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Make Design Collateral Great Again

July 31, 2020 | Design

Design Collateral Basics

Brand awareness often plays an essential role in the success of a business; the right design collateral has the power to not only increase your brand awareness, but influence how people perceive your company. Design collateral, also called brand collateral, includes any visual or media used to promote your brand. What constitutes design collateral? Anything you can brand:

  • Business cards
  • Letterheads
  • Brochures
  • Newsletters
  • Websites
  • Packaging
  • Social media
  • Advertising
  • In-store displays
  • Signs
  • Branded presentations

Mental Availability

In addition to improving brand awareness, design collateral has the capacity to increase the number of potential interactions your company has with customers. This accomplishes not just awareness for your brand, but mental availability. Author Byron Sharp defines mental availability as the likelihood that a buyer will notice, recognize and think of a particular brand in buying situations. 

Over time, exposure to your brand will increase its mental availability in the minds of consumers. People like what they know – so the more a potential customer “knows” a brand, the better they tend to feel about it. How well consumers know and trust a brand weighs heavily on their purchasing decisions – in fact, Oberlo found that 81% of consumers say they need to trust a brand in order to buy from them.


Consistency is hands down the most important facet of your design collateral, as inconsistent design will muddle your brand in the mind of the customer. When folks are repeatedly fed the same design, they can begin to form positive associations around a brand. Forbes found that consistent brand presentation across all platforms can increase revenue by 23%. Consistency is a trait all of the biggest players have in common; that’s how a swoosh became synonymous with NIKE, orange with Whataburger, and a red bullseye with Target. 

Consistency can be achieved through a number of means, including, style, tone, layout and color. Fun fact: signature color can increase brand recognition by 80%. T-Mobile even owns the exclusive rights to their signature color, magenta, and will (successfully) order a cease and desist when another company tries to use it. 

Types Of Design Collateral

Social Media & Digital Collateral

Digital design collateral is an absolute necessity for any business in 2020 – it has the bandwidth to reach anyone with internet access. Digital collateral is also one of the more versatile forms of collateral; one graphic can be used for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, e-newsletters, emails and so on. As digital collateral tends to be cheaper to make and distribute, it has become increasingly popular, especially for newer businesses.

Social media and digital collateral are effective at every stage of the buying process, but most notably the awareness stage. Unfortunately, most marketers are cognizant of this, and the internet often feels oversaturated with brands vying for business. That’s why it’s so important to stand out in the digital sphere – there’s too much background noise not too. The average person in 2007 saw up to 5,000 ads a day; 13 years later, that number has doubled. While this massive growth can’t all be attributed to increased internet usage, a good portion can. 

There’s no cut-and-dry answer on how to stand out in the sea of brands online, you just have to get creative. Here are a few tips to get the brain churning:

  • Be on trend: First and foremost, this does not mean you need to be “trendy,” it simply means you need to be aware of the trends so you can choose how to best position your brand. People will engage with content if and only if it is interesting to them, and trends are a great way to gauge what interests your target.  
  • Be eye-catching: Create collateral that visually stands out. This could be gorgeous photography, bold colors, an intriguing call to action, you name it. The catch here is that you still want your collateral to fit the look and feel of the brand; if it doesn’t, people may not associate your great designs with your company, making all that hard work moot.
  • Mix media: A cute GIF is way more interesting to look at than a list of product features, and an explainer video is much more enjoyable to consume than an instruction manual.

Sales Promotion Collateral

Sales promotion collateral has existed practically as long as people have been selling things, and they’ve survived the test of time because they work. Sales promotion collateral includes any material used to further the sales process and get interested prospective buyers to actually buy. This could be coupons, gift cards, pricing guides, etc. Often, people assume giving out a discount is enough to get a prospect to buy, but with dozens of coupons showing up in their inbox every day, consumers need more to persuade them. Here are a few tips on how to stand out, and make discounts people will actually use:

  • Be clear: The coupon holder should be able to immediately know what the coupon applies to and how large the discount is. On the same note, be very clear in what the coupon doesn’t apply to and if/when it expires – no one likes pulling up to make a purchase just to find their coupon is no longer good. 
  • Be visually appealing: Stand out, draw people in and intrigue them. This can be accomplished through striking visuals, font and color choice, animation (if digital), etc.
  • Personalize: A discount that’s custom-tailored to an individual client’s needs is a great way to make that person feel important – everyone wants to think they have an offer no one else can get. In fact, Uniqodo found that 79% of consumers say they will only use a discount that has been tailored to them.

These same principles apply to pricing guides and collateral of a similar nature, though the emphasis is on being direct and readable. However, even a pricing guide can be made to feel more personal, especially when they’re digital. An online pricing guide can be personalized by filtering out the products/services the client isn’t interested in, automatically applying a special discount, or anything else you can think of that makes the process feel friendlier. 


Takeaways are any sort of branded items that you give away, such as gift cards, stickers, hats, T-shirts, frisbees – you name it. Here’s a little industry secret: people love free things. Mind-boggling, I know. The trick here is to make your takeaways high quality and ‘cool.’ Naturally, the items you give away for free can’t be Prada, but with some diligent research, you can find vendors that make great products for a low price. Ideally, your giveaways should be so stylish (or fill in the blank with an adjective that fits your brand) people want to buy them. Customers walking around in your branded baseball cap are providing you with free advertising, and others are more likely to trust that advertising than anything you could say (of course you think your business is great) – so make things they want to use. 

Informational Collateral

Though it may not be the most fun or flashy form of design collateral, informational collateral is still quite important. Presentations, webinars, ebooks, etc. add value and an air of authority to your brand. Without branding your informational collateral, your company doesn’t get as much credit for their hard work. This is especially true for informational design collateral you publish online – people seeking information from one of your slideshows should know who to thank. All of your informational collateral should match your brand in terms of layout, fonts, color and tone – and they should include your logo somewhere in the mix (I would recommend a watermark or small logo in the corner). This is also true for internal informational collateral, such as client or company presentations – branding shows authority. When the subject isn’t super fun (and let’s face it, informationals rarely are), visuals such as graphics and infographics can make a world of difference. 


Unique design collateral can do wonders for a business, the challenge is in finding what collateral works best for you and your brand. If you’re having trouble finding ways to incorporate design collateral, look at the buying process for your typical client. Every point of contact a consumer has with your company is an opportunity to dazzle them with design collateral – even if it’s something as simple as an e-newsletter or 10% off coupon code. This isn’t to say making great collateral is easy, each item you present to your customers must be created with tact, properly vetted, and revised. 

A lot of time and work goes into the design process, and Ashore is here to help. Easily upload and share proofs, gather feedback from both internal and external approvers, organize your versions and keep a complete audit log of activity for every project. Sign up for free today, and see how much easier the creative process can be.

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