Wouldn’t it be great if people instantly recognize your brand when they see your images on social media? If you want to have a cohesive look for all your images it’s best to create a template. Templates help you to stay on brand and can save you a lot of time. Think about all the images you create on a daily basis. Every image you can use more than once is a perfect candidate for creating a template. Once set up you just switch out text and maybe a background photo and you’re done. No need to start from scratch every time you want to post something on social media or have a new flyer printed.
For all of my social media images, I use templates. They might be slightly different depending on the platform but they all have this overall cohesive look that fits my brand. To create my templates I use Adobe Illustrator. It’s really easy. You can set up your template in a couple of minutes. Try it out!
Set up the template file
As you would normally do when creating your graphics start by creating a new file. But before you do so, make sure you know which file size you need. As an example, 600px X 900px is a good size for Pinterest images. Vertical pins are performing way better than horizontal pins. Set your file to vertical. Social media images should be set to RGB color mode while files you set up for print need to be saved as CMYK. A template file only needs to be set up once. Make sure you to do it right and you will never have to spend another second on it. Get a free trial of Adobe Illustrator
In the menu bar go to File > New
Related post: How to prepare your files for print
Set up guides
Guides can help you to align all the elements of your design. I recommend setting up a couple of guides before you start.
In the top menu bar go to View > Rulers > Show rulers
Now you can just drag the guides out of the rulers on the top and left side and into your document. By clicking on a guide you can easily set it to a specific place in your document. Make sure your guides are unlocked. View > Guides > Unlock guides
Once you’ve finished lock your guides to be sure they stay in place.
The more you have going on in your template the more you will profit from creating layers. Every element of your design needs to be on a separate layer. Layers make it easy to arrange your design elements or to work on one element separately without touching the others unintentionally. Make sure to name all layers according to your element. This makes it easier to find what you’re looking for.
Open the layers panel. In the top menu go to Window > Layers. From the drop-down menu inside the panel go to > New Layer. Name your layer and add your element.
Choose a background
As a background, you can choose whatever works best with your brand style. This can be a photo or a solid colored background. If you use a photo, you can add an overlay or use transparency. This helps to make the text more readable when put on top.
Use your brand style
In Illustrator you can create libraries for your brand colors. This speeds up your process. Once set up, you won’t have to search for your hex code anymore. If you want to change to your brand color just go to Window > Libraries and pick it from there.
Apart from your brand colors, you can also use your brand fonts for headlines and text. Make sure it’s readable and try different versions before you settle. Your blog post titles can vary in length. There should be enough space even for long titles.
You can also add other brand design elements like your logo, submark, illustrations or a pattern. But don’t overdo it. Less is more. A simple layout is more versatile. In my template, you find a photo, the blog post title, and my URL. That puts emphasis on the most important.
Save your template
Once you’re happy with your template, it’s time to save it. Illustrator has a special file format for templates.
Go to File > Save as > choose Illustrator template (ait) from the drop-down menu and you’re done.
Now, Illustrator will create a new document every time you open your file. Your layout will be set already. You just have to quickly change your text and photo. No more starting from scratch with every new image. And if you ever change something unwantedly, you don’t have to worry. Your original template file will stay untouched.
Related post: Why you need to create branded templates