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Printed marketing materials—including letterhead stationery, business cards, and similar items—are perfect for building brand recognition, but to do this effectively it’s essential to develop a cohesive design that works across all of these printed formats. And ideally, this design should work well in digital formats too.

It can help to think of your printed marketing materials as a family. All the various family members don’t have to look identical, but they do have to look like they’re from the same family. Or in other words, all of your various materials should be immediately identifiable as being issued by the same company, and when laid out together, should have a cohesive and compatible look. So, how can you achieve this?

Create A Style Guide

Before starting the actual design process, it’s highly useful to create a style guide that details all the different design elements you want to incorporate in each piece. This should include all key design elements such as fonts, colours, logo, and graphics, as well as any words and phrases that are important. This might include slogans, calls to action, and key brand identity words that define your organisation.

A comprehensive style guide should also include a hierarchy that indicates the relative important of various different images and text snippets. For example, style guide hierarchy might delineate different font sizes and colours for headlines, key information, and supplemental information. Keeping these things consistent across all printed formats helps ensure a cohesive look, and also ensures that the organisation can emphasise what’s most important in each of its printed pieces.

Choose Versatile Graphical Elements

Graphical elements such as your organisation’s logo are important visual identifiers for your brand, and this means it’s crucial that these elements are able to be incorporated effectively into all forms of printed marketing materials.

This means that versatility is essential. If the same logo has to look good on business cards, letterhead stationery, and large-format posters, it may be that the exact same logo design won’t work for each piece. While an organisation’s logo should have a consistent look for all pieces of marketing material, it’s also useful to develop variations on the theme.

Incorporate White Space

One of the biggest challenges in developing a cohesive design lies in creating a design that works for printed materials of various different shapes and sizes. Using white space effectively—an important design concept in itself—can go a long way towards solving this problem. It’s also useful for creating versatile graphical elements that can be accommodated across a range of formats.