Has designing your own calendar ever sprung to your mind? Or maybe you were just asked to do it by your client, but you have no idea where to start? Let’s face the truth. You probably have never thought about it before. However, believe it or not, calendars can serve as a type of advertising material for businesses as well. They don’t always have to be used for personal reasons.
Regardless of whether or not calendars are something that you’ve ever thought of designing, still, someone has to do them. Otherwise, there will be no calendars for people to use or refer to! So, whether it’s for personal or serious corporate use, let’s check out the guidelines on how you can create the best calendar designs!
1) Choose the number of months on a page
By beginning with a collection of strict and objective information, we are able to set the foundations for a good result! Therefore, as a first step, you should decide how many months you would want for your audience to see at once on a page. Common options include one month per page or all twelve months on a page as illustrated in the examples below.
Image source: Dribbble
Image source: Dribbble
However, to make your calendar more interesting, you should consider spicing the structure up a bit. You can divide one page of your calendar into two or three months as well. You can even make a two-sided poster with 6 months on each side. Whichever you decide to go for, one essential matter is that letters and numbers must be readable! For legibility purposes, most businesses tend to go for the one month per page template.
2) Pick an appropriate template
As soon as we’ve got the essential part covered, let’s skip to the next step, one that is quite a fun and pleasurable one. The template for your design is equally essential for a cohesive and visually appealing aesthetic for your calendar, however at the same time, it allows you to bring much of your creativity into play!
You (or your client) need to choose a visually engaging design concept for your entire calendar from the very beginning. This will help set the design style and structure for the rest of your calendar. While you are free to add different and relevant designs to each month of your calendar (i.e. Halloween theme for October and Christmas theme for December), make sure you stick to your template as design consistency will help enhance the appeal of your calendar as a whole.
If you’re feeling a bit stuck, feel free to browse through all the creative and inspirational ideas online. Check out all the best options with your colleagues, and let your creativity flow. Use images, colors, graphics, and fonts that will allow your target audiences to recognize you and your company’s visual identity. As a calendar is something that can be used everyday, try not to pick out boring template. However, be careful not to pick one that looks too intense either!
Image source: Behance
3) Choose the number of pages for the calendar
Although you might have already chosen the number of months per page at the beginning, it is likely that you still won’t know the actual number of pages that you will need to design. Basically, the number of pages can still differ, depending on whether or not you want your calendar to have double-sided prints. As double-sided prints are the more environment-friendly option, it is always worth to go for it.
4) Choose your best images and fonts
After selecting and applying the chosen template to your calendar, here comes the hard choice of picking the right images and fonts. Consider how you may want to compose each image as well as the fonts you may want to use or mix with one another. Make sure that every single element compliments each other well and that they match with the overall design style you’re going for.
In addition, beware not to overwhelm users with too many extra and unnecessary details as this can make your design appear cluttered and unattractive. Always keep the less-is-more design rule at the back of your head and pick quality over quantity. Images should add value to your calendar’s aesthetics and be in the highest resolution.
When selecting images for your calendar, which is a very important step, you should consider using the same style of images that you use for the rest of your company’s marketing material, such as those on your leaflets, posters, or website. This can be a great continuation of your company’s branding, allowing you to express your identity even further. Afterall, calendars are an effective way for companies to reinforce brand awareness and recognition. Hence, the more effort you put into selecting the right fitting, high-quality images, the more effective your calendar design will pay off later.
5) Select a functional date display
Image source: Dribbble
This is one of the factors that people may forget to think about when designing a calendar for the first time. While you can always reuse a functional date display from one of many calendar templates and examples seen online, if you wish to make your project really special and unique, this is one of the best ways you can express your originality.
However, the few unbeatable rules during this design stage are that you must maintain your project in a way that allows it to be attractive and readable, while also making sure that it remains practical and functional. Calendars are excellent tools for marketing promotions, but at the end of the day, they also need to be practical. Otherwise, no one will actually end up using it!
6) Printing your calendar
When it comes to choosing a printing technique, this will mostly depend on individual preferences as well as various other aspects. However, it’s always a good idea to consult a printing service on the best options. As designers are the ones who create the calendar designs, printing services are able to do their part in giving you the best printing advice.
These professionals will be able to tell you what suits your project best, how you can match your desires with the needs of your design, and how you can conduct the whole operation in the most cost-effective way. For the purpose of fitting both the style and template of the calendar, the right type of printing material and technique will need to be chosen. The most common options for printing material include glossy and matte paper. However, you’ll also need to choose how you want to bind the pages of your calendar together. Popular choices include wire-o-coil, stapled, or saddle stitched.
7) Promoting your calendar
As mentioned earlier, some people make calendars for fun, while others use them to sell or promote their companies even further. They can serve as really practical presents to give to your clients and other stakeholders. Once you receive a brilliantly designed calendar from a company, it’s likely that its name will be remembered for days, months, or even a year as you may refer to it multiple times. Calendars are such an underrated yet influential promotional tool. Hence, if you create the perfect one, there’s a chance that you can give your customers a really great impression of your brand.
