Last week we started the adventure of creating an RFI Template so that when an RFI request is received responses can be handled quickly and with as little stress as possible. We’re continuing this adventure today by talking about one of my favorite things, the “look” of your RFI Response.
I fully admit I like “pretty” information. Instead of plain text and numbers, I like a little pizzazz thrown in to make what I’m reading eye-catching and engaging. And that is what we’re after when choosing the look of an RFI Response. You want something that adds a little pizzazz, that is eye-catching, and that engages the reader. On the flip side, you don’t want something that is cluttered and overwhelming.
Before we dive into specifics, here are broader “elements” you’ll want to consider:
- Logo (Do you have one? Do you want one?)
- Graphic Elements (lines, boxes, circles, etc. – elements you’ll use throughout to tie the response together)
Now, where to begin choosing a look for your RFI Template…
Step 1: Look at Any Marketing or Branding Your Community Already Has in Place
Is that something you can or should tie into? Is there a community logo you can utilize? If yes, you just saved yourself a lot of time and you have a guide to follow. If not, go to step 2.
Step 2: Look for Inspiration (aka don’t reinvent the wheel)
Information crosses our paths every day in the materials we read, while surfing our electronic devices, and in the different marketing we’re exposed to. All of this information is accompanied by graphics or a “look.” Are some of those more appealing to you? Are there pieces that you could incorporate into your own RFI look? As you come across things that appeal to you graphically, save them to a folder designated specifically for design inspiration so you can easily refer back to them. Following are some examples of where to find inspiration:
Google: I googled “Report Template Design” and looked at the images that were returned in the search results. A slew of options were presented but I found one that stood out to me (view here or look to the right). I like the color blocks in the top left of the document. Maybe this is a header that I can recreate in Word to tie all of my information together? I’ll save this image to refer back to later.
- Other terms to Google: Style Guide, Brand Templates, Infographics
- Fair Warning: if you like graphic design, searching google for ideas is like tumbling down a rabbit hole. You might want to set an alarm for when you need to move on to something else, otherwise you can burn through an hour or two very easily. 🙂
- Microsoft Templates: Another resource you can utilize for ideas are the built in templates in both Word and Powerpoint (and Publisher if you have it). Full disclosure: a lot of these templates are either outdated or are not a good match for a professional business piece. But we’re not planning to use one of these canned templates, we’re looking for elements that we can borrow and utilize when we create our own. So for this purpose, I find Powerpoint has the best templates. There are also many more that can be downloaded from the Microsoft Office website so if you’re not finding anything you love, try here or even google “powerpoint templates.”
- Websites: there are a lot of great websites out there that are uncluttered, engaging, and nice to look at. When you find something you like, take screen shots and save them for later.
Step 3: Pick Your Colors
Color theory is another rabbit hole we can go down but I’m going to spare you. If you want to learn more about it, the Visme blog just published an article about Color Psychology in Marketing. It has great information.
If you want to get right to picking your colors, check out a site called COLOURlovers. COLOURlovers provides tons of pre-made, searchable color palettes and it allows you to create your own. Even better, if you have a photograph that you love, you can upload that photograph to the PHOTOCOPA tool and it will automatically highlight the key colors, suggest palettes, and allow you to create your own palette from the key colors. Once you’ve got your color palette you’ll want to make sure you write down or save the RGB numbers (Red, Green, Blue) as that is what you’ll need to use when creating your template in Word.
I think I’ve given you enough to chew on this round so I’m going to turn you loose and let you start on these three steps. While you’re looking for inspiration and choosing your colors, remember one broad idea that needs to become your mantra while creating your template: KEEP IT SIMPLE. Look for clean, uncluttered inspiration and look for something that you will be able to recreate using Word.
Any questions? How can I help? Tune in next week for whole post dedicated to fonts!