3 Graphic Design Tips To Use On Instagram in 2020


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Let’s be honest. Not everyone that wants to create their own visuals has the time, energy and money to become a professional graphic designer. 👩‍🎨

Heck, I’m not even a real designer. (I just play one on TV! )

But that doesn’t stop me from keeping tabs on the latest graphic design trends and using them to improve my skills.

And you absolutely can, too! That’s why I’ve collected to collect some valuable graphic design tips to use on Instagram in 2020.

The trick is to start simple and perfect the basics. No complex ideas and techniques here! Instead, I’m focusing on how to improve your color, font and background choices in your visuals this year.

So let’s get to it! 🎨

Graphic Design for Instagram Tip 1: Muted Color Palettes

Let’s start with one of the easiest to implement of 2020 graphic design trends: muted colors

After years of vivid, bright colors dominating the design world, designers are stepping back from in a big way and embracing muted colors.

This makes a lot of sense if you think about it!

If everyone and their mom is using bold colors in their content, those pieces quickly lose their ability to stand out. 

Instead of standing out from the noise on social media, your bold visuals just become part of it. 😔

Don’t worry if you aren’t familiar with muted color palettes. You’ve probably seen muted colors on social media for the past year or so! Here’s some examples from LinkedIn‘s latest marketing materials: 

Graphic Design for Instagram tip - use muted color palettes over bold type. example - linkedin ads

How to Make Muted Color Shades

So how do you get muted colors for graphic design, anyway?

Muted colors are created by taking vivid colors and infusing them with white, black or a complementary color. Here’s an example.

In my mind muted colors are vivid colors that have had their “edge” taken off. 

As you can see these color palettes are a lot less abrasive than some of the vivid colors that have dominated social in the past few years.

We also tend to see muted colors as more natural and commonly occurring in our everyday surroundings.

That’s why a lot of health and lifestyle brands are embracing them!

For example, take a look at Ellevest‘s visual design aesthetic in their feed and website!

And there’s another smart reason to use muted colors in your graphic design strategy.

Muted shades also won’t dominate your graphic! They allow other elements of your design shine through.

Ellevest uses muted color palettes in their graphic design on Instagram

Ellevest graphic design assets graphic design trends 2020

If you want to use a muted color as your background, like below, it won’t distract from your message!

If these designers had used a very bright or vivid color, the text would be hard to read. Especially on smaller phone screens! 📱

So if you’re itching to upgrade your visuals this year, why not start including a few muted shades in your color palette?

How to Add Muted Colors Into Your Existing Brand Color Palette

The best part about muted colors is that they’re easy to work into an existing brand palette!

Simply use your brand colors as a starting point, and then create a secondary palette with a simple infusion of black or white to your key brand colors. 

Graphic Design for Instagram Tip 2: Use Genuine Stock Images 

Once color trends start to change, the most popular types of stock photos seem to follow. 

As I mentioned, muted colors feel very natural and subdued, especially when compared to popular vivid colors of the past. 

That’s why genuine, authentic lifestyle stock photos are going to be so popular going forward!

These stock photos look like you snapped them while exploring the city one day.

Instead of stiff poses and extravagant layouts, these images capture real people doing everyday things.

Plus the editing is not extreme with natural background, which makes the photos feel very authentic! This is so important, as social media tires of overly edited and fake looking stock photos that some brands use.  

This year you’re going to see a lot more muted, genuine, and neutral stock photos in graphics. You should jump on this trend yourself to attract more engagement!

Let me be honest for a second. I used to hate stock photos. I would avoid using them as much as possible in my graphics, especially on social media!

But thankfully, we’re in the middle of a stock photo revolution. Thousands of talented creatives are allowing people to use their lifestyle photos on sites like Unsplash, Creative Market, DepositPhotos and more!

You just have to know what you’re looking for!

For example, when selecting photos that feature people, try to look for candid-seeming photos that haven’t been overly enhanced.

And when it comes to locations, look for muted tones and realistic editing.  The stock photos should look pretty similar to what you would see if you visited that place in real life!

Now I know “genuine stock photos” might seem a little backward when you take the time to think about it. In theory, stock photos were created to be used across a bunch of different situations and graphics. 

But if you know what to look for and follow some of the tips above, you can find a super authentic stock photo in no time. 

And Tailwind for Instagram makes it easier than ever! With our new Unsplash integration, you can search and post lifestyle images to Instagram in seconds.

Want to try it for yourself? Sign up for a free trial of Tailwind for Instagram! 🎉

Start a Free Trial of Tailwind for Instagram!

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Graphic Design for Instagram Tip 3: Use Bold & Heavy Fonts

The past two graphic design trends of 2020 feel pretty reserved and work exceptionally well together because of that. 

However, for visual content to truly be eye-catching on social platforms you need to have solid contrast. Especially if you’re including text or a title in your graphic! 

So if you’re embracing muted colors and lifestyle stock photos, make sure you also start using some heavy or extra bold fonts to catch the eye.

Check out Adobe’s “pawtrait” designs for an example!

There are a handful of different font weights for most available fonts. These range from thin and regular to bold and even extra bold

Heavy fonts are at the bottom of the font-weight list and will be called extra bold sometimes as well. 

These heavy-weight fonts pack a punch and make sure your message is actually seen! 

Just check out how the titles and text pop on these social media visuals from Hootsuite:

With a heavy font, these graphic designers made sure the title is the first thing you look at.

That can really help grab the attention of your followers as they scroll a busy social media feed.

If the creators would have gone with a lighter or minimalist font, it wouldn’t have the same impact. 

The only downside of these types of heavy fonts is that you can only use them for short messages, titles or phrases in your graphic design.

Source

The more heavy fonts are used in a graphic, the less of an impact they will have. And instead of standing out, your message will just fade into the background. 

The designers at Acoustic have used heavy fonts the right way on their social images lately. 

In these examples, they only use a heavy font for the most important piece of information.

Then for the rest of the text, a normal font-weight is used. This also creates a nice amount of contrast and visual hierarchy that readers can easily follow. 

Subtle things like this can make sure that readers’ eyes move through your graphic or visual efficiently and get the most information possible!

To recap: When using any heavy or bold font, less is more! 

Conclusion: Graphic Design Tips to Use On Your Instagram in 2020

I went over three emerging graphic design trends in 2020 that are super simple to use in your own social media. They are:

  • Using muted, natural-feeling color palettes 🌱
  • Choosing lifestyle stock photos to support your design
  • Creating contrast with bold and extra-bold fonts

Which one of these design trends are you most excited to try? Let me know in the comments below!

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