As the year 2010 is coming to an end, people from different walks of life are preparing themselves for the New Year in their own different ways. Going with the flow, the graphic designer community is preparing New Year’s communication material for themselves and their clients. This communication material includes brochures, flyers, post cards and business cards etc., however the communication material that get most of the attention are the calendars. You may be asked to design calendars for businesses. It’s not unusual for businesses to want the same contact information seen on their business cards incorporated into their calendar design.
A calendar is one of the most important promotional materials that helps deliver business communication all year long. In fact, calendars are more than just a promotional item. Calendar offers as a useful free gift to current and prospective clients and friends alike and also keeps your company at the top of their mind for the whole year. However, the challenge for calendar designers is to conceptualize and design their calendar in such a way that it retains the onlooker’s interest in each page for a longer time and to develop the viewer’s interest in your business. Such is called a call-to-action calendar.
So if you have got an assignment of calendar designing, or planning to design your own company’s calendar to promote your business; keep the following tips in mind in order to design a better calendar for the year 2011.
Number of Months per Page
Calendars are of different types, depending upon the number of months per page. Mostly, businesses and organizations prefer 1-month-a-page type of calendar. This enables them to put their message across properly and the message, along with the visual keeps changing every month.
Although, this type of calendar may get expensive, however, it is better to opt for this one and suggest your client on the same. There are other options for calendars too including, 2 months a page, 4 months a page, 6 months a page and even 12 month (the whole year a page). Whichever calendar type you want to adopt, your aim should be to make it as appealing as possible.
Conceptualize a Theme
Every winning communication material requires a rationale, concept or theme behind it. Same goes for the calendar designing. You need to think about certain themes or concepts for the calendar and get one approved from the client (or yourself – in case of your own calendar).
This theme may be in accordance with the general corporate theme of the client company or any other interesting concept that may appeal the target audience of the calendar. I, for instance, gave some concepts for a bank’s calendar that included environment, culture, and music (as indirect themes) and history of money and the bank’s corporate history (as direct themes).
Decide Upon a Message
The concept of theme, about which I have mentioned above, needs to be accompanied, rather strengthened with the help of a message. Once the theme is decided, brainstorm the overall message you want to communicate in your calendar about your client’s product, service, industry or cause.
For example, the theme on environment should have statistical messages on extinct animals and plants or about every conservation etc. Likewise, for cultural theme, the message can be more poetic and for the bank’s history theme, the message can be regarding the different attribute or achievements of the bank.
Images with Quality and Quantity
When designing a calendar, images are of second-most important aspect to be considered (the first most important aspect is the theme). After the concept and message of the calendar is decided, you start searching the right images that blend with the theme and the message. Although it is quite a hectic activity to go step by step and look for best suited images for the messages, however, this hard work reaps you good at the end.
Some design houses or advertising agencies have their own images banks from where they find good images for the design. However, in most cases, either you undergo customized photography or rely on the images available from the internet. Whatever the medium is, you need to make sure that there are enough design, photography or illustration resources for all the pages of calendar and these images should be high-quality and printable according to the size of the calendar.
Make Best Use of the Page Space
As I have mentioned quite a lot of time earlier in this post, that a calendar is not just a page with dates and images, it is more of an opportunity to spread your message out throughout the year. So either you are designing a wall calendar or a table calendar (or even a pocket-size calendar), the message you want to convey should be proper and perfect. Also, there are times when designers find very little space for everything they want to put in a calendar and other times, it happens that designers get a large page space to display all the elements of the calendar.
Here, only the wisest of all designers would know how to compose everything in a way that it makes the best use of the page space, without losing viewer’s interest. Also, put an introductory page at the beginning or end of the calendar describing the business, its attributes and achievements. Take the page space as calendar’s real estate and make best use of it all.
Make the Calendar Your Portfolio
Either you are making your own business’s calendar or designing one for one of your clients, as a designer it is an opportunity for you to make it a call-to-action portfolio. Want to know how? Let me tell you the secret.
If you are making a calendar for your own business or your own brand, turn it into an opportunity to display some of the best works you did in the previous year and display the work one-by-one on each page. Write details about the work (date, company, design rational and its outcome etc.) in the body copy and get it printed well. Then send it to your friends, clients and acquaintances and see the boost in your work gain.
Likewise, if you are designing a calendar for your client, highlight their product or services and the message they want to convey through the calendar in the best way possible. Outsource if you want to, but take it seriously and add the best creative juices into its designing as much as possible. Reason being, when your client will give out this calendar t their contacts and others, it will stay with a number of people all year long and if it will be well designed, people will automatically want the maker of the calendar to work for them as well.
The Date Display
A calendar has its most important part in the date section (basically, that’s what it is for). The pattern and designing of date display should be legible, pleasant and attractive. Although it depends a lot on the size of the calendar, however, you should try to keep the target market in mind and make it as comfortable as possible. I mean seriously, people should not be looking for September the 30th throughout the calendar! Here again, you can make use of the dates to promote your company or business through the dates.
For example, inform the viewers of your company’s scheduled events or promotions in your calendar dates. You can also customize the dates so they specify when events or sales will take place, or print suggestions on your calendars like, ‘visit our website’ or ‘Buy a gift for a loved one’ on holidays like Christmas or Valentine’s Day etc.
Be Keen About the Production Details
After designing the calendar, the most crucial part of the process is the printing and production of the material. Sit with your printer and think about the production techniques that will:
- Work best with your calendar’s theme or message
- Make the calendar easy for recipients to use.
Also, research upon how matte paper would go for your calendar design or a glossy one, and different trim sizes will look with your design. Printers also offer different types of binding, such as traditional saddle-stitched or stapled bindings and wire-o or spiral bindings. A spiral binding allows users to hang the calendar on a wall, as does a stapled binding plus a small hole for a thumbtack.
When we think of calendar, the usual picture that comes to mind is the traditional paper calendar with squares containing of the days of the month. It’s a gone story, as nowadays calendars are a great marketing tool for yours or your client’s business promotion because once people have them; they serve as a constant reminder inside their homes, offices, shops or wherever they put it.
Focus on these tips and create the best calendar for 2011, and do send me a copy of it!