4 Design Principles To Brand Your Social Media | Everett Bowes | Skillshare

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4 Design Principles To Brand Your Social Media

teacher avatar Everett Bowes, Founder, 22 To Guru

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

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About This Class

Applying four timeless principles of Visual Design to social media strategy.

Borrowing from Robin Williams' books on Visual Design, this course takes a fun, almost light-hearted approach at transforming your social media feed using four simple principles:

  • Contrast
  • Repetition
  • Alignment
  • Proximity

This innovative outlook on social media strategy will get your creative and analytical mind processing!

​In the course you'll learn the foundation for successfully building a brand on Social Media.

For additional information about social media success, be sure to check out the more in-depth course, How To Build A Brand On Social Media!

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Meet Your Teacher

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Everett Bowes

Founder, 22 To Guru


PROFESSIONAL:  Hi! I’m Everett Bowes, Founder of 22 To Guru. I’m proud to be a Top Instructor on a number of mainstream teaching platforms, with over 85,000 students worldwide, and over 24,000 reviews (and counting)!

I have more than 25 years of experience as a leader in the fields of Brand Strategy, Creative Direction, Marketing, Social Media, Business, Leadership, Communications, and more. This unique combination of professional experience helps me produce impactful, efficient learning modules and resources on a number of different topics.

TEACHING:  My teaching style is very conversational and approachable. I avoid using technical-jargon and buzzwords that make other teachers feel self-important while running the risk of co... See full profile

