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5 Easy Design Tips for Marketing Materials for the Non-Designer

If you are struggling to make your marketing materials look great, and are getting frustrated because you are NOT a designer? Well I have 5 easy design principles to help with your designs!

Through a few of my design classes, and my more recent Personal Branding course I have learned about 5 basic design principles. I want to share them here with you. These 5 tips will help you look like a designer, even if you are not.


Contrast makes elements look different from one another, and creates visual interest. In order to create contrast, it is vital to note: you must make sure that the elements are very different, otherwise it is not contrast, it is conflict.

There are different types of contrast

Color Size Font Type

Example of CONFLICT (what NOT to do.)

In the conflict example, the colors, sizes and font types are too similar (not different enough) so it doesn’t have the same effect as the examples of properly done contrast. In fact, when the elements are not different enough, it can look like a mistake was made.


Continue to use the same elements. This creates unity, visual interest and professionalism. It is also important not to include too many different elements in one piece. Using 2-3 fonts, 2-3 colors, and 2-3 shapes, ect. should be a good number of variation and repetition. An example of repetition, would be to use the same font, size, and color for each headline in a paper you are writing. If you include too many varying elements, it can cause clutter and conflict.


Alignment creates visual ties, and a clean design. Every element that is placed on a design should be lined up with another element on the design. When it comes to text, it is most commonly alligned in 4 different ways, which can be seen in almost any program you are inserting text. 1. Left 2. Right 3. Center 4. Justify.

Alignment options are in the yellow box above

Examples of the different text alignment options

4. Proximity

Place like elements together. Elements that are associated with each other should be placed near each other. This visually shows that these elements are a cohesive group. If they were not grouped together, they would likely appear to be unrelated.

Properly Grouped NOT properly grouped

5. Empty Space

It is common for people to feel the need to fill up every possible space of s design space, but this is NOT a good practice! It can be difficult, especially if you have a lot of content, but it is very important to make sure there is empty space in your design. If every bit of the design space is filled it tends to look cluttered. Fight the temptation to fill every part of the design space.

Example of a complete design:

The first image is the original design, and the second is the design with grid-line marks to show some of the design principles at work. 1. There is contrast with the 3 different uses of color, and the sizes of the text. 2. The font is repeated throughout the card, the weight of the teal lines are repeated, and the space between lines is also repeated. 3. The text is aligned to the right, and the logo is aligned to the right with the text. The name of the business is also aligned with the email address, and the teal horizontal line. 4. All of the elements that are related to one another are grouped together. 5. There is plenty of empty space on the card making is appear clean and uncluttered.

If you loved this post, and want more design information, a great read is this book that can be purchased online for just a few dollars: “The Non-Designer’s Design Book” by Robin Williams

For creating designs quickly and easily, check out this great site:

Thanks for reading! Follow me on Twitter, or follow my blog for more Marketing and Design tips!

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