Most marketing experts know and understand that visuals are an incredibly important factor in getting a brand’s name out into the world. While compelling copy can certainly help, the visual appeal of a brand’s content can easily grab the audience’s attention and set them apart from each other. With people’s attention spans becoming ever shorter, having engaging visuals is more important than ever. As such, most marketing agencies are now hiring professional designers to help design their campaigns. However, this may not always be viable for every single agency out there, as opening a new position can be costly, and time-consuming. As such, it is best that you familiarise yourself with a few design tools so you can quickly create a stunning design without needing to go through years of training.
Here, we have listed a few popular design tools that marketers can take advantage of. Be sure to keep reading below to learn more.
Canva is an extremely popular online graphic design platform. It is drag-and-drop and offers templates for a variety of formats. These formats can be either traditional or digital, for instance, business cards, email headers, Facebook and Instagram posts, infographics, and even book covers, to name a few. Additionally, these templates are easily customisable, so you can essentially edit them to your heart’s content. While Canva for the most part is free, you may have to pay if you want to use certain templates or gain access to more design options. The paid version also offers a content planner and allows companies to establish their brand’s visual identity, with its lowest tier, Canva Pro, starting at $119.99 per year. Fortunately, the free version offers plenty of assets for non-designers to play around with. Aside from the desktop version, Canva is also available on the iPad app.
Unlike Canva, GIMP is a photo manipulating and raster graphics editor that needs to be downloaded first before you can use it. It is completely free and open-source (FOSS), and you can download it on Windows, Mac, and Linux. Often compared to its proprietary competitor Adobe Photoshop, GIMP is praised for its wide range of features, its ease of digital retouching and editing, as well as its customisable interface. Most of Adobe Photoshop’s major functionalities are available in GIMP. However, it does require a steeper learning curve than say, Canva, which means GIMP is best for people who are not afraid of experimenting or already know a little bit about photo editing and graphics manipulating. Not bad for something you do not need to pay a dime with!
Similar to GIMP, Krita is another professional free and open-source digital painting program. However, unlike GIMP, it is designed primarily for digital art and 2D animation, though it also includes a few filters, colour grading and photo editing features. You can download Krita on Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, and even ChromeOS. The interface is much like Photoshop’s – with plenty of dockers, light and dark colour schemes, and a variety of unique brushes. This makes it a fantastic tool to create small gifs and animations that can spice up your marketing campaigns. That being said, Krita has a lot of advanced features that may take some time to master, as the platform’s learning curve can be quite steep. Fortunately, Krita’s website provides plenty of tutorials and videos to help newcomers get the hang of this program.
Sometimes, instead of photo manipulation or digital illustration, a company may be looking to create a few vector graphics. Vector graphics are slightly different from raster images, as they can be resized without losing their quality. As such, vector graphics tend to be used for things such as logos, brand designs, and the like. Inkscape is pretty much the free version of Adobe Illustrator, which is great if a marketing agency needs to create certain designs or mockups to show to their clients. These images can also be used for web design, programmatic marketing materials, advertising banners, posters and even brochures. Inkscape is also known for its wide format compatibility. The program is available on Linux, macOS, and Windows.
If you are a complete newbie and want something even simpler than Canva, then you should consider checking out Pablo. It is another free and browser-based editor, that focuses on creating engaging and eye-catching images for your social media posts. You basically just have to click on a template, change the image and the text slightly, and you have yourself a stunning social media post ready to be published. Marketers can use Pablo to create announcements or promote a certain business. It also allows you to choose sizes depending on the social media you are going to publish the image on. Unfortunately, right now you cannot customise the size of the post – it has to either be made for Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook or Twitter. Pablo also does not provide much in terms of photo-editing features.
If you are looking to create something printed – perhaps in a magazine or newspaper – then a publishing software like Scribus is better suited to the task. Likened to a free version of Adobe InDesign, Scribus focuses on typesetting, formatting and preparing files for professional printing. The program is often used to create digital and interactive PDFs, forms, brochures, newsletters, and books (as well as e-books). While the interface may look slightly old-fashioned and somewhat simple, it can still do much of the same things as professional industry-standard software. In fact, a few companies are already using Scribus in order to cut down on costs.
If you do not want to get into the hassle of downloading programs, but still want to use a robust design tool, then Photopea may be the one for you. The program’s interface is designed to match Photoshop’s, although some names of tools may be slightly different. The program supports advanced features such as background removal, masking, photo restoring, cropping, and sharpening, to name a few. These features are essential to manipulating images the way you want. Photopea also allows you to import files from popular tools such as Sketch or Affinity Photo. You can even use Photopea to open Photoshop mockups. If you have no idea where to start, then don’t worry – Photopea has 300 PSD templates for you to choose from, which can help to speed up your design process. While Photopea for the most part is free, you can pay $9 a month to make gifs and simple animations.