While all visual communication is ultimately intended to serve a big picture objective, attention to detail can make or break a design. Brands like Apple differentiate themselves from the competition by paying attention to the small details, to deliver a better product.
Ensure that you and your designer get these basics right:
Whether typography, imagery style or colours, keeping all elements consistent throughout a piece or across collaterals is essential to maintain the integrity of the brand. Spend some time checking that every element is accurately designed or inserted. Consumers should see the same look and feel on all channels that they visit, from your website, to your Facebook page, to your office reception. This creates a memorable, distinctive brand.
Consistency applies to copy as well. The Guardian is an example of a publication using a comprehensive style guide.
Examples of some things to consider are:
- Do you use spaces before and after a slash, or not?
- What format do you use to represent dates and times?
- Do you end bullet points with full stops, or not?
- Correct use of hyphens (two-thirds), en dashes (January–March) and em dashes (Correct usage is important—for both print and online collateral—if you want to make a good impression).
Grids and alignment
Using a grid to align and arrange elements is a guaranteed way to ensure a consistent and cohesive layout, whether for print or web. Of course, experienced designers can break the rules and push the limits of a basic grid, but it provides a solid foundation to start with.
Clean code and files
Ensuring that your designer or developer is writing clean code can save you a lot of time and energy in the long run. You don't want to start working with someone new to update your website, only to find that they cannot decipher anything done by your previous developer.
This applies to artwork done in Illustrator, Photoshop or InDesign as well - ask your designer to create easy-to-use files with properly labelled layers and styles, so that they can be easily edited or adapted in the future, even if the same designer is not available.
It should be obvious, but it is quite alarming how often designs go to print without the copy being properly proofread. Typos are frankly inexcusable, because they make the designer and the brand look lazy and careless, and they create logistical problems too. There have been cases of businesses spending large portions of their budget on print collateral that had an error in the email address or phone number, but went out to the public unnoticed—as a result of which the business loses out on consumers who may be interested in contacting them. A fresh set of eyes can be helpful to ensure you haven't overlooked anything.
Proofreading is an especially important part of the process when working in multiple languages. All translated copy should be thoroughly vetted before a design is confirmed as ready to print or publish online.
While these details may seem small and unimportant, putting in some effort to ensure that they are executed correctly can have a big impact, and save you time and money in the future. Ensure a professional, cohesive and well-maintained brand—pay attention to those details!