The rapid upheaval of the graphic design industry from the 1950s to the 1990s was monumental. Introduction of the desktop computer revolutionised paste-up boards in studios to PDFs on laptops.
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Stickers are widely underutilised by businesses and organisations, which is a huge shame, as they have the potential to be one of the greatest marketing tools out there.
They’re especially good if you’re looking to build up brand awareness for your company, as stickers often end up in places that you would never expect them to end up (e.g. street lamps, cars, laptop cases, bins, you name it).
One of the problems that organisations tend to face is that they’re never quite sure how to use stickers to their advantage, and therefore, they often get confused as to what attributes make a good sticker design and what don’t.
If this sounds like you (or your organisation), then help is at hand, as we’ve created this simple sticker design guide to walk you through the process.
There’s no mumbo-jumbo here, just epic tips for creating the sort of sticker that gets results.
Do Not Overload Your Sticker With Text/Information (i.e. keep it as simple as possible)
Perhaps one of the most common mistakes that organisations make when it comes to sticker design is this: overloading them with far too much information and text.
Usually (i.e. 99% of the time), stickers have one sole purpose: to create brand awareness for your company/business/charity.
Unlike flyers, leaflets or brochures, the aim of a sticker isn’t to inform your target audience about every product/service you offer and how they may benefit them; it’s simply to let them know that you exist. There’s a big difference.
For example, take a look at the sticker above created on behalf of NASA; one of the largest organisations in the world.
Now, what’s the first thing you notice?
For me, it’s the fact that the sticker contains virtually no written information whatsoever. In fact, the only written text is does contain is the word “NASA” (which is also the logo) and a short strapline saying “Mars atmosphere and volatile evolution”.
You’ll notice that it doesn’t “bang on” about how they send rockets into space, or send astronauts to the moon. That job is left to other marketing materials (e.g. brochures, leaflets, etc.).
The sole purpose here is to create brand awareness for NASA (I know, they’re pretty well known already, right?).
If, for whatever reason, there is a vital piece of information that you must incorporate into your sticker design (perhaps its going to be used to instruct someone on how to use a certain product, for example), then simply make sure that your information doesn’t detract from the overall design of the sticker.
You can see a good example of how to do this above (the HD Eyes sticker).
This sticker clearly has a use as a directional aid and therefore, it contains information on how to use the product (a lens cleaner, in this case).
However, the directional information doesn’t detract from the overall beauty and simplicity of the sticker. The information is written in a small font size on the very edge of the sticker; therefore, you probably wouldn’t even notice it if you were viewing the sticker from a distance.
This is a great example of how to serve a legitimate purpose with a sticker, whist maintaining the brand building capabilities naturally incorporated into every eye-catching sticker design.
Make Sure Your Sticker is Bright and Colourful (or at least super contrasting)
I know what you’re thinking: “that sounds like quite a generic piece of advice”, and you’re right, but there’s virtually no sticker that won’t benefit from a bright and colourful design.
Why? Because stickers are generally viewed from a distance, so they need to be colourful and bright in order to stand out.
You can see a great example of a colour and bright sticker above. The pink colour really grabs your attention; even you’re quite a distance away from the sticker itself.
Somewhat contradictory to this logic, however, it’s not always about making the sticker as bright as possible; if it were, every sticker you ever see would be a bright yellow, pink or orange colour.
It’s equally as much about creating a sticker that comes across as bright and colourful to your intended target audience.
For example, the sticker featured above (the bright pink one) may be extremely bright and colourful, but do you really think it would come across as bright and eye-catching to a 40-year old male with no interest in jewels or glamour?
It’s unlikely, as pink is typically more of a colour associated with the female gender (obviously, that’s a generalisation, but you get the point).
So, it’s all about context.
If your target audience happened to be graphic designers, for example, creating a subtler sticker (like the Comic Sans Criminal sticker above) might come across as brighter in their eyes.
Sure, some of these stickers still make use of bright colours (e.g. red, green, etc.), but they’re by no means on the same scale as bright pink.
On the other hand, if you were targeting a young, fashion-conscious, rock-music-loving crowd, the sticker above (Drop Dead) might appear brighter and more eye-catching to them (mainly because of the “coolness” of the sticker).
Basically, “brightness” is a relative term when it comes to sticker design.
It’s as much about contrast as it is brightness, too. For example, the colours black and white are two contrasting colours (the colours used for the “Drop dead” sticker), as are pink and white (the colours used for the “Southern Jewlz” stickers).
So, if making a super-colourful sticker doesn’t align with your particular brand, at least make sure the colours you make use of are highly contrasting, and you’ll be well on your way to success.
Keep Intended Placement Locations in Mind
Another thing to keep in mind is the intended placement of your sticker, as this will affect your design decisions.
By intended placement, I mean the place or places that you expect your sticker to end up.
Depending on the exact nature of your sticker, this might be harder to pinpoint for some than others.
For example, if you take a look at the Apple MacBook sticker example above, you’ll realise that the intended placement of these stickers is pretty much guaranteed, as they’re made solely for placement on Apple MacBook computers.
If you’ve ever seen a MacBook (or happen to own one), you’ll know that all MacBook’s are the exact same colour and also, they all feature the white light-up Apple logo in the centre on the lid.
This makes designing stickers for this purpose easy, as you know the characteristics of the intended placement location (i.e. a matt grey colour with white Apple logo).
Here’s another example:
And another one:
Note: In the example above, the sticker is the large image of the “ski legs” on the backseat table.
The thing is, when you’re creating stickers for your business, there might not be one sole intended placement location. In fact, in some cases, your stickers could end up pretty much anywhere.
So, how do you design for this eventuality?
One option is to utilise a white border like the sticker design above from Go Media.
You’ll notice that if this sticker happened to be stuck to a dark black surface, the sticker would still stand out thanks to the white border. If, on the other hand, it was stuck to a light white surface, the white border may become invisible (at least from a distance), but the overall design of the sticker would remain intact.
It’s a simple technique, but it’s an effective one that can be used for just about any design (including your own).
To conclude, sticker design doesn’t have to be that hard; you simply have to understand the aim of your sticker (usually to build brand awareness), make sure it’s bright and colourful, and make sure it stands out wherever it is likely to be placed.
Sure, it isn’t always an easy thing to pull off, but if you follow the advice laid out above, you should be well on your way to creating a stunning, impactful sticker that generates a good return on investment for your business (or your clients business).
Remember, it’s also important to keep the target audience in mind (as briefly mentioned in the point about brightness/colourfulness above). Your aim is rarely to build brand awareness throughout the entire population, but rather the select group of people that make up your target audience.
This will vary from organization to organisation, so make sure you understand your target audience as much as possible. Figure out what they’re likely to do with your sticker, what design aspects would ensure that they make use of it, where they’d stick it, etc.
The more you know, the more success you’ll experience.
Bio: Joshua is an extremely passionate designer from the UK. He works for a printing company, where he teams up with clients to create sensational designs that skyrocket their business on a day-to-day basis.
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