To design something is to plan how something will work or function after it is built or made. Design is a cross between the creative, artistic, and technical fields. For those new to making banners, design sounds daunting. However, the design process can be entertaining once the basics are understood. This article will go over some primary parts of a Christmas banner, such as colors, images, borders and phrases. To learn why these design components are important and what they communicate to viewers, keep reading.
Color is one of the most important yet most underrated elements of design. It influences moods, thoughts, behaviors, and reactions. Although it may seem fine to choose basic Christmas colors and go on with the rest of banner design, do not underestimate the role of color. Colors evoke an emotional response—happy, sad, optimistic, serious, caution, candor—that works before someone starts reading. It is a dominant factor in first impressions and overall response to something. So, when it comes to Christmas banners, give some thought to what color choices say about a design.
Red and green are classic, popular Christmas colors. During the holiday season, walk down the isles of a store, and see rows composed primarily of red and green papers, ribbons, lights, ornaments, boxes, garland, ceramics, and more. Where do these classic colors come from and what do they convey to people? Green has been used for thousands of years to rejuvenate spirits during long dark winters. Plants like Holly, Ivy, and Mistletoe have been shared by the Europeans, Romans, Egyptians, and others to do just this. When biblical plays began appearing during Christmas, these green plants were some of the only live stage props available in cold climates. Today, green Christmas trees carry on these ancient origins.
Red goes hand-in-hand with green around Christmas. Some say it first appeared in relation to Christmas when plays featured red apples tied to evergreens on stage, representing the weakness of Adam. Holly berries are said to symbolize the blood of Jesus when he died on the cross. Eventually, red became the color of Bishop robes, later reinvented in Saint Nicholas’ wardrobe and eventually Santa’s uniform. What can these roots tell designers about red and green? Red and green are the most time-honored, established colors for Christmas, meaning they appeal to conventionalists and traditionalists more than perhaps any other color combo. Because many people grew up with classic red and green Christmas decorations, this color combo is nostalgic and agreeable to many people. For almost universally appealing banners, red and green designs are a natural choice.
Metallics are a trendy set of colors that come and go every so many years as the fashions change. Around Christmas, silver and gold are popular, longstanding choices in the metallic family. They represent sun, light, and warmth, inspiring colors during the winter. Gold holds a doubly important meaning, as it was one of the gifts given to Jesus by the wise men. Silver and gold are both used to represent the star that the wise men followed. This history makes these colors classic and respectable. However, the edgy, trendy vibe they have today makes them contemporary choices, too. These colors offer extra sparkle and glam to banners, appealing to a wide audience of neutral-loving people.
Blue and white is a far less popular color combination for Christmas. However, it is growing more and more popular as more Christmas decorations become easily available to buyers. Mary is often portrayed in blue robes, to signify importance. Blue is also used to represent the skies. White represents peace, purity, and winter snows. Blue and white and relatively peaceful, calming colors that will appeal to religious and non-religious celebrators of Christmas alike. With less boldness than classic red and green, blue and white are a subdued, subtle alternative for banners.
Besides for the main Christmas colors that appear on Christmas merchandise and advertisements, fun colors are a gaining traction around the holiday. Purple, teal, pink, and orange are a handful of these colors. Some of these colors have traditional or religious origins. For example, purple and sometimes blue are used to celebrate Advent, particularly in orthodox factions. That being said, new color combinations around Christmas appeal to quirky, contemporary, experimental people. For Christmas banners looking to appeal to younger audiences or more divergent audiences, try for unique colors. They make a statement.
Although not every banner has an illustration or picture on it, imagery is a powerful tool for communicating a banner’s message. Visual messages process at incredible speeds, meaning that image-conscious banners can have impact in a split second. Imagery is also important because it appeals to those who cannot read, such as young children and those with moderate vision impairments.
