How to Create a Design Style – Part 1
A design style – sometimes called a style guide, brand board or brand style guide.
We all know we need one. That consistent look to our brand that gives us credibility with our readers and increases our social shares. The style that will be carried through everything we design for our business – our website, blog post graphics, content upgrades, on and offline promotions – everything.
But how do you go about creating one? While it is a fairly simple process, it can take some time and definitely takes some research and thought. Especially if you tend to be a perfectionist like I am.
The way to find a design style is basically to answer a few questions about your audience, message and niche, and then use the answers to these questions to choose the fonts and colors that will best fit the look you’re trying to create.
In this post, I’ll be talking about laying the foundation by asking the right questions.
Part 1: Laying the Foundation
As I mentioned, the first thing to do when you’re creating a design style is to answer a few questions in relation to your audience, your niche, your message, and the overall image you’d like to convey.
It will be the answers to these questions that will guide you to finding a style that you’ll love and that will also communicate your message well with your readers:
1. Think about your audience – Who are you trying to reach?
The first thing you have to do is think about the people you’re going to be talking to. Who are they? Are they male or female? What are their ages? What do they like? How do they think? Think about what type of style would appeal to them and also, what style they’d be most likely to respond to.
Would they respond to bright, bold colors with contemporary fonts? Or maybe they’d respond better to more muted colors and traditional fonts.
This is a very important first step because you want your style to “speak” to the people you’re trying to reach and create a favorable impression with them, and to do that you definitely need to know who it is you’re talking to.
2. Think about your niche – What style fits with what you’re offering?
What style would normally go with your topic, product or service offering?
For example, a blog about mountain climbing might have more of a rugged, outdoors style while a site for a yoga studio might have a look that’s more simple, zen and serene.
3. Think about your message – What are you trying to say?
What message do you want to get across to your audience, and what style would best convey that message?
Again, you want your style to “speak” to the people you’re trying to reach and create a favorable impression with them.
For example, a subdued style would go better on a site for a non-profit women’s shelter with a somber message, while people coming to a blog about decorating and home decor would respond better to a style with a much brighter feel.
Which leads me to the next question . . .
4. Think about the mood you want to create – How do you want your audience to feel?
Design is all about communication, and creating the right mood can go a long way in helping to get people “on board” with what you’re trying to say to them. It helps them get involved with your message and will hopefully move them to take whatever action you are wanting them to take.
Take the home decor blog again – or better yet, a home decor retail site. The feel of the site will probably be very bright and airy, with gorgeous pictures of beautifully decorated rooms. So what would that do for you as you look at a site like that? I know that for me, it would put me in the mood to look around and get decorating inspiration, and possibly see if there’s something I’d like to buy for my own house.
So what mood would best get your message across? What style would create the right “feel” for your message and help your audience respond in the way you want them to?
Do you want people to feel invigorated or excited? Or maybe laid back and relaxed?
It all depends on what you’re trying to say to your audience and what you’d eventually like for them to do.
5. Think about your image – How do you want to present yourself?
Lastly, what overall image do you want to present to your audience or how do you want your style to come across? We all know that we want to present a credible, professional image and that will of course be part of everything we do. But we need to get slightly more specific.
Do you want your overall look to appear high-class and sophisticated? Or more low-key and easy going?
The answers you give in the 4 previous questions will also play a part in this. The style that will best fit your audience, niche, message and the feel you want your style to have will be part of the overall image you create, and it’s a good idea as you go along to think about exactly what image you want that to be.
Next Steps: Choosing Fonts and Colors
As I’ve already mentioned, once you have the answers to these questions, you’ll be able to use them as a guide as you start looking for the fonts and colors that will make up your style.
In Part 2 of this post, I’ll be talking more about choosing fonts, and how you can use them to create different moods with your designs.
Things to Remember
Creating a design style is definitely a process. It can take some time to really settle on something you like, and remember it’s okay to change your mind – you probably will several times. I know I have for projects I’ve worked on.
In the end, the best design style is going to be one that you really like, and will also cause your audience to get involved with what you’re trying to say. Your style will help bring your audience on board with your message, and will give you a consistent look that will create the credible and professional image that you’re looking for.
Is there something you’ve always wondered about design but didn’t know who or how to ask? Post your questions in the comments below and I’d be happy to help!
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About the Author
Hi! I’m Melodie, and I help bloggers and solopreneurs create their own graphics for their businesses. I’ve been a graphic designer for over 20 years, and I can tell you that just by learning some basics, you can definitely create a professional look for your brand, even if you don’t see yourself as a designer.