1. You did your own graphic design
You may feel empowered that you didn’t have to pay some graphic designer to design your brochures or logos, and perhaps even quite proud that you did it yourself, but did you really come out ahead? Not even close, my friend, because you probably wasted more money than you saved. If you’re wondering how that’s possible, the answer is simple; 99 times out of 100, your graphic design simply won’t produce results. There is a lot more that goes into effective design than designing something that appeals to you, and in this situation, a professional graphic designer knows what works and what doesn’t. Despite having taken an art class or two in college, you are not on the same level as someone who spends day in and day out working in the field.
Designing your own marketing materials not only presents an unprofessional image, it also makes it appear that you can’t afford to hire professionals to handle important aspects of your business and that damages your credibility.
2. Your graphic design looks like a clone of your competitors
When you see a Fortune 500 company in your industry come out with a killer graphic design piece, you may be tempted to emulate it. Don’t. Their design may be first-rate, but when you copy it, people will think of them instead of you when they see it, and since that competitor probably has a marketing budget that’s bigger than your annual revenue, they will get the business. Your graphic design needs to stand out, not follow the cookie cutter model that everyone else is following like a mindless bunch of lemmings. I can’t tell you how many morons have copied our website and other marketing materials, and all it’s done is drive more business to us. Your company is different than any of your competitors, so make sure your design shows that.
3. You try to make everything the most important thing
A headline is a headline. Body copy is body copy. We use bold and italic typefaces to emphasize certain words or sentences. Your design needs to utilize contrasting of sizes and weights of text, otherwise everything blends together and the reader quickly loses interest. Your information should be broken up into easily differentiated chunks so people can quickly navigate to the parts that interest them.
When you try to make every part of your graphic design the most important part, you actually end up making nothing important.
4. You use irrelevant imagery
I enjoy looking at a sexy woman as much as the next guy does, but when you’re using a picture of a bikini model in an ad for your latest software product, I’m going to seriously doubt your credibility. The same applies to pictures of babies, puppies or anything else that is intended to trigger an emotional response when it has nothing to do with the subject matter. Now, if you happen to run a carpet cleaning company and you have a picture of a cute little puppy soiling the rug, by all means, use it, but if you run a car dealership, find a more appropriate picture.
The idea of images in advertising is to get people thinking about how they will feel while enjoying the benefits of your products or services.
5. You try to cram in your life story
White space does not mean an opportunity to jam a few more sentences in. White space in your design makes it easier to read, which makes your message clearer and produces better results. If you really do need to add more information, buy a bigger ad/brochure/etc..
6. You put text over a busy photograph
Text over a photograph is difficult to read in the first place, especially if you use small text. If you insist on doing this, the photo should have lots of solid space and it should contrast sharply with the color of the text.
7. You use tiny text
Whether you’re doing it because you think it looks trendy or you’re just trying to fit as much text as possible into a given space, tiny text has become extremely common, and I want you to know that people hate it. If they can’t ready your copy, they won’t receive your message and your design is useless. You should ensure that your smallest text is always at least 8pt, or if it’s reversed (light text on a dark background) aim for at least 10-12pt.
8. You use horrible fonts
Many people use fonts because they think they look “cute” and don’t give much thought to the subject matter. You should use fonts that are relevant and legible, and for the love of God, stop using Comic Sans. It serves no purpose in any business marketing materials.