Level: Beginner

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1. Preview: Years ago, I realized that I needed to become a better designer. What I did, I went out, read a bunch of novels and I got a book. I wasn't sure what book to go with until I found this, this title just work for me it was, The Non-Designer's Design Book, and that title just spoke to me. Not to mention the author's name is Robin Williams and I just thought, this is going to be great. Well, lo and behold, it's not the comedian Robin Williams, the author of the book is actually a woman, not a man and not the comedian and so on. She outlined in this visual design book four principles that stuck with me ever since. Now, why did they stick with me? Let's see. The concepts are contrast, repetition, alignment, and proximity. While all of those seemed fairly understandable, I needed it to be unpacked through this book and maybe the simplicity of the points are what stood out to me, or probably it was just because the acronym C-R-A-P spells crap, and just being a young man, that's going to get locked into my brain forever. Anyway how did 'CRAP' apply and teach me great design? Well, those same principles for great visual design can also be used in designing a phenomenal social media feed and building your brand on social media. Now, I'm not talking about designing the actual look of your posts. I'm talking about the spirit of all of your posts, the strategy, the overall content guide that you want to create and follow for yourself for your social media feeds. I'm going to bring some clarity to this and apply this for you this entire course. This class is intended to be short, kind of lighthearted. I don't want to go too deep. I've got other classes that really go deep into some more of the heavy lifting principles and so on. But at the same time, this is still going to be worth your time. Thanks for checking this out. Thank you for your interest and let's dive in. 2. Intro: So before we dive into the four main principles that are the real core of this teaching. I want to talk about another book title.This book title is called Don't Make Me Think. The title was for a book more about web usability, web design. What you and I would know as like UI, UX; User Interface, User Experience, and so on. Still, probably there's still lots of elements in there for visual design. But anyway, it's a great book. The point of the book was, don't make the user think, don't make the audience think. I want us to filter everything that we go through in this course through that same concept, that same idea, that same mantra. Don't make me think. So what we're going to do is we're going to look for how to simplify your feed, how to make your feed more understandable, and more connect worthy in more relatable. So the next part before we dive in is, in the world of social media people, I say vote with their feet and their hearts. What I simply mean is voting with your feet. If your feed is something that people want to connect with, it's going to be reflected in your followers, the number of followers you have will continue to grow and increase and increase over time. What I mean by people vote with their heart is, when you hit the other like symbol, all of a sudden you see a heart. So just figure speech and beyond cute. If your likes and engagement is increasing, you're connecting. If you're like in engagement is decreasing, you're not. It's as simple as that. If you look at your competitive landscape and you look at other people who are like you have similar accounts, similar content, similar follower base and so on, and you don't have the same relative number of likes and same relative number of followers, or you're not growing at the same rate and pace. It's simple. You are not connecting. So we need to dissect how and why you are not connected. So let's look at these four principles and see how they can help you make those connections and grow that brand on social media. 3. Contrast: Contrast. It simply means to stand out, to be set apart, to be different. In visual design it's simple, you have your overall design and you need to have elements that are different, that are set apart, that are contrasting the other elements in your design. There is a book, I think it was just a phrase, I'm not sure. But anyway, it was something like, "When everything is bold, nothing is bold." The key is contrast, not everything's the same. Now, in talking about social media, the principle of contrast is super important, because if you don't stand out, if you're not set apart, if you're not seen as somebody different and account as different, you will not make a connection. Now some people will argue that the most important principle of visual design is contrast. I'm not going to argue whether or not that's accurate or not, but again, you can still make that same argument in social media. If you don't stand out, you won't connect. If you don't connect, you cannot build your brand. Our eyes, this is important, contrast and visual design is important because it focuses the attention for the audience. Well, in the same way, we have to understand that our eyes are attracted to difference, our eyes are attracted to things that stand out, our eyes are attracted to contrast. Now, I'm not specifically talking right now about posts, pictures that actually are high-contrast images. I'm instead talking about the spirit of the feed, that overall content strategy, you need to make sure that you are different, that you stand out. Now you can stand out in lots of ways. You can stand in quality, in picture, in style design, messaging, captions, meaning, inspiration, and so many other things. Regardless of where and how you decide to stand out, you just have to make sure that you have to ask yourself, does my account stand out? Do I have contrast? 4. Repetition: Repetition. The next principle we're going to talk about is repetition, and it's simply the concept of consistency. In visual design, you want to take elements and you want to repeat them. Now an element can be anything. Maybe it's, you want to have the same font in various places, or maybe you want a line or a star or some other element. Maybe it's a thickness or a color or a pattern, and there's all sorts of different things. What happens is when you reuse elements, your design actually builds strength. Then there's also a sense of maturity. There is a sense of trustworthiness that also comes through with the proper use of repetition, with the proper use of consistency. Well, the same thing goes in social media. You need repetition and the appropriate word for us is consistency. More specifically, you want a consistent look and feel. You want a consistent content and you want consistent messaging. When you do that, you make your account. Then in the same way as in visual design, your account becomes more appealing, it becomes more memorable. Overall it's just considered strong and mature and trustworthy, reliable, predictable, and connectable or connect worthy, whatever you want to call that. Overall, what happens is, the elements that are repeated and visual design become a shortcut. It's almost like a way to decode what the overall piece is intended to communicate. In the same way, in social media, when building a brand, repetition and consistency give the audience a shortcut, the ability to decode who you are and what your feed, and your message, and your brand is all about. Now, another key element is just this concept of being understandable. Remember, in the intro, we talked about the book titled, "Don't Make Me Think", repetition sets reinforcement. You repeat the items that are important to your message or your design in the same way. Repetition and consistency in social media repeats the elements that are important to your overall brand goals and overall messaging. So I want you to think through and have something that I call creative constraint. I didn't make that word up. Anyway, creative constraints like putting blinders on. Its basically saying You can do anything in the world as long as it's within the scope of whatever it is. Put on the creative constraint, what are the elements that you want to repeat inside your feet with a consistent look, with a consistent field, design, message, and more importantly, not more importantly, but just as importantly, the content, what you post. Think through and ask yourself, does my account display elements of repetition and consistency? 