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Marketing and Graphic Design – Taking Chances are how Companies like Starbucks and Google became the Valuable, Memorable Brands they are Today

Abbi Hoff Rivergate Marketing

I love surrounding myself with bright, energetic and passionate people. Some of those individuals are young ‘A-players,’ rising to any and all challenges and opportunities that come their way. They know they want to make their mark by following their passion and their creative intelligence. I have been lucky enough to come across and work with a number of those rising stars. Here I will share a post by one of those passionate bright individuals. In this post, Abbi Hoff, a graphic designer and photographer, will share her insights and tips regarding marketing and graphic design; whether it be a logo, a brochure, or a website, Abbi will share a few rules you should keep in mind when it comes to design and delivering your message in a memorable, impactful way.

Graphic Design Insights

Abbi HoffWritten by Abbi Hoff,

It always surprises me when I tell someone that I am a graphic designer, they aren’t really sure what I do, especially the older generation. I’ll never forget the week I graduated from college. My whole family had come to see my portfolio show and to celebrate with me. When my grandparents got in, they were curious about what I had learned and worked towards the past four years. I handed them my portfolio ( As my grandfather looked through it, he made comments like, “cool!,” “nice!,” etc. Then he asked the question, “So what did you just find these projects online?” It took a lot more time than that. I explained every project in that book had been created by me. Things were drawn, pictures were taken, logos were designed, copy was written. It had been my life for the last 6 months, and those pages were invaluable to me. He decided to go back to the beginning of the book.


Graphic design: everything we see and read, every ad we look at, app we download, product we buy was designed by someone or some group. Graphic design entices us, persuades us and evokes emotions. Some design and marketing have been so influential we just have to have it, even if there’s a cheaper, comparable item or service. Marketing and design geniuses behind Apple, Nike and Target prove: good design and good marketing generates more business. To the contrary, bad design keeps people from your project or service. We could bring up the Gap logo change controversy in 2010 ( to prove this, or we could look at a smaller business that may relate better with the average business. Take this for example: You are searching online for a product or service and when you click on a link, the website it is outdated. It’s full of a bunch of typewriter style text and terrible pictures. What did you think? Did you keep looking or did you hit back and look at the other suggestions. Weren’t you more likely to trust the next, up-to-date website with a nice design? Image can make or break you, and this is why graphic design is so important. Design takes the information we want to get to our consumer and uses imagery and typography to not only inform them, but to grab them.

So what are the rules to making a good design?

I’ve learned a lot by being in the professional world (—graphics.html).  These are some of the design factors I have found can make or break any marketing materials.



Your copy writer and marketing guru has written a beautifully persuasive and intriguing piece for your marketing. The next step? Making sure the consumer reads it. Typography is, in my opinion, the most important part of design, make sure you follow these simple rules when creating and approving design:

  • Don’t get too carried away with font. It is best to stick to one or two fonts per piece. Too many fonts can overwhelm and make a piece unreadable.
  • Be careful of spacing and size. Know your audience. If you are creating a children’s book, the font would usually be big and easy to read. If you writing a caption for a picture, the font should be less dominant to let the image speak.
  • Be careful of trying to squish too much type in one space. If it’s hard to read, or looks overwhelming, people won’t read it.
  • Don’t be afraid to let the type be your imagery. Play with fonts and create your own. Words can be powerful, sometimes that’s all you need.


White space

Don’t be afraid of it. Because you are paying for an 8×10 ad doesn’t mean you have to fill in every square inch. Sometimes space speaks volumes. Allow your message and images to speak for their selves. Draw the eye to the most important part of the page, not four different spots. If people don’t know where to look, they will stop looking. I’ve experienced clients that want to put every photo possible on a piece and they want to write out tons of information. This isn’t the best idea. The purpose of a marketing piece is to intrigue people. Spark their interest and make them want to call you or check out your website to find out more.


Images, Clip-Art and Originality

With the use of the internet it is so easy to find imagery; stock photos, clip art, font sites. They are all at easy access to us and sometimes they are necessary. When using a stock site remember other people/companies can be using them. You could purchase the same stock image for your coffee shop that a pharmacy down the street has used. Most importantly, if you choose to use someone else’s image, make sure you have the rights to the images. It can be detrimental to your company to use imagery that you do not have permission to use. The other issue with stock sites is, you usually can’t find the exact picture you want. If using your own photos, make sure the images you choose are high quality. A poorly lit photo or a pixelated photo – made up of a small number of large pixels that produce a picture which is not clear or sharp – can really ruin a piece. The best way to avoid these pitfalls? Be original. Have your designer create their own illustrations and vector art, set up a photo shoot to be sure your imagery is provoking the right emotions. Photos can create such an impact, choose wisely.


Rules can Always be Broken

In graphic design, nothing is set in stone as related to how something should be created. That’s what makes it so fun and challenging at the same time. Because it worked for another company, doesn’t mean it will work for you. Taking chances are how companies like Starbucks and Google became the valuable, memorable brands they are today. Design is always changing, always waiting for the next great thing. You can’t please everyone, so focus on your audience.


“There are three responses to a piece of design – yes, no, and WOW! Wow is the one to aim for.”   – Milton Glaser

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