Donovan Group Insights

Designing School Communications That Stand Out

Engaging school communications cut through noise to capture the attention of students, parents, and other stakeholders—but how do you accomplish that goal?

People are inundated with messaging, from advertisements to school emails and social media posts. If you don’t want your audience to tune your message out, it’s important to make every communication compelling—and one of the best ways to do that is to add high-quality visual aids.

Stand out with visual aids

Visual aids are effective for several reasons. First, they grab attention and enhance retention by appealing to different learning styles. Not everyone processes information in the same way. Strong images provide another way for people to understand the message. When you incorporate visual elements alongside written information, you can cater to a broader audience and ensure that the message is more likely to stick.

Images are also a great way to highlight the most important points of your message and ensure it’s understood. Complex ideas or data can often be simplified and conveyed more efficiently through visual representations, from infographics to well-designed event flyers.

Finally, using high-quality graphics can help you make a lasting impression by evoking emotions, curiosity and taking advantage of memorable visual associations. In turn, your audience is more likely to absorb the information, remember it and understand the call to action.

Quality is key

It’s important to make sure that your visual aids use high-quality graphic design—slapping a pixelated photo on a social media post is unlikely to get the same kind of response that a relevant, aesthetically pleasing, branded image will.

In short, your images are the visual embodiment of the school’s brand identity and values. Good graphic design helps establish a cohesive and professional image for the school, which builds trust and credibility among students, parents, staff and the broader community. Consistent use of visually appealing design elements such as logos, color schemes, typography and layouts create a unified brand identity that is instantly recognizable and memorable. Your audience is more likely to see your messaging and pay attention.

While high-quality graphic design improves the readability and impact of school communications, it also has the potential to inspire and motivate. Visually stimulating designs can evoke emotions, spark interest and foster a sense of pride and belonging among students, parents and staff. Your messages are more likely to be seen, and your audience is more likely to act on the information you’ve given them.

Effective design principles to emulate

Here are three key strategies to keep in mind when you’re designing school graphics.

1. Create consistent branding

Consistent branding creates a recognizable and memorable identity for your school. This means you should maintain uniformity in visual elements, messaging and tone across all communication channels.

Here’s how you can establish consistent branding:

  • Develop brand guidelines: Create comprehensive brand guidelines that outline specifications for logos, colors, fonts, imagery and other design elements.
  • Use branded templates: After you’ve created the guidelines, create branded templates for various types of communication materials. All communications, like newsletters, flyers, presentations and social media posts, should use the templates.
  • Use your branding across platforms: Ensure that your branding is consistent across all communication platforms, including print materials, websites, social media, email newsletters, and signage. This reinforces brand recognition and credibility.
  • Train staff and stakeholders: Educate staff, teachers and other stakeholders about the importance of consistent branding. More importantly, provide them with the necessary tools and resources to adhere to brand guidelines.
  • Regularly review and update: Periodically review your branding efforts to ensure they remain aligned with your school’s mission, values and goals. Update brand guidelines as needed to accommodate changes in design trends, technology or organizational priorities.

2. Embrace visual hierarchy

Visual hierarchy is a fundamental principle in graphic design. It is the arrangement and organization of visual elements, within a layout, to guide the viewer’s attention and convey the relative importance of different information.

Using design techniques like size, color, contrast, alignment and placement create a clear and intuitive flow of content. For example:

  • Size: Larger elements tend to attract more attention than smaller ones. By varying the size of text, images or other graphic elements, you can emphasize important information and create a hierarchy of importance within your design. Headings, subheadings and key messages are often made larger to stand out from surrounding content.
  • Color: Color is a powerful tool for establishing visual hierarchy. Bright, bold colors or high-contrast combinations can draw the eye and signify importance. Conversely, muted colors or monochromatic schemes can be used for less critical information. Consistent color coding can also help viewers quickly associate specific colors with certain types of content or actions.
  • Contrast: Contrast is to the difference in visual properties such as color, brightness or texture between elements in a design. High-contrast elements stand out more prominently against their surroundings, making them more noticeable.
  • Alignment: Consistent alignment of your visual elements helps create a sense of order and structure. Aligning text, images and other elements along a common axis or grid helps viewers navigate the content more easily and understand relationships between different pieces of information.
  • Placement: The placement of elements within a layout also influences visual hierarchy. Items positioned at the top or center of a design tend to attract more attention than those placed at the bottom or edges. Strategic placement can be used to direct the viewer’s gaze and lead them through the content in a logical sequence.

3. Balance text and visuals

Striking a balance between text and visuals ensures the content remains engaging, informative and visually appealing. Here’s how you can achieve this balance:

  • Use visuals to complement text: Visuals like images, icons, charts and graphs can help break up large blocks of text and make the content more digestible. They can also illustrate concepts, evoke emotions or provide context to the information presented in the text.
  • Focus on quality over quantity: Instead of overwhelming the audience with too many visuals or text, prioritize quality over quantity. Choose visuals that are relevant, high-resolution and appealing. Use concise, well-crafted text that conveys key messages effectively.
  • Create a visual hierarchy: As mentioned earlier, you should use visual hierarchy techniques such as size, color and contrast to prioritize important information and guide the viewer’s attention. This ensures that both text and visuals work together harmoniously to convey the intended message.
  • Ensure readability: Pay attention to typography, layout and spacing to ensure that text is easy to read and complements the visuals. Use legible fonts, appropriate font sizes and sufficient whitespace to enhance readability and avoid visual clutter.

Putting it all together

Ultimately, it’s worth investing in creating an attractive, cohesive brand. Using the tips above can help you design communications that stand out among the noise. Familiar, high-quality graphic design helps your audience easily scan for your school communications—and they’re more likely to absorb the information.

Whether you work with a dedicated design professional or take advantage of the myriad graphic design tools available online, the time you spend on creating cohesive communications is bound to improve your messaging and engagement across the board.

Leave a Comment