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It’s understandable why we’re asked so often to design or work with a template for clients whose collateral changes regularly. Having something on-hand that can easily be updated without the need of an agency can be a cost- and time-effective solution. But don’t cut out the middleman just yet! Content that looks great in one design may not look as good when it is drastically changed. That’s why we’ve gathered some tips and considerations for the next time you purchase or request a template.

Remember that design is innovative

Designers pull inspiration from content to visually represent your message with elements like imagery, icons, and layout. So when content changes, the original design does too. A four-column template with three icons may not work as well when the copy is a pullout quote and graph. While a custom design can roll with the punches, a template can wind up disjointed. You could build your content around the design, but that seems just as limiting as your template.

Consider having a designer mock up a simple branded template that provides a variety of different layouts. Have your designer work off of something existing that’s regularly used and updated, like a PowerPoint presentation. They’ll work with your current content and do their best to come up with a solution that’s flexible and professional.

Stay original

One of the problems with design templates is that they are built to be generic enough to appeal to a range of target markets. When purchasing a popular template online, you risk looking like the business next door or even your competitor. Custom designs can guarantee originality but there are ways to make your template look unique without breaking the bank.

If you’re working with a website template, customize it as much as possible through colour, imagery and typography. Or take it a step further by consulting with a designer and/or developer, who will work within your template and break the mould where feasible. This way you get an effective, professional, and responsive design in a reasonable timeframe and budget.

Be engaging

It’s important to keep your marketing collateral fresh so potential or existing customers stay engaged. Using the same email newsletter, presentation, or flyer template can become stale. But purchasing several different template designs can be confusing and dilute your brand.

Our advice would be to find a template bundle that provides a mixture of layouts in a series. You could also stick to one template and customize it yourself in a way that differentiates itself. For example, if you have a monthly newsletter, your August edition could be green while September could be red. How you choose to add variety to your marketing doesn’t need to be crazy, but it does need to stand out.

In our experience, a template is never truly finished when its purpose is to adapt. So if you’re going to use a template, be open to the idea of using it as a base or foundation you can build upon.