Golden Rules of Graphic Design

The Golden Rules of Graphic Design

We spoke previously about rules for non-graphic designers and how you can make your designer’s job easier, well today’s focus is all about the golden rules for graphic designers themselves. Times change, skills adapt but some rules should always stay the same, here are a few of our favourites:

Get to Really Know Your Client

Seriously, before any planning goes ahead, figure out exactly what your client wants, how they work, what kind of deadlines they want and most importantly their exact specifications. Extract as much information as you can from them, it will make the whole process so much easier. A happy client means a happy designer.

Print Areas

Before excitedly getting into the fun, creative process, remember to think ahead. Set up your blank document and set print area margins (the print area guidelines where text and images should finish). 10mm from all sides for A4 documents, 8mm for A5, 6mm for A6 and 4mm for business cards (to allow for print bleeds).

Never Stretch Fonts and Images

Keep an eye on images and type in your design, so that you don’t stretch them out of proportion when making adjustments. Typeface design is a very skilled, time-consuming job, especially when you are dealing with logos. It needs to be just right. While you may not think that anyone can see the image is slightly out-of-balance, everyone can see it.

Saving Versions and Layers

As you go along, mistakes will occur, it’s inevitable. But make sure to save your early layers on Photoshop (even if you create 10 versions in 1 day). It may seem like a lot of space to use up but you just don’t know when those early edits could really save your bacon. You even use them again in the future as templates. And, of course, save regularly! Make it an obsessive habit. Technology fails, be on top of it.

Widows and Orphans

When creating pages of text you have to be careful not to create ‘widows’ and ‘orphans’. Widows are end sentences that fall onto different pages (therefore away from related text) and ‘orphans’ are words or part of words at the end of a sentence that get forced onto their own line. You want all blocks of text to be grouped together. Consistency is key.


Use Pantone references to make sure you get your colours exactly right for your client. You don’t want any nasty surprises on print day. Read more about our print specifying tips here.

What does your logo say about you?

We like to think we don’t judge a book by its cover but without realising, we often do.  We judge labels, covers and promotional materials every day. And the more we see them, the more we begin to view them as trustworthy and recognisable sources.

Some we’ve become so familiar with, we decide to continuously choose them over hundreds of others. McDonalds over the local greasy spoon cafe, Sainsbury’s over the local greengrocer’s etc. So why is that?

The Importance of a Great Logo

Well, one of the biggest parts of establishing a respected brand is designing a great logo. Many factors make up our opinions of a company and it can all stem from having that all-important symbol to identify it by. After all, this is how you are choosing to represent your company, so it’s an crucial one to get right.

The Ingredients to a Successful Logo


The colour you choose does mean something to your customers. Think about how certain colours affect you when you see them. Then think about what your brand represents. If you choose bright colours, it portrays that you are a bold & exciting company – it may appeal to young people & of course, it will catch everyone’s eye.  Every colour in the spectrum represents something different, so choose wisely.

Type Style

Picking your font is equally as important. As soon as you see those Coca Cola curves, you know exactly what you’re getting. It’s become a ‘cool’ drink, it has a creative flair all down to that fancy typeface.

Accompanying images

If you want an image to go with your type, that has got to sum up exactly what you want your brand to be known for. If you are an environmentally-friendly company, an image of a plant spells that out or go a bit quirky with it to grab even more attention.  At CWDmedia, I like to try and think outside the box when a client’s brief allows it – the chances are that the most obvious idea has probably been done before, and it’s the well thought out, original ideas that stick in your mind and work best as a marketing tool.

The job of your logo is to spell out your company’s message. It’s got to be adjustable to fit across different platforms, so you don’t want it to be too complicated, but you want it to encapsulate exactly what you’re all about.  A golden rule I live by when it comes to logo design is “if it isn’t legible when it’s the size of a postage stamp, bin it”.  Sometimes I have to bend that rule, admittedly, but it’s a healthy ethos to adopt.


CWDmedia has bags of experience in logo design. Get in touch today!