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3.3 Styling Your Proposal: How to Find Inspiration

Style is everything. Okay, not absolutely everything but it sure can make a big difference to how well received your proposal is. Finding the right look for your proposal can be tricky, perhaps you're working within an existing brand which you have already have colors and fonts you can use. Or perhaps you're having to start completely afresh and have no idea about how to begin. In this lesson, I'm going to give you an insight into how I found the inspiration for the style for this proposal and share with you some ideas for how you can source inspiration for your own proposal designs. From choosing type faces that look elegant and stylish to developing a color palette that feels appropriate for your design. The variety of styles you could go for are potentially endless. So you need to have some foundation to help you narrow your ideas, and develop a style that is the perfect fit for the type of proposal that you're producing. I can give you two things you need to think about before you start developing any creative ideas. So first of all, you need to consider the brand if you have one of your business and take this into account when creating a stylistic look for your proposal. So if you have brand elements to work with like colors, fonts, or even just a logo design, that should be the starting point of your proposal style. If you don't have an existing brand look, you can consider instead the ethos and USP of your business. Are you, for example, a young startup full of energy and enthusiasm, or a more corporate formal business. So the type of business that you are, and the type of services that you provide can help to point you in the right direction in terms of developing a style for your proposal. So the second and most important thing you need to think about is the audience for your proposal. These are the people looking at your proposal and deciding whether to go with you or go for what some other business is offering. If that audience feels like you're offering something that's presented in a way that's familiar to them, they'll be more likely to get on board with it. So for example, you might be a trendy design agency pitching a proposal to a more traditional corporate business. So you want to show that you can offer the corporate business something fresh and new as otherwise they'd be looking to do the job in house. But you also want to show that you understand their business, and style is a really important tool for striking this balance. So you might go for an energetic color like acid yellow, but you might balance this with more serious black and white photography. Or you might opt for a Serif font instead of a modern San Serif to give your proposal design a more formal, traditional feel, okay. So those are the two things to know and keep in mind as you design. The identity if you're own business and more importantly the identity of the recipient business. Right, so where to look for inspiration? So I'm just gonna show you a couple of online resources that I use quite a bit for sourcing inspiration for print design. So my first go-to is always Pinterest and what I really like about Pinterest is that it blends visual content with the trending aspect to social media. So it's a good gauge of what's really popular. So it's handy if you want to create a design that's going to be on trend and it's probably going to be well received by your reader as well. You might wanna search for something broad like print design, and look at the source of colors, fonts, and layout styles that are popular. I'm seeing a lot of pastels and also neons, gradients are really popular at the moment too. You can look to more trend leading areas of design to pick up some fresh ideas as well. So try for example advertising design 2018 and see what you've got. So here there's a lot of strong block colors, big bold San Serif type, creative ways of placing and editing photos. It's nice just to get really absorbed in all the creative work going on in different fields like advertising. And it might just trigger some ideas about color type or layout design for you. So pin or save any images that speak to you. Perhaps you like a certain kind of font or the way the particular photo has been framed or presented. The other site I go back to when I need a bit of inspiration is Behance. This is better for very new cutting edge work and obviously you never want to be plagiarizing another designer's work. But it might be that a certain color scheme captures your eye, or you would never have thought of using a particular type of style of an image in a certain way. And often I find that by looking at lots of different creative images you gradually keep being drawn to certain common traits across these images. And once you've collected them together you can pull together different aspects from each and develop a good idea for the direction that you want to take your proposal in. Once you've gathered a mood board of images from sites like Pinterest and Behance, the next stage is to start formalizing your ideas by choosing fonts and developing a color palette, as well as drafting ideas about how to edit and frame images. And the sorts of graphics that your shapes and patterns that you might want to include in your design/. So I'm just gonna show you the result of the inspiration that I gathered to give you an idea of how you could develop your own style ideas or proposals in the future. So this is the InDesign document I've used to put together my ideas about the style that I want to use for the proposal including the fonts, the color palette, the photo, shapes, and also the way that the layouts are arranged. Let's take a look, so this is only my personal approach to developing my ideas about style. You may feel confident enough to dive right into applying your style ideas to the proposal document directly. But if you lacking a bit of confidence, I think taking a bit of time to put together this sort of document is an exercise as well worth doing. It can really help you to pull together your ideas and give you a sort of brand guidelines for your proposal which you can refer to as you work. A PDF of this document is attached to this lesson, so you can download that and take a look later if you'd like to. So what I've done here is first decide on the font style that I want to use in the proposal. I wanted to use a Sans Serif which feels clean and modern. I also wanted a font that had a corporate smart look, but also felt friendly and really easy to read. And I found this font which was Bw Modelica on in fonts of elements and I just loved it straight away and I thought would be a really great fit. The inspiration I was looking at online was probably most useful for getting ideas about the source of the colors that I wanted to use in the proposal. I really love that combination of soft pastel colors with more bright primary colors, which will be the accent colors in the design. And a couple of off-black and gray tones help to make the palette feel a little bit more formal. Colored gradients are also really trendy at the moment, and I wanted to include them. But instead of creating a bi-color gradient, I've opted to create a gradient with one bright color and one grey swatch which keeps it looking a bit more business appropriate. For the photos, I was inspired by color overlays and I thought this would be a nice way of bringing together the color palette in the images into a whole thing. Shapes can be a really great way of adding a little bit more flair to layouts that are otherwise quite text heavy. And circles can be adapted to function as text frames, and inforgraphic elements. And a little rule that set for myself is to color the circles with a gradient swatch to give them a slightly 3D look. Creating a uniform grid for your layouts is really important. Once you have a basic grid established it's going to be easy for you to replicate that across lots of pages and give your intro pages and normal pages a more consistent look. So here I want to emphasize the contrast between the curves and the circle shapes, and a more rigid quartered layout below. So it's actually really simple just splitting each page into four sections across the center point and then inserting images into one of those sections. And on top of that we've got the circle shapes and white or grey type depending on the background color below. Now I'm not saying you have to produce anything like this document, but it can be helpful depending on how you work. It just gives you an insight into how I work and how you might think that aspects of that process might work well for you too or not. So in the next lesson, we're going to return to our proposal document in InDesign and put the style pictured here into practice. And our first task is going to be creating an eye catching cover for our proposal.

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