Common Graphic Design Mistakes That Hurt Businesses

Posted on August 23, 2021 | Updated on July 7, 2023

The way other people see your brand ties into your reputation and how well you’re received by potential customers. Unfortunately, most small businesses have to do advertising and design on a budget, which means your graphic design might not be as competitive as you’d like. Around 160,745 graphic designers work in the United States to make up a $13 billion industry. Research shows most businesses feel excellent graphic design can improve their revenue and reputation. Even if you do some of your own design work, you need to understand the most common graphic design mistakes that might hurt your business. Avoid the problem areas and take your image to the next level by keeping these things in mind. 

1. Using Too Many Fonts

It might seem like a good idea to use a beautiful script for your logo, another font for your header, something different for subheadings and yet another for the body text. Too many fonts can give your overall design a busy, cluttered look.

Instead, stick to a couple of fonts or use different variations within the same font family, tapping into italics or bold to set off text. 

2. Uneven Spacing

While it’s okay to use asymmetrical designs, make sure everything still spaces out well using the Rule of Thirds. You don’t want to create an aesthetically displeasing design by having huge gaps of white space without anything of interest for the viewer.

Some of the best spacing practices include keeping letter spacing similar and using similar negative space around each letter and word to avoid confusion. Have you ever seen an invitation or add where some text runs together and other words seem disconnected? Spacing issues make your graphic designs look unprofessional. 

3. Lack of Proofreading

Take the time to go over your text carefully, searching for errors. You should have at least two pairs of eyes on anything you put out, but ideally more. It’s easy to read something the way you know it should be. Some graphic design mistakes are downright embarrassing and reflect poorly on your brand.

At a minimum, people may see you as not caring about your image or assume you aren’t professional. Proofread, use spell checks, print out the piece and read it out loud and ask others to look it over. 

4. Bad Hierarchy

Design has a certain balance to it, where items of the most importance have more weight and draw the user’s attention in some way. You might create the emphasis with fonts, text, colors or images.

Make sure you place the focus on the goal of the page. For example, you might make your heading the biggest item on the page and place it near the top so the viewer sees it first. Images might include a person looking toward the heading or animated arrows pointing the way. 

There are many different ways to achieve excellent design hierarchy, but the key is to know what you want people to look at first. 

5. Complicating the Logo

Perhaps you hired someone to design a logo or you created it yourself. Making your logo with too many elements, colors or features can harm you more than it helps. People may see it as busy or ugly and bounce away from your website.

Around 67% of business owners say they’d pay at least $500 for a strong logo design. They understand your logo is the first thing people see and the one thing that appears on nearly every piece of marketing material you release.

You’ll use your logo on your storefront, website, social media pages, business cards and email newsletter. It is the one thing customers see over and over and associate with your brand. It can make a statement, but is it sending the message you want?

6. Choosing the Wrong Format

Know the places your design might appear. For example, saving a logo in SVG allows you to scale it up or down without losing clarity. However, an infographic will only appear online so you may not need a high-resolution image. 

You must also consider emerging technologies. For example, most cell phones and desktops have high resolution screens and faster connectivity speeds. Lower resolution photos won’t translate well in the future, so make sure you don’t compromise quality even while you ensure images are compressed enough to load quickly. 

7. Copying Other Brands

One of the reasons graphic designs and advertising agencies make what they do is because design is a creative endeavor. You may be the best business owner on the planet, but graphic design isn’t likely your strength.

It’s tempting to look at what other brands do and copy them. If someone is successful, it makes sense their efforts might work for you as well. Not only will you not stand out when you make your designs too similar to another brand’s but you may violate trademark or copyright laws and face the consequences. 

It’s far better to come up with something unique to your brand. Stay away from stock images and try to choose only pictures relevant to your business. Choose your own color palette based on best psychology and knowing what your customers prefer.

Hire Freelancers

Even if you can’t afford a full-time graphic designer, you can bring in freelancers to fill the gap. Utilize their expertise for brainstorming or tweaking your ideas to perfection. You don’t want to release marketing materials that make you look like an amateur. With a little effort, you’ll gain a professional edge that rivals that of big corporations.

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