There are dozens of images that are popular around Christmas, including: snowmen, sleds, chimneys, presents, reindeer, trees, wreaths, elves, and snow. Pop culture characters are also popular Christmas images, such as Santa Claus, Mrs. Claus, Rudolph, Snoopy, Grinch, Cindy Lou Who, Frost the Snowman, Ebenezer Scrooge, Jack Skellington, and Mickey Mouse. Recent additions to this lineup include Frozen characters, such as Elsa, the ice queen.
When it comes to selecting which images to add to an online design of a Christmas banner, think about audience. Who resonates with these images? What do these images say to an audience? Take contemporary pop culture characters, for instance. Elsa imagery will be adored and recognized by young children, especially young girls. However, other demographics may be less responsive. Consider whether intense enthusiasm to the banner by some people is worth missing out on other altogether. On the other hand, older pop culture imagery, such as the Grinch and Snoopy, have a retro feel. However, many people—across age, gender, generation, and race—have watched and grew up with these classically Christmas characters.
Outside of specific characters, there is plenty of Christmas imagery to put on banners to amp up designs. Trees, crosses, and nativities are some obvious choices for religious and Christmas-specific imagery. For those who seek more general imagery on Christmas banners, there are other options, such as snowmen, presents, sleds, and wreaths. For those in diverse neighborhoods, those who want to be open to other holidays in the winter season, or those who celebrate Christmas but lack particularly religious convictions, these are great design choices to put on a banner.
Borders are an often-overlooked element of banner design. Borders are a cool option to include on some banners because they add dimension, push an accent color, and signify where a banner begins and ends. These things help the banner stand out from walls, snow, glass, or other backdrops for banners. Border options come in three main styles: no borders, solid color borders, or image borders.
No borders are an option chosen by many banner designers throughout the year. Technically, there are borders on these banners; the borders are simply whatever color the rest of the banner backdrop is. In some cases, a lack of border makes the banner seem more open and expansive. Plus, they give designers more room to place pictures or words in the design.
Solid color borders are exactly what they sound like: A solid color wraps around some or all of the edges of the banner. Use solid borders to involve a strong secondary color, such as red to complement a green, white to compliment a blue, or black to add structure to any color.
Finally, image borders are available to banner designers. Picture micro images, often in faded or more subtle color schemes, printed across all sides of a banner. The options covered in the “images” section apply here. In general, simple images are best for image-based borders. Images with too much detail are hard to recognize and distinguish against the backdrop of Christmas banners. Some Christmas-friendly border images include strands of lights, series of snowflakes, and lines of holly. Dozens of tiny images in these types of borders can over crowd and over complicate banner designs, so they are best for simple, pared down banner designs as a way to spruce them up and add visual interest.
Words and phrases are often considered separate from design. However, when it comes to banners, when there are relatively few words, each word has a tremendous impact. This means that in addition to actual word choice, word placement, color, font, are vital to the function of a banner and imperative to a design. This means that when it comes to the language of a Christmas banner, multiple design elements overlap. For example, color of the words is significant, since color can emphasize certain words, project an emotion, and set a tone. Font is another way to send a tone to readers. Whereas italics, slant, and cursive styles send a classy, articulate, grand, and mature message, bold, straight edge, and large styles send a contemporary, boisterous, daring message to readers. Designing diction may seem like a simple task, but there are tons of decisions to make regarding this facet of Christmas banners.
Common phrases on Christmas banners include:
- “Merry Christmas”
- “Merry X-Mas”
- “Holiday Greetings”
- “Season’s Greetings”
- “Have a Safe and Happy Holiday”
- “Feliz Navidad”
- “Best Wishes and Happy Holidays”
- “Santa’s Workshop”
- “Wishing You a Merry Christmas”
Other Christmas banners opt to feature lyrics from iconic Christmas tunes. Take “Tis the Season to Be Jolly,” “We Wish You a Merry Christmas,” “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” “Walking in a Winter Wonderland,” and “Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!” into consideration. These phrases are excellent for nostalgia and pop culture resonance. Depending on the song referenced, the banner may appeal to more traditional or more modern listeners and readers.