How to make your designs unique if you work with templates
Sometimes, crafting your next design comes with thinking, “Is this design going to be unique and original?” Indeed, even though modern platforms offer thousands of free unique templates, there’s always the possibility of someone choosing the same one for their Instagram post.
However, there’s still hope. Think of it as you shopping to buy a suit. Of course, you can buy one and then encounter a pedestrian wearing the same exact one. But let this sink in: what are the chances of you meeting the person in a similar suit, especially in a city of millions? Could you try wearing it with sneakers, not classy shoes? How about you mix it up with your favorite accessories to give it a fresher look? And most importantly: if you have your own distinguished style, you can be pretty sure you’ll stand out from the crowd.
You can use free design templates for your business needs, yet make them look unique with a few tricks — in this article, we’ll show you how.
Why it’s important for businesses to develop unique designs
What comes to mind first when we say: “A logo with a yellow M in the form of an arch”? Most likely, McDonalds. And when we say “red, black, and white basket with a sketch of a man”? That’s Kentucky Fried Chicken.
Developing unique designs for businesses is as important as developing unique products and approaches to offering services. This is especially right for small and medium enterprises playing in highly competitive fields. Unique designs make your business recognizable, differentiate you from competitors, and speak to your audience in a certain way. Your design is a language, transmitting your message with colors, fonts, shapes, and other associations. If you adhere to the principles of design consistency for your particular brand, you can be pretty sure your customers will recognize you among dozens of others.
Not all of us are lucky enough to have a designer on the team to create unique designs for each and every social media post or outdoor ad. Online graphic design editors like VistaCreate are super handy if you don’t have that option. Think of working with free templates as a good basis for your visuals. You’ve got the foundation, the general idea of what your next visual might look like — and you’re free to change it in whichever way you want.
Let’s get to the good stuff — the main tips to help you create unique designs if you’re working with templates.
How to customise your templates and stand out from the crowd with your designs
We’ve put together a list of actionable ideas, tips, and tricks that will help you turn any template into a custom, branded, beautiful-looking design. Get ready to leverage the benefits!
Examine famous art movements
From Art Deco to Minimalism and Bauhaus, vintage art movements offer a robust source of inspiration. Designs mix, interlink, shift and change — but the basic principles stay, and you may as well use their characteristic elements while working with your next template.
The more experimental your designs are, the easier it is for them to stand out from the crowd. One rule applies here — you can only be confident in your design experiments when you stand with both your feet on the ground, and have a good theoretical background for mixing and matching.
A good option could be adhering to one art movement. Say, take minimalism and try to apply its features in your design. Below are just some of the ready VistaCreate templates that drive inspiration from minimalism.
Let’s compare them to some of the famous minimalist paintings from back in the day.
Sol LeWitt – Wall Drawing #340, July 1980
Frank Stella, Tahkt-I-Sulayman Variation II, 1969
We’re pretty sure that you can get inspired by ArtDeco or Art Nouveau, and use their elements in your designs. Check out our art movements crash course and learn more about all the different art techniques in our article.
Mix and match styles
For design uniqueness, we suggest you try mixing different components of visual styles in your template. New ideas emerge from mixing already existing ones, so give it a try. Here are just some of the tips:
- Mix austerity taken from minimalism with dadaism — that is, using cringy characters and contrasting colors;
- Take smooth curvy lines from Art Nouveau and add some geometry from Bauhaus;
- Use the Gatsby-esque luxury of Art Deco with sarcasm and parody from Pop Art.
Make good use of user-generated content
Go all in with your creativity here. Are you a small cafe owner? Ask your visitors to draw something you can use in your designs as you pour them another cup of coffee. Make use of the user-generated content — explore the web for reviews made for your products or services, photos by customers, and more. This is both a good opportunity to give your design a fresher look, as well as establish better relationships with your clients. You can be pretty sure the content made by your customers is original.
Seek inspiration everywhere
Be it old books, cartoons, music posters, or postcards — the ideas are all around. Ask your kids to do a painting masterclass for you, and then use the drawings in your design. Have a stroll around your neighborhood to see what designs other businesses employ. Have a brainstorming session with your colleagues where everyone can propose their ideas for your next set of templates.
Try to apply ideas in one area to another. That is, if your business sells fresh fruits, go web surfing for the ideas from…a local barbershop. Explore what they post and get inspired to create ideas for your own social media account.
Make use of our Solutions project, where we offer ready-made design solutions for businesses operating in different industries.
