Principles of Good Design

We asked Chris Perry, the Art Director for numerous major companies, as well as Hillsong in Australia, and many Cooke Media Group clients, for some tips on good design. The design strategy is a real key to successful branding, and Chris has been involved in the branding approach for international organizations. Here’s his suggestions:

5 Most Important Principles of Good Design

Firstly: Clear communication.
This is about marketing and marketing research. Secular companies spend big big bucks on it so it should at least alert us to give it due consideration. Know exactly what you want to communicate, why and to whom.

Secondly. Application of standard artistic visual principles.
They are: colour, weight, balance, rhythm, composition, relationship of elements, direction and consideration of positive and negative space.

Thirdly. Use good quality images – both photographs and footage.
Develop an unashamedly extensive image library of your people, events, your preachers, large gatherings, children having fun, mens groups, womens groups, youth groups, your building if its a good one etc etc. How easy is a good design when its central focus is a great photo. Hillsong Church in Australia regularly commissions one of ‘Rolling Stone’ magazines top live event photographers for many of her events. Believe me, having done many of their album covers, it makes a designers job easy. Don’t just use someone handy with a prosumer camera. Get someone good and work with them.
Beware of cheaper library images. They’re starting to become like ‘ClipArt’.
Note: This principle applies to illustration as well as photography.

Fourthly. Establish a hierarchy of information.
Identify and accordingly layout your title, sub title, body copy and branding mandatories. With your chosen text, its best to stick with tried and proven fonts (eg Helvetica & Times) than to use ‘cool’ fonts. Then apply point two.

Lastly. Consistency.
This is where true branding begins. Where one side of the organisation on-sells/promotes the other side purely by its consistency of image through all communications offerings. Here, all items become brand assets. It may be worth investing in developing a ‘style bible’ as a guide for all users.

Footnote: Don’t be afraid to copy secular trends and styles. This is better than thinking you have to be completely original. But do it well. Observe what the big name designers do. It helps to know why you’re copying what.

Chris Perry
Art Director / Cooke Media Group

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  1. Ideally the reader of this blog is at least media aware. 
    These basics of practical design theory should remind us working pros of our central goals.
    For merely the media aware, these should lift the vail of why this site or that ad really touches you.
    Each Resonated Here.
    If only the powers that be would embrace these, and understand the power of minimalist design (and approval thereof).
  2. Thanks for your comment. I would hope that anyone involved in Christian media (or secular media for that matter) is media aware. What are they doing there if they're not?

    I agree. It is my hope that the 'powers at be' will see that good design is worth the investment. Also that they base their approval on the merits of the design fulfilling the objective, leaving personal taste aside.


  3. These are obvious principals to the artistically savvy.
    Balance, proportion, sequence(flow), unity, and emphasis(point of interest/importance). Good words, Chris!
    To most people…this is nonsense.

    I sadly believe the majority of ministries/organizations/churches have few professionals on staff OR they are severely handcuffed by the leadership who are not savvy in this area.
    I have worked within and for ministries/churches and have found a lot of limits set on price, scope and relevancy to the market. Some have the vision and let professionals “run”. Others…well…they are not growing for a reason.

    To all the professsionals hitting this wall, keep pressing on! Show them your effectiveness, eventually it will pay off or God will move you on to a better place.

    Chris, Phil, if we can just keep hammering away at the need for professionals at professional salaries, freedoms, creative teams, budget etc. We can stop being behind the design curve and start setting standards like we should. We do have the HIM on our side, do we not?

    I am starting to see glimmers of hope out there.

    Keep up the good work!

  4. As a graphic designer for ministries and for my home church,  I get excited about presenting the gospel in a way that catches the world's attention. Thank you Chris and Phil for being willing to teach others in the church to do this (and for setting an example of excellence through your work).

    The "I-don't-want-to-change" crowd and the "that's-a-waste-of-money" boards in the churches need to realize that they are losing a sight and sound generation – FAST. 

    Sure, Jesus didn't have a marketing director and an ad campaign, but he went to the hub of the city – the synagogues and marketplaces – and told a compelling story, comunicated his message clearly, evoked emotions in the people and ultimately provoked a response to his call to action. He had no problem mocking the dead religious institutions of his day. Jesus illustrated every principle he taught with something touchable and memorable. These are the things we as marketers, visual artists, designers and filmographers need to do for the gospel in the 21st century. 

    Thank you again for your example! 

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