It’s not what you said, it’s how you said it!
We know that there are non-verbal aspects to our communication when we’re speaking: things like facial expression, body posture, and tone affect how our message is interpreted. This is true with written communication too! In design, font choice, colors, and images communicate the tone of the message.
In honor of Valentine’s Day, I came up with this quick example:
Let’s break it down.
#1: The Default
This is done in the default font in Microsoft Word. I put in zero design effort and made no attempt to convey emotion. It’s the Valentine’s Day equivalent of Dwight Schrute’s birthday sign: it is a statement of fact.
I see this in business communications all the time. Using the default font is just fine when you just need to type up a quick agenda or simple internal communication. When you’re communicating to your customers, try a little harder. Pick a font for all of your communications and use it consistently.
#2: Cutesy Curlz
I’ll start out with the old adage, “Just because you CAN do something doesn’t mean you SHOULD.” Using cute fonts just because you like them, adding cartoony clipart, and unnecessarily filling in white space makes the design look homegrown and unprofessional.
Again, choose a font to use for all of your communications that aligns with your brand and conveys the tone you’re shooting for. Skip the clipart and use more professional-looking illustrations, images, or icons. Also, be careful about putting images behind text; it can make the text hard to read. Finally, remember that you don’t need to fill in white space just because it’s there.
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#3: The Stalker
Design elements can portray different moods. Just like music in the background of a movie or body language as a friend tells a story, design communicates the tone or mood of the message.
The details you add such as borders, backgrounds, and images shape the mood of your organization’s communications. Be sure to select photos that match your company’s personality and target market. Use colors that appeal to your customer and align with your branding.
#4: The Love Story
The design is clean and simple, there are no distracting extras, the fonts pair well, and the underlying tone of romance is strong. There is emotion here (unlike #1), but the cheese factor from #2 is gone. There isn’t a hint of creepy, despite using the same words and a heart as I did in #3.
Wrap it up.
Each example above sent a different message despite all containing the same words. Thinking about your “non-verbals” as you create your materials can make a world of difference as to how your message is received.
Reach out if you need help as you’re working or if you need an outside perspective to review your design once it’s done. I’m happy to help!
Cover image by user “kaboompics” on pixabay.com