In today's interview on DesignRush, we're joined by Alicia Espinoza, a design expert from Placeit, to explore the crucial factors in selecting mockups and templates for your brand.
Stay tuned to discover Alicia's insights on customizing mockups, achieving cohesion in branding, and essential principles for content creators.
You will also get to learn more about the design industry's biggest challenges, AI's role in design, and ethical considerations surrounding AI-generated content.
Alicia, a Lead Creative Director at Placeit, is a passionate individual with a deep interest in culture and collectivity. She excels at connecting creative vision with real-world needs, leading a team that bridges the gap between creators and users. Alicia's expertise in identifying emerging trends and implementing efficient workflows has made Placeit a pioneer in digital content creation, emphasizing boundless creativity.
DesignRush: What are the biggest factors both companies and individuals should consider when selecting a mockup or a template for their brand?
Alicia: A big part of our brain is dedicated to processing visual information, so images play a big role in our decisions, and therefore, in our users' or potential client’s decisions too.
We have thousands of mockups in our library and publish hundreds of new templates on our site each month.
We pay special attention to our users when deciding what to do next: what they are looking for and the wording they use to search content, and we also do a lot of research to understand where they are coming from and what their needs are.
- It's very important to know the identity, attributes, and values of your brand or company and understand the audience you are speaking to (clients and users).
We tend to relate to things that look like ourselves and have messages that resonate with our values and beliefs.
So when selecting Placeit mockups or templates, it's important to have these attributes in mind so the images we select to promote our products or design visual materials reflect our brand identity and are attractive to the right audience.
After choosing a mockup, making it resonate with a brand's identity is crucial. How can designers ensure they customize their mockups effectively to reflect their brand?
When speaking about identity, I think customization is key. Specifically for mockups, we try to create products that are very flexible and customizable.
There are certain parameters you can take into consideration to make a strong brand impression by using templates.
For mockups, follow a specific style or aesthetic; for example, if your brand identity aims to portray a lifestyle around outdoor activities and enjoying nature, you could consistently use mockups of people in outdoor environments.
On the other hand, If your brand audience is a specific population sector, you can choose mockup images with models that mirror your audience’s age, cultural background, likeness and lifestyle.
Achieving cohesion in branding, especially when integrating logos, color schemes, and themes, can be a challenge. Could you offer some guidance on how designers can accomplish unity in their branding?
There are several rules to follow to create a brand that is easily recognizable and memorable to people. Color is one of the first things our brains detect, so keeping a consistent color palette is highly recommendable.
The same goes for texts and fonts; create a consistent font system and apply it across all your visual materials. We suggest to consider the structure to build an effective font system:
- Main Header Font
Pick a bold, attractive font for your headers, titles, and “main” texts. This could be the more "playful" font in your system, and you can select something that visually reflects the spirit of your brand. For example, if you sell products that are aimed at a "street style" or "urban" audience, your font could have attributes such as bold strokes, in handwritten style, and textures similar to a thick marker or spraypaint.
- Sub-Header Font
Pick a simple bold font for sub-headers and information that needs to stand out but is not the main header.
- Text body Font
Pick a simple, legible, regular-thickness font for bodies of texts, paragraphs, and any information that is subordinate or isn't the title of a section. Styles recommended for text bodies are simple Serif and Sans Serif. The more neutral in style, the better.
Can you share some fundamental principles that content creators should consider when designing digital mockups or visuals for their projects?
Even though you’re using templates, consider customizing your visuals.
Think about you and your brand and what you want to portray. Get inspiration from design blogs to select the visual attributes that work best with the identity of your brand.
Create an aesthetic around your identity and keep a consistent color palette, font style, and image style that matches that aesthetic.
What are common mistakes you’ve observed content creators make in design, and how can they avoid them?
I think that everyone creating content, or selling a service or a product, needs to have a consistent visual identity so people recognize them from the ocean of competitors or similar services out there.
Mistakes I’ve observed are lack of visual consistency or lack of an "identity" itself.
Some suggestions I would give them is to invest some time in defining the identity of your brand and customize the templates so they match your brand’s identity and aesthetic.
Which templates or mockups have consistently been popular among Placeit users? Are there any trends you've observed?
The most popular mockups are t-shirts in a studio context and with natural-looking models.
We create a lot of "trend-based" content, and users have been showing a lot of interest in it. Anime-themed designs, graphic t-shirt designs, typographic logos, and all the templates we create for the gaming industry tend to be very popular.
For our video templates, intros and screens for Twitch and content creators are the most popular.
Can you share some insights on the challenges of keeping your design template library fresh, relevant, and in tune with the latest trends?
To be successful in this industry, keeping up with what is going on in this world is essential.
Our creative team is a team of super observative people; it has become part of their day-to-day to pay attention to the conversations occurring on social media and in different industries such as technology, entertainment, fashion and music.
When a pattern starts to appear in different places, a trend is born.
I think the biggest challenge is to get our teams in tune and understand what they're working on when something is very new and unfamiliar. Sometimes, there are few references, or no one in our industry has done something similar to join a trend.
In those cases, we must "invent" and create our own references.
The second challenge is time. In the internet era, trends are super volatile. We must respond fast to be part of the conversation when it is happening.
What do you consider the most significant challenges the design mockup industry faces in 2023?
The incorporation of AI in different tools and technologies has brought groundbreaking changes in the industry over the last year. In the present, we are still witnessing major advances and improvements in tools that are still in development stages in record time.
I think the biggest challenge is understanding how to make good and responsible use of the massive tool that is AI. Companies, developers, creatives, and the market itself are still in the process of grasping the implications of its use.
I think it is important to explore and try to understand what it’s out there right now, what advantages and capabilities it offers, what problems it solves, and how it is affecting our industry and our day-to-day work to be an active participant in shaping the future of the use of Ai in the industry.
For content creators with a tight schedule, how can they best utilize platforms like Placeit to quickly generate high-quality designs?
All of the content in Placeit is created and curated by professional designers, illustrators, photographers, videographers, animators and editors. We take a lot of pride in working with such a highly skilled and talented team.
I think that is one of our biggest advantages because if you want to create something fast, you can find a lot of options for high-quality and beautifully crafted templates that need little or no edits to be a final product.
The industry is buzzing with discussions about AI-generated content, its ethical implications, and even its legality. How does Placeit navigate this complex landscape?
I must acknowledge that this is a very complex conversation from a lot of different angles. I think there's still a lot of work to do around policies for fair use, licensing, intellectual property, and copyright.
That’s a change that requires action at all levels and especially requires goodwill from the companies in charge of training the AI models and the parties that source the data to train those models.
Sourcing the data ethically and following the same laws as if you would make use of a creation you don't own the rights to, is the most important step in creating ethical AI.
At Placeit, AI tools have joined our toolbox just as an aide in our creative team's processes.
Though it was intimidating at first, we feel very lucky that the team, composed of all sorts of creatives (photographers, illustrators, animators, designers), has already embraced it as a tool that potentializes and materializes their ideas in ways that were unthinkable before.
We have deadlines on each project, and of course, tools and "real world" limitations, so to put an example, there were certain styles, aesthetics, and concepts we would never approach because they could compromise deadlines and the quality of the results.
AI tools have helped us lift a lot of restrictions, and it's been fun to think: "What else can we do now that we could not do before?"
It's like a magic mirror that, if you learn how to communicate with it effectively, can materialize your ideas in minutes.
If you enjoyed reading this, check out more of our interviews with industry experts!