When we think of marketing, we may neglect the powerful role design plays. Marketing design, also referred to as visual branding, is a necessary layer to any marketing campaign. It pulls in consumers’ attention, creates an identity for the organization, and overall increases brand awareness. Let’s dive into what marketing design is and what makes effective marketing design.  

What is Marketing Design?

Marketing design is the visual aspect of a marketing campaign. It speaks to consumers where words can`t and typically communicates the message or brand much quicker than written marketing materials. 

It also creates a visual identity for a brand. Visual identities consist of four elements:

  • Logo
  • Color story
  • Typography
  • Images/Design style

Using these elements, brand identity should stay consistent across all platforms from print to digital. An easy way to develop a visual identity is through mood boards. Similar to brainstorming, mood boards have a more visual take. Compiling images, colors, fonts, and other media into one succinct document can help a brand’s design and image come together. Mood boards are also helpful in the rebranding process and are an easy way to see what may not look good together before using these elements in marketing campaigns. 

Visual brand identity can also be any signature aspects a brand wants to incorporate into its public image. For example, colors can be trademarked by companies. When consumers see a specific shade or color combination, they may be reminded of its correlating brand. Think of Tiffany blue, Post-it yellow, and Cadbury purple. 

Additionally, marketing design should be attention-grabbing. Consumers are attracted to images and colors over blocks of text. On average, people spend around seven seconds observing visuals before deciding if the information is worth pursuing. With good design, consumers’ eyes should stay engaged for enough time to absorb the entire message.   

Different Kinds of Marketing Design

Marketing design encompasses all platforms. Consistent design is key here, but messages may have to be tailored to a specific demographic depending on the delivery method. 

Email Marketing Design

Email marketing has one of the most successful ROI rates. According to ConstantContact, for every $1 invested into email marketing, there is a potential $36 return. This is advantageous for marketers, but great ROI cannot happen without visually compelling elements. 

Color palettes, tone of voice, and typography should stay consistent across all email communications. For an easy breakdown, try to keep marketing emails in a 40:60 text to media ratio. This way your email campaign has balance and also keeps the consumers eyes engaged with the screen. 

Social Media Design

We consume more media in a day than ever before. Social media is the primary location for this and its
endless scroll–so having strong marketing design is

Social media is all about maintaining aesthetics. The emotions associated with certain color schemes matter more than ever on social media. This is especially important for businesses, because consumers can often make snap judegments on a brand purely off of social media aesthetics. According to Revive Social, having consistent and professional branding on social media platforms can increase revenue by 23 percent! 

If you`re having trouble creating visually appealing posts from the ground up, try using a few different templates and replace the colors with your brand`s color story and any other visual elements you want to use from your moodboard. Sites like Canva can help you with this! 

When creating your posts, try to use as little text as possible without sacrificing the message. Additionally try to maintain a few design principles (we`ll talk more about these below):

  • Balance
  • Hierarchy
  • Contrast

Print Marketing Design 

Physical marketing materials have become somewhat of a lost art, but are still extremely valuable to communicate an organization’s message. 

Print marketing has unique space limitations compared to its digital counterpart. With this in mind, use space wisely. Do not be afraid of white space. Visually overwhelming materials only drive the eyes away. Ideally, you want your consumer’s eyes to dance across the print in diagonal waves from the upper left to the lower right or from center to perimeter. (This is typically dependent on the size and physical dimensions of the print). 

What Makes a Good Design? 

Now that we have established what marketing design is and what it can do across different media, what goes into a successful design? 

Graphic design can be a tricky balancing game. To create the most cohesive and optimal designs for your organization, try to consult or work with a professional graphic designer. If you are creating your own designs or collaborating with a professional try to keep a few of these principles in mind.


Movement is the visual avenue the viewer follows when looking at print, social media, or even scrolling through a marketing email. Static designs should all contain some kind of movement to them through the combination of shapes, lines, and colors. Marketers can use this natural flow of movement to emphasize messages in marketing materials and direct consumers’ eyes to key locations. 


Balance in design can be divided into two categories: symmetrical and asymmetrical. Naturally, humans tend to be drawn to symmetry–think of the Starbucks or Target logo. Asymmetry can also be a helpful tool and allows more creativity to achieve balance along the x and y axis of the design. Nike and Pepsi`s logos are both asymmetrical but are not overwhelming or unappealing to look at–which can be a risk with asymmetrical design. They are successful because what they may lack in one design principle is compensated for in another, like movement. 

Emphasis and Dominance

Every design has a goal in mind when it is created. In marketing design, it is typically to broadcast a message and build awareness. This can be achieved through design elements such as variation in the foreground and background, range of typeface and size, and color combinations. 

If you want a specific element of your marketing design to stand out, give it the most visual weight by placing it in the foreground. 


When a design fits together and feels cohesive, it has unity. It has visual harmony between each individual element and the overarching design. Unity can be hard to describe, but once you achieve it, you can see it. To achieve unity, think of ideas such as perspective, repetition, and proximity. 


Contrast addresses the differences between design elements. High-contrast marketing designs grab consumers’ attention. This just doesn’t mean black and white, either. Contrast can be maintained through color, texture, space, size, and form. Healthy amounts of negative space, also called white space, can help with contrast as well as the other elements of design. 

Bonus: Have you downloaded our strategic branding guide yet?

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