Furthermore, we must also remember that there are those who use calendars to memorize important dates. Calendars can act as an additional, hidden marketing opportunity since they can help promote your company’s upcoming events. Therefore, adding notes about your company’s planned events, sales, and exclusive offers within your calendar can be an extremely clever move. This keeps your recipients aware and reminded of your company and its events during the year.
Calendar Design Tips
When confused about what exactly you should do and how you can go about when designing a calendar, never be afraid to ask! However, we’ve already compiled a list of the best calendar design tips for you. With the tips that we recommend below, you can use them to further polish your design and take your calendar to the next level.
Manage your space properly
While this point may seem irrelevant, it actually is indeed the complete opposite. To create a memorable and effective calendar, you must learn how to take control over the space used for your design. But, what does it actually mean to manage your space properly?
To begin, start with defining the size and function of your calendar (i.e. the wall calendar, table, or pocket one). Put effort in distributing content and images accordingly to the space you have at your disposal. For a larger calendar, don’t leave too much of space empty. For pocket-sized calendar, don’t overcrowd it. Most importantly, always keep the readability of your font in mind!
In other words, focus on the balance between pages that look too plain and too overwhelming. This way, you’ll be able to create an eye-catching calendar. On top of that, you’ll have enough space to promote your company’s achievements and services without having to sacrifice the actual calendar elements.
Carefully choose your images
This matter was already briefly described earlier, however, it is always helpful to emphasize it once again. Images are important, and while there are no right or wrong decisions when it comes to ideas, high resolution and creative choice of images should always be a priority. Both images and style, should eventually direct the recipient’s focus towards the brand.
Turn the calendar into a portfolio
What we mean by this is that you should always treat your calendar design with love and develop your project into a portfolio! Your personal set of design work should be presented throughout 1-12 pages. You are already using your calendar to promote the brand and your business work, so what difference does it make if you actually put 100 percent of your heart and inspiration in it?
Imagine that each month showcases a different masterpiece of your creation. It doesn’t have to be a graphic design if you are not one. Fashion and beauty projects (dresses, hairstyles, nails), interiors, and every other project or creation will work as well! This makes your calendar more special and personal to your company, and it’s a great way for customers to truly see all of your achievements in one single place.
Keep your goals clear and attainable
Calendar designs have to be equally attractive and practical. Otherwise, if all boils down to visuals, even the most beautiful calendar will become a useless client gift that will end up tossed in a box. On the other hand, if it’s structure and functionality is at its highest yet the design is just too plain or ugly, no one will want to put the calendar on their desk or hang it up on a wall. Afterall, visually appealing calendars can serve as decorative or collectible items.
So make your design useful to the viewer, and find a gracious way to sneak in promotion of your business. With that being said, you basically need a powerful and captivating calendar that motivates people to look at it. It has to inspire particular feelings for your brand and your products. You wouldn’t guess how much money corporations spend on their branded calendar design.
Leave blank spaces in your calendar design
Image source: Behance
Your first task when learning how to design a calendar was to pick an engaging template and design concept. Now, all we have to do is slowly and deliberately put that idea onto paper and make the whole project function!
By saying that the calendar should be useful, we don’t only mean it in terms readability. A good idea is to design one that is inspirational yet also allows for audiences to write on it to keep track of important dates and appointments. Often times, people like to leave notes and reminders on their calendars, making it more personalized to their daily life. Therefore, it is recommended that you leave enough space for them to freely write or draw on it.
Use original artwork
Last but not least, be sure that you are using your own original artwork. You can use existing images, colours, graphics, and fonts found online that remind audiences of your company. However, by doing this, you can risk your calendar not being as special and attention-grabbing as it should be for people.
People love to receive personalized and unique calendars! It’s like a free artwork or decorative object for them. Of course, there are millions of free, royalty stock images available on the internet. Using these widely available images saves time, money, and effort from your side. But you know what? A calendar is the one-time opportunity for you to create something really original for your brand, and this is a challenge one should definitely grab without overthinking it.
Be aware that a classic, mediocre calendar can simply take you off the scene. There are images that we have all seen more than a hundred times! They don’t make you look any different from all the other calendars in the market. Although it can be challenging to create a unique and original piece of artwork as creativity and graphic design skills will have to be put to use, this can ensure that you, as a brand, become recognizable and respected by those who are offered your calendars.
So, what are you waiting for? Go ahead and start brainstorming some great artwork ideas that highly represent your brand’s identity. This is a tip that will truly help you nail your calendar design.
Besides having grown up in the design Industry, Christiaan has advised some of the world’s largest companies on their branding & packaging designs. Has been the resident judge for design awards, and has spoken at numerous global design & marketing events. Christiaan founded the London office of the award-winning Cartils agency, and has founded the DesignBro.com platform.