is already filled with beautifully crafted imagery, graphics and people! It takes some serious creativity to stand out against the current talent and competition, but it is possible! With this guide to social media branding for beginners, I can assure you, the impact will be bigger on your target audience than you expect.
There are several programs you can use to create your images; Adobe Photoshop is my go-to program as a graphic designer, but there are several free platforms out there that are simple to use for people of all levels such as Snappa, Stencil and Easil. Perhaps the most well known one around at the moment is Canva. My advice would be to have a go on a few of them and see which one suits you best from a usability perspective. Everyone has different ways of working so it really is a personal preference. Technical issues can really stunt your creativity, you want to be able to let the ideas flow freely without having to spend hours working out how to draw a square (yes I’ve been there!)
So once you have found your favourite one to use, it’s time to get creative! You don’t even need to set the dimensions of your image, most of these platforms give you the option of Facebook post / Instagram post etc. when you get started! Now you’ve decided which social media platform you are posting to, you are ready to create your very own branded masterpiece!
Keep it simple!
Don’t try and cram the whole world in this one small square, less really is more when it comes to design. Make sure every element within your design is there for a reason and don’t be afraid of white space.
You should carefully plan out what you want to include in your image and if there is too much that you want to say, then try dividing it into several swipe-able images. I tend to sketch it out first to visualise the use of space, then once I am happy with the general plan I will start to build digitally. Of course, this may change once you go on, it’s just good to start with clear intentions. This intention will shape the exact messaging you are trying to relay to your followers, your brand expression!
Choose one font and stick with it.
A good place to start when searching for fonts is Google Fonts. These fonts are free to use so no need to purchase any licenses. You can of course use sites like My Fonts or Font Squirrel to find your perfect font but you may have to purchase a license for some.
It’s worth spending a bit of time researching fonts and finding one that really fits your brand. I tend to choose a font with lots of weights to choose from. By font weight I am talking about the options you get with that font, eg. Thin, Regular, Bold, Extra Bold etc. Font weights can really help you emphasise specific words within a sentence, for example, setting that word to bold will really help capture the eye of your target audience.
Now every piece of text you put in your images from now on, try to stick with that same font. People will become familiar with it as your brand and it’s small tricks like this that help towards that all important brand recognition and trust.
Pick a colour palette and stick with it.
Much like the font you have chosen, your colour palette makes up one of the most visual aspects of your brand.
Firstly, a bit of research will really help you get a feel for your competitors and your preferences. Looking into the psychology of colours is a good place to start, this will give you a base colour to work from. Check out this article for an insight into the psychology of colour and how you could apply it to your brand.
I would choose no more than two primary colours to use throughout your images, using different tones of these primary colours where needed to add depth.
Always make sure the background doesn’t detract the eye away from the text on top of it. If you have light coloured text, use a darker/vibrant background colour to make the text pop. If you are using an image for your background, make sure you choose some ‘white space’ in the image to overlay your text or it won’t be legible. White space is an area of emptiness within the photo – it doesn’t have to be white obviously but whatever colour it is, as long as your text overlaying is enough of a contrast, your text wil really stand out.
Go big or go home!
Play on font sizes and weights to really convey your message. If there is a particular word you want to shout about then don’t be afraid to make it extra large / extra bold and even choose a different colour to make it pop. You might choose to make that one word the main focal point of your design, the bigger the better!
Alignment and spacing is what makes a design…
Even if you’ve chosen beautiful colours and the most elegant font, if your content is cramped and misaligned it could really impact the overall look and feel of the design. A good amount of space around any word, sentence or graphic is needed so as to not confuse the eye. I generally try and keep the spacing consistent across the whole design. For example, using space, I frame the entire square. Depending on your design you might want to choose a really thick frame or a thin one.
Aligning your elements will help to create equal spacing and draw the eye to the right area. Align your text with relevance; if you are placing your text in the top left of your square, then make sure the text is left aligned too.
Once your design is complete, spend five minutes aligning everything perfectly, it really adds that finishing touch!
So there you have it, some simple rules for you to follow that will help to uniform your social media images, stop your followers from scrolling past and to actually read what you have to say! Social media branding made easy, even as a beginner!
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