5. Alignment: Alignment. The principle of alignment is really simple. Everything has a purpose, a plan, and a place. Every element in a design in that whether the design is a website or a billboard or a print piece, an app, it doesn't matter there's just no room for randomness and so the same principle of alignment applies to social media. Now, in our first topic we said contrast, you have to stand out and then the second topic we said repetition, there needs to be consistency, a consistent look, feel and messaging. Now, this principle of alignment is basically saying, "Let everything come together." When you have a messaging that let's say it's talking about health and wellness and so on. Then you want to make sure that your look and feel matches the messaging. You want to make sure that the handle and the bio and everything, all elements come together on the content side, messaging side, the quality side, and the repetition. What are the things that you are repeating? If you repeat a certain element, a certain topic, a certain content, a certain location, it doesn't matter. Whatever you repeat your saying in the concept of repetition, you're saying that is important. Alignment is saying now, let's think of our overall brand goals, is the overall brand goal being reflected through the feed and that again, that is alignment, making sure everything is aligned, cohesive, coherent, altogether in harmony. Removing randomness brings strength and so in order to have a social media feed that is well aligned, it's going take planning to think through what you should post as opposed to what you can post. Now, a lot of times we all, it doesn't matter whether you're building a personal brand or a small business brand or a medium-size business brand it doesn't matter. We get in this crunch that I call reaction posting where all of a sudden you just think, "Oh my goodness, I haven't posted all day." So you just look and then you just find something and post it, whether it's a picture or status, whatever and there's no room for that when building a brand. What I often talk about is when you're building a brand through social media, every step you take is forward, every post advances your brand too often we take one step forward and two steps back when making a brand. Removing randomness builds, strengthened, it builds legitimacy to your social media feed and then it also by removing randomness, you remove any backward motion and you simply just continue to advance your brand. 6. Proximity: Proximity. This principle of proximity in visual design simply states that elements that are close together are related. It doesn't matter if you have two elements that are close together or 20 elements that are close together. Proximity says that whatever is close together is related. If you take something that's unrelated and you group it with other elements, that all of those are related to each other, you now cause confusion. You absolutely have to avoid it. Elements that are similar are grouped together. Elements that are unrelated are kept separate. Proximity is key for navigating, it's key for understanding and making sense of a design, and all of that is applicable to social media as well. Proximity, again, it's all about grouping similar things together. But what we have to keep in mind is in social media, it's already altogether, most people consume your social media feed on a smartphone or a tablet. That mean that it's all right there, it's all close. You don't have the ability to take some stuff keep close and some stuff is not close, is all right there. Instead what I want you to think through is what is unrelated, what do you need to kick out. I love that a lot of times we make a to-do list, but in social media sometimes we actually have to make it to-don't list, what are you not going to put in your feed because it doesn't fit. Now, this is where a content guide comes in handy. In other courses that I teach, I talk about how you should use your bio as your guide. Your bio is your filter for everything that you post. Whenever you have that creative crunch and you're just not sure what to do, go back to your bio and let your bio be your guide. Have that content guide because without it you lack purpose, you lack understandability, you lack cohesiveness, and you lack a key, key element for social media, which is actually predictability. You want your account to be predictable. You want people if they have post notifications turned on or something and it says, hey, so and so just posted, in their mind, they should have an idea of the spirit of what you've already posted. That's when you know you're really doing well. Anyway, proximity, keeping like elements together, but in social media, it's already compacted space, so keep unrelated items out of your social media feed. Have that content guide, retain cohesiveness and trust. You build trust, you build legitimacy, your overall account, you built strength and the ability to be remembered. I struggle with that on the other video too. But anyway, keep likeliness together, extraneous elements out, plan. 7. Summary: Thank you for taking this course. If you have any questions, please reach out to me because I'd love to connect with you, I'd love to dissect this a little bit further, have a great conversation with you and so on. Now, these four principles in visual design, when done right, nobody notices them. Nobody takes looks at an ad goes, oh my gosh, look at that alignment. I mean, that's ridiculous. So nobody notices. In the same way when done, right in social media, when you get these four principles just going and working for you, nobody really notices that. It's like anything that anybody is really, really good at it. It's like it just looks so easy to them and so on. It looks easy for us to watch somebody do something that's great. So good design is something that is experienced. Now one of the things that I like to do when I'm looking at, when I'm working on a design or I'm working on some visual element is I look at it with my eyes half shut. What I'm looking for by doing that, you've fed a lot of visual information. So by closing your eyes half shut, you block out some of that. You block out a good majority of it and with that, I can check out the contrast. I can check out some of the alignment and proximity issues, and so on and maybe some of the repeated elements. But I want you to think about that same exact principle and how it applies to social media. I think people peruse social media almost figuratively with their eyes half shut. There's a phrase, I didn't come up with this and it's called thumb-stopping. You want to have thumb-stopping content because people scroll, scroll, scroll, scroll. It's almost like again, looking at a design with your eyes have shut, their eyes are half shut. They're maybe doing something and scrolling through social media at the same time. So when done right, no one's really going to be able to articulate, wow, look how this person is able to and then, you know, on and on and on. So keep that in mind and give yourself, see how well you pass the eyes half shut test as you evaluate your own feeds. So see, contrast, stand out, be memorable be different. R, repetition. Consistency is key and it's important for predictability in your content, your look, your messaging. A, alignment. It's simply going to say, let's make sure that the content that you're putting out matches the spirit of your overall look, which matches the spirit of your overall messaging, which matches the spirit of your overall brand and brand objectives. Then P, proximity. What is near is related and so more importantly, let's make sure unrelated, unnecessary items do not make it into your social media space. When you do this, you've got a great accounts. Again, thanks for taking this course will reach out to me anytime.