Add your own photos to the free template
Your own photos hold the uniqueness of your brand. If you’re designing with VistaCreate, choose your template from thousands of free templates. Do a little browsing here. No matter what template you choose, adding your own images will completely customize it.
Add your photo to see how it fits the initial template. Remember, you can always use the option of background removal and work with your photo until it looks even better. If needed, use a couple of photos or use one in different sizes. There are numerous filters out there — so you can also make your photo black and white, make it more contrasting, or just try to apply different filters to see which one works best.
You can also use photos made by your customers — they will surely be happy to see their photos on your social media profile. In case you have a photographer, ask them to have a dedicated photoshoot for your brand. If you don’t — just take your own phone and put your soul into your pictures!
Add your logo and other brand elements to your design
Make sure your designs are on-brand by adding your logo or other distinguishing items to the template. It will help you differ from your competitors and maintain a solid visual identity.
In case you have a Brand Kit with your company’s color and fonts, do upload to VistaCreate to see how your designs change. Show your brand’s personality! Ideally, it will be a great thing to add your logo, fonts, and color palettes to the template. In case you don’t have them — it’s okay, just keep reading.
Experiment with the different styles of your template
Once you’ve selected your free template and added your photo(s), you can apply different styles to your template. Remember the Brand Kit feature— if you have your own color palette and fonts, use them for design consistency. If you don’t — just try to mix and match other colors and fonts to seek out your own unique style. You can also choose colors from your photo and apply it to templates. That way, you will develop a unique visual style.
Spend some more time choosing proper colors
Believe it or not, the same template will look different when presented in a different color palette. On VistaCreate, we offer over 70 color palettes for you to play with. Just choose one color and the tool will recommend a bunch of complementary colors for your visual. In fact, we even have a special project our product team is proud of — Vista Colors. Here, you can explore dozens of palettes, read about the history of each color, and even get recommendations on which color is better to use for a particular business.
Say, if you choose Royal Blue, the feature will guide you through the history of this color, as well as provide some basic information, such as the HEX, RGB, and CMYK codes. You can also check out how this color is used in design, logos, and brand communication. Finally, see ready-to-use templates in royal blue and head over to designing your next piece.
Choose your distinctive fonts
Typography is of the utmost importance when designing your next visual. Imagine if all brands used the same fonts — how would they even differ?
The good thing is that modern template platforms offer lots of fonts to choose from. You know how Apple is associated with Helvetica, and many luxury brands — with serif fonts, right? Spend some time choosing your particular fonts. The good option here would be to choose one or two fonts and make sure they fit together well. On VistaCreate, we offer this feature in Styles so you can choose your fonts in pairs.
Here are just a couple of great Instagram accounts offering font inspiration:
Make good use of shapes, forms, objects, and stickers
There are plenty of tiny, yet essential elements to refine your design. Try making a sticker out of your photo. Add some objects that are in line with your Brand Kit. Borrow some of the forms and objects from famous art movements that we talked about above. And voila — step by step, you’re getting an all new branded design.
Be consistent while designing from a free template
Consistency is key. Do remember: regardless of how experimental your design is, it still needs to be in line with your brand identity. For instance, if your major colors are yellow, green, and white, using a lot of red templates on your social media can misguide your customer. Consistency builds real brands, so try to maintain harmony with your colors, fonts, and overall style choices. For more information, check out this article on color consistency.
Let’s compare the initial design template with the poster we have now. As easy as that, in a couple of clicks, we’ve turned our free template into a branded design that will work for your business.
Last but not the least — seek inspiration in movies
Watch good cinematography. And do it often. Cinema is yet another unfailing source of inspiration as we indulge in shots, scenes, or movie posters. Movies allow you to train your eye and perception for better compositions, color choices, and more. Remember, every movie director thinks in terms of shots — think as a director!
We suggest you follow these accounts for your daily dose of good visuals:
- Colorpalette Cinema — an account that examines color choice in movies, presenting them in the palettes.
- At the Movies Posters — a collection of posters to drive ideas from.
- Cinema.magic — cinema inspiration, one post at a time.
Source: Colorpalette Cinema
So yes, working with free design templates does present a challenge of someone ending up with the same visual as yours. But, with just a bit of creativity put into that, you can easily transform a basic template into a unique one. Experiment with colors and fonts, seek inspiration in movies, adhere to your brand style — and let your next designs impress the world. How about creating a new poster for your business now?