You have it pretty easy as a marketer, right? All you’ve got to do is develop your brand’s message, make it memorable, and deliver it to your target audience at the right point in the sales funnel and on the appropriate channel. Ok, I’m being sarcastic—it’s not easy at all, and that’s why we’ve dedicated ourselves to providing you with practical, actionable advice to helping you excel. In that spirit, let’s discuss eight tools to help you quickly create beautiful designs so your marketing content goes further.
You know you need eye-catching visuals for your eBooks, web sites, social media posts, online ads, and more. If you’re like many B2B marketers today, though, relying on your in-house design team (or even outsourced professional) can drag project deadlines into the redzone. To make matters worse, most marketers aren’t pros at the high-end design tools like Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign (i.e., the faster, smarter version of Quark XPress for today’s designers).
You have three choices: Skip the visuals, grin and bear the wait, or solve the problem yourself. Option one is a poor choice, by the way, so let’s just get that out of the way. After all, content with images gets 94 percent more views than text-only pieces. This isn’t news to most marketers. A recent white paper from CMO Council (From Creativity to Content: The Role of Visual Media in Impactful Brand Storytelling), in fact, found that almost half of marketers reported that visual content like photography, video, infographics and illustrations were important to their brand storytelling efforts. (See Figure 2 below. After all, we can’t write a post about the importance of visuals and not include a visual, right?) Option two—routing projects through the design team—isn’t much better. The hurry up and wait game isn’t fun for anyone, especially when you’re anxious to get a campaign on its way.
That leaves you with option three: Solve the problem yourself. You CAN create quick, eye-catching designs to accompany your content—no Photoshop required. Read on to learn how.
Below are eight tools you can use to create visuals for your marketing collateral. Browse the list, find one or two that appeal to you, and wow your MarCom colleagues at the next meeting with your newfound design skills. Behold, the power of user-friendly, results-driven technology:
A simple design platform for designers of all skill levels. Canva merges the simplicity of templates with the customization potential of interchangeable elements like stock images, shapes, filters, fonts, and more. The platform allows users to create graphics perfect for social media, print advertisements, or complete presentations. Canva is so user friendly that its tagline is, “It only takes 23 seconds to learn.” If you want to dig a little deeper, though, you can take a class from their Design School. Topics range from Engaging on Twitter to Designing for Facebook
Taking color inspiration from natural elements. Created by a former professional designer, Design Seeds takes photos submitted via Instagram (or taken by the owner in rural Wisconsin) and builds unique color palettes from those images. Find a color combination you like, and apply the HEX codes to your next project.
Finding the color you need from a photo. Image Color Picker is a relatively basic—yet very useful—tool to use if you’re trying to design a project and need inspiration choosing colors. Click anywhere on an image on the site, and you’ll receive HEX and RGB codes you can apply at will.
Give your idea and let professionals work for you. If you like the idea of outsourcing your project to a professional but don’t like the idea of losing total ownership or facing a potentially long wait, 99Designs could be your answer. Simply build a design brief giving details about your business, your vision, and your budget. Then, a slew of designers from around the world will submit their designs to you for consideration. Pick a winner, pay him/her, and keep the copyright. The entire process takes seven days.
Grand solutions for your biggest projects. Have a tradeshow coming up? Need to imprint a logo or design on a physical object to make your brand stand out? Imaginators uses wide and superwide digital printing machines to bring you the most visibility.
Helping you find the right font for your design. Have you ever noticed a font you really loved out in the real world—on a billboard, in a magazine, maybe hidden in some signage? Snap a photo of the lettering and use WhatTheFont, a subset of MyFonts.com, to help you find the exact font you’re pining for.
Allowing you to rethink your imaging. Have you seen the same image repeated over and over in advertisements in the past? They’re called stock photos for a reason—anyone with a wallet can buy from the stock of available images and use them. Death to Stock is the opposite. With a premium membership, you can use the platform to find exciting, original images tailored to your industry. (Bonus: The company pays its photographers and includes image stories on some photo packages.)
Turn your idea into a downloadable graphic in 15 minutes. Piktochart is a user-friendly tool you can use to swiftly create infographics in minutes. Use their template (or create your own), link your content, and output your interactive file for embedding on your website or posting on social. You can also create a variety of flyers and presentations using this tool.
Have you moonlighted as a designer using any of these tools in the past? What was your experience? Let me know in the comments.