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4 Graphic Design Resolutions Guaranteed to Grow Your Mission in 2024

Updated: Jan 9




Happy (almost) New Year!


If you’re like most people out there today, you’ve likely made a few New Year’s resolutions. Well, today I have four new ones to add to your list.


But don’t worry! These resolutions aren’t overwhelming, and won’t take you all year to fulfill. In fact, you can probably get all of these done the first week of January!


What kind of resolutions am I talking about?


I’m talking about graphic design resolutions for your branding and website.


“Ugh. I don’t have time for this graphic design stuff.” 


I get it. You’re busy trying to grow your ministry, business, or parish. But stick with me. Graphic design is actually a huge part of growing your audience, both online and offline. Not only will it help you streamline the process of creating content, fliers, brochures, web pages, and more, but it’ll make it so much easier for your target audience to find and recognize you.


With that in mind, here are the top four graphic design resolutions I recommend for 2024.


1. Create a User Persona

15 minutes - 1 hour to complete

Your first step in nailing your 2024 graphic design resolutions is to create a user persona. Don’t worry, this is a lot easier and a lot more fun than it sounds.


Plus, it takes as little as 15 minutes, depending on how detailed you want to be in creating this document.


What is a User Persona

A user persona is a fictitious representation of your company’s or ministry’s ideal customer. You’ll name this person, find him/her a profile photo, identify his/her hopes, dreams, and pain-points. And you’ll also determine how your offerings – whether it’s a physical product, an academic program, an event, or subscribing to your podcast – solves their particular problem or pain-point.


The main question the User Persona answers is, “Who is the company’s ideal customer?”


Why You Should Create a User Persona

There’s a great saying from Pixar’s “The Incredibles.”


“When everyone’s special, no one is.”


Sure, it was uttered by the villain of the movie, but when it comes to your target audience, it’s most certainly true. If you’re trying to appeal to everyone, you end up appealing to no one.


It is a common mistake for C-Suite executives with no marketing background to cater their marketing visuals and messaging to themselves, not their target audience. It’s understandable. You are your organization’s biggest fan. But just think, who is purchasing your product, you or your customer?


Your user persona will help you determine what visuals and voice you should use when designing and writing marketing content. For example, if your target audience is an academically-minded 28 year-old male catechist, you’ll appeal to him more by using clean visuals and formal language, like Baroque art and writing with technical terms.


If, on the other hand, your ideal customer is a youth minister, you’ll appeal to him more by using informal visuals and language, like scrapbook-style visuals or making the occasional reference to the “Bible in a Year” podcast or the Chastity Project.



How to Create a User Persona

Gather key stakeholders for your organization and run through the following steps:


1. User Research

Your user research can be as in-depth as you want. You can use Google, or the data you have available from your current customer base.


As an example, if you know your primary target is youth ministers, you can do a Google search for the average age of parish youth ministers. A quick search showed me that the average youth minister is a 51 year-old white male. Odds are you’re going to design and write your marketing campaigns differently than if you were marketing to a 22 year-old hispanic woman.


2. Name and Determine Demographics 

Now, let’s “flesh out” this persona as if he were a real person. What’s his first and last name? How old would he be? What’s his race? Level of education? Marital status? The number of children he has? His household income? Is he serving a rural or urban parish?


Imagine taking this person out to coffee or drinks and conducting an interview.


Determine all basic demographics, then figure out other traits, hopes, dreams, and thoughts they have relevant to your brand. Does he use Facebook or TikTok? What social channel will he need to use to reach his youth and their parents? What pain-points is your product solving for him? What would he Google to find your product?


This knowledge is going to help you further refine how you “talk” to your target audience through your voice, messaging, and visuals.


3. Profile Photo

This part is actually really simple. You can find free stock photos on websites like Unsplash or Pexels.com. Just make your way over to the website and type something like “51 year old man” in the search bar. Then you can skim through the results and find the image that you feel best looks like your ideal customer.


This further humanizes your User Persona and helps you connect with him or her.


4. Write a Bio 

Now for the fun. To write your bio, sit down, gather together all the information that you’ve compiled so far, then write a fictional biography that speaks to your target audience’s goals and aspirations, pain-points and problem areas. Your goal here is to clearly, yet briefly, communicate what your ideal target wants most, what’s blocking him from achieving his desired outcome, and how your offering will help him to solve that problem. 


Continue reading to get access to a FREE User Persona Creation tool.



2. Create a Brand Guide

About 1 Hour, depending on what's already established

Your next graphic design goal for 2024 is to create a brand guide. This is going to take you somewhat longer than creating your user persona, but don’t worry. I’m going to walk you through it.


What is a Brand?

According to Merriam Webster, a brand is “a public image, reputation, or identity conceived of as something to be marketed or promoted.”


In the old days – think “Wild West” days – a brand was used to showcase ownership. Ranchers would brand their livestock as a way to “promote” their ownership. The goal was to associate the livestock with this specific person or this specific ranch.


Today we use brands a little differently.


Brands no longer promote ownership, per se. Instead, they help customers associate a product or service with a specific organization.


If I say “Live Mas,” for example, nearly everyone is going to think Taco Bell. If I hold up an image of a blue cursive capital G, nearly everyone who does any amount of grocery shopping will immediately think of General Mills.


This is modern branding in action. The catchphrase and the letter both force potential customers to associate the phrase or the labeled product with specific organizations. This is incredibly useful and arguably required in order to have a successful brand image. Not just for restaurants, but also churches and nonprofits. EWTN and The March for Life both have solid logos.


Now that you know what “branding” is, it’s time to answer…


What is a Brand Guide?

Your brand guide is a document that holds all the information you need to distinguish your company or ministry from other similar companies or ministries in the eyes of your potential customers.


Your brand guide will contain things like:

  • What colors you use in all your communications

  • What font types you use and where

  • The “voice” in which you write

  • What visuals you use


Why Have a Brand and a Brand Guide?

Studies show using a consistent brand builds audience trust, brand credibility, recognition, and makes it much easier for your marketing team to create assets. A good brand will not only help you look good, but will also help you use your visuals and writing to most effectively and consistently communicate your mission and values.


Additionally, people tend to take “well-dressed” things and people more seriously than the alternative. Humans are drawn to beautiful things. This is 100% true of your target audience. If they have to spend too much mental energy sifting through unattractive, uninteresting visuals and messaging to figure out who you are and what you’re offering, they’re going to go to your competitor who communicates much more clearly and professionally.


Lastly, you can hand this document to a designer or a Communications Coordinator with no graphic design background and this person will have the tools to maintain your brand identity and efficiently create marketing assets.


A good graphic designer will be a master at all of these things.


How to Create Your Own Brand Guide

To get started creating your own brand guide, open a new Word or letter size Canva document and then gather together the following info:


  • Logos: Put all of your high-resolution, approved logos in one place for easy identification and access. A graphic designer can recreate your low-resolution or less-than-deal file formats for free or for a reasonable price.

  • Color scheme: Be sure to include either the HEX value (usually looks like: #61bd1a) and/or the RGB value (usually looks like 97, 189, 26) for each color, and to classify them hierarchically. Not sure how to get these values? Coolors.com or color.adobe.com have great tools to help you out.

  • Font names: Admittedly, finding the names of your fonts can be tricky if you don’t do it from the start. But there are tools and methods out there if you’ve been using a specific font or two consistently. Ask a designer for font pairing advice.

  • Target audience: For ease of access, include your user persona as part of your brand guide.

  • Tone and Voice: Not only do you want to identify whether your voice should be more formal or informal, but you also want to set the proper tone. Will you use industry jargon, or avoid the jargon for easily accessible explanations? Will your brand be ok with a certain amount of slang, or is slang strictly verboten?

  • Visuals: Examples of the style of visuals you want associated with your brand are important. This doesn’t just mean what kinds of photos you’ll use on blog posts. It means any sort of imagery you plan on using.


It doesn’t have to be pretty. Just make sure the information is correct and in one place. The goal of your brand guide is consistency.







3. Audit your website

1 or more hours depending on the size of your website


Why Audit your Website

Your website is one of your most important assets. More and more people are spending more and more time on the internet. eCommerce has exploded in the past few decades.


Storefront owners carefully layout and decorate their stores. If a customer can’t find what they’re looking for or doesn’t feel comfortable in the store, they’re going to leave without making a purchase.


Websites should be treated the same way.


If users can’t find what they came for, either because the site is poorly organized, difficult to use, or unattractive, they’re more likely to leave your website before they are able to accomplish what they came for, like making a purchase or finding information that would help them make plans to attend your parish.



How to Audit your Website

Content

Ask yourself, what do your users need and want to do on your website? Are they looking for a product? Are they looking for a Mass time? Are they looking for a specific topic? Should they be contacting you to move them along in the conversion funnel?


Content & Structure

Websites that make information and functions your users want available and easy to find result in better ROIs and KPIs.


Are users able to easily accomplish the primary purposes of your website? Is there info you're missing on your website that your users would find useful?


The leftmost or rightmost items in the navigation are going to be seen first and the most by users. Put the top two tasks in those positions.


Common important items are:

  1. Contact

  2. Shop

  3. Search


Many websites have their organization's history as the left-most item in their navigation bar. This is a common and understandable msitake.


Your history is important to you. I get that. But do your customers really want to read your full 100 year history or do they come to your website to find the Mass time or buy your product? Remove as many steps between them and their goal as possible.


Design

Does the style of your website follow best practices? Does it look like your brand? Is your brand applied consistently throughout your website? Is the website easy to use?


Can users with auditory and visual disabilities easily use your website?


Is every page of your website mobile-friendly? Remember, more than half of internet-users are browsing on their phones.


How's your Search Engine Optimization (SEO)? Do you know what SEO is? SEO is how well seach engines find and rank your website in search results. Having poor SEO is like not putting a sign on your storefront.







4. Talk to a Professional Catholic Graphic Designer

About 1 hour

Okay. Perhaps this one is a little self-serving, but the fact remains that you’re likely not a professionally trained graphic designer and are feeling a bit overwhelmed.


That’s where I come in.


Getting advice from a professional graphic designer is important because they can give you valuable recommendations specific for your brand and your target audience better than doing a Google search on your own.


As a Catholic organization, I would simply add that finding a good Catholic graphic designer is even more important because a Catholic graphic designer will not only understand your product or service, but also your faith and the values you’re trying to communicate either implicitly or explicitly. I know blue is associated with the Blessed Virgin Mary and I know what transubstantiation means!



Interested in talking to a professional Catholic graphic designer?


I offer free consultations!


To schedule your free consultation, simply click the button below, fill out the form, then click the “Submit” button. I’ll get in touch with you to schedule a date to discuss further. Looking forward to it!








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