How to Design Your Pages with Grids

Grids are all around us.

Our street systems use grids, and so do the walls of our homes (have you noticed how all your windows and outlets align?). Grids impart a sense of order to our world. Why not use them to impart a sense of order to your pages, too?

There are a couple of ways to approach creating a grid you can use to align your page elements.

The low-tech way to create a grid is to grab a pencil and paper, and sketch out the shape of your page. Add your grid lines, then sketch in where you’d like to place your images and text along those lines. Use this sketch for inspiration as you place elements on your page.

The high-tech way to create a grid is to use a graphics program (like Photoshop, Illustrator or InDesign), and use the built-in grid function. Set up columns like I demonstrate in the video, then use those to snap your images and text into place.

Do You Use Grids?

Have you used grids before? Do you plan to use them? Let’s talk about it in the comments.

How to Use White Space to Make Your Marketing Clear and Easy to Read

(Watch the video to see why I made that face!)

There are a few design concepts that confuse people when they’re first learning them.

White space is definitely one of them.

You know that well-designed pages use white space. But when it’s time for you to use white space yourself, you may not know how to approach it.

It’s important to master white space, because doing so makes all your pages — whether they’re in print of on the web — more inviting and easier to read.

This week’s video shows you the first places to add white space to your pages. It’s easy once you get the hang of it.

Over to You

Does white space confuse you? Let’s talk about it in the comments, and I can clear up any confusion you have.

Are Your Colors Helping Your Brand?

Choosing brand colors to represent your business is one of the most difficult tasks you may face as you create your marketing materials.

It doesn’t have to be, though.

First, it’s important to realize there’s an aspect of trial and error when it comes to color. It’s usually not a “once-and-done” task. You make an educated guess about your best color palette. Then you use it, get feedback, and tweak.

Don’t lock down your brand color choices until you’ve given them a test drive.

Using them in “real life” will show you if the brand colors you’ve chosen work together. You’ll see if a color is too bright, too dull, or just doesn’t work when applied to your marketing materials. If you discover something’s off, you can make adjustments until you’re happy with the result.

Above all, be sure your colors appeal to the demographic group you’re trying to reach. Try to put aside your personal color preferences, and think exclusively about the age, gender, lifestyle and motivations of your ideal customer.

Today’s video will help inspire you. Get more help with your brand colors here.

What color questions do you have for me today?

If you don’t ask, I can’t help. Take a moment and let me know what confuses you about color in the comment section, and I’ll see what I can do to clear things up.

How to Choose and Combine Fonts

Your marketing message is delivered wrapped in fonts.

The fonts you choose — and the way you combine them — will affect how your message and your business are perceived.

That’s why it’s crucial to spend some time searching for and combining unique, readable fonts to represent your business.

When searching for fonts to represent your brand, be sure to:

Know your ideal customer. Do the work necessary to get to know the people you are trying to communicate with. What drives them? Why do they need what your business offers? What is their age group, gender? Knowing these details will help you make appropriate font choices.

Look for readable fonts first. A font may be beautiful, but if it’s not easy to read, you’re defeating the purpose. Reject any fonts that are too script-y, too condensed, too funky.

Remember x-height. Understanding x-height will help you choose readable fonts and be more successful and combining them.

Choose fonts that are available for online and offline use. Some fonts are web-only, some still haven’t been converted to use on the web (although their numbers are diminishing). To keep your brand consistent across print and the web, choose fonts that you can use in both places.

Think about your brand personality. When you are clear about how you want your business to be perceived, it’s easier to find fonts to tell the story.

Watch this video for more on choose and combining fonts — even if you’re not a designer.


How to Market Your Business with Stories

Human beings are hardwired to be captivated by stories. We find them irresistible!

That’s why when your marketing message is delivered as a story, your prospects find it easy to listen to, pay attention to, and act on.

Some “storyselling” ideas you can use for your business:

  • Market your business with a “transformation story” that details why one customer desperately needed your products and services, and the amazing results they got from them.
  • Tell an “origin story” about how you started your business, and why you do what you do.
  • Share a “community story” about how your business has had a positive impact on the community where you live (or the online community you serve).
  • Give your product or service a voice, and tell a “point of view” story in this voice.

The last one’s only for people who aren’t afraid of a little creativity. For example, I could write a story that goes like this:

“I’m Pamela’s laptop, and my favorite time of the week is when she sits down to write her Big Brand System blog post.

I can always tell when she’s in “blog post mode,” because all the same elements are there: she takes me to a comfortable spot with no distractions, she’s got a cup of tea by her side, and she looks determined.

Then she opens up MindNode, my mind mapping software, and gets to work. She takes 15-20 minutes to map out a basic structure: headline, subheads and main points. Then she copies the mind map and pastes it into a Byword text document. She puts Byword into full screen mode so she can focus on the task at hand. Details are filled in, transitions are written, and a call to action wraps things up at the end.

When she’s done, she fires up her WordPress website, searches for an image to complement her words, and formats her page.

Once she’s previewing the final product, I know we’re in the home stretch. She checks and double-checks to make sure the post features important keywords, then she preps it to be published.

I say goodbye as my screen closes, and hear her move away to make another cup of tea: another Wednesday post is ready.”

See how I did that? I just shared a lot of information about the software and the process I use to write my posts. Because it was in the form of a story, you probably fell right into the rhythm of the story and didn’t even notice that you were learning something at the same time you were being entertained.

Share how you use stories to market your business

Do you market your business with stories? Do you plan to in the future? Let’s chat about it in the comments.