Photo by George Milton on Pexels
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September 11, 2015

DIY Design: Volume 2

Big Duck

In DIY Design:Volume 1, we walked you through some things to keep in mind when thinking about your organization’s logo and color palette. To continue our walk down DIY Design lane, let’s dive into typography and photoraphy.

Refine and streamline your use of typography.

Typography is a powerful tool that can be used to communicate your personality, strengthen your identity, and tie all of your work together visually. Using type strategically and consistently will button up your brand and help build recognition.

  • The type you use should support your logo and never compete with it. Avoid highly-stylized, decorative fonts and instead choose a supplemental font that is clean, straightforward, and pairs well with your logo.

  • Keep it simple! Standardizing consistent use of one font across all materials will make your communications look clean, clear, well-organized, and branded. Try to choose one that has a large family with various weights and treatments (light, medium, bold, italics, etc) so that you have everything you need for hierarchy and emphasis.

  • Make sure it’s easy to read at large and small sizes. In order to use it consistently, the font needs to work equally well on a poster, business card, phone screen, computer screen, and any other material you might produce.

  • Don’t go rogue! Using numerous, inconsistent, and/or decorative fonts and embellishments can make materials appear sloppy and confusing. Eliminate variety and instead rely on using size, color, and weight to establish hierarchy in your text materials.

Capture great photography that reflects the energy of your organization.

Compelling photos are a powerful storytelling tool, and can help you forge a strong connection with key audiences. For nonprofits, photos can do a lot to help supporters get a feel for what your work is all about, as well as the values that are important to you.

  • Use photos that are simple and focus on one clear subject. Avoid busy backgrounds and lots of people.

  • Develop guidelines for using photos in your materials. Identify what kinds of images help tell the right kind of story about your nonprofit, and which to avoid. Provide these guidelines to photographers and team members to help them capture shots that will be useful to your team.

  • Whenever possible, get a photographer (the more experienced, the better) to capture a range of shots and contexts (e.g., some more informal, collaborative photos; some shots at special events and programs). There is a noticeable difference between well-lit, well-composed shots and those taken by amateurs.

  • ONLY use hi-res imagery. These days even most cell-phones are taking hi-res pictures, so make sure your photography is up to present-day standard because blurry, dark, pixelated images will make your materials look dated and irrelevant.

So there you have it—a quick, easy guide to smartening up your organization’s design.

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This past Memorial Day weekend, I paid a visit to New York's Governors Island. Besides the island being a destination onto itself, there was another reason to be there: the Cooper-Hewitt and the Walker Art Center are co-sponsoring a summer exhibition there called "Graphic Design--Now in Production".