Tips on how to achieve great graphic design

Coming up with highly effective graphic design elements to boost your ministry can be challenging. To help ease your burden, consider design tips from the Local Church Services team at United Methodist Communications. Photo courtesy of Canva.
Coming up with highly effective graphic design elements to boost your ministry can be challenging. To help ease your burden, consider design tips from the Local Church Services team at United Methodist Communications. Photo courtesy of Canva.

What does your graphic design say about your church and the ministry offerings? What does it say to church members and potential church members? And what does it say to the community you are trying to reach?

Troy Dossett, who leads the Creative Strategy team at United Methodist Communications, says, "Effective graphic design is one of the most critical fundamental elements of an exceptional church communication strategy."

Dossett adds, "Take time to evaluate the current creative utilized in your church materials, website and social media to see if it is a natural fit for your unique community. From there, decide what is good, what could be better and where you'd ultimately like to go with your use of church marketing. Always remember who you are designing for and the objective you set at the beginning." 

Graphic designers at United Methodist Communications are continuously creating graphics to convey information to global, national and local audiences.

So what makes good, attractive graphic design?

"I think the term ‘good design' is somewhat debatable," says Sara Schork, senior graphic design specialist. "I feel like design is either effective or ineffective since it is a very subjective type of art."

We asked team members to share some tips for achieving the best graphic design for your ministry. Here’s what they told us.

Keep your logo and graphics simple 

Dossett says a common mistake some people make with design is trying to squeeze in too many elements.

"Coupled with clarity, simplicity is a must," Dossett says. "The temptation is to add all sorts of fun design elements — clip art, photos and cool swashes. Don't do this. A simple, clean design trumps a busy design every time."

Dossett says that a graphic should direct viewers to the most important information first, then guide them through the rest of the content with visual cues, such as fonts, colors, sizing and more.

He says, "You may love the look and feel of a swirly, artistic font, but will anyone be able to read it? In whatever combination of serif, sans-serif, display or script fonts used, it is suggested to use no more than two fonts in the logo design."

Schork adds, "Keep in mind that designs that are too busy will be overlooked quickly. This can also include designs with too much copy."

Stay consistent

"Be sure to keep consistent colors, branding, and use quality images," Dossett says. "Use the same logo and colors on everything."

Schork says, "Composition, color, font choice, balance, variety and harmony all have to work together to inspire someone to act upon the message of that design."

Matt Orozco, senior graphic design specialist, says, "Be mindful of how your graphic will reproduce in small spaces with limited colors."

Keep your eyes open and explore

Dossett says, "Keep up to date on new design trends and learn from what others have done to inspire you. Keep an eye on what large organizations with trained professional graphic designers are doing. Compare your design to theirs and alter it accordingly. 

"Creationswap.com is a favorite for church and ministry inspiration, images, templates and free resources."

Orozco echoes this advice, saying, "Use visual trends in advertising that are in line with your brand. Your brand should not only appeal to your congregation but to those you want to reach."

Know the why of the design 

Schork says, "Overall, it is important for anyone who is about to dive into a new design to ask the questions: What is the purpose of this design? What do I want it to accomplish? What do I want someone interacting with this design to do? Putting something on a page doesn't necessarily answer those questions, even if it is really beautiful.

"If you spend the time in the beginning, figuring out the goals and the audience, creating an intentional, unique and accessible design is much easier. You will be able to see all those questions reflected in the end, even through the smallest of details."

Dossett adds, "Graphics help promote your ministry's message to those who need to hear it. It's important to identify who your audience is and to think about how they might want to be spoken to — and how they don't want to be spoken to. You may have many great things to say, but if you put too much content in your design, you will end up saying nothing because it will be hard for someone to grab the main message.

"So, work out what your key message is, the key thing you want people to know. Don't be afraid to strip out anything that risks confusing the key message."

Don't overthink it

Schork says, "There are a lot of elements that have to be considered in order to create beautiful and functional work. However, it is always important to have fun and keep things simple. Don't worry if things start off a little complex and messy. If you focus on creating something that is beautiful and easy to understand, the design will ultimately be successful in getting its message across."

Graphic design can be a daunting task and can easily begin to overwhelm you. Don’t let it. United Methodist Communications’ Local Church Services team can help with church and ministry logos, social media graphic posts, flyers, business cards, letterhead, promo items, signage and more — even a visual branding audit that can provide you with ways to maintain or improve the implementation of the visual aspects of your branding.

"The UMCom team did a fantastic job making a logo for our church,” said Kevin Lester, pastor of Sanctuary United Methodist Church. “First, they were a pleasure to work with. I really appreciated how efficient and responsive they were. Also, they were really intent on making a logo that was tailored to our church. They asked thorough questions about our church, our community and our ministries to make sure we got something that we loved and that fit our personality. Their creativity and artistic skills were great, and everyone at Sanctuary is really happy with what the team created for us. I'd recommend their services to any of our UMC churches in need of an update to their graphics and artwork."

If you’ve got a design in mind, the graphic design professionals at United Methodist Communications stand ready to help you shine.

*Aaron Crisler is a senior public relations specialist at United Methodist Communications.


For 80+ years, United Methodist Communications has been leading the church in telling inspirational stories of God’s work in the world through The United Methodist Church, reaching new people, supporting local churches in vibrant communications ministry, equipping leaders and delivering messages of hope and healing.

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