Chefs and foodies are sometimes known to say; “You eat with your eyes first” and we can apply this same idea to church graphic design. Before a sermon is preached or announcements made, the members of the congregation will have already formed opinions about the upcoming event or sermon series. You want those opinions to be positive, but you also want them to clearly communicate the right message. So how can you find the right balance? Let’s discuss three practical ideas to help you communicate clearly with your church graphic design.
1. Keep it Relatable
No matter the setting, knowing your audience is key to communicating clearly with design. This applies to small churches and nonprofits just as much as it does to national ad campaigns.
Humans are wired to look for connections and search for meaning. Building off of shared understanding allows you to say more with less and when your audience can relate to the design it helps create positive associations.
Let’s look at this “Nerf Wars” graphic below.
Since we’re discussing relate-ability right now, we’ll just focus on that aspect of the design. Though we may not all be cult followers of Star Wars, virtually anyone in the Western world (and beyond) would immediately associate this graphic (above) with the franchise.
We want to speak the language of our people. This was something Jesus himself modeled for us in the parables he told. He used images and references that were familiar to his audiences. He was building off of knowledge that was shared among the people he was ministering too. It may seem silly to think about Jesus parables’ and a space opera franchise at the same time, but Star Wars is undeniably the language of our people and something everyone can relate to in a way even if they haven’t seen the films.
2. Keep it Simple
In Proverbs, Solomon says “If you find honey, eat just enough…” How does that apply to the concept of simplicity? You can have too much of a good thing. Even designers sometimes can get caught up in trends or in overdoing things.
Simple doesn’t mean boring or bad. In fact, the best and most striking design is often the most simple. A lack of simplicity can inhibit the audience from understanding where to look and can leave them
feeling confused and sometimes unsure of what they’re looking at.
There aren’t many elements to this graphic, but there are still elements of creativity and communicates clearly. The red overlay brings interest to the design, but we don’t necessarily need more of it. It brings just the right amount of interest to the design without being too much.
With church graphic design it’s especially important that the message can be understood. And being able to say more with less is really what simplicity of design is all about.
3. Make it Eye Catching
Now that we’ve talked about relate-ability and simplicity, we can move on to our third idea to keep in mind, “Make it Eye Catching”. This may seem contrary to the first two, particularly to the idea of simplicity, but all three of these ideas can and should coexist in your designs.
In this graphic for a sermon series, there are two main things that catch our eye. One is the man taking a step. Even though the photo is black and white, the silhouette of the man is still prominent. The second thing that catches our eye are all of the symbols and letters that appear in the background.
Think of the “Eye Catching” part of design as the hook. Just like every great pop song has a hook that sticks in your head and keeps you listening to the song, your design should have a hook.
We live in a world where we’re constantly inundated with sounds and sights. Everything we take in is in competition, vying for our attention. The more eye catching a design, the more likely the audience will take a second glance and begin
to think about what the design could be communicating.
If you’re a pastor or church leader reading this, you may be thinking the three concepts we talked about can also apply to sermons and teaching in church. We can apply these three concepts to any form of communication, and that’s really what good design is– a form of communication.
Good design should be relatable, that is the viewer should have a level of familiarity with some aspect of the design. Good design should be simple. We should be able to discern when we have too much of a good thing and strive for efficiency. Lasly, good design is eye catching. A good designer should be able to balance relatability and simplicity, while creating a design that is eye catching and draws the viewer in. Keeping these three concepts in mind will ensure that your design communicates the message you’re